Friday, August 04, 2006

The Shiite Revival

The Wall Street Journal describes the theories of a rising academic who believes that the central driver of instability in the Middle East is no longer Arab nationalism. It is the Islamic schism. Unfortunately most of this article is behind a subscription wall. But the excerpts below give the gist of the argument.


From the violence in the Mideast, new realities are emerging -- and a new generation of experts to interpret them. ... Mr. Nasr, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School ... calls this a historic "Shiite revival" and has gone further than most in identifying it as a central force in Mideast politics. He also frames a possible U.S. response: Engage Iran, especially over the issue of reducing violence in Iraq, and try to manage Tehran's rise as a regional power rather than isolating it.

Mr. Nasr's analysis begins with the idea that the removal of Saddam Hussein in Iraq has transformed the Mideast, but not in the ways promised by President Bush. By replacing Iraq's Sunni-led dictatorship with an elected government dominated by the country's Shiite majority, the U.S. destroyed the Sunni wall that had contained the restless Shiite power to the east, Iran. The clerical regime in Tehran was immeasurably strengthened. ... Today, the conflict is most visible in Iraq, where foreign and local Sunni insurgents refuse to accede to the country's Shiite majority. But Mr. Nasr sees the backlash in Iraq as auguring a wave of similar sectarian battles in a broad swath of Asia from Lebanon to Pakistan where the populations of the two sects are roughly even. ..

Yet U.S. foreign policy still operates under the "old paradigm" of Sunni dominance, he contends. ... This prediction was based on a pivotal misunderstanding about Iraq's Shiites, Mr. Nasr says: that their Iraqi and Arab identity would supersede their Shiite affinity with Iran. As it turned out, as soon as Shiites took power in Iraq, they eagerly threw open the gates to Iranian influence and support. Now, Iran operates a vast network of allies and clients in Iraq, Mr. Nasr says, ranging from intelligence agents and militias to top politicians in Iraq's Shiite parties.

On older posts on this blog I had argued that  American Iraq campaign was deliberately aimed at this fault line in Islam. I also speculated this was because Iraq would provide a route of access to Iran. But maybe Professor Nasr is correct in saying that it backfired. Iran might have been a revolving door after all, except that the door revolved the other way. Time will tell.

One historical quibble with using the terms "Sunni" and "Shia" in place of "Arab" and "Persian" is that those terms exclude  the rich background of Arab nationalism from Zaghlul in Egypt through to Nasser and Saddam Hussein from the model. Those personages were not primarily Sunni so much as Arab figures. The other quibble one might make is why OIF and not Carter's response to Khomeini should be the starting point for the Shi'a rise. Clearly Saddam's war with Iran and al-Qaeda's mission as a counter to Khomeini for the "leadership" of Islam both predated Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nor should it be forgotten that particularly the Syrians went out of their way to support the insurgency and that their eventual defeat, which they could have forseen, did much to create the Shi'ite majority state whose emergence they now regret. If the Shi'ites had gotten out the bottle Zarqawi had certainly lent a hand with his explosive corkscrews.

James Fallows (in another behind the subscription wall article entitled "Declaring Victory" in the Atlantic) makes observations similar to Nasr's but from a slightly different vantage. According to Fallows, the US has already largely succeeded in defeating the original enemy, al-Qaeda, but in so doing it inherited a new set or problems.

This spring and summer, I talked with some sixty experts about the current state of the conflict that bin Laden thinks of as the “world jihad—and that the U.S. government has called both the “global war on terror” and the “long war.” ... The larger and more important surprise was the implicit optimism about the U.S. situation that came through in these accounts—not on Iraq but on the fight against al-Qaeda and the numerous imitators it has spawned. ... The essence of the change is this: because of al-Qaeda’s own mistakes, and because of the things the United States and its allies have done right, al-Qaeda’s ability to inflict direct damage in America or on Americans has been sharply reduced. Its successor groups in Europe, the Middle East, and elsewhere will continue to pose dangers. But its hopes for fundamentally harming the United States now rest less on what it can do itself than on what it can trick, tempt, or goad us into doing. Its destiny is no longer in its own hands.

... “Does al-Qaeda still constitute an ‘existential’ threat?” asks David Kilcullen ... He was referring to the argument about whether the terrorism of the twenty-first century endangers the very existence of the United States and its allies, as the Soviet Union’s nuclear weapons did throughout the Cold War (and as the remnants of that arsenal still might). “I think it does, but not for the obvious reasons,” Kilcullen told me. He said the most useful analogy was the menace posed by European anarchists in the nineteenth century. “If you add up everyone they personally killed, it came to maybe 2,000 people, which is not an existential threat.” But one of their number assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife. The act itself took the lives of two people. The unthinking response of European governments in effect started World War I. “So because of the reaction they provoked, they were able to kill millions of people and destroy a civilization.

American victories as usual, are to be dreaded rather than celebrated. And in this case too. As the "Sunni" branch of terrorism lost operational capacity it began to concentrate on spreading pure hostility which unfortunately cannot be targeted or controlled to any great degree. It began to kill not only the infidel but apostates as well.

What they have done is to follow the terrorist’s logic of steadily escalating the degree of carnage and violence—which has meant violating the guerrilla warrior’s logic of bringing the civilian population to your side. This trade-off has not been so visible to Americans, because most of the carnage is in Iraq. There, insurgents have slaughtered civilians daily, before and after the death this spring of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of al-Qaeda in Iraq. But since American troops are also assumed to be killing civilians, the anti-insurgent backlash is muddied.

The situation is different elsewhere. “Like Tourette’s syndrome, they keep killing Muslim civilians,” says Peter Bergen. “That is their Achilles’ heel. Every time the bombs go off and kill civilians, it works in our favor. It’s a double whammy when the civilians they kill are Muslims.” Last November, groups directed by al-Zarqawi set off bombs in three hotels in Amman, Jordan. Some sixty civilians were killed, including thirty-eight at a wedding. The result was to turn Jordanian public opinion against al-Qaeda and al-Zarqawi, and to make the Jordanian government more openly cooperative with the United States.

There's probably quite a bit of truth in Professor Nasr's paradigm of the "Shiite revival". But a lot of that was driven by historical forces already underway before OIF though it was probably exacerbated by decisions made both in Washington and in the Arab capitals after 2003. People speak of Saddam Hussein as if he would live forever. Castro reminds us that even the hardiest and evil weeds eventually age and die. Saddam would have grown old and passed without a popularly elected successor and the day of reckoning would have arrived eventually.

76 Comments:

Blogger wretchard said...

Iran will supply Hezbollah with surface-to-air missiles in the coming months, as earnest even more advanced missiles according to Janes "citing unnamed Western diplomatic sources". (AFP/China Post)

Arguing that this campaign is already doomed to simply mark the starting place for the next war Amir Oren begins a post-mortem of IDF operations. What went wrong?

8/04/2006 08:15:00 PM  
Blogger John said...

A valuable link:


http://www.foreignaffairs.org/20060701faessay85405/vali-nasr/when-the-shiites-rise.htmll

8/04/2006 08:19:00 PM  
Blogger Chester said...

Spengler, the pseudonymous columnist at Asia Times Online (and a reader of this blog, which he once quoted in a column) theorizes that Iran is a rising power due to three factors: Shia Islam, Persian demographics, and a desire for oil. His piece from earlier this year is worth a read:

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/HA24Ak01.html

8/04/2006 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger Chester said...

Be sure to see Spengler's map of the "Oil Corridor".

8/04/2006 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Sonspot said...

"Yet U.S. foreign policy still operates under the "old paradigm" of Sunni dominance..."

OK. But this is like being told irregardless isn't a word even though everyone knows what you mean when you say it, or finding out the type of lung cancer you have is large cell instead of oat cell. I don't see how this, if true, changes anything. Even if there was no shiite dominance Iran would still be in need of confrontation due to the bomb, the 79 embassy, and being all around asshats.

8/04/2006 08:54:00 PM  
Blogger Final Historian said...

Didn't Saudi Arabia begin its massive export of Wahhabi Islam only after the Khomeinist revolution in Iran? Could not we argue that Al Qaeda was as much a response to a re-emerging Shi'ite Islam as it was to the global impact of the United States?

8/04/2006 09:05:00 PM  
Blogger sammy small said...

From what I hear (from local Iranians who have recently visited back to Iran) and what I have read (Ledeen), there is a vast young populace who do not truely trust their Shiite masters. If only they could provide the counter to the Shiite revival you speak of. It may be the only way to avoid the next world war.

8/04/2006 09:16:00 PM  
Blogger Alexis said...

Part of the very basis of any modern war is to define what the war is being fought over. Once one can define the linguistic nature of a war, one can shape its outcome. So, talking of Islamic schism rather than nationalism as the major driving force of Middle Eastern politics is self-serving for those such a division would profit.

The fact is, nationalism in different societies is expressed in different ways. A devout Arab Sunni may see no contradiction between Arab nationalism and Islam (meaning his kind of Islam). Iranian nationalism is caught between expressing itself linguistically and culturally as "Iranianism" and religiously as Twelver Shi'ism. Religiously expressed nationalism is nothing new. One need only look at the non-Communist nationalisms of Russia, Romania, Greece, Spain, Italy, and the Netherlands. Lutheranism can legitimately be seen as an expression of Germanic nationalism! Imagine what a pan-Lutheran state would have looked like in Europe!

Mr. Nasr essentially says that Iran's definition of this conflict should determine our understanding of it. I disagree. The Middle East has massive cultural fractures in every direction, any one of which can be activated by different political factions.

I find it telling that when Sunni and Shi'ite gangs massacre civilians in Iraq, they aren't targeting one another. That's because they are using the Sunni-Shi'ite division as a means of polarizing Iraqis (and other Middle Easterners) against modern ideologies, much as the rivalry between Communism and Fascism distorted European politics of the 1930's and 1940's and the rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union distorted global politics during the Cold War. Mark Anthony and Octavian were rivals for power, but they made a pact between them after the death of Julius Caesar to kill every possible rival or dissident who could possibly challenge either despot's power. Seen this way, there was no contradiction between abu Musab al-Zarkawi's pogrom against Iraqi Shi'ites and his strong ties with the Iranian government, for they had a common interest in attacking the prestige of Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani and redefining the entire conflict as one between Sunni and Shi'a (and getting Muslims angry to a fever pitch so they can then attack us!).

Mr. Nasr's definition of the conflict creates a golden opportunity for Hezbollah and al-Qaeda to become the ideological superpowers of the world of Islam in general and the Arabisphere in particular. As unrealistic as it may sound, it is critically important that we define this war on our terms, not theirs. After all, it was the Iranian revolution of 1979 that fundamentally challenged the basis of the Cold War, as it rejected both Communism and liberal democracy and attempted to redefine the Cold War on its own terms.

8/04/2006 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Arab nationalism has been dead for a long time. It never had a chance. The whole idea that all the arabs would get together and agree on a single leader and a single nation was impossible on the face of it. They just hate each other too much and no one country is strong enough to beat all the others in a war so as to control them all.

The funny thing is that one of the main goals of the islamists, the formation of a new caliphate, is very similar to the goal of arab nationalism. It is also impossible on the face of it for the same reasons. The difference between the two being that the one targets only the arab countries and the other targets all the muslim countries.

Is there really a rise of the shia or just a rise of Iran? The sunni nations certainly are worried about a rise of Iran. I think it's primarily Iran, for now at least. I suppose it depends on how Iraq turns out. If Iraq turns out to be an ally of Iran and follows its lead there will be hell to pay. I hope, as we all do, that Iran will get its comeuppance sooner rather than later.

8/04/2006 09:58:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

Alexis,

Though it has been reviled and distorted by parody, President Bush has attempted to cast this as a war for freedom, which if it means anything, must mean that we are free to live outside the dichotomies which these theocrats would impose on us. Tony Blair made a stab articulating "why we fight" in his Los Angeles speech.

The political goal of our war is representative democracy. It's cultural goal is a separation between Church and State. It's philosophical goal the acceptance of rational inquiry. It's military goal the destruction or deterrence of the enemy capacity for belligerence.

These are commonplaces, but they are our commonplaces. And challenge before us is not to articulate the commonplaces, but to rediscover that they are "ours". This is the confidence of which Blair speaks; the grace to walk the earth neither worshipping nor hating oneself. To say frankly to both Sunni and Shia of our own flawed civilization: "no less than the trees and stars, we have right to be here".

8/04/2006 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger Final Historian said...

Wretchard, you earlier posted a video of a film concerning dictatorship and democracy. Now you mention "Why we Fight." This brought to mind those classic videos of the Second World War. Perhaps it is time to revist them, and design some for the 21st century. Ultimately, the problem isn't convincing the Sunni and the Shia, its convincing ourselves that this is a battle worth fighting, that the West, despite its faults, is still worth that "last measure of devotion." The war that truly matters lies within our hearts, between our better and lesser selves.

8/04/2006 11:09:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Final Historian,

A very common meme throughout what I think could best be described as the right-wing or conservative media and blogosphere is that the left-wing "doesn't find western civilization worth fighting for" or just wants to "give up." As emotionally charging and satisfying as that might be, I'm not really sure that it's true.

On balance, I think many on the left simply don't see the threat that many on the right claim to see. Whether this is due to some sort of ego-protection/denial mechanism, I wouldn't care to speculate. On the other hand, those who've supported the policies of the current administration can be prone to the same motivations: finding themselves drawn to and pleased by analyses that confirm their earlier views. If you're having doubts about the wisdom of the Iraq campaign, an enthusiastic "this is the defense of our very way of life!" spiel can become very appealing for some.

Nevertheless, the administration clearly lacks the ability to persuasively make their case. Most of the professional conservative journalists aren't doing such a hot job themselves, in my estimate.



Alexis -

Great post.

8/04/2006 11:32:00 PM  
Blogger Robert said...

Solving Narallah's riddle explains the Khumeinist swagger.

Beyond Haifa is not Afula and Hadera. It is Tel Aviv.

Beyond, beyond Haifa is Dimona.

8/04/2006 11:36:00 PM  
Blogger wretchard said...

James Kieland,

The administration does not need to make the case. The enemy will make the case and convincingly too, as it did to the Israeli left. No words can ever persuade the European or American left that it is in peril. Liberals may wish for a more articulate President, but words will never carry the message. Too bad it has to come to that.

8/05/2006 01:27:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Great comments Alexis:
I hope you will read and comment on Nasr's piece linked by John above, either here, or on your blog.
I think either 'Rat or Trish linked it about a week ago.

What I find amazing about his presentation is the seeming censorship of much of Tehran's malignant actions and intentions. He does not mention the IED factor, the nut-job president calling for Israel's elimination, their conspiratorial activities with Syria and supplying the Hesbo's with missiles, etc. nor does he mention that it is in some respects a police state, and that maybe regimes that hang gays and stone women leave just a bit to be desired as negotiating partners, especially since just about everything the say and do is subterfuge or sabotage to conceal their diabolical and expansionist intents.
Does he expect us to act as though their leading role as an exporter of terror is a thing of the past, or would be if only we would learn to get along?
No mention at all of all the Iranians that would like nothing better but an end to the madness.

8/05/2006 02:05:00 AM  
Blogger redaktør said...

All of these "schisms" and animosities are deliberately aggravated distractions. The cost of extracting oil in the ME is $5 per barrel. Anything above $5 + 15% profit, is a sucker's fee. We are continuously being taken for a ride by the bandits in Russia, Saudia, Iran, Iraq.

8/05/2006 02:07:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"No words can ever persuade the European or American left that it is in peril."
Or of it's complicity and unaddressed self-hatred.

8/05/2006 02:14:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

W:
Last November, groups directed by al-Zarqawi set off bombs in three hotels in Amman, Jordan. Some sixty civilians were killed, including thirty-eight at a wedding. The result was to turn Jordanian public opinion against al-Qaeda and al-Zarqawi, and to make the Jordanian government more openly cooperative with the United States.

Amir Orens:

Mistake at Bint Jbail

Of the five Hezbollah areas in the south, Division 91 identified the center of gravity in Area 3, Aitroun-Maroun al-Ras-Bint Jbail. It lured Hezbollah reinforcements to move out of their hiding places and into Bint Jbail, did battle against them and killed many. The mistake, it is said in the General Staff, was the decision by Northern Command, contrary to the division's opinion, to leave Bint Jbail after it was taken, instead of turning it into a symbol, such as by having Olmert or Peretz deliver a speech there.


Final Historian:
Didn't Saudi Arabia begin its massive export of Wahhabi Islam only after the Khomeinist revolution in Iran? Could not we argue that Al Qaeda was as much a response to a re-emerging Shi'ite Islam as it was to the global impact of the United States?

Shiite,Sunni - a pox on both their houses. Its a war for our culture, where the weapon of choice is the media.

I'll bookend with our esteemed host,

W:
The enemy will make the case and convincingly too, as it did to the Israeli left. No words can ever persuade the European or American left that it is in peril.

I'm depressed.

ADE

8/05/2006 02:23:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Cheer up, ADE:
Some day you can visit Italy and enjoy the views on the Islamic only areas of the beaches.
Or go to that amusement park in Britain where they removed most of the amusement in order to have a Muslim amusement day, complete with sex-segregated rides.
(The turn-out was so low it was a no-go, even for the fun-loving Muzzies)
Also the sweet sorrows of your last goodbye to gay friends on the gallows or women friends being stoned to death.
Cheers.

8/05/2006 02:37:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Emergency Update
I just have been informed that a rocket has hit 28 miles north of Tel Aviv; this is the most southern missile strike that has occurred.

Israel must hit Syria now, not wait until Tel Aviv is hit.

If Tel Aviv is hit then Israel must hit Damascus and Teheran
- Yoni

8/05/2006 02:41:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Here's Yoni's version of Oren's overview.
Killed In Lack Of Action

8/05/2006 02:48:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

In 1991 Israel was forced to enter into a peace process, part of this process was to over time force Israel to turn away from our long held philosophy of striking back hard.

Now Olmert by his criminal handling of this war has shattered the image of the IDF as being super men.
Instead Olmert because of his weakness, has made IDF appear weak.

Olmert has killed the golden goose, Hizballah had handed Israel and the west a golden opportunity that would have had positive spin on the war on terror as a whole.

8/05/2006 02:52:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Doug,

enjoy the views on the Islamic only areas of the beaches

Speaking of not Islamic beaches, Doug, I know you've seen the images of Israeli soldierettes here.

Scroll down to number 7. She's gorgeous, and tasteful.

I'm not depressed now.

But seriously, the weapon is the media, and we're pathetic at it.

ADE

8/05/2006 02:53:00 AM  
Blogger jd_nin_er said...

As long as we are in Iraq, we are a big road block to Iranian aggressions. George Bush has an articulate stand in that he is working with moderate muslims to set up authoritative goverment bodies. Once surgical removal of the Iranian leader occurs and the clerics who support him, then people in the mideast will be able to play a little more. Maybe they can establish a moderate islam that can play nice with other.

8/05/2006 03:01:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

some oxymorons, jd_nin_er:

George Bush, articulate;

moderate, muslims;

authoritative, goverment bodies;

people, in the mideast;

islam,can play nice with other;

ADE

8/05/2006 03:21:00 AM  
Blogger johnkelleher said...

Somewhat apropos of the discussion here, I have read some Belmont Club commenters yearning for a "Protestant Reformation" in Islam. Such readers might be interested in the contrary view of the founder of the religious/political/cultural magazine, First Things. Fr. Richard John Neuhaus -- initially a Lutheran minister, now a Catholic priest -- is of the view that Wahhabism WAS the "Protestant Reformation" of Islam. That is, Wahhabism is a movement dedicated to the purification of the religion, a return to its roots, and a rejection of the corruptions and false elaborations of historical Islam.

Which is to say, another view to consider is that the Protestant Reformation was not in its genesis about secularizing religion, nor about "separation of Church and State," or any other such "can't we all just get along" nicety. It was about a reform of the religion, precisely along the lines of Wahhabism today. A simple examination of what, historically, the relevant players wrote and did, would tend to support Fr. Neuhaus's view.

Moreover, as Fr. Neuhaus is aware, the idea of "separation of Church and state" -- which it is perhaps important to note historically has been conceived as the freedom of the Church from the power of the State -- is ironically a very old Catholic idea, going back at least as far as Pope Gelasius's remark to the Roman Emperor, Anastasius, in 494 AD: "Two there are, august emperor, by which this world is chiefly ruled..."

It should be noted that Islam, as a "true" monotheism, has a distinct problem with "two there are" -- with two of anything, in fact. In that sense Islam is very unlike Trinitarian Christianity. This distinction, in my experience, devout Muslims are fond of pointing out to their Christian friends. To them, the Trinity is an absurdity -- God is One, after all. At such moments, a devout Catholic like myself wonders, not quite aloud, what might have become of "Two There Are" in a world in which God had not revealed himself as a both a perfect unity, and a true community of three Persons in One.

Out of tiny acorns, vast bifurcations grow....

This is my first post, and will almost certainly be my last, as I, unlike the preponderance of commenters, lack any relevant expertise. Thank you all, and especially our host, for the opportunity to add perhaps a little something.

John Kelleher

8/05/2006 03:50:00 AM  
Blogger ralph127 said...

I could begin with the analysis that the removal of Hitler and Tojo transformed the world, but not in the ways promised by FDR and Churchill. The problem was not the removal of Hitler and Tojo. The Allies, exhausted by the effort required to remove these monsters, had no stomach to fight against Stalin. The fact that the West did not want to fight this communist monster did not obviated the fact that the communist world was at war with the democratic West.

It was necessary to remove Saddam from power because he wanted nuclear weapons and was prepared to use them against us. The fact that much of the West does not want to fight Islam resurgent does not obviated the fact that Islam resurgent is at war with the democratic West.

We can fight those who want to impose Islamic law on us, whether by terror or via the ballet box, now of we can surrender later. I don’t see any other options.

8/05/2006 04:12:00 AM  
Blogger Captain America said...

Prof Nasr, et al, like many academics, promotes a political solution to Iran. How naive!

The Iranian regime is very deliberate in its strategy and tactics. They view diplomacy both as a source of weakness on the part of its sworn adversaries (i.e., the West) and as a means for deception. The best example is their nuclear weapons program the the eternal jaw-boning by the EU-3, UN, etc.

Moreover, the Iranian regime has no incentive for diplomacy. They are filled with the ascendancy of Shitism and view it as preordained.

Personally, as a long-standing subscription holder with WSJ, I was disappointed with the front-page, above-the-fold placement of this article.

There is nothing noteworthy in Prof Nasr's theories, they were applied in ernest throughout the Clinton Administration.

8/05/2006 04:56:00 AM  
Blogger Juan Golblado said...

It's clear that the Shia/Sunni conflict is growing in importance and that our overthrow of Saddam strengthened the Shia. A smarter man than our president may well have seen this, may even have been far-sighted enough to attack Iran first, and would almost certainly have seen that without neutralizing western hostility to our move the low level of success we have achieved was likely.

But that smarter president might not have cared or seen the importance of fighting the war in the first place. So there you go. Win some, lose some. We are where we are.

I have no patience whatsoever with the argument that we need to "manage Tehran's rise as a regional power" without first eradicating the Islamism there.

And I will tell you something else that concerns me: an opinion reported in The Spectator last week says the Iranian people, by and large, are not too unhapy with their whacko government.

I'm worried for two reasons:

1. The Zogby polling company, the Spectator (and the Readers Digest next month) are putting about the notion that a public opinion survey carried out in Iran is valid -- as if that heavily watched over and repressed population would dare to give an honest answer to a polling company. It's like saying their elections are valid even though only the government counts the votes and there have never been any foreign observers!

2. The second worry is that, given the severe threat Iran poses now, and if we accept that the population actually support that outrageous government, we might pull out the stops and treat all the Iranian people as the enemy when we attack.

8/05/2006 05:20:00 AM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

re: "making a case"

Is overrated. Recent histories sifting through the ashes of WW2 document that Chamberlain and his cabinet were fully aware of Churchill's facts and argument and largely agreed with him - but knew they lacked the public support to sacrifice butter for guns - and saw that those that argued same fell from power. And in the U.S. sentiment was similar - the draft passed by just one vote six months before Pearl Harbor.

Democracy as a system doesn't allow a politician to get very far out in front of the majority (which is one of the reasons the U.S. founding fathers created a system which was only fractionally democratic in the one-man, one-vote sense). Our current system gives a politician (and the executive) much less license to act independently in what they perceive is in our mutual interests than 200 years ago.

The leftists (or more kindly, the maternalists) expect some form of larger power to settle this issue (a world court, a U.N., some entity of people-that-know-best, and can be trusted to do good, fairly - in a way similar to how mothers often behave towards their children, from each according to their ability, to each appropriate to their need). And the fact that there isn't a larger power doesn't bother them or change their behavior - they believe that their continued demand for a higher power will cause it to exist.

W has it correct. We will be educated to care about these issues, one way or the other, in ways beyond the reach of mere words.

It is curious how the current maternalist crisis dejure (global warming) is used as a vehicle (and may cynically be "just a vehicle" for those maternalists who actually know better) to justify the need for a higher-authority that has the power to dictate anti-democratically (to say nothing of anti-liberty).

8/05/2006 05:22:00 AM  
Blogger Donkatsu said...

The Atlantic Monthly article by Fallows contained an extremely narrow and error-filled view of the current clash. A full Fisking would require too much length for this forum. Tow points will suffice: Essentially, Fallows limited the field to ObL and his crew and said that since the toll of ObL was only 3,000, then they had little real ability to impact the US. This view ignores the literally millions killed by radical Islam over the past 15 years, including 2-3 million in Sudan, 300,000 in Algeria, 75,000 in Kashmir, 1,000,000 in the Iraq-Iran war. Some victory.

Although Fallows does not quote Larry Johnson, the disgraced former counter-terror expert, Johnson is doubtless the source of the “we will continue to be hit by terrorists from time to time, but it is no big deal” argument. This part of the Fallows piece also notes the DC sniper episode as an example of domestic terrorism that is unconnected to Islamic fascism. Pardon me, Mr. Fallows, do you remember the name of the older sniper and did you read his expressed beliefs.

You can declare victory and walk away, but the game is not over until the loser says so.

8/05/2006 06:08:00 AM  
Blogger RattlerGator said...

Ari Tai: damn good point.

John Kelleher: please don't make this your last post, that was a great contribution.

Back to Ari Tai -- it seems we just can't remove the narcissistic component. People are always angling for a piece of the pie, to be the "new" experts of choice.

I love Thomas P.M. Barnett, but on the Iran issue I keep wondering: precisely when does he start believing what these Iranians are SAYING? How long will he and other Democrats grant themselves the conceit of being smarter than the Iranian leadership when it comes to matters ABOUT the Iranian leadership.

I always come back to the old saying, "When people show you who they are, believe them." The Iranians have done so. Nuff said.

Finally, I shouldn't be but I'm exasperated by the folks who don't acknowledge that we're playing chess with the Iranians because the Iranians are playing chess with us. We played checkers with the Taliban and Saddam because that's all Saddam and the Taliban was capable of.

Iran is the head of the snake. The Bush Admin strategy has been proper but it requires patience. The Iranians know this and are banking on our impatience, forced or otherwise.

8/05/2006 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

ari tai opined:

The leftists (or more kindly, the maternalists) expect some form of larger power to settle this issue (a world court, a U.N., some entity of people-that-know-best, and can be trusted to do good, fairly - in a way similar to how mothers often behave towards their children, from each according to their ability, to each appropriate to their need). And the fact that there isn't a larger power doesn't bother them or change their behavior - they believe that their continued demand for a higher power will cause it to exist.

Maternalists. You seem to have forgotten the unusual shift of support to Bush and the GOP in 2002 and 2004 by the demographic known as "soccer moms" who voted for the ones they knew would best protect their loved ones from terrorism.

8/05/2006 06:30:00 AM  
Blogger Woman Catholic said...

ralph127

We can fight those who want to impose Islamic law on us, whether by terror or via the ballet box, now of we can surrender later. I don’t see any other options.

Since politics has degenerated into nothing more than a team rivalry like sports ("Hooray for the Blue Team, Boo for the Red Team!"), all Bush needs to do is start publicly agreeing, in speech after speech, with the moral principles of Sharia Law (stoning for adulterers, honor killings for girls in miniskirts, floggings for watching R-rated movies, hand-chopping for downloading Madonna songs) and the Left will jump ship like Miles Mellough's little puppy dog in that Clint Eastwood movie "The Eiger Sanction". The propaganda war will be over for the Islamists so fast they won't even know what happened.

8/05/2006 06:52:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

It's the Great Game;

You Can't Win, and

You Can't Quit.

8/05/2006 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

Ari Tai, John Kelleher: please stay wih us.

ADE

8/05/2006 07:25:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

johnk,

Insightful post. Another author drew much the same comparison some years ago.

Doug doesn't want to know who it was.

8/05/2006 07:43:00 AM  
Blogger RegretLeft said...

Wow! ADE, thanks for that link to "Hot Israeli women in the military" ... be still, my heart!

There's a link at LGF to a film that the IDF geeks have hacked onto Hez TV - at the end, technicians ready bombs on an Israeli warplane and a female piolet hops into the cockpit!

I think more than we realize, this is a war between cultures which allow women to be warriors and those that permit them to be little more than fertility factories. And on their side, the blood must really boil to see women in uniform with assault rifles or when a female American officer is awarded a silver star for combat valor.

However, I wonder if the "Israeli women with assault rifles" theme at the link has a bit of a propagandist whif to it. A while back, I came upon some Israeli comment complaining that women in the IDF tended to be mommy-tracked into clerical and social-worky type positions.

Again - thanks.

8/05/2006 07:44:00 AM  
Blogger rufus said...

Well, it looks like the "Jigs' up." France and the U.S. reach agreement.

Olmert has managed to lead Israel to it's first defeat. There will be Hell to pay for this.

And, before someone says, "this isn't a defeat," Hezbollah fired over two hundred rockets into Israel, today. They're "undefeated." Israel lost.

8/05/2006 07:47:00 AM  
Blogger trish said...

From the Times of London:

[...]

As soon as they reached the outskirts of an Israeli hilltop town, which cannot be named for security reasons, they stopped and cleared their M16 automatic rifles in unison — the last task before they could relax. Some then reached inside their huge battlepacks for their mobile phones to call families and girlfriends. Others collapsed with exhaustion, washing away their fear with bottles of cola and lungfuls of cigarette smoke. A few grabbed newspapers to find out how their war was going. “What is happening in other places? What is happening in Gaza?” one asked The Times.

Down a sidestreet a cluster of Israeli tourist buses waited with drinks and packed lunches. Slowly the soldiers began morphing from death-bringers to nice Jewish boys preparing for the Sabbath, peeling off clothes and cavorting halfnaked with each other beside the bougainvillea.

As they did so, all the rainbow shades of Israeli society began to re-emerge — secular, Orthodox, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, Sabra, Ethiopian, Russian, Brooklyn. To their matted hair they pinned all types of skullcap — knitted, military-green, Braslav, settler or none at all. But on one thing they were unanimous: the prowess of their foe.

“It was hell. They are really well trained. They’re not suckers, they know how to fight,” said one, slumped on the pavement. “You’re scared the whole time over there. We didn’t get any sleep the whole week.” There was not a voice of dissent.

[...]

8/05/2006 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Ari Tai said...

re: soccer moms less-than-maternal.

Women who find their family directly threatened undergo a transformation that is a wonder to behold. They are often the stronger willed, clearer thinking, better motivated, and never-forgive-or-forget-a-life-lesson gender. I suspect the ability of our women to be both softly maternal and alternately as hard-as-nails is the reason why we survive as a species. We males are more sickly, die younger, are less attentive and seldom care as deeply as they.

I read stories like this and weep. I know that most fascist's mothers feel pain and sorrow at the loss of their children (irrespective of their public celebrations of martyrdom), yet I know that civilization's best do not embody this type of evil (be it in Jenin, Okinawa, Vietnam or Abu Ghraib).

8/05/2006 08:01:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

The internecine Islamic conflict seems to be three party: Sunni - Shia - Wahabbi. Just this week several Sunni theologians at Al-Azhar seminary in Cairo issued fatwas that allow Sunni to fight against Israel (USA) alongside and under the command of Shia. These fatwas are contradictory to the Saudi (Wahabbi) fatwas prohibiting Sunni from joining with Shia Hezbollah.

Sunni-Shia-Wahabbi can kill each other until the cows come home. The more the better so far as I'm concerned. What makes this dustup significant is that the destruction of Israel has been established as the credential of leadership for all Islam. Iranawhackjob is making sure of that.

All of Israel's wars to date have been fought over issues we can easily understand - land, borders, water. The combat took place in the deserts and mountains. Population centers were off-limits to both sides. This time is different. Hezbollah attacks only population centers. Israel is more discriminating but also attacks Hezbollah in population centers.

10 years ago the experts on airport security focused all their methods on assuring that every bag that went onto an airplane was postively matched with a passenger boarding the same airplane. The thinking was that no person would blow up an airplane he was riding in.

Today's experts (probably the same people) tell us that even if Iran gets nukes it would be only for deterrence, that the rationale of mutually assured destruction would keep the Supreme Leader's fingers off the button. Doesn't the behavior and the public pronouncements of the mullahs make these expert opinions just as likely to be wrong?

Iran is raising the stakes. The threat of Israel's impending nuclear/chemical/biological annihiliation will be accompanied with a crescendo of attacks on Israel's legitimacy. The objective is to create a fear in the West that Israel will become so threatened that it would contemplate a first strike.

The European and American Left (and Pat Buchanan) will join the chorus that Israel's continued existence is just not important enough to risk either nuclear war or the ME oil fields. Ask somebody from Checzhoslovakia and Poland if this ploy hasn't worked before. Judging from the rising tide of anti-Semitism in Europe I'm not sure that the EU today wouldn't accept an Iranian WMD strike on Israel as a positive outcome.

The 1930s parallels are very real and very compelling.

8/05/2006 08:07:00 AM  
Blogger DaveK said...

If, indeed, the Shia/Sunni schism is actually what is driving the current conflict, then I fear the worst... What we are seeing now are truly the opening battles of World War III.

Just my $.02
DaveK

8/05/2006 08:09:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

ADE (2:53 AM),

I cited those photos in a thread here yesterday, as something worth fighting for...

I agree about Number 7. That is one of the most appealing photos I have ever seen.


Jamie Irons

8/05/2006 08:24:00 AM  
Blogger fjelehjifel said...

Wretchard,

I am in complete agreement with this statement: "The enemy will make the case and convincingly too, as it did to the Israeli left. No words can ever persuade the European or American left that it is in peril."

The problem with the "Left" is twofold: Not only do they stubbornly refuse acknowledge the true nature of the threat, they are likely to react ineptly when they get the "keys" to the foreign policy "car."

With the Olmert government, we see the two conflicting tendencies in this regard: (1) a desire to win the war on the cheap, chiefly through airpower, which looks like a barbaric overreaction to most of the world, and (2) an unwillingness to unleash the ground combat power necessary to prevail, which looks like weakness to Israel's enemies.

The problem with the Sunni-Shiite schism is that it does not fully explain the reasons underlying Iran's current behavior. If anything, OIF removed an obstacle to Iran's regional ambitions, but in removing this obstacle, the United States did not strengthen Iran, it merely emboldened it.

Unless Israel's "offensive" really starts to take apart Hezbollah and/or U.S. diplomacy can find some way of disconnecting Iran and Syria from Hezbollah, the inevitable result will be a further emboldened Iran, and a much higher cost to contain/defeat it.

From time to time, I tell some of my trendy-Lefty friends here in Washington: "Don't worry about my hardline tendencies. Give it a few more years, you'll be right where I am today. Why? Because our opponents will beat the illusions out of you. If 9/11 didn't do it, a worse attack will."

8/05/2006 08:30:00 AM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

John Kelleher (3:50 AM):

This is my first post, and will almost certainly be my last, as I, unlike the preponderance of commenters, lack any relevant expertise. Thank you all, and especially our host, for the opportunity to add perhaps a little something...

If having any relevant expertise were the criterion,-- well, I surely should have stopped posting long ago.

But no, I just keep typing whatever the hell comes into my pointy little head...

So I hope you'll post again. What you wrote was quite good.


Jamie Irons

8/05/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger JM said...

Nasr's conclusions about the Shiite resurgence seem to be supported by facts on the ground. However, my problem with his ideas is that his proposal on how to deal with Iran is to fully open up a dialogue with them - to "manage their rise" upward as a regional power. This reminds me of 1970's defeatism, where we were told that the job of Americans in high office was to manage the decline of America and to make sure that it went as smoothly as possible. I think that type of attitude gets us nowhere.

8/05/2006 09:16:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

James K wrote:

"On balance, I think many on the left simply don't see the threat that many on the right claim to see. "

to which wretchard replied:

"The administration does not need to make the case. The enemy will make the case and convincingly too, as it did to the Israeli left. No words can ever persuade the European or American left that it is in peril."

This dialogue highlights the problem with the 'right' view of the world. You seem to have it all cast in Black and White, Right vs Wrong and it is only the 'left' who either fail to see the 'truth' or, if they do, they lack the 'balls' to confront it. This is a mischaracterization of the whole damn issue. The main problem is the 'rights' response to the threats. The responses have been misconceived, miscalculated and poorly executed. It is not that the 'left' cannot see the threat from militant Islam, nor do they lack the 'balls' to confront it but rather 'they' don't believe that the use of 'hard power' is an effetive method of confronting the threat.

All above is a simplification containing 'loaded' words but I think you get my drift.

8/05/2006 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Going back to that film from the earlier post.

Another scale could be "appeals to group interest and rights" and "appeals to individual interest and rights."

If you seek power through mobilizing a group then the bigger the group the better. If you oppose this movement, make the groups smaller.

I've had evangelical Christians ask me if Catholics are Christians. Most evangelicals do not look upon Jehovah Wittinesses as Christians. Most Catholics consider them evangelical. No Christian considers Mormons as Christians -- although many Mormons do.

Those who wish to capture Islam as a route to political power want to mobilize as large a group as they can grab hold of and control.

It would be in our interest to raise up as many subgroups as possible -- with their own leaders and systems of patronage.

The "Why we Fight" films used the Fascist's own propaganda against them. So you take the film of the masses cheering "Death to so and so" and you show it to "so and so." Then when you ask him to work overtime making bombs he says, "Sure thing."

Dare we use that approach with the great humanitarians we are fighting to day? (I am trying to be facetious, not sarcastic).

8/05/2006 10:49:00 AM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Re the babes-in-uniform, is #7 the beach scene, or the beauty with the orange wall and blue key ring?

Ash, how'd that 8 years of "soft power" work out?

8/05/2006 11:35:00 AM  
Blogger Final Historian said...

Sorry Ash, I have to disagree. I haven't forgotten Michael Moore's "There is no terrorist threat" speech. While there are some on the Left who agree there is a threat, but disagree about the response, they are in the minority.

8/05/2006 12:00:00 PM  
Blogger Jamie Irons said...

Buddy,

Number 7 is the beach scene. (That's the one I was trying to indicate, anyway.).

Wow!


Jamie Irons

8/05/2006 12:06:00 PM  
Blogger James Kielland said...

Ash,

Perhaps the problem can best be phrased as thus:

Some on the left do not regard the threat of islamic terrorism (or islam-fascism) to be as *pressing* or as an immediate of a threat as those on the right believe.

Much of this is problematic in that there are always going to be division within divisions, so stating what "the left" thinks is bound to be problematic. But in general my observation is that the left downplays the threat and regards the right as overdramatizing the threat. Consequently, the right looks at the situation as being more urgent and the potential options as being more limited. Likewise, the left sees what it believes is a greater range of measures with the military option serving to set the terms of the conflict as a violent struggle.

And then they both simplify. The right sees the left's lack of vision and spine. The left sees only the right's militarism and misses, dismisses, or obscures the more subtle reality that many on the right (as evidenced by Wretchard's numerous comments) see this as a multi-faceted struggle of which military force is but one component.

8/05/2006 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Buddy Larsen said...

Right you are, and #8 is a wow, too--not just the subject, but the framing and hues too.

8/05/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

redaktør said...
All of these "schisms" and animosities are deliberately aggravated distractions. The cost of extracting oil in the ME is $5 per barrel. Anything above $5 + 15% profit, is a sucker's fee. We are continuously being taken for a ride by the bandits in Russia, Saudia, Iran, Iraq.

8/05/2006 02:07:53 AM


You appear to be locked into an Amerocentric "It's ALL About Us!!" sentiment, and some God-given right to get other nations national resources at cost. Versus its fair market value.

Those presumed entitlements to satisfy your material needs on your bizarre terms also cause you to dismiss all international ideologies and concerns as distractions from you and your dreamed of cheap gas.

The price of oil, aside from the speculation component which is mainly from wealthy banks, hedge fund owners, and fatcat individuals playing the game globally, is independent of ideology. The price of Brazilian, Chinese, American, Pakistani soybeans reflects global price with no ideological factor and no conspiracy by those countries to "screw" tofu-eaters.

America scoops herring from our waters for "nearly free", but doesn't sell it at cost, but what the market would bear. If a company you invested in found a small, but richly ored gold mine, I hardly expect you would beg them to sell the gold at the "extraction cost" of 18 dollars an ounce plus a reasonable profit of 15% - 20.70 vs the present market value of 650 an ounce???
=====================
Trish, good article from Times of London. Contrasting the humaness of the Israeli soldiers with the
difficulty of the mission and what seems to be Israeli surprise at underestimation of the foe. Your passage ends grimly:

But on one thing they were unanimous: the prowess of their foe.

“It was hell. They are really well trained. They’re not suckers, they know how to fight,” said one, slumped on the pavement. “You’re scared the whole time over there. We didn’t get any sleep the whole week.” There was not a voice of dissent.


For decades, Israelis thought that the "primitive Arab" would scatter like confused ants given the superior training and technical abilities of zionist supermen. That the superiority "showed" the triumph of their values, their democracy over the Arab culture somehow.

America was disabused of that "little dinky people we could whip at football as 12 year olds" we are so much better -notion - in Vietnam. We relapsed and found the idea of a conflict with Arabs "cakewalk" after the Gulf War...and probably fed the Israelis false confidence in the bargain.

Our later warnings that Al Qaeda fighters in Afghanistan were intelligent, well-trained, fearless and nearly our match...warnings repeated in combat with insurgents in Fallujah were not taken as seriously as they should be by the Israelis.

Now they sit briefly safe, still caked in sweat from combat and fear - and know that the margin between themselves and committed Muslim fighters both in soldier skills and weapon technology -has greatly narrowed over the years.

They can do the math. If 400 million Arabs and Iranians continue their drive for advanced, state of the art weapons...if future soldiers fight like demons as Hezbollah did when cornered, Israel is in big, big trouble.
==============================
John Kelleher, I agree that was a fine first post and hope you come back.

I had heard that idea before about Wahabbism (and Shiite fundamentalism) being the true Reformation of Islam....but then I got lured into the position that the "democratic choice of Muslims is for a more moderate, secular society and modernity". Which masked the apt comparison that Protestantism was the Fundamentalist journey of Christians to get back to the purer faith that had been filtered and doctrinally corrupted by the Roman Catholic Church and by it's dealings with temporal powers. That the Christian separation of church and state is not really from Reformation (and I disagree on the Trinity notion you gave) but from the uncontested duality promulgated in the New Testament - that Christs world was not of this world and a separatism existed between earthly goods and rule and spiritual goods and rule.

And Islam is quite different in Oneness. And I despair about any belief these days of a future Reformation away from the fundamental words and guidance of the Koran. That is not how the Christian Reformation went. And if Wahabbism or Fundy Shia is Islams future, I also despair of the belief that the 1.2 billion people of Islam can coexist in a modern world...

8/05/2006 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger enscout said...

Pride is at the core of all sin. It always spawns enmity and the only thing that results from it is enmity.

Christianity may be the only of the world's religions that recognizes this fact. It was pride that made the devil what it is. It was an through an appeal to his pride that the devil twice tempted Jesus.

The antidote for pride is humility.

Islam, on the other hand, fosters pride. It was pride that drove their prophet to call for and wage jihad.

The call by the Immams for resurgent pride among the masses is encouraged in their young adherants at a very early age. It is imbedded into their culture.

Until humilty is encouraged among the Muslim world - and that flies in the face of the teachings of the Koran - this will be a world filled with hate.

8/05/2006 01:44:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"But disarming Sadr's army may prove, if anything, even more difficult than disarming Hizballah in Lebanon.
That's because the three-year campaign of terror against Shi'ite civilians by Sunni insurgents has led the community to see its militias, rather than the central government, as its only protection.

As that violence escalates, the likelihood diminishes that these communities will support any effort to forcefully dismantle the militias.

Nor can an agreement to disarm be easily orchestrated by removing the insurgent threat, since the branch of the insurgency responsible for targeting the Shi'ites is led by al-Qaeda in Iraq, the faction most implacably opposed to any reconciliation with the elected government. "
http://www.time.com/time/world/printout/0,8816,1222824,00.html

8/05/2006 01:59:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

C-4 Check this out:
"SCIRI's Badr Brigade, although smaller, was trained by Iran's Revolutionary Guard during its years in exile, and may be an even better-organized Shiite militia than the Mahdi Army.
(Meanwhile the pinhead at NAVAL POSTGRADUATE SCHOOL acts like we're dealing with Mr. Rogers pupils.)
It is integrated into some parts of the security forces, particularly the Interior Ministry forces, and has been deeply implicated in sectarian killings. It has also, on occasion, crossed swords with Sadr's men in the battle for supremacy among the Shi'ites.
"

8/05/2006 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

On the oil, the markets also take into account estimates on reserves and estimated extraction costs going forward, in addition to variables like estimated future demand.

8/05/2006 02:10:00 PM  
Blogger a psychiatrist who learned from veterans said...

Johnkelleher etc. In my view, antisemitism is based on the acceptance by the one of the 'anti' persuasion that Jews are indeed close to G-d but one like Vishna, 'a creator and destroyer of worlds.' Thus, if one is dissatisfied and a Jew is involved, it is because he/she chose to be a destroyer of your world, a deeply unfair decision of course, a world of happiness could have been created for you. In any event, I suppose the idea of this 'closeness' is more general, and I wonder if the destruction of Israel might be viewed in the US as the 'death of G-d' and resisted in that vein.

8/05/2006 02:12:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

"Unless Israel's "offensive" really starts to take apart Hezbollah and/or U.S. diplomacy can find some way of disconnecting Iran and Syria from Hezbollah, the inevitable result will be a further emboldened Iran, and a much higher cost to contain/defeat it."
---
Somehow we make everything an intractable problem, when taking out 500 ancient tanks and bombing assets in Syria until baby comes around or something else happens is OUT OF THE QUESTION.

Cause "something else" these days is always sposed to be scarier than ever more hopeless, defeatist talk about why we can't do this or that.
Hopeless
(If it weren't for ADE's link, I'd give up)
Some things will ALWAYS be worth fighting for.

8/05/2006 02:18:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

cedarford,

Chickens scatter.

Ants crawl up your f-in leg.

8/05/2006 02:19:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Michael, re
"I wonder if the destruction of Israel might be viewed in the US as the 'death of G-d' and resisted in that vein."

That's exactly what was going through my mind while perusing ADE's link relinked by Jamie at 08:24:29 AM !

8/05/2006 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/05/2006 02:42:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

Why Syria's Tough Talk Won't Turn Into Action

" Israelis don't want to embark on a regime-change experiment when the most likely replacement at this point is an Islamic theocracy.

Damascus, for its part, is more than happy to avoid a punishing bout with the IDF. Despite tough talk, Syrian officials know their military is no match for the Israeli army — their antiquated weaponry and training can't compete with Israel's.
"
---
That's why I think WE should punish baby doc into stopping the sabotage of us and Israel, but what do I know, after all, it IS the LONG (and perhaps "unwinable") war.
Jeesh.

8/05/2006 02:43:00 PM  
Blogger trish said...

Olmert made some noises in the direction of Damascus a few days ago on the order of "Cease and desist or there will be consequences." And, well, you just kinda had to laugh.

8/05/2006 03:08:00 PM  
Blogger Garth Farkley said...

Alexis, CPT America and JM,

I can't speak for Nasr but I think you may have over-simplified his approach. He seems to advocate the destruction of Hezbollah as the starting point before engaging Iran in any way. That's what I take from his comments here: http://pewforum.org/events/index.php?EventID=120&source=yahoo

Nasr seems to have his priorities straight. As the saying goes, let's saw the wood that's in front of us. Let the undercard finish before we start warming up for the main event.

8/05/2006 08:52:00 PM  
Blogger redaktør said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/05/2006 09:01:00 PM  
Blogger redaktør said...

Cedarford said: You appear to be locked into an Amerocentric "It's ALL About Us!!" sentiment, and some God-given right to get other nations national resources at cost. Versus its fair market value.


Only that we're not talking about fair market value. We're talking about oligopolistic price-fixing through the use of war.

8/05/2006 09:09:00 PM  
Blogger John Hawkins said...

Back to Nasr...

He reads like a retread from the first President Bush's administration. His words are those of the advisors that said removing Sadaam from power would lead to chaos and Iran trampling the Mid-East. So we left him in power, and got all sorts of stability.

Always the paralysis. For some people, doing something is dangerous. Better to talk about things. Just keep talking, and eventually the problem will go away. Or it will become someone else's problem. Or maybe the sun will burn out first, but the important thing is we just won't have to take the risks of doing something.

But of course sitting still and talking is doing something after all. It's just not usually a very productive or effective something. Especially when the other side is recruiting soliders, training them, and building lots and lots of weapons for them.

8/06/2006 12:11:00 AM  
Blogger John Hawkins said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

8/06/2006 12:35:00 AM  
Blogger John Hawkins said...

About the Islamic Reformation, I think John Kelleher (or Fr. Neuhaus) has it right. Islam was created as part of an expansionist army, spreading Allah's will by the sword of empire. A return to its roots would of course be a return to aggression and conquest and the unification of mosque and state.

Christianity was, like the child in the manger, born to humble circumstances. Persecuted, shut out from power, believers sometimes slaughtered as a matter of state policy, the Christian faith new humility in its early days. Arrogance came later with the acquisition of power, and the Protestors prodestanted (oh dear, I think I have that backwards) against the arrogance and for a return to humility and a separation of earthly and heavenly power.

We don’t want a reformation of Islam, We want a transformation of it. But is it possible?

Perhaps. The third major monotheistic religion went though that. The Jewish tribes were sometimes arrogant, powerful, and had religious and political control bound tightly together during the early centuries of that faith. They learned humility from Pharaoh and the Romans (who were excellent instructors in that field). But it did take repeated dispossession, Diaspora, and near genocide. Americans are sometimes called the New Romans.

Does anyone know of another way?

8/06/2006 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger Garth Farkley said...

Hawk said, "But of course sitting still and talking is doing something after all. It's just not usually a very productive or effective something."

OTH: "It's better to jaw, jaw than to war, war." Ronald Reagan.

Obviously, when RR was "jaw, jawing" he was talking tough while simultaneousy preparing for war. The current Bush/Bolton approach with France and the "cease fire" is a good example IMHO. We are "jaw, jawing" while our proxy is taking care of business with Iran's proxy in Lebanon.

Also, I don't think you're doing justice to Nasr's views. I've read several of his articles and he seems to support regime change in Iran and stopping the nuclear threat. It's an extraordinarily complex situation over there, fraught with peril and whatever approach we take is bound to carry unintended and unimaginable consequences. It would behoove us, whether we ever have to invade Iran or engage them in a new cold war, to understand the politics. Only a fool makes war without knowing as much as possible about his enemy.

The cold war was not just words but also proxy fighting, tough economic measures, tough diplomacy and various other forms of fighting, short of all out invasion. There's no need to rule out similar tactics in our war against Islamic fascism. At any rate, we need to listen to, and not oversimplify and marginalize, men like Nasr who obviously support the same or similar goals and who hold tremendous resources of knowledge that we desperately need in the fight.

8/06/2006 07:34:00 AM  
Blogger John Hawkins said...

Garth said: ...I don't think you're doing justice to Nasr's views...we need to listen to, and not oversimplify and marginalize, men like Nasr...

Perhaps you're right. I may be oversimplifying Nasr's views. On the other hand, I can't help but think the situation is worse than it needs to be because we've over-complicated it for the last twenty five years. There really isn't very much nuance to the Mullahs, Hezzbolah, Hamas, etc.

Well, I'm over my comment limit anyway. I won't flip the bozo bit on Nasr, but I am skeptical.

8/06/2006 08:41:00 AM  
Blogger Whitehall said...

I too agree that the Shia/Sunni division is too simple. Our basic strategy should be secularization but that requires a change in the basic human ecology of the region.

Mohammanism arose in a region of scant resources where there was little creation of resources - to get richer, one stole from someone else. Hence the accent on warfare and conquest as part of the basic theology. Areas where nature is more productive and giving (SE Asia for example) have shown a tempering of Muslim extremism although cultural shock still produces terror acts.

Creating an economy and culture where a man can create and retain wealth in security would go a long way to eliminating religous fanaticism of any stripe. The proposed policy of direct distribution of oil profits to Iraqi citizens is a game-changer for Muslim culture and should be implemented.

8/07/2006 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

wretchard,

Nothing went wrong. This is one of the best military operations in all history.

I discuss the coming fall of the Syrian regime at: Syria Has a Problem. Its days are numbered. Sixty to ninety days. Possibly less.

also my previous in this line:

Tactics, Strategy, Grand Strategy

8/07/2006 10:42:00 PM  

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