Brand A, Brand B
The contrast between two rival strategic conceptions was never more stark. On the one hand we have an approach that recoils from engaging the enemy, seeks to contain it and study it at a distance; giving ground at every step but trusting to the threat of an Armageddon past a clear bright line to keep it at bay. This first approach is typified by Hillary Clinton's threat to "to totally obliterate Iran".
"In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them," she said.
"That's a terrible thing to say but those people who run Iran need to understand that because that perhaps will deter them from doing something that would be reckless, foolish and tragic," Clinton said.
In the meantime it's all very well to reach an accomodation with Iran. To grovel before them and plead with the Ayatollahs not to kill American soldiers in Iraq. To apologize for ever slight, real and imagined which they may feel. Even to withdraw every American in Iraq as a sign of goodwill toward Teheran. And the reason it's all fine and patriotic to let Iran rush forward where we give way because they should remember that if they pass a certain line drawn by Hillary Clinton "we would be able to totally obliterate them".
Let's contrast this approach with a different strategic idea. As mentioned in previous posts, for the first time in decades, none of Iraq's neighbors need fear an invasion from them. Not even -- ironically -- the one which has suffered the worst: Iran. Neither Kuwait nor Saudi Arabia nor any of the states in the Gulf have any reason to expect a descent of Iraqi troops upon their capital any time soon. There will be no more Desert Storms. Nor should the Kurds fear gassing nor the Shi'ites worry that their marshy homelands will be drained to facilitate the passage of armor and artillery. All that is history. The more broadminded would call it a step towards peace, but who could accuse the US of actually achieving that? An article in the Age provides perhaps the saddest tribute to the persistence of media consensus that Operation Iraqi Freedom has been a waste of space:
Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has chided neighbouring states for failing to bolster ties with Baghdad and write off Iraq's debts now that Saddam Hussein is gone and Iraq is not a threat to the region.
Maliki, speaking at a meeting in Kuwait of foreign ministers from the region and Western powers on Tuesday, did not name any countries but his remarks appeared aimed at Sunni Arab states that have only low-level ties with his Shi'ite-led government.
He said Iraq was now a vastly different country from that under Saddam, who ruled Iraq with an iron fist for decades until he was ousted in 2003 by US-led forces.
"Iraq today is different from the previous Iraq which assaulted its neighbours," Maliki said.
I wrote in the Three Conjectures that the eventual cost of not fighting the War on Terror selectively and aggressively would be the necessity to obliterate enemy populations indiscriminately. In other words, the price of rejecting a targeted, active strategy would be the eventual acceptance of a Hillary Clinton strategy. It's true that "we would be able to totally obliterate them" after Israel is incinerated. But that kind of misses the point.
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