Saturday, October 29, 2005

The Terrible Slow Sword

Probably the most interesting angle on the Valerie Plame affair is from Syrian blogger Amaraji who manages to link it to world and Middle Eastern events. He characterizes the deteriorating situation in Syria as one example of emergent problems that have started and will fester because of what he calls the new American Civil War.

Syria, barring a miracle, has the potential of turning into an ethnic and sectarian quagmire that will make Iraq and Lebanon in the heyday of its civil war look like a stroll in the park .... While neocons and liberals ... argue ...  there are parts of the world that are going to hell in a hand-basket, reflecting the new cold war climate created by this internal debate. It looks as if America is having a nice cold civil war by proxy over its own identity and future.

The ideological components of this war might be taking place in the halls of academia and the congress and through US and international media, but the physical aspect is taking place in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, etc. Each camp here is producing, wittingly and unwittingly, its own allies there, both ideological and tactical. And like in all proxy wars, these allies are quite capable of furthering their own particularistic agendas by stoking the debate here. ... this new American civil war ... has to come to an end. Otherwise the war on terror can never be won and Iraq will be followed by Syria, then Lebanon then Sudan, then Saudi Arabia, then… You get the point. 

As a metaphor, the idea of international factions mirroring American political divisions is a vivid one. The feeling that internal political gridlock projects itself on foreign policy is not particular to America. Bhim, commenting on the latest (sad word that, "latest") terrorist blasts in crowded New Delhi markets on the eve of Diwali restates Amaraji's observation from an Indian point of view.

The Indian state needs to ensure the safety of every citizen ... On the contrary, what signals are we getting? Ceasefire with ... militants, unconditional talks ... There are reports of the Assam militants shifting base from Bhutan to Bangladesh and the ISI [Pakistani intelligence agency] running dozens of camps near the Indian border in Bangladeshi territory. What is India doing about it? ...

... [in Assam] Today some 6 districts are Muslim majority and another 5-6 are on a verge of becoming one ... during the partition, Jinnah demanded that Assam be a part of Pakistan. There has been mass migration of Bangladeshi Muslims in to Assam from the thirties. ... There has been a statement by one Bangladeshi Prime minister that Bangladesh is economically viable only of Assam is clubbed with it. We need to wake up to these realities if well crafted, intentional plan to change the demography of India and usurp her territory by the Islamists.

A Bangladeshi site describes a sense of darkness creeping over the landscape while everyone looks the other way. (Hat tip: Dhimmi Watch)

An unprecedented series of simultaneous bomb blasts in Bangladesh is a "clear indication of a growing Islamic fundamentalism in our country," according to a Bangladeshi church leader. ... "It's unbelievable that 63 of our 64 districts witnessed explosions without police and intelligence officials having a single clue," said Augustine Dipak Karmakar, general secretary of the Church of Bangladesh. ... "The secular space is shrinking in my country". "This is a matter of serious concern to Christians and others," he said, while noting that the minuscule Christian community in Bangladesh was "safer compared to the Hindus whose condition is miserable". ... Since Bangladesh's breakaway from Pakistan, the non-Muslim population has shrunk, especially Hindus who accounted for 30 per cent of the population prior to the independence of Bangladesh, but were less than 10 per cent by 2000.


The political "civil war" described by Amaraji is hardly unique to America. The same kind of hesitation over how to deal with terrorism afflicts nations in Europe, Asia and Africa -- almost anywhere in the globe. But while India and Bangladesh are regional and national powers the United States is a global power; that Scooter Libby's statements to a prosecutor should be the fulcrum around which US policy turns would seem comically disproportionate to foreign observers unless it were part of a deeper struggle within Washington.

Yet it is possible to regard 'paralysis' in the face of terrorism as sober deliberation instead of 'knee-jerk reaction'; and measured responses (or even nonresponses) as the correct strategy policy to follow. According to this point of view the 'New American Civil War' is a feature, not a bug. An article in American Prospect by Robert Boynton describes how Francis Fukuyama came to the conclusion that Islamic fundamentalism ought to be left alone to collapse within itself. What America needs to do, he argues, is to manage the collapse of a doomed Islamic civilization, as it did the Soviet Union's.

... Fukuyama’s group portrayed the conflict between democratic capitalism and Islamic fundamentalism as so lopsided that Huntington’s formulation overstated the strength of America’s foe. ... Fukuyama argued that while Islamic terrorists are dangerous, they don’t resemble anything close to the threat once posed by communism or fascism. ... The depths of Fukuyama’s apostasy from the Bush doctrine became clear when “The Neoconservative Moment” was published last summer. In it, he accused the movement of having lost its bearings, leading the country into an unnecessary war. ... "They are extremely dangerous totalitarians, but pose threats primarily to regimes in the Middle East."

The most divisive aspect of Fukuyama’s argument has been his claim that Islamic terrorism is not an existential threat to the United States. It is a theme that he says has been influenced by the French scholars Gilles Kepel (The War for Muslim Minds) and Olivier Roy (The Failure of Political Islam), who argue that political Islam has demonstrated itself to be a failure everywhere it has taken power, and that the Islamic terrorist movement had been largely a failure prior to 9-11. Those attacks, as well as the Iraq War, gave it a new lease on life.

Fukuyama's analysis, like Pat Buchanan's, may ironically be based on too narrow a world view, where the memories of Hitler, the Cold War and post war Liberalism loom large while the story of the Ottomans, the Islamic conquest of northern India, the Czarist expansion across Eurasia, and the Islamic missions across the Malay barrier are banished to history of exotic and irrelevant places.  Yet it is precisely this forgotten world -- India and China to use one example -- that is coming to the forefront of the post-European era. To the new economic and demographic powers of the 21st century, it is the Partition not the McCarthy hearings for which 1947 should be principally remembered. From that point of view one could invert Fukuyama's dictum and say 'while communism or fascism are dangerous, they don’t resemble anything close to the threat posed militant Islam'.

It might even be possible to argue that what Amaraji calls the 'New American Civil War', instead of driving events in Syria and Lebanon, is itself being driven by the structural shifts of the new century. It would go a long way toward explaining why the political structures of the late 1990s have been so deranged by September 11. The United Nations, transAtlantic diplomacy, the doctrine of deterrence which underpinned Cold War strategy, the entire multicultural and globalizing agenda -- all of it -- has been called into question not by a small cabal of neo-conservatives -- that would be ludicrous -- but by the pent-up force of thousands of events in a world now striding to the center stage of history.


Blogger Elam Bend said...

Fukuyama also still sees the world as a primarily North America-Europe axis. In such a conception of the world, which much of Europe shares, then Islamic fundamentalism is not an existential threat, but merely a big annoyance at the edges of the hinterlands.
However, if you see the world as evolving from the old NA-E axis and ever including China-India and the southern sea-ways that connect them; then the threat from Islamic fundamentalism appears inside the beating heart of world trade. Indeed, in this view our actions in the Middle East seem to be missing a major part of the action.
However, two key points make action in the Middle East important.
First, much of the spread of Islamic fundamentalism springs from there and has a tinge of Arab cheuvanism. (Indeed, Saudi paymasters/charities use their money to influence Arabization of Asian/South Asian Islam) It is the intellectual heart of the fundamentalism.
Second, and more crucial the blood our economic system flows from the MidEast. If Fukuyama is content to risk a new Caliphate in such an area, he is a fool. An oil wealthy Caliphate would use its spoils to spread havoc and attack its neighbors, in order to spread the Caliphate. It would be a fragile system, destined to collapse, but such collapse woule be forestalled, at least for a while by hard petro dollars. Reagan understood this. That is why he convinced western Europe to put off the construction of a gas pipeline to the USSR as well as covertly sabotaged that infrastructure.
We faced either the Devil now or the Devil later. Osama bin Laden foolishly shortened our decision period, for without 9/11, he might have safely plotted the overthrow of the KSA for years.

10/29/2005 05:42:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

..."Reagan understood this. That is why he convinced western Europe to put off the construction of a gas pipeline to the USSR as well as covertly sabotaged that infrastructure."

Can you explain further.

10/29/2005 06:12:00 PM  
Blogger D. B. Light said...

Excellent analysis. American political culture has always been Eurocentric and it is very difficult for us to readjust to global realities. Our instinct is to retreat back into comfortable habits of thought and to dismiss as unimportant the new, terrifying realities such as the fact that Iran is on the brink of acquiring nuclear weaponry and is threatening to obliterate one of its regional neighbors. Few in America pay any attention to the fact that early in Bush's first term India and Pakistan were on the brink of nuclear warfare and that, with significant American management, that crisis was defused to the point where those nations are now cooperating in several areas, from sports to disaster relief, and are both emerging as strong allies of the US in the global confrontation with terror. These are horrific crises greater than anything we have experienced since the Kennedy years. I give the Bush administration full credit for recognizing the dangers we face and acting to defuse and confront them. Unfortunately, most Americans still don't get it.

10/29/2005 06:22:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

And in all this confusion, people who anchor themselves in pre 1989 are quite simply, going crazy. And by crazy, I mean that in the reality of a resurgent Islam throughout the world, they want to have meetings at the UN. eg, Scowcroft. eg, the "elite" universities, all the "elites" who established their "eliteness" pre 1989. (I had not understood, by the way, that these "elites" are running things in India and Bengladesh, as well as the US.)

By the way, one symptom, noted by David Brooks, is the truly weird response of the Democrats to the Fitzgerald grand jury. I mean, they have slavered with hate, a hate that is way over the horizon from simple anger into paranoia.

And, up in the boring North, apparently, the Saskatchewan government is sitting down to supper with the devil: it is making a deal with China to develop its oil deposits: from:

"Via China E_Lobby, who seem to have a better handle on the important developments in this province than the entire editorial staff of the Star Phoenix and Leader Post combined.

Woe Canada! Saskatchewan Premier looking for Communist oil investors: Lorne Calver, Premier of Saskatchewan, has gone to Beijing and opened up his province's oil and uranium fields to Communist Chinese "investment." He even gushed that the cadres "floated some ideas for the actual purchase of [oil field] properties that they would develop themselves"

10/29/2005 06:39:00 PM  
Blogger Tony said...

Anyone who would pretend that the feeble inaction of the 90's would be a better alternative to this administration's active forward defense (war) is feeble-minded.

If the "anti-war" camp are proposing something better to respond to this global war that is killing innocents on four or five continents over the past few decades, I wish they would make it clear enough for the rest of us to understand their alternative strategy.

I'll toss out a peace offering: Hey Liberal Cool Dudes - yes, I agree, War is a bad thing.

The way to Less War is NOT Surrender to medieval suicidal cults. Imho.

10/29/2005 06:51:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

"In its active participle form of gha-zi- ("one who takes part in a gha-ziya"), the word is technical term for a Muslim frontier/march warrior whose constant attacks against a neighboring infidel power open the way for the expansion of Islam. Thus as an institution the gha-ziya fits entirely within the conceptual framework of jihad: For the gha-zi-s in the marches, it was a religious duty to ravage the countries of the infidels who resisted Islam, and to force them into subjection.

Cambridge History of Islam, p. 283
Gha-zi- warriors depended upon plunder for their livelihood, and were prone to brigandage and sedition in times of peace. The corporations into which they organized themselves attracted adventurers, zealots, and religious and political dissidents of all ethnicities.

When performed within the context of Islamic jihad warfare, the ghazw's function was to weaken the enemy's defenses in preparation for his eventual conquest and subjugation. Because the typical ghazw raiding party often did not have the size or strength to seize military or territorial objectives, this usually meant sudden attacks on weakly defended targets (e.g. villages) with the intent of terrorizing/demoralizing their inhabitants and destroying material which could support the enemy's military forces."
Angry in the Great White North via LGF

10/29/2005 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Love the cat.

In the eighties W. Europe started to negotiate with the USSR for energy, not really one gas pipeline, but many. The Reagan administration argued for and convinced the Europeans to abondan the plan. The reasoning was that all the hard currency that this would inject into the USSR (in the form of petro dollars) would prop up the Soviet economy for years to come. Also, some of the books produced in the last ten years, providing a glimpse at covert operations have included the supply of deliberately bad industrial inteligence, i.e. sabotage by bad plans, specifically for gas and oil pipelines and turbines.
I'm sorry, though, in that I cannot remember the source book.

With the Soviet Union gone, Russia is now a major provider of energy to Europe and the infusion of hard currency that this brings is a partial disincentive for them to further reform their economy.

10/29/2005 07:14:00 PM  
Blogger Andy Schaefers said...


Does this article refer to the same events?

10/29/2005 07:24:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...


Thanks. And thanks for that clarification. Iran's oil and gas reserves are less than those of the former USSR. Hopefully a similar strategy can be put into effect to cash-starve the Ayatollahs.

10/29/2005 07:39:00 PM  
Blogger tefta said...

I believe our security to be primary and I believe terrorists would like a Democrat back in the White House with a supporting Democratic congress so our foreign policy of appeasement and cowering behind the UN may be resumed.

Democrats have never adopted a strong defense posture and the last two Democratic presidents gutted the military and hid behind the UN and NATO ala our disgraceful performance in the former Yugoslavia.

Odd isn't it that the anti-war movement doesn't include the Balkans where Muslim terrorists have been handed a foothold into Europe. I believe this area of the world to be far more dangerous to world peace than the Middle East yet it gets a pass, making my argument for me, because it's UN and NATO approved.

I also believe that domestic issues, while important, are far down the list of concerns because none of it will matter if we don't win the war on terrorism.

10/29/2005 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Baron Bodissey said...

D. B. Light --

American political culture has always been Eurocentric...

Indeed it has. And it hasn't always been pro-European; the vicious anti-European fervor has been just as strong as the fawning behavior we see nowadays.

But Europe is still always the focus. That, to my mind, is the big mistake. What's going on in Asia now is much more important, both economically and for our national security.

Within my son's lifetime, Europe will become nothing more than a picturesque theme park run by its new Muslim owners.

10/29/2005 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger al fin said...

The western world is basically defenseless to the demographic infusion of high birthrate third worlders, particularly those with fanatic religious beliefs. As westerners decline to procreate, the newcomers more than make up for the lack, with enthusiasm. This is the true ticking timebomb of Islam.

The truth is, even the mildest mannered muslim believes the entire world should come under Islamic rule.

10/29/2005 07:46:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Note the sad end of the Russian who helped us. Just speculation, but he may have been turned by one of the moles in our inteligence agencies.
The key point is that the hard currency provided by selling energy resources can be important to rogue regimes. Without oil, the Saudis are still Bedoin and Chavez would be a much poorer despot (and perhaps drug kingpin). In fact, I've wondered if the KSA will follow the same path as Spain, which become fantastically rich from the gold wealth of Ameican gold, only to decline once all the gold was spent and the sources ran dry. I can't help but think that this is the long term future for much of the Arabian peninsula unless they plan for something different (like Dubai).

As for the jihadist, I'm sure they would love the cash flow that oil wells would bring, but they seem more interested in finding a toehold in the ME (or Central Asia) in order to re-establish and grow the Caliphate. The only problem is that now someone else has beaten them to it. The establishment of an alternate to the corrupt regimes of the ME, no matter how imperfect Iraq may turn out, makes the Caliphate a less and less desirable alternative.

10/29/2005 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Elam Bend said...

Ah, but al fin, the demografic bust the infects the west is spreading throughout the world. Plus, 2 billion Hindus and [insert moral belief] Chinese also stand in oppositions to a caliphate.
In the long run numbers do not matter, but economic power. I know where I would place my bets.

Europe will remain important to us economically (and culturally), but more as a once heartland, a Pittsburg and Cleveland to the Las Angeles of the Pacific Rim. They are cabable of return to a higher status, but perhaps not the pinnacle. In fact, I think that the most Euro-centric of all are the Europeans, for in their excitement over the good of the common market (and blindness to the bad of the EU), they completely miss the emerging reality of our new world. They are less Greece to our Rome than Byzantium to our Rising Europe.

I am not without hope, though.

10/29/2005 08:01:00 PM  
Blogger Meme chose said...

There is another sense in which the current pattern of global conflict can be analyzed against the background of a civil war within Western countries, and its future path extrapolated.

In both the US and the UK since the 1960's left-leaning political elites have built a consensus around tolerating and in fact funding the continuation of high rates of violence and crime in inner-city areas, amounting to low level warfare. This choice appears to have been made specifically because those doing so don't have to live in the affected areas or suffer the consequences, and in preference to having to think through and enact more restrictive rules, required by inner-city conditions, which would then have to apply to themselves.

This phenomenon is now merging with the war on terror, in that there is little or no public reaction to the enemy's crimes, no matter how heinous, while they occur in Afghanistan or the immigrant suburbs of Paris or Brussels, and the victims are foreigners or other residents of already crime-ridden inner city areas. Thus today's Polish and Manchurian regions include areas of our own countries already ceded to chaos, from which our elite and professional citizens have already seceded.

Were this analysis correct then we might expect to find those on the left galvanized most strongly by the possibility that heightened security measures might force them to modify their own behavior in some way. Sure enough, we find them going ballistic on cue over the Patriot Act, because the government might be able to get a list of the books they have taken out of the library.

It is for these reasons that the eventual resolution of the war on terror is inextricably bound up with dismantling the welfare state, with one side in the civil war absolutely determined not to reopen the issue. The tipping point which leads to total war, our own Maginot Line, runs now through our own societies and will only be crossed in locality after locality as affluent professionals and their children, rather than immigrants, less educated citizens and inner city welfare recipients, are blown apart.

10/29/2005 08:03:00 PM  
Blogger heather said...

The movie, "History of Violence" is a case in point - the critical reviews have been almost uniformly excellent... I suspect because this is a HORROR movie, which presents 'violence' as a monster that is wholly alien to 'real' human beings. A person who is 'violent' is therefore completely different from regular human beings... forever.

And therefore, rational civilized thinking people can support "peace" and not see the unity of the Left and Islam, as they march in our universities, waving flags and screaming obscenities at such as Wolfowitz.

In another thread, here, there was a discussion about WMDs. The argument that - there was no WMDs found in Iraq, therefore, etc etc, sounded MAD to me... like a Scholastic gone bonkers.

I just came across a great piece of advice, somewhere, by a Holocaust survivor: if someone tells you he wants to kill you... believe him.

10/29/2005 08:32:00 PM  
Blogger trangbang68 said...

While this debate continues in academia and among the chattering jaybirds on cable news shows,in a grove in Indonesia Muslim true believers sawed the heads off of three adolescent Christian s.Am I missing something or is this debate pretty pointless?

10/29/2005 08:51:00 PM  
Blogger exhelodrvr1 said...

Sitting by and letting Islam, as a political "entity", collapse on itself would be satisfying in some respects. But considering the importance of their oil, it would be economically disastrous for the world. So that is not a viable option.

10/29/2005 09:02:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


They were girls in their tweens with long black hair, combed into shiny waves by their mothers. Even in death they looked innocent. The picture of their corpses are on a certain site, whose URL I will leave out, because no one should remember them as they look now. Remember them as I have described them on their last, carefree day.

The sight of their faces is why I will not don the filter that allows me to ignore them. I must remember them, for the sake of my own salvation.

10/29/2005 09:24:00 PM  
Blogger Barry Dauphin said...

Fukuyama leaves out too many important factors. To name just a few. Muslim immigration into Europe has no Cold War parallel. Second he doesn't seem to understand asymmetrical warfare by an enemy that could gain nukes or bioweapons but will not have an easily identifiable return address. Religious zealotry has a long history of involvement in starting wars and is am even more potent ideology than communism. After all it's the "opiate of the masses."

10/29/2005 09:29:00 PM  
Blogger Sparks fly said...

Ladies and gentlemen, lest we forget, the Bible has been here and explained that.

The white hot magma that is rising up through the nations of the earth is the continued existence of the state of Israel. The local ME Arabs are wroth with a fervent hatred for Jews that spreads to the United Nations and around the world. This is God's business a-brewing. Every nation is being drawn in and will be drawn in more as time goes by. The Bible says that " all " nations will come up against the land of unwalled villages in the last days. Hopefully the Christians will be gone in the rapture by then. Who wants to see such a thing? Many will be destroyed by "peace".

These things are happening.

This is a marvelous topic.

The rocks are not old.

10/29/2005 09:49:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

The way to keep a grip on ourselves is to keep returning to the ground of reality. The War on Terror arouses strong emotions; and there are lots of places where I don't think we want to go. Whether that misstep is blinding ourselves, as the liberals have done; or being overcome with hatred or apocalyptic vision, the misstep is nevertheless a fatal one. The Plame affair is a warning of how near we are to the eye-gouging, ear-biting wrestling match.

10/29/2005 10:05:00 PM  
Blogger Evanston2 said...

Sincerely, Wow! Extraordinary comments from all sorts of angles. Thank you all. And Wretchard for his heartfelt feelings about those poor girls, which serve to strengthen his warning about the consequencess of missteps in the War on Terror. The Chinese curse "may you live in interesting times" applies...

10/29/2005 10:37:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

In Wretchard's initial post about the Syrian blogger, he writes,
While neocons and liberals ... argue ... there are parts of the world that are going to hell in a hand-basket, reflecting the new cold war climate created by this internal debate. It looks as if America is having a nice cold civil war by proxy over its own identity and future.

What we see here is the touching belief on the part of most of the rest of the world -- but especially evident among Arabs -- that once the Americans become involved, anything can and will happen, and it will happen immediately.

After the fall of Baghdad, the residents have been quite unhappy because while America could put a man on the moon, we haven't been able to provide them with consistently more electricity than Saddam ever gave them ... and why is that?!?

Now, we're have a Syrian blogger lecture us because the war on terror is going a little too long for his liking, and if we'd just quit squabbling in Washington, and NY/UN and *do* it, his disastrous Middle East would be fixed and renovated toot sweet, and he, too, could live like a civilized human being.

We were told going into this adventure three years ago that it would be a long hard slog. For the Democrats, that long hard slog became too long approximately three days after the first bombing run on Iraq. Now, in addition to our customers in Iraq, we're hearing from Syria, too: "What's taking you Yanks so long, any way???"

Maybe we need to remind Wretchard's Syrian blogger that the short sweet way to wrap it all up in our favor -- and to guarantee to the liberals a win for the West -- would involve dropping little nuclear presents from above, and is that *really* how they all want to see it played out?

10/30/2005 12:37:00 AM  
Blogger tefta said...

"... we haven't been able to provide them with consistently more electricity than Saddam ever gave them ... and why is that?!?"

Can you say sabotage, suicide bombers, booby traps, and just plain old murder and mayhem.

The only quick way to stop the violence has already been discussed. Bomb them (no nukes) into the stone age they seem to prefer living in, and then we can rebuild a 21st century infrastructure and survivors will have all the electricity they want... even wireless internet access.

10/30/2005 04:09:00 AM  
Blogger RWE said...

My years in the D.C. environment convinced me that much which is passed on as "policy" or "philosophy" is derived from personal interests rather than larger principles.
People in government support much of what they do because they believe it will benefit them personally. Given that a properly run organization has as an internal objective to satisfy its members' personal objectives as consequence of its corporate ones, this is often difficult to discern.
So at least half of the "American Civil War" that offers hope or fear to millions around the globe is derived in large part from the desires of a relatively few individuals for power, glory, or riches.
The Volker report shows this quite clearly.
Today we are being driven in large part by the small and personal impulses of a few rather than something either grander or more noble.
The utter inability of some to realize the geo-political strategic aspects of our destruction and rebuilding of Iraq is evidence of this.
The "Me" decade goes on and on...

10/30/2005 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger al fin said...

The demographic threat from muslims to Europe is not so easily dismissed. The violence in Paris is testimony to the growing de facto power being claimed by muslim immigrants. Similar violence in Belgium, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Spain, Germany, and Italy signal the growing threat.

Europe lacks the will to meet the threat head on. Europe is sinking into dhimmocracy while the deniers sneer, scoff, and sleep.

10/30/2005 07:01:00 AM  
Blogger Das said...

9/11 was a failure of elite knowledge in every sphere - academic, strategic, legal, intelligence; if there was ever a good time for young people to "not trust anyone over age 30" that time is now. The opportunities for new thinking about the world are wide open. In some ways a fantastic time to be young. Fukiyama is simply wrong with the wrongness of a man staring down at a pet theory from the top of a garbage can. 9/11 explains everything, justifies everything; it was a consuming fire of the utmost lethality. Those who claim evenhandedness facing 9/11 are faking it.

10/30/2005 10:09:00 AM  
Blogger John Aristides said...

I think the "civil war" in the US is much more banal. The wealthy and complacent among us act frivolously because they live in a frivolous world. They refuse to believe that death and tragedy are anything but exotic exceptions to an otherwise perfectly malleable existence.

It is a belief that is loud and violent in the dying, but also one that goes quickly when the time comes. We have yet to see the mettle of our countrymen. Do not worry.

The vanity of the selfless is only one step away from the ruthlessness of the injured. The demand for blood will be loudest on the Left when it is their own children they bury.

10/30/2005 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

tefta - I also believe that domestic issues, while important, are far down the list of concerns because none of it will matter if we don't win the war on terrorism.

But not to Americans. The tax refunds skewed to the wealthy, the Iraq mess, the Rise of China, job insecurity, the economy, the massive rise in debt, loss of health care & pensions, and out of control illegal immigration are all higher priorities than the so called "war on the tactic of terrorism".

Even Bush has now abandoned the slogan WoT because it doesn't name the enemy, doesn't target the ideology of Radical Islam.

It does little good in the war of ideas to target a few hundred "evildoer folk who use terrorism because they hate our freedom" - when you have 90% of Muslims having unfavorable views of America and we encourage Radical Islamists to set up shop in the West.

10/30/2005 01:09:00 PM  
Blogger Juan Golblado said...

Very thought-provoking post, Wretchard. It had the jarring effect of making more real to me the possibility of losing this strange new kind of war.

I have increasingly come to see the split in the west as something fundamental. By considering the split as driven by the advancing totalitarianism (I'm afraid Islamism doesn't do it justice; it seems to be spreading as everybody else come out with their grudges against the US) both the split and the totalitarianism look increasingly dangerous.

I had wanted the coalition forces to wait about going into Iraq. I thought it was worth moving more slowly in order to take the time to force and cajole Europe and public opinion in general around to taking on Saddam. Nonetheless, when they went in, I was happy. I thought it was going to work out, but I didn't realize how badly we had failed to explain the situation to the broader public.

The very first day, though, following the reports on the BBC World Service, I realized that most of those news readers and even the reporters in the field were against the success of this effort. They were against it; they wanted it to fail. And that has held true for them, for a very significant part of the US Democratic Party and probably an even larger part of European public opinion, to this day. I realized that this lack of support for the overthrow of Saddam would make it impossible for Iraqis to support it. Western public opinion had already defined the terms of the debate so that the only 'authentic' thing for Iraqis to do was oppose the western effort (because west itself was against what its leaders were forcing on the world).

As the position of the western anti-war movement hardens, the size of it may be diminishing but the softer center who just want it to end has grown even more. Fortunately, the realities of the overthrow of Saddam seem to be clearer in the Middle East itself then they are in Europe and the US, and there is less reluctance there to think kindly of the overthrow.

But in the west, anti-imperialists still tell a more convincing story -- a story of authentic people relatively unsullied by dirty modern life, defenceless people being bullied by dirty modern warfare, and they even seem in some way to be more creative than we are. I suppose that is because utopian thinking invigorates the imagination on its way to totalitarianism.

But I'm afraid it will be unstoppable until it becomes obvious that it's going nowhere. And I'm afraid that will be quite a long time. And I'm afraid to think about what shape the world will be in by then.

Cedarford, calling the WoT a war on a tactic misses the point that totalitarian movements -- as Paul Berman said, are a "mass mobilization for unachievable ends", and so inevitably go into hyper violence of one kind or another. Think of WoT as being a War on Totalitarianism, with Terror being the buzzword standing in for it.

10/30/2005 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

What if the Japanese had jumped the gun and bombed Pearl Harbor in 1931? The Islamofascists might just have done us a similar favor.

But the ongoing political and culture war in America must still be fought. The Libby indictment skirmish will pale in comparison to the looming SCOTUS battle. That, I believe, will prove conclusive on the home front.

Should the President suceed in nominating an outstanding originalist judge, and the Senate confirm him or her, I think we'll see the war at home won by the Right, and that's critical to the ongoing prosecution of the GWOT. Should he lose, we'll see a return to the failed policies of the 90's and a return to isolationism disquised as diplomacy. We'll still need to fight the fascists, but we might lose ten years.

American might and her willingness to use it are essential in the dangerous days ahead.

10/30/2005 03:50:00 PM  
Blogger Cedarford said...

Old Dad - and that's critical to the ongoing prosecution of the GWOT

You mean the global war against the "terrorism" of the Palestinians, Zionists, abortion clinic bombers, Iraqi insurgents, FARC, ETA, Tamil Tigers, Northern Alliance, radical Islamists, Hindu extremists, boy thugs of the Ivory Coast??

Or is GWOT a stupid slogan that should have never passed Dubya's intellectually lazy lips?

10/30/2005 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger Charles said...

I live inside the beltway of washington dc. what I tell visitors is that in order to understand washington dc you have to view it as it was 250 years ago or about 1755. At that time the frontier was only about 50-100 miles away in path valleys that run from the shandoah valley to carlyle, PA. George Washington spent part of his time out there as a young frontiersman, surveyor and fighter.

Today the frontier is 50-100 miles straight up. Only today, every place on earth is the frontier because the frontier is only 50-100 miles straight up --all over the world.

The only difference about dc is that this area has become one of the major centers for the space industry in the USA--and the rest of the world.

Fukyama was right about the end of history as he understood it in the early 90's.

What you have going on today is the first fissures of what will be a divided history between a space based civilization and an earth based civilization.

A similiar process was at work in Europe in the early 1500's as news of the new world spread around the continent.

10/30/2005 05:01:00 PM  
Blogger ledger said...

ElamBend, I tend to agree with your analysis. Petrodollars are a huge boost to Islamofascists. With this economic resource they have been able to expand their agenda. Also fighting a wealthy enemy much harder than fighting a poor enemy (Afghanistan had more difficult terrain than Iraq yet Iraq is harder to fight because of Saddam's loot is funding a good portion enemy's operations).

I agree, it's not enough to sit back and let death cult self-collapse. Further, with certain totalitarian ME countries have mastered the use of bribes, acquisition of weapons and propaganda. This is a powerful tool when conjoined with terrorism. This enemy will not collapse over night (oil reserves in some of these countries could last the better part of century).

I believe that causing economic collapse in these countries is desirable - but not feasible without some covert actions (i.e., RR's faulty technology transfers or the like). In fact, it may not be feasible without overt action.

And, I agree that however flawed Iraq maybe (if it's really flawed at all) we should continue on a steady course and not withdraw. The stakes are just too high.

I will say that as the terrorists become more clever we have become equally as clever. Here is one example.

[Christian Science Monitor]:

...the most violent year here since the fall of the Taliban in 2001. The US Army is moving in smaller numbers to lure the Taliban out of hiding for fights they cannot win. The result: More than 1,200 enemy deaths this year, including high-level commanders... the chief advantage of the US military - especially in a low-intensity conflict, pitted against a crudely trained force like the Taliban - is training and air power.
Taliban fighters, meanwhile, appear to gain courage from numbers, the ability to swarm a smaller enemy unit. A sense of safety in numbers, however, is often the Taliban's undoing if a US platoon can fix an enemy's position long enough for aircraft or other infantry units to arrive. "The whole purpose of an infantry is to close in on the enemy and finish them off," says Capt. Eric Gardiner, commander of Chosen Company... "Here in Afghanistan, we've had over 75 percent of our contacts within hand grenade range."

As the Taliban start shooting, O'Neal's platoon scurries for cover. But there's no panic. "They think, without a doubt, they have us outnumbered," recalls O'Neal... leader of 2nd Platoon, Chosen Company. "We've got only 23 people on the ground, and I would say the Taliban had over 150 before the day was over.".. Sgt. J... Hormann... is leading a team of about six men up the hill, just behind 1st squad leader, Staff Sgt. M... Christian... Above them, about 50 Taliban fighters are raining down a torrent of gunfire with their Kalashnikovs and rocket-propelled grenades. For the next four hours, Hormann and a 10-man ad hoc squad move back up the mountain within 60 feet of the enemy... By that time, reinforcements from the 1st and 3rd platoons have arrived. All escape routes are blocked. The Taliban are trapped. "The fire was extremely close," says O'Neal, who was with a second team providing covering fire lower down the hill....As night falls, American AC-130 Specter gunships arrive to engage Taliban fighters who have also decided to make a run for it. By the end of the day, 76 Taliban bodies are counted, and another nine Taliban fighters are captured...

see: Lure Taliban Out of Hiding

10/30/2005 06:50:00 PM  
Blogger RWE said...

Charles: Tht is a hopeful view of the future that you present. Let me quote from a book I am writing:

"At a small meeting in the Pentagon in 1992, a NASA official summed up the grim facts concerning space launch; “An angry God did the physics.” Here on Earth, a few vicious lunatics with fertilizer and fuel oil, or knives and jet aircraft, none of which they themselves could manufacture, can cause horrific carnage. The Almighty clearly and wisely had no wish for such as they to conquer the magnificent and abundant universe He created; only the truly worthy will explore the final frontier."

10/31/2005 06:31:00 AM  
Blogger CBI said...

Thanks for the excellent article, Wretchard. The comments have also been very thought-provoking, and I'm still mulling them about.

Meanwhile, one small commend and one question.

The comment:To the new economic and demographic powers of the 21st century, it is the Partition not the McCarthy hearings for which 1947 should be principally remembered.

I'd argue that an event of significant importance would be the declaration of the Truman Doctrine of containing Communist expansion. The McCarthy hearing really didn't explode until after 1947, and pales in comparison to either the Partition or the Truman Doctrine.

The question: Can anyone provide the original source of the cited "If someone tells you that he intends to kill you, believe him" quotation? I've been unable to track it down.

10/31/2005 06:39:00 AM  
Blogger CJB said...

Fukuyama's position theat political Islamism will self-destruct if left alone is naive & dangerous. Surely, the attack of 9-11 showed what happend when Islamists are left alone: they come here and kill. Furthermore, if the Islamists were to seize power in Pakistan they would then have a nuclear arsenal at their disposal. Does Fukuyama are any body seriously believe they would not use it against the West? They would indeed.

To leave the Islamists alone would be to condemn the Muslim world to self-destruction, and the resultant violence would come crashing in our cities as well. Sticking our heads in the sand will not make the problem go away, but it will leave us terribly vulnerable as the problem grows & spreads.

10/31/2005 10:04:00 AM  
Blogger leaddog2 said...


"I also believe that domestic issues, while important, are far down the list of concerns because none of it will matter if we don't win the war on terrorism".

You are absolutely correct. That is what makes Boxer, Kennedy and Shumer (among others) along with the NY Times (etc.) guilty of Treason

10/31/2005 11:21:00 AM  
Blogger PSGInfinity said...


If Boxer, et al, were smart, brave, and sane enough, they could use "the other stuff" as the skeleton for a coherent argument. And in addition to those deficiencies, they don't see the Middle Kingdom for the threat / challenge it is...

10/31/2005 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Susan said...

I live in central Texas. Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal and a very rich man, is funding the private development of a rocket that will get into space "cheaper, faster, better" than anything DC can do. His company name is SpaceX and he has a testing facility near here. In an article published in Discover magazine he states that what motivates him is the realization that people are going to want to get off this planet. He states "60 years ago, we had no nuclear weapons, what will the next 60 years bring human civilization?" Charles, perhaps you know Elon Musk.

10/31/2005 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Shanah said...

I don't believe that the central problem is American political Eurocentricity, but rather a combination of semiotic excess and mass confusion, the result of an entire generation being immersed in half truths regarding global histories and cultures. Academics preach the beauties of multiculturalism, yet reduce people groups to being nothing more than slaves of white culture. As a result, we're slammed with images of the poor and oppressed in Africa, India, etc. and made to feel guilty about it while at the same time believing that these starving people have absolutely no connection to "what really matters" in the world.

Now, with the lines being drawn between MSM and alternative news sources, along with the proliferation of these alternative sources, we're experiencing a shift from a culture of ignorance to one of enlightenment.

In order to prevent this new civil war from destroying us from within, the enlightened must redirect focus and energies on making these integral connections between the events within the nation and the world at large. The segment of the population that does possess a strong sense of America's identity and future must now lead the way into tomorrow, not only for the sake of the union, but for the security of the free world.

11/03/2005 01:17:00 PM  

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