Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Unrealism in the White House

For our must-read of the day, let's turn to a conservative, a real one, George Will, who has become one of the most eloquent and forceful critics of neoconservative foreign policy.

In his column in today's Washington Post, entitled "The Triumph of Unrealism," Will argues, correctly, that terrorism is best dealt with through law enforcement, not military action. He even suggests that "[c]ooperation between Pakistani and British law enforcement" leading to the recent arrests of terror suspects in Britain validates John Kerry's view that the war on terror is "primarily an intelligence and law enforcement operation that requires cooperation around the world". It is only "occasionally military".

Bush, his foreign policy team, and the neoconservatives don't seem to understand this. Even after all that has gone wrong in Iraq, even after the arrests in Britain, they claim, in the words of one "senior administration official," that "[t]he law enforcement approach doesn't work". Will: "[P]erhaps such rhetoric reflects the intellectual contortions required to sustain the illusion that the war in Iraq is central to the war on terrorism, and that the war, unlike 'the law enforcement approach,' does 'work.'"

This is the "unrealism" of Bush's foreign policy. And it's not at all helpful in addressing the threat of terrorism or the world's other pressing and emerging crises.

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9 Comments:

  • Since last week the whole world is looking now for new terrorist attacks coming from “Fascist Muslims” as they were called by President Bush, despite the fact that Fascism, National socialism and Bolshevism were Western totalitarian ideologies, which we can track down their roots all the way back to the French architects of terror during that bloody Revolution. And by distortions, as well, from ideas originated in Hegel, Fichte and other German philosophers and historians, plus well known Anarchists and Socialists from the XIX century, like Saint Simon, Marx, Engels, Herzen, Prince Bakunin and many others, who were responsible for terrorism in Russia under the last three Tsars. Even so, what we are facing now is a new kind of terrorism, with certain common grounds in the old one, but this new one was born as a result of the collapse of the old international order, which in fact was a permanent confrontation between the Western allies and the former Soviet Union. The West, especially the USA supported the Talibans in the 1980’s when they were fighting the Soviet Army in Afghanistan, but some observers said at that time that once they will get rid of the Soviets they will turn against their Western supporters. The followers of Osama bin Laden were indoctrinated in accordance with Wahhabism. Many of Westerners, especially in the USA, don’t have the slightest idea about the differences within the Muslim world of their many different sects, as we have in our own Western world many religious differences amongst Christians. Who are they: For more than two centuries, Wahhabism has been Saudi Arabia's dominant faith. It is an austere form of Islam that insists on a literal interpretation of the Koran. Strict Wahhabis believe that all those who don't practice their form of Islam are heathens and enemies, including other Sunnis Muslims and Shiite Muslims. Critics say that Wahhabism's rigidity has led it to misinterpret and distort Islam, pointing to extremists such as Osama bin Laden and the Taliban. Wahhabism's explosive growth began in the 1970s when Saudi charities started funding Wahhabi schools (madrassas) and mosques from Islamabad to Europe and the USA. Basically they denied what originally the Koran admitted, the very existence of other monotheistic faiths, basically Jews and Christians, which were in some way acceptable, considering their common roots in One God and the Patriarch Abraham worshiped by Mahomet’s followers. What happened after the Gulf War was that the presence of American forces in their Holy Land was considered as sacrilegious was then when they decided to fight right away to the West and their allies in the Muslim world. They started with their first terrorist attacks in Buenos Aires in 1992 against the Embassy of Israel, which caused almost sixty deaths, including a priest and people from a Catholic Church right across the street and two years later a new bombing attack against a Jewish Community Centre, were 100 people lost their lives, more or less at the time of the first attack against the World Trade Centre in New York. Many other attacks followed those. This ideology was well known by Western Intelligence before all those attacks but nobody prevented them, maybe because was the official religion in Saudi Arabia, with close economic ties with the West in spite of the Autocratic regime and the constant persecutions against Christians and other Muslims there, were nobody is able to practice any other faith, just because they considered as a felony under the Kingdom’s rules. After the invasion of Iraq, they used it as a new excuse to enlist more young disappointed Muslims to their cause. As it is know all the terrorist attackers against the towers five years ago were Saudis. But we have to recognize that most of the new followers are in these days from almost all Islamic countries, including Muslim communities in Europe, as It happened in London last year, and apparently are the same who were planning attacks to American airplanes now. Even though the Muslim world is severely fractured along ethnic lines with Kurds, Arabs, Persians, Turks, Pakistanis, and Indonesians all having very different views, the constant harassment against them, are unifying most Muslims against the West. There is no way that they will be stopped soon, the hate to the Western values and way of life runs very deep in their minds. We must recognize that Western societies didn’t do anything to change this dilemma. Instead of finishing the war in Afghanistan, defeating the Talibans and Al Qaida, the USA started a new war in Iraq, spreading more terrorism throughout the world than before that invasion. Most of Muslims blamed the West, in particular the USA of trying to take all the natural resources of the Middle East, and start a “new crusade” against Islam. From a strategic viewpoint the invasion in 2003, was a terrible mistake that had caused hundreds of thousands of lives, and what we have in Iraq now is a civil war as the British Ambassador recently said, and two American Generals in front of the USA Congress had reached to the same conclusion as well. With these new threats towards the West there is very little what we can do, Al Qaida doesn’t act institutionally, there are cells all over the world, with lots of luck the only way to stop them is through a permanent surveillance over the Muslim communities everywhere. But the result will be worst, each day more and more moderate Muslims are thinking that they are victims of a religious cleansing by the West, and there is a clear trend towards of radicalisation of many of them. Nobody can anticipate what may happen if the next step taken by the White House will be bombing Iran’s nuclear facilities and cities, which is the other member of Bush’s axis of evil, then the Clash of Civilizations envisaged by Huntington in the summer of 1993 will be a fact. But at his point I must say, I don’t agree with Huntington’s definitions of civilizations; our Western civilization had completely decayed, if not destroyed, as was described by Spengler in his Decline of the West and by Toynbee in his Study of History many decades ago. What I foresee is more bloodshed and more confrontation in the near future, instead of the so needed dialogue of civilizations, which the late Pope John Paul II and his predecessor Pope Benedict XVI had vehemently demanded. The fanatics are not only amongst the Muslims they are everywhere and they aren’t exclusively Muslims, they are amongst other religions, Christians as well, who are distorting the message of the Lamb of God who only grants us peace and not war.

    By Anonymous ludwigvonplankenstern, at 8:30 PM  

  • I think that more qualification is needed when they say "military action." Terrorists, as is their nature, are not people who have easily identifiable military targets and often move about amongst civilians. Any military action that involves air strikes is, unquestionably, counterproductive to fighting terrorists. Airstrikes mean civilian deaths. Civilian deaths mean upset families and more terrorists.

    Even without air strikes, I think it's not so clear. Part of the reason for Al Qaeda-style terrorism is because of US/Western intervention in the Middle East.

    By Blogger Clint, at 9:21 PM  

  • Good post that needs to be repeated often. Might the FBI do a better job under such a redefinition?
    But it will take forever for any such thing to happen. It would mean turning the stereotypical thinking that got us into this mess upside-down. This administration will never, ever say they got it wrong.

    By Blogger Carol Gee, at 11:09 PM  

  • If Geo. W. Bush and his neocon advisers were football coaches in any division I-A college program or the NFL they would have all been fired after 2 1/2 seasons. Unlike politicians,whom now control all three (yes, the Supreme Court too) branches of gov., football coaches are held accountable for their disasters.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 1:11 PM  

  • Clearly, Will is acknowledging that ideology is not the method with which to oppose terrorism...it simply forces people to choose an ideology...a shift that could be minimized if the efforts to eliminate terror focused on the lawless acts of criminals. Converting the pursuit of Osama bin Laden into a war against Islamofascism simply serves to compel the bulk of those who are followers of Islam into choosing sides. Add to the equation the horrible miscalculation with regards to Iraq and the subsequent characterization of that effort as the exportation of democracy...framed as the only means to defeat terrorists...and you have established an expansive cultural clash far beyond the confines of al-Qaeda.

    What becomes more and more evident with regards to the Bush administration is that the line between policy and politics has been virtually erased. The fact that a sitting U.S. president would forego necessary recalculations in order to preserve partisan advantage will, in my opinion, largely define the historical legacy of this President. Should his administration be allowed to shape the tone and dialogue of this effort to defeat terrorism, what may have been a complex intelligence and law enforcement conundrum may well be expanded into an all out war between longstanding and even further entrenched civilizations.

    Read more observations here:

    http://www.thoughttheater.com

    By Anonymous Daniel DiRito, at 1:34 PM  

  • Further along in George Will's column:

    George says he doesn't believe that U.S. foreign policy has anything to do with terrorism (or it's roots)

    'But few outside the fog of paranoia that is the blogosphere think like that.'

    See...'lefties' are 'paranoid'.

    bin Laden has no reason to beef with the CIA. Really!!!

    The U.S. has NEVER done anyone wrong that may cause anger and resentment among generations of people. I SWEAR!

    By Anonymous willyjsimmons, at 2:02 PM  

  • By Blogger ahmet can, at 8:36 AM  

  • By Blogger tegmen, at 5:23 PM  

  • By Blogger HadeS, at 5:08 PM  

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