Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Our Path to War

Rx: Sunlight, band-aid, or rest and plenty of fluids?

Should the West co-enable the vast majority of peace-loving moderate Muslims by opening and furthering avenues that allow us to continue dialoguing with peoples of variant and equally valid cultures and traditions, often those peoples being past and even current victims of our cultural if not always military and economic neo-colonialist and imperialist agenda? Should we empower the Other? Should we by benevolent aid try to further the spread of democracy across the Islamic world?

Should we continue our current course of Senstive New-Age warfare in which we selectively target terrorism?

Should we cut our losses and let the Islamic world colapse like a rotten souffle?

Let's for now set aside the options we prefer, those being massive retaliation for any (even) perceived outrage against the interests of the West, i.e. melting Mecca; and the actual strongly preferred colonization of Dar al-Islam by Walkerian Immortals.

We open this post with a quotation from a typical Muslim. Looking at the creature's mind at work we can extrapolate to the billion or so like her, and from that we can see the face of our enemy writ whole: Our wise leaders rightly do not wish to face such a sizable enemy face-to-face in a war conventional, a war on the scale and in terms of the two previous World Wars. Man to man we couldn't kill them fast enough to win or even to keep them from our shore if they decided to swim. Islam, the united ummah is too large a population to fight by conventional means, and we in the West do not want the war they seem intent on provoking. We in the West are determined to avoid even thinking about it. We go out of our ways to argue that it's not happening, that if there's a problem it's of our own making, and that if we're making it happen we should stop it before it gets out of hand. And that's the very few who will take out the ear phones long enough to listen to any argument at all. The vast majority of the West's populations will not even listen to the idea that there is anything at all wrong in our shared world experience. There's no immediate threat to those living in the suburbs on a daily basis, no terrorist threat that engages people personally and immediately, and if there is some violence it's scattered and occasional, not a thing to notice for more than a few days, if that. It's all considered to be blown out of proportion by racist Islamophobic bigots and the problem is with Israel and the invasion of Iraq. It's the old companies. It's the Man on the Moon.

The middle classes in the West do not wish to be disturbed by those they see as alarmists. Religion of peace. Tiny minority. Mumble in sleep. Hijacked by fanatics. Halliburton. Oil companies. The Jews. Kid's soccer game on Thursday....


Associated Press Writer

September 24, 2005, 3:40 PM EDT

Farhad's mother, known as Um Nidal, said all three of her sons have been killed in fighting with the Israelis. "I am so proud," she said. "I wish I had more sons to offer."


Those who know the history of war, and more importantly the psychology of war, of warriors in combat, will know that total war is always with us, and that it's only in this past century that total war is eliminated from vast parts of the West. Yeah, Bush is worse than Hitler. America is the most destructive empire in history. White Europeans, as Susan Sontag writes, are the cancer of history. Those who know war know better, and to listen to the Sontags of the "anti-war" movement is to become nauseous and enraged. War, historically, is annihilation of ones armed opponents and the enslavement of their fit survivors, some of them. We in the West do not murder civilian populations at random for the sake of extermination. We do not offer to exterminate our own children for the sake of the greater glory of our tribes. We avoid war like the plague. Modern war is so terrible only because our technology is so advanced. Otherwise it's far less destructive than man on man sword fighting. But here we are in the beginnings of a war we in the West generally refuse to acknowledge as a war at all. What is to be done? Our nations do not want war against the primitive fascist hordes of Islam who wish only that they had more sons to die. We want our continued comfort.

The war waged on civil Modernity is not going to go away. No appeasement is going to sate the death-lust of Muslims. Even Islamic triumph world-wide won't stop the war that will wage within Islam. The author below gives us some variations of possible approaches to our situation. We think they all suck.

Viewpoint: Assessing Bush's Iraq logic

Mark N. Katz
United Press International

September 27, 2005

WASHINGTON -- In his speech at the Pentagon on September 22, President Bush repeated his warning against America withdrawing its troops from Iraq. "Our withdrawal from Iraq would allow the terrorists to claim an historic victory over the United States," he said. "It would leave our enemies emboldened and allow men like [Abu Mussab Al] Zarqawi and [Osama] Bin Laden to dominate the Middle East and launch more attacks on America and other free nations."

The problem with this argument, of course, is that the Islamic extremists are already attacking America and its allies, and are citing the American troop presence in Iraq as a reason for doing so. Would the threat that America and its allies face from Islamic extremists be appreciably greater if American troops leave Iraq?

The experience of the Cold War suggests that the president's warning should be taken seriously. The American withdrawal from Indochina at the beginning of 1973 was followed by the Marxist takeover of this entire region in early 1975. Furthermore, Marxist revolutionary regimes came to power in several other Third World countries during the 1970s, including Ethiopia, Angola, Mozambique in Africa; Nicaragua and Grenada in the Western Hemisphere; and Afghanistan in Asia. Powerful Marxist insurgencies arose in several other countries (including El Salvador and the Philippines) that lasted well into the 1980s.

Would all this have happened if the United States had not withdrawn its troops from Indochina? It is not possible, of course, to answer this question definitively. There are, though, two observations that can be made about what happened back then that have differing implications for the present. On the one hand, there was harsh authoritarian or colonial rule, along with no opportunity for peaceful democratic change in each of these countries, and so Marxist revolution might well have resulted in some or all of them even if American forces had remained in Indochina.

On the other hand, the strong American domestic opposition to military intervention that rose up as a result of the Vietnam experience undoubtedly did embolden Marxist revolutionaries elsewhere. Success at revolution seemed all the more achievable with the knowledge that the United States was not likely to undertake large-scale intervention in order to stop it. The expectation that the United States would not intervene also encouraged military intervention by established Marxist regimes during this period, as with Cuba aided by the Soviet Union in Angola and the Horn of Africa, Vietnam in Cambodia and the USSR in Afghanistan.

What do these two observations suggest about the present? First, the American military presence in Iraq has clearly not prevented Islamic revolutionary forces from vying for power with the Muslim world's many authoritarian regimes that are unwilling to allow themselves to be voted out of power (many of which are backed by the United States).

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza gave rise to Islamic revolutionary activity there long before the US-led intervention in Iraq. It would not be surprising, then, if Islamic revolution takes place in countries ripe for it even if American forces remain in Iraq.

The second observation, though, indicates that just as the American withdrawal from Indochina led to an upsurge of Marxist revolutionary activity in the 1970s, an American withdrawal from Iraq will lead to increased Islamic revolutionary activity now. Men like Zarqawi and Bin Laden will indeed see this as an opportunity to dominate the Middle East, as Bush warned. Islamic revolution might well succeed elsewhere after a US withdrawal from Iraq.

There is, however, a third observation about the Cold War that could apply to the present. When the US withdrew from Indochina and Marxist regimes arose in so many Third World countries shortly thereafter, it seemed to many that American power had gone into an irreversible decline and that Marxism was the wave of the future in much of the world, if not all of it.

It was at this moment of seeming triumph for the Marxists, however, that things started to go increasingly wrong for them. The Marxist world was already bitterly divided between the partisans of Moscow and the partisans of China. In addition, virtually all of the new Marxist regimes that came into being in the 1970s proved to be both weak and unpopular. None could deliver prosperity for their citizens. Although their revolutionary ideology claimed to speak on behalf of their entire people, these regimes were often based on - and favored - certain ethnicities, tribes, or regions over others. The less favored groups resisted - and soon found support from external powers, including the United States. Indeed, the United States found during the 1980s that, compared to counterinsurgency, undermining revolutionary regimes was relatively easy since they themselves cooperated in this through their pursuit of misguided or even vicious domestic policies.

What this observation suggests is that if American forces withdraw from Iraq and Islamic revolutionary regimes comes to power there and elsewhere, the seemingly triumphant Islamic revolutionary wave might experience some of the same problems that the Marxist revolutionary one did previously. The Islamic revolutionary movement has already become increasingly divided between Sunnis and Shias. The leading Sunni radical leader in Iraq, Zarqawi, has recently declared war on Shias. In addition, the Islamic revolutionary regimes that have already come into being have already proved that they cannot deliver prosperity for the majority - even when, like Iran, they possess vast oil wealth. It is doubtful that Islamic revolutionary regimes elsewhere would prove any less corrupt than the Iranian one.

Nor is Islamic revolutionary ideology likely to eliminate ethnic, tribal and regional differences within countries. Islamic revolutionaries in Iraq appear determined to exacerbate them. Under these circumstances it is highly likely that, just as in Marxist-ruled states previously, less favored groups in Islamic states would resist the regime and would seek support from external powers, including the United States.

While Bush has argued that withdrawing from Iraq will result in much worse consequences for America than remaining there, the experience of the Cold War suggests that the opposite might actually be true. Although it was not intended as such, the American withdrawal from Indochina proved not so much to be a defeat as it was a strategic retreat that resulted in our Marxist opponents both overextending and discrediting themselves. This allowed the United States to more effectively undermine them than did stubbornly continuing its unsuccessful counterinsurgency efforts in Indochina.

An American withdrawal from Iraq might have a similar impact. Some, of course, would argue that there is no guarantee that this would happen, and that Islamic revolutionaries might seize power in country after country if they think that America would not intervene to stop them. It is highly unlikely, though, that Islamic revolutionaries in power would avoid the many mistakes made by Marxist revolutionaries before them. Indeed, their arrogance and intolerance practically guarantee that they would make them. Bush's stubborn continuation of an unsuccessful counterinsurgency effort in Iraq might only be delaying this process.

Mark N. Katz is a professor of government and politics at George Mason University


There's a chance that by letting the world of Islam go to Hell on its own that we won't have to fight them at all. That Cold War thesis, that by fighting Communism we allowed it to live on, ignores the problem of the details of the daily lives of those suffering, in this case, from the evils of Islam. If we allow Islam to take its natural course, to grow as a boil on the collective Human body that it will of its own nature burst, ignores the value of individual Human life.

In a later post we'll look at the International Brigades of the Spanish Civil War. We'll also look at the current situation in Thailand as it comes under attack by Islamic triumphalists. In drawing those two topics together we will put forth our preferred solution to the state of Islamic imperialism today.

1 comment:

John Sobieski said...

Hi Dag,

I look forward to that proposal. If you have been reading JihadWatch, and Hugh Fitzgerald who comments and sometimes writes articles posted there, the strategic retreat, and let them enter internecine conflicts has been proposed. I concur with that theory. Muslims throughout their 1400 year history have fought each other. It's the nature of the beast. By discreetly blowing on the embers of long standing grievances, we change their focus from the infidels to each other. Why should we lose our souls and our treasury trying to bring democracy to Islam. Islam may be subdued but only temporarily by a veneer of democracy, but it never lasts. Islam will always rise and destroy democracy and secular practices. Always. The best we can hope, if this democracy project halfway works, is a reprieve. Jihad retreats, becoming weak. 10 years, 100 years, it will gain strength again and strong jihad (the jihad we have today) will rise again. That is our future sharing one Earth with us and Islam. I have accepted that although the night I first fully realized that, it made me sick. What is that old saying about the bomb? Learning to love the bomb.