Monday, November 28, 2005

Like A Fart In a House of Worship

Is just how this is going to go over with the conservatives. After they tried to tear me a new one over at VodkaPundit for suggesting the same thing. I have been biding my time, waiting for someone else to put it in print. Books | A history of violence: "So, in that sense, contrary to what the Bush administration would argue, the way to fight al-Qaida is to pull out of Iraq, because [the U.S. presence] is creating tremendous incentive for people to pick up arms on behalf of this mythical new caliphate [pan-Islamic religious-political empire] that they want to create. It makes sense to reduce our footprint in the Persian Gulf, and in fact the whole Middle East, and to remove this seemingly imperial presence that creates so much anger and unhappiness there.

We should also work a lot harder to solve the problems on what neoconservatives like Bernard Lewis call the 'fringes' of the Muslim world -- the conflicts from the Philippines to Kashmir to Chechnya to, of course, Palestine -- all of those disputes need to be reduced because they create heat that keeps the pot boiling. It's the molecules that escape from that boiling pot that are immediately snatched up by these terrorist groups in one form or another. They're catching the angriest, most nihilistic people coming out of this simmering pot. And so we need to lower the temperature.

And then we need to start more generally getting out of the way and letting the people in the region engage in rebuilding their societies and starting on the process of what I call 'religion building' -- in other words, yanking big parts of the Islamic establishment into the 21st century and reconciling it with ideals of secular modern institutions where church and state are separated."
Oh yeah, like they are going to do that. This is the daddy party, you will do as you are told or we will discipline you.
"I think what happened in Iraq shows that most clearly. Here was a secular dictatorship. We destroyed it, and what emerged in its place is largely a Shiite theocracy on one side, and a Sunni movement that because of civil war conditions is itself pulled very strongly into a Sunni Islamic formation. Neither one of these Iraqi whirlpools -- either the Sunni or the Shiite Islamist ones -- need to be victorious. I believe there are many Shiites in Iraq who are unhappy with the theocrats, and there are many Sunnis --- probably the majority in Iraq -- who are nationalists and are secular. But as long as this conflict continues I believe both of those nonreligious elements in Iraq are going to increasingly lose out to the Islamist character of both the Shiite and Sunni leadership."
"So it's a witches' brew. Syria could explode into a vicious, Lebanon-style catastrophe if Assad were to collapse. On the other hand, intelligence people who I've talked to say that Syria was very helpful after 9/11 in providing intelligence to the United States about al-Qaida, that Syria has absolutely no interest in supporting Islamist terrorism, and that if we want to stabilize Iraq we should be approaching both Syria and Iran directly on some diplomatic grounds to help reduce sectarian conflict in Iraq. Instead, what the Bush administration is doing is increasing the pressure on both Syria and Iran ... which is precisely the wrong thing to do if your goal is to stabilize Iraq.

I guess their theory is that the best defense is always a good offense, and astonishingly to me at a time when the American adventure in Iraq has gone completely and utterly off the track, rather than think about retreat, they're thinking about advance.

It reminds me of a piece in the Onion a while ago, which was a satire, saying that Bush announced that we were going to pull our troops out of Iraq, and that they were going to withdraw through Syria. That was a hilarious satire, but it seems to be almost exactly what some people in the administration are thinking."
I love the Onion but lately it has been hard to tell when they are joking because it actually sounds like something the administration would do. And this has the same chance of occurring as the proverbial snowball has of surviving hell.
"Is there a politician who's given real thoughtful consideration to this kind of stuff? Not that I can see, because, so far at least, the political consequences would be fatal. You'd have to come out against the war on terrorism, number one -- at least as it's currently conceived, and number two, you'd have to come out against America's one-sided support for Israel. And either one of those stands politically would be dangerous but both of them together would be fatal for most politicians -- or at least that's how they see it.
Which is why most of us have been depressed.

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