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Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Helicopters 

Amir Tahari:

Hassan Abbasi has a dream--a helicopter doing an arabesque in cloudy skies to avoid being shot at from the ground. On board are the last of the "fleeing Americans," forced out of the Dar al-Islam (The Abode of Islam) by "the Army of Muhammad." Presented by his friends as "The Dr. Kissinger of Islam," Mr. Abbasi is "professor of strategy" at the Islamic Republic's Revolutionary Guard Corps University and, according to Tehran sources, the principal foreign policy voice in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's new radical administration.

For the past several weeks Mr. Abbasi has been addressing crowds of Guard and Baseej Mustadafin (Mobilization of the Dispossessed) officers in Tehran with a simple theme: The U.S. does not have the stomach for a long conflict and will soon revert to its traditional policy of "running away," leaving Afghanistan and Iraq, indeed the whole of the Middle East, to be reshaped by Iran and its regional allies.

To hear Mr. Abbasi tell it the entire recent history of the U.S. could be narrated with the help of the image of "the last helicopter." It was that image in Saigon that concluded the Vietnam War under Gerald Ford. Jimmy Carter had five helicopters fleeing from the Iranian desert, leaving behind the charred corpses of eight American soldiers. Under Ronald Reagan the helicopters carried the corpses of 241 Marines murdered in their sleep in a Hezbollah suicide attack. Under the first President Bush, the helicopter flew from Safwan, in southern Iraq, with Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf aboard, leaving behind Saddam Hussein's generals, who could not believe why they had been allowed live to fight their domestic foes, and America, another day. Bill Clinton's helicopter was a Black Hawk, downed in Mogadishu and delivering 16 American soldiers into the hands of a murderous crowd.

According to this theory, President George W. Bush is an "aberration," a leader out of sync with his nation's character and no more than a brief nightmare for those who oppose the creation of an "American Middle East." Messrs. Abbasi and Ahmadinejad have concluded that there will be no helicopter as long as George W. Bush is in the White House. But they believe that whoever succeeds him, Democrat or Republican, will revive the helicopter image to extricate the U.S. from a complex situation that few Americans appear to understand.

For the span of a generation -- a longer period than the politically conscious lives of the great majority of people in the Arab and Muslim world -- America has fled from conflict in a part of the world where weakness earns contempt and begets more aggression, not less. On September 11, 2001 we reaped the whirlwind. So, whatever our strategy in the long war -- and you will read no argument here that it cannot be improved upon -- we must end Hassan Abbasi's helicopter metaphor. Helicopters can stand for different things. Let them no longer conjure the image of "fleeing Americans."

10 Comments:

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Wed Mar 29, 09:59:00 AM:

"On September 11, 2001 we reaped the whirlwind."

Cause we used to sow all that wind, but now no one wants to attack us...  

By Blogger Shochu John, at Wed Mar 29, 01:20:00 PM:

"The U.S. does not have the stomach for a long conflict and will soon revert to its traditional policy of "running away," leaving Afghanistan and Iraq, indeed the whole of the Middle East, to be reshaped by Iran and its regional allies"

Translation, "Hey you dumb Americans, stay in Iraq, I DARE you. I DOUBLE DOG DARE you. Why don't you just run away like the sissies you are?"

To which we, of course, respond, "Who you calling a sissy? We'll show you, we'll stay in Iraq all right, so YOU can't have it."

Of course, we're there propping up an Iran-friendly religious Shi'ite government, on our nickel and with our soldiers. So the mullahs and their hangers-on benefit and all they have to do is leisurely goad us. So we have a choice, we can either run like the wimps they think we are, or we can prove them wrong and continue to dump blood and treasure into Iraq to keep a pro-Tehran government in power (and I use "in power" loosely). It's a good day to be an Iranian politician  

By Blogger Georgfelis, at Wed Mar 29, 01:33:00 PM:

Let the sound of helicopters make the good guys smile and wave, and the bad guys run and hide, as they do in the rest of the civilized world.  

By Anonymous larwyn, at Wed Mar 29, 03:37:00 PM:

Dear Tigerhawk,
In light of the Wimps unveiling their new "national security" plan which will make the dream come true.

Have sent your post far and wide and hope all see the fallacy the WIMPS are pushing.  

By Blogger Screwy Hoolie, at Wed Mar 29, 04:06:00 PM:

Yeah, if only we'd pre-emptively attacked Iraq, Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, and whoever the hell else before 9/11, then we wouldn't be in a war!

More war = less war! Don't you stupid Democrats get it yet?!  

By Blogger 2164th, at Wed Mar 29, 06:57:00 PM:

It appears that an earlier decision to back the Sunnis, when Saddaam was at war with Iran, was the right decision. The Sunnis are at least capable of running a modern society if not a democratic one. The Shiite faction is not going to accept any notion of democracy that shares power with the Sunni no more than the Catholic Church is going to reconstitute itself with Judaism. We will never see a Shiite democracy. We will see another Shiite theocracy. Give this round to Iran.

America should eliminate the naive notion of building any Muslim democracy. It will not happen. We now have to face the long-term reality of Islamic fundamentalism and it’s incompatibility with the western democracies. We must isolate the Islamists at every possible level. We need Sunni autocrats to help. We have proved one thing and that is our willingness and capability of removing regimes that we feel are against our interest. That lesson has not been missed. We need to be clear to express that to Iran and ruthless enough to act if our interests dictate. That is enough to give any autocrat pause. It is credible if we are not tied down in an endless conflict in Iraq. It is time to say farewell to a failed idea and leave Iraq. We can promise to return if a regime appears that is overtly or covertly hostile to US interests. The US could then credibly assure the Iranians that we will not attempt to make them democratic, but we will not hesitate to remove any regime that supports any level of hostile action against us.  

By Blogger Assistant Village Idiot, at Wed Mar 29, 07:27:00 PM:

SJ, I think you overestimate how Tehran-friendly the Iraqi Shi'ites are, and in that, oversimplify a complex interaction. The Iraqi Shi'ites did not unilaterally side with Iran in the 80's, for example.

SH, I think I shall simply no longer answer false dichotomies.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Wed Mar 29, 07:39:00 PM:

*sighs* A whole list, this time...

Shochu John: That is a horrific oversimplification of the situation that draws upon false cultural assumptions (i.e. that Iraqi Shi'a are overwhelmingly pro-Iran, which is not true), ignores Iraq's parliamentary politics and blueprint for civil government, and dumbs down the realm of international relations to schoolyard rhetoric. And as a matter of fact, it is a bad day to be an Iranian politican seeing as how they are currently fearful of a potential counter-Revolution among the populace, (why the military and security services are on high alert for a *national holiday*) nervous about military confrontation with the West, surrounded strategically, and starting to lose Iraqi agents with terrible speed...

Screwie: Nothing you said had anything even remotely to do with the excerpt. The point was that when there is a conflict, the US has a reputation for fleeing which is (sadly) mostly true.

2164: "America should eliminate the naive notion of building any Muslim democracy. It will not happen."

Turkey is a Muslim Democracy.

"That is enough to give any autocrat pause. It is credible if we are not tied down in an endless conflict in Iraq. It is time to say farewell to a failed idea and leave Iraq."

So... running away before our objectives are complete in Iraq will *gain* us credibility? Did you even read the article? The whole point was that we always run away, and thereby have no credibility.  

By Blogger Lanky_Bastard, at Thu Mar 30, 09:54:00 AM:

Is it not said:
"They sow the cluster bombs, and reap the hearts and minds."

Iraqi 9/11 terrorists : 0
Iranian 9/11 terrorists : 0
Saudi 9/11 terrorists: 15
UAE 9/11 terrorists: 2
Egyptian 9/11 terrorists: 1
Lebanese 9/11 terrorists: 1

Wind, bombs, what's the difference? If you're looking to avoid future 9/11's you're sowing the wrong fields.  

By Blogger Shochu John, at Thu Mar 30, 10:17:00 AM:

Dawnfire, "That is a horrific oversimplification of the situation that draws upon false cultural assumptions (i.e. that Iraqi Shi'a are overwhelmingly pro-Iran, which is not true),"

Actually, that's not an underlying assumption at all. I said nothing about the Iraqi Shi'a as a people, I was speaking of the government. The head of the majoirty coalition in the government, the United Iraqi Alliance, is ruled by the head of its most powerful member, the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq, which is a Khomenist (or at least Montazerist)party. Its paramilitary wing, the Badr Corps, was trained by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. Even former Penatgon darling and generally secular Ahmad Chalabi maintains a residence in Iran and when the cards are down, already demonstrated he'd ally with them. In sharp contrast to the Ba'athists or Sunni Fundies, who hate Iran, the current Shi'a dominated Iraqi government is strongly pro-Iran, having been heavily backed by Iran during the long hard Saddam regime.  

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