Thursday, April 05, 2007
Who, pray tell, is Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel? He is Speaker of the Majlis, the Iranian parliament. Haddad-Abdel went to Islamabad today, and broke bread with Pakistan's President General Pervez Musharraf. He is obviously doing this to blunt American influence in Pakistan. There is no evidence that Haddad-Adel is visiting Pakistan over the objections of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
At a superficial level, Haddad-Adel is following the example of the Speaker of the United States House of Representatives. Nancy Pelosi traveled to Damascus, the capital of an American adversary, to meet with a brutal dictator who is subverting American interests in the region. However, the similarities end there. Pelosi's president objects strenuously to her visit. Unlike Haddad-Adel, Pelosi did not travel to Damascus at the behest of her government for the purpose of triangulating two adversaries, but to advance a completely different conception of the region's geopolitics.
In general, the national security strategists at the heart of the Bush administration believe that countries like Syria, Saddam's Iraq, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and North Korea commit terrorism and subvert other countries less to improve their own security than to advance an ideological agenda or secure geopolitical or financial gains. Since these countries have little or nothing valuable to offer in the geopolitical "marketplace" -- literally nothing in the case of Syria and North Korea, and only oil and gas in the case of Iran and Saddam's Iraq -- they create something to trade -- "peace" -- by means of war. Every act of terrorism or war generates new demand for "peace," a demand that the terrorist state can meet by suspending the violence in return for concessions. The advantage in this for the terrorist state is that demand for "peace" is theoretically bottomless. A terrorist state can create new demand for peace (and therefore new geopolitical currency) at will, simply by committing more violence.
In the view of the Bushies -- at least the purists among them -- rewarding a terrorist state with negotiations is pointless. The terrorist state will simply take each concession, bank it, and then create more demand for "peace" by committing a new act of war or terrorism. The only way to break this cycle is to punish the terrorist state by isolating it, starving it, or bombing it (in roughly that order). In other words, each act of terrorism or subversion should be met with a diplomatic, economic or military reprisal. The purpose of these reprisals is to persuade the terrorist state that it will cost more to create "demand" for peace than it can possibly gain by trading "peace" for more concessions.
Of course, the Bush strategy requires that the citizenry in the United States and other relevant countries be willing to support reprisals in lieu of making concessions for "peace." Before modern communications and the post-modern collapse of self-confidence, Westerners were willing to support a lot of reprisals. Today, however, most people would much prefer to believe that they could have peace -- actual peace -- by making a few concessions than to come to terms with the consequences of their own reprisals against terrorist states. The brutality of effective reprisals is so graphic, tangible, and immediate that it is easy to believe that the animinating terrorism was the result of some misunderstanding or legitimate grievance, rather than a calculated program to create new demand for "peace." Most modern Westerners hate thinking about the moral hazard involved -- that each concession creates an incentive for the terrorist state to replenish the demand for "peace" with another act of war -- so much that they deny it even exists. These people, who are ordinarily in the majority, will always opt for negotiations instead of reprisals. That is why these revolting terrorist states have not actually renounced violence notwithstanding our multi-decade history of concessions. In general, both the terrorist states and the typical voter in the West prefer an endless cycle of terrorism and concessions for "peace" to the only real alternative, coercive retaliation.
There was a time -- for two or three years after September 11, 2001 -- when a clear majority of Americans and larger-than-usual proportions in other countries seemed to understand that concessions made to terrorist states only beget more terrorism. That time now seems to have passed, and most Westerners have reverted to the post-modern preferences that have dominated American and European attitudes since the end of the Vietnam war. We have gone five years with no attacks on American soil to remind us of the threat, and we have stared at the visible consequences of our own reprisals on television every night. Our president is simply unable to articulate the case for his policy in any forum other than a scripted set speech. Our best young men and women are coming home on their shields. No wonder Americans are back to wishing to the point of belief that negotiations with terrorist states can bring lasting peace.
All of this explains in a nutshell why it is politically safe for Nancy Pelosi to defy George W. Bush, say with a straight face that the "road to Damascus is a road to peace," and treat with one of the most despicable people on the planet. Pelosi and her constituents -- who are once again in the majority -- have an unsated demand for "peace," and Bashar Assad is just the man to give it to them.
If only they can meet his price.
two things I take issue with in your commentary section...
1- "it is easy to believe that the animinating terrorism was the result of some misunderstanding or legitimate grievance, rather than a calculated program to create new demand for "peace.""
This seems not well thought out, since having a program to create new demand for peace is not a reason, just a strategy. What do you think the real reason is? I think it's fairly complex and don't profess to know the answer, but as long as your making judgement calls about policy and pelosi perhaps you should.
2-"There was a time -- for two or three years after September 11, 2001 -- when a clear majority of Americans and larger-than-usual proportions in other countries seemed to understand that concessions made to terrorist states only beget more terrorism. That time now seems to have passed.."
again, why do you think it has passed? I don't think it makes sense to just bemoan it's passing, or chalk it up to a deterioration of american/western culture. My opinion is that it has passed because the bush administration botched it big time by going into Iraq. What do you think?
I am not Tigerhawk but I have my own answers for you. I suspect you will not like them.
The answer to the first question is that Islam cannot and will not co-exist with America, the driver of Modernity. Consider the total lack of societal success in commercial, medical, scientific, artistic, and all other fields of human endeavors in contrast with modern societies, and the middling wealth afforded them by oil or labor remittances (Palestinians, Pakistanis) and your answer becomes clear.
Islam must destroy the modern world or be destroyed by it and it's demands of doubt and skepticism against "there is no god but allah, and mohammed is his prophet." Islam does not and cannot in it's absolute certainty over everything co-exist with the modern world and especially America. Of course the very poor Muslims in say Niger or Mauritania scarcely know we exist. Those more prosperous certainly do. When they move to the West the first thing they do is try and conquer it through fear and intimidation.
The reason secondly for the loss of will to inflict reprisals is not Bush's lack of communication skills though they certainly are poor. But rather a comfortable and weak society that does not believe it's own culture merits defending and believes the best of it's enemies. Thus you have the Peace Movement burning and defecating on the American Flag in Portland. Or taking the sides of Hamas, Hezbollah, 9/11 Conspiracy theories, etc.
Too much wealth and comfort coupled with Bobos (bohemian bourgeoisie or say, Steve Jobs) have led people to transfer allegiance from America as a nation to idiotic concepts like "World Citizen" or the Goreacle.
First anonymous (it is easier to respond if you guys use pen names, by the way),
Regarding your first point (that my observations are a means, not a reason, for terrorism), there are obviously many motivations, depending on who is doing the terrorizing. However, most states in the world have grievances, some of them extremely justified. Very few of those states exorcize those grievances by funding transnational terrorist organizations. These states and perhaps a couple of others do (along with other international crimes) because it is just about the only way that they can get attention. They have essentially nothing to offer the world in the way of products, art, science, culture or philosophy, and that is shameful and frustrating for them. So if you have nothing and yet still have grievances you want others to alleviate, what do you do? You blow things up so that people will bargain for "peace."
Regarding your second point, I certainly agree that the failure of Iraq, especially against the expectations established by the Bushies, goes a long way to explaining this change of heart. Indeed, I was alluding to that with my reference to casualties. However, I think that a larger proportion of the American public would have more patience for Iraq, which I still believe has enhanced our security rather than depreciated it, if George Bush could articulate his way out of a paper bag. And, I think, that the constant political attacks on the administration's competence, while justified in many ways, have made people wonder whether the threat of al Qaeda is genuine. After all, if the administration is so incompetent, how is it that al Qaeda has not attacked us here in more than five years? I think nobody on either side, by the way, has the answer to that question.
The board has mentioned grievances. I would put forth that it doesn’t matter what the West does, there will always be “Grievances” in the minds of the radical drivers of terror. If The United States abandoned the Persian Gulf completely, and we all started driving around bicycles instead of cars, this war would not end. The Islamists are too radicalized and are in many cases irredeemable.
I also agree with the policy of not making deals for peace. It is unproductive for the reason TigerHawk mentioned. Neville Chamberlain serves as an example for us all on the outcomes of appeasement.
Thomas Barnett has recently advocated pulling out of Iraq. He postulates that withdrawal will lead to great conflict in the region. I tend to agree with that. He postulates a result of this conflict will be that the "Correct" people will be killed in the violence. “Some people just need killin” as Josey Wales would say. Following this great upheaval, conflict fatigue will settle into the region and rebuilding may occur.
I am somewhat torn by this thesis as there is another result. I can see a certain brilliance in his idea, but I am somewhat disturbed by the implications. I have over 18 months time on the ground in Iraq. The vast majority of the Iraqi people just want to get on with their lives. I feel for them. Those people will bare the biggest cost of U.S. withdrawal.
The peace crowd in the U.S. has no clue what will happen should their desire for withdrawal be met.
Oh and one last thing, we could be successful in Iraq if we had the will.
For years, we have witnessed the "dumbing down" of America. (It has been hugely successful.)
Now we are seeing also the "cowarding down" of America from the same groups, the left, the education bureacracy, the Congress, even the Adminstration itself. Their mantra is, "we can't win, we won't win, so lets give up and never fight again.
Pelosi is to peace as is poop to a pickle.
According to Drudge, Olmert just pricelessly bitch-slapped Pelosi. Either Olmert set her up to look like a moron, or Pelosi simply made shit up.
Either way, it's hilarious.
The perils of unilateral diplomacy...
But the more profound and enduring sentiment is this acculturation to some more or less ambiguous set of values that irrupts most specifically in a simultaneous support of and ignorance of the adverseries of the United States.
One reason I came to the conservative side is I was just looking for information about who the hell these people were. Well, the only sites that had it were conservative sites. Mostly I just read the most politically neutral or anachronistic and highly-regarded history books I could find, which gave me a basis for judgment independent of the conservative/liberal questions. But liberals are, in my experience, simply and strangely uninterested in reading about, say, Iraq. How about Iraq in 1950? 1850? 1510? How about Saddam Hussein? How about Ba'ath history? And so on. History persists; there is simply no getting around it.
And of course, always looming in the background of this ridiculous "generation" is its persistent ignorance of the USSR - such that serious claims about the US arming Iraq, for example, enjoy more than 10 seconds of life in the media.
The analysis provided by Tigerhawk is the clearest characterization of the enemy's mindset, rendered in the grammar of American policymaking, that I've read. I wish, though, that people would keep in mind the simple rules of etiquette among heads of state, however antagonistic, that precludes Bush and other state officials from making statements like this in public. Even Churchill didn't call the Germans Huns from the rostrum of Whitehall. Besides, one would think these peoples' actions speak for themselves. That they seem not to in a depressing number of minds is really not Bush's fault, crappy speaker as he may be.
Watch out people. This story is a "Drudge Heckling" type trap. Nobody is bothering to verify who is saying what, or why.
For example. U.S. Republican Congressman Darrell Issa visited with President Bashar Assad a day after Pelosi.
According to Issa: "The president had failed to promote the necessary dialogue to resolve disagreements between the U.S. and Syria. That's an important message to realize: We have tensions, but we have two functioning embassies," Issa told reporters after separate meetings with Assad and his foreign minister, Walid al-Moallem."
Issa is doing this without Bush "permission" either. Remember,Issa is a conversative Republican.
In fact, A lot of Republicans and Dem's are visiting Syria. Only person not in talks is Bush. Bush just doesn't want to use those two functioning embassies. Everyone else seems to want too.
Blogs need to be more patient to see what is going on before posting. It would save many posters from possibility of looking foolish, and passing bad info, which they do not want to do in the first place.
Be patient. Do reserach on a story.
"...if George Bush could articulate his way out of a paper bag."
America needs to pay more attention to the PR war. The U.S. has the best marketing minds in the world. Yet all too often the country leaves the global marketing of its political ideas to free speech and a naive and frequently hostile domestic news media. Sometimes America needs to sell its ideas as aggressively as it sells soft drinks.
Nancy Pelosi is a conniving idiot without brains, but with a lot of Italian chutzpah. Stick-insect boy-Assad is a liar and a murderer of Rafiq Hariri of Lebanon.
Plus the dodo from the City on the Bay misrepresents Israel's position. But no one except delusional agitpreppies take her seriously.
The Democrats are incapable of running a foreign policy and should be kept from the Oval Office. Jimmy Carter is the biggest proof of this, but Clinton ain't far behind, as Sandy Berger tried to cover up with his botched document destruction. Clinton has a lot to hide.
Nancy Pelosi and Daryl Issa voted for the Syria Accountability and Lebanese Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2003. Read item E (below).
Issa is of Arab extraction. He has visited the Middle-East, including Syria, numerous times. Each time he comes back and says Syria is going to reign in terrorism, stop border crossings etc. Each time nothing changes. He is simply an enabler, nothing more.
I do not pretend to know why Pelosi went to the Middle-East. Maybe she is going to join the plethora of Dems wanting to become the next POTUS.
I do know that, as with Issa and company, her presence serves to muddy the waters here in the US and serve up good does of we love you PR for the likes of Assad.
The good PR does nothing to aid opposition movements in the Middle-East.
(2) the President shall impose two or more of the following sanctions:
(A) Prohibit the export of products of the United States (other than food and medicine) to Syria.
(B) Prohibit United States businesses from investing or operating in Syria.
(C) Restrict Syrian diplomats in Washington, D.C., and at the United Nations in New York City, to travel only within a 25-mile radius of Washington, D.C., or the United
Nations headquarters building, respectively.
(D) Prohibit aircraft of any air carrier owned or controlled by Syria to take off from, land in, or overfly the United States.
(E) Reduce United States diplomatic contacts with Syria (other than those contacts required to protect United States interests or carry out the purposes of this Act). From King Banaian at http://www.scsuscholars.com
Well, judging from what I am able to cull from the news, I just don't believe that our invasion/occupation/liberation of iraq has made us safer. At this point however I think that opinion is practically a matter of faith and not worth debating here.
I think your idea that countries which have nothing to offer resort to terrorism is interesting and I wonder if there are books that discuss this?
At any rate, I still am left wondering why they don't have something to offer, and also whether a "hard stance" is one that will alleviate that problem.
The thing about the "war on terror" is that it is so ambigous. I don't think there's any wonder that people ("the people") don't support efforts like this for long, because it doesn't really show any tangible results, and it also is dangerously close to a religeous war, which understandably is pretty unappetizing to anyone who's had the brains to realize that that has been going on for a very long time and doesn't promise a good (or any) end.
In other words, can this problem really be beat with aggresion? Doesn't the situation in the world (not enough resources is at the heart I think) make this an ongoing problem? Can we expect these other contries to simply take on our ideals? and even if they did then who's to say it would service their situation any better? Is there any precedence for those ideas?
to purple avenger:
no, it's the sentiment that the iraq war was a giant mistake which I think squandered the well wishes of the majority of the world.
I am "Jim Rockford" but I just can't be motivated to post under Blogger. Sorry. Hate Blogger.
I think it's a misnomer to think in terms of states. Does the State of Pakistan exist? Well there are national boundaries. But who runs it? Is it Musharraff? I suspect his writ goes no farther than the Presidential Palace gate if that. IMHO tribes/clans/families who are unable to exist in the modern world and so must destroy it or be destroyed by it as clan/tribe/family unity is dissolved in Western Individualism is the heart of the conflict and thus "non-negotiable." The Saudis may fund terrorism as a pay-off, but is Saudi even a "state" or a collection of tribes under a chieftain? Even Egypt seems beset by tribalistic Secret-Society Muslim Brotherhood. Even if we could sign treaties or make deals with tribal chiefs, their rule is not absolute and other chiefs can simply abrogate deals at will. Or the Chiefs themselves break it due to various tribal politics.
We can't stop being Western i.e. individualists. They can't stop being Muslim, i.e. tribal oriented collectivists. There is no "deal" to be made because the only way to stop the conflict is for everyone in the US to become Muslim and submit to some Caliph's authority, or to make Muslims drop Islam (and stop being Muslim). If everyone goes their own way where is the clan? The family? The tribe? That's the end of the world to them and thus they MUST destroy us. Islam gives them the belief that they can in fact destroy us. And in the main they act on tribal/family/clan units. KSM and Ramzi Yusef are uncle and nephew respectively, and their family seems to specialize in transnational terror. The Nation of Pakistan is not at war with us but the People of Pakistan effectively are.
[Note: extremely poor Muslim countries have almost no contact with the modern world, no radio, satellite TV, magazines, internet, trade, Westerners etc. Examples include Niger, Mauritania, Zanzibar, Mali, etc. Such isolated Muslim nations offer nothing to the world but don't take part in it either. Our Western individualism does not threaten their tribalism because globalization passed them by. You hardly hear of Mali or Niger or Mautianian Terrorists in the West. Unfortunately the rest of the Muslim world is too comparatively wealthy to be bypassed by global trade.]
I agree that GWB is inarticulate. I also suspect he views the Media as irrevocably in the enemy camp (i.e. pro-terrorist) and he's right more likely than not IMHO. Even Ronald Reagan would be unable to break through the Media which takes Osama's and Iran's and Hezbollah's side constantly and is always biased against America. Too much America-hating propaganda and "Davos man" elitism.
But my main point is there is no deal to be made. We won't have peace unless we all become Muslims and live under Sharia.
kj: see my point above. Make Muslims so poor they have no part in the World and don't even know it exists and the problem is solved. Some Muslims have become rich enough to sample the Western World and understand their failure more completely. Hence the violence by billionaires and Medical Doctors and middle class Lebanese Engineering students.
"Squandering the sympathy of the world?" There was never any sympathy in the first place (France and Palestine both celebrated 9/11) and sympathy means nothing. Sympathy and a UN letter of "severe regret" and $4.50 will get you a mocha latte.
Short version of above:
1. No deal can be made because States do not really exist, only their shells, and tribes/clans/families rule the Muslim world.
2. No deal can be made also because tribes/clans/families are mortally threatened by Western individualism that destroys their existence. Thus they MUST destroy us.
3. No deal can be made because the tribal/clan/family structure means deals can be abrogated at whim by others or those you deal with since the only deals that matter are within the tribe. All others are expendable "non-humans" to tribal based societies.
4. No deal can be made because the total societal failure of Muslim countries is made WORSE not better by rising income levels. VERY poor Muslim lands stay out of global trade and don't even know we exist (see Michael Palin's Sahara adventure in Niger for examples of this). Richer Muslim lands know we exist and that by comparison they will always be failures (see Michael Palin in Algeria for examples of this).
5. GWB is inarticulate, but it doesn't matter. The Media will always take the enemy side because they despise nationalism and America in favor of a fuzzy doppelganger of Islam -- "Davos-ism" i.e. rich transnational elitism.
6. The way out of this dilemma is to make Muslims very very poor for generations, keep them that way, so that they are bypassed by the rest of the world on what amounts to tribal reservations where they can preserve their tribal ways.
7. Check out Stanley Kurz's work on cousin marriage and it's effect on preserving Muslim tribal culture and refusal to acculturate in the West in NationalReview.com
The last couple of posts have demonstrated more understanding of Arab Muslim culture regarding its contrasts with the West, especially tribalism, which many academics try to ignore, than I usually ever see anywhere. Kudos.