Thursday, August 10, 2006
1) As a nation, we are not well versed in Eastern and Middle Eastern History, and we are equally poorly versed in the Koran and Islam. The great historians in these areas of expertise have generally toiled away in obscurity.
2) Our general public discourse on religious and cultural matters is unduly limited. We are generally comfortable making critical comments toward Jews and Judaism, and Christianity and its various forms. In fact, I find the discourse from our secularists in that regard can be downright insulting, inappropriate and slanderous. By contrast, Islam fuels an absurd and dangerous political correctness which plainly feeds ignorance and only contributes to misunderstanding. The Islamic and secularist radicals repress proper criticism by inciting fear and threatening people, e.g., the cartoon intifada.
3) We instinctively presume the Westphalian concept of nation states is well accepted throughtout the world and specific notions of national identity and borders are settled. They are not. This is simply wrong. Most Arab nations had their borders drawn by European colonial powers in the aftermath of the fall of the Ottoman Turkish empire. There is no reason to presume these borders are "right" or "settled" or accepted by any number of aggrieved parties (Kurds, for instance). This is especially critical when you consider that our radical islamist enemies themselves are expansionists, imperialists and do not accept current borders as relevant or limiting. They envision a single Islamic entity encompassing enormous swaths of land. They identify only as Muslims -- sunni, wahhabi or shi-ite, to use certain examples -- not Egyptians or Saudis or Iraqis. This is vital to understanding why Afghanistan, Iraq, Bosnia, Chechnya and Lebanon are battles, not separate wars.
4) Furthermore, we fail to appreciate ethnic differences amongst Kurds, Arabs and Persians, or differences between Levantine Arabs, Marsh Arabs and Desert Arabs. These distinctions are all important in one way or another. We are only beginning to come to grips with the Shi'ite / Sunni divide. We don't even know what Druze and Maronites are.
5) And then there are strategic and tactical elements which simply cannot be disclosed or communicated because they are our advantages, and they must be held tightly in order to outclass our enemy.
I cannot possibly summarize all of the important dimensions of the war we are fighting that we as a nation are ignorant about. But there are many.
One of the important freedoms Joe Lieberman now has -- since he is no longer beholden to any particular partisan articulation of what this war is all about, and what it means -- is that he can go much further in articulating the breadth and nature of the war in explaining why he supported the decision to change the Iraqi regime through war. He can choose to talk about Iraq as a battle in a much broader war - and thereby draw links and parallels between Iraq, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Libya, Lebanon, Syria, Hezbollah, North Korea, Pakistan and Iran which heretofore most politicians have been very reluctant to make or were simply incapable of making them.
It is my hope that - as he will undoubtedly be pressed to explain his consistent and strident support for the Iraq War - he will unashamedly paint this large picture for the voters of Connecticut and perhaps the nation. The nation needs it.
HP - I don't think any politician has gone down the road based on today's data and congently said:
It's all one unified war;
Iraq was just one battle;
AQ was clearly linked to Saddam and the evidence uncovered post war proves it;
Iraq sent its previous nuclear envoy to Niger to discuss "trade" -- i.e. yellowcake. Joe Wilson was either an idiot or a liar;
Iraq 's center is at the heart of Levantine Arabia;
It is strategically convenient to have 150,000 American troops in Iraq and 250,000 newly trained, newly equipped Iraqi conscripts directly abutting Iran's key oil province called Khuzestan; and bordering Syria, Iran's key ally;
Lieberman can freely go on offense and play to the middle -- capturing the pro-war Democrat and Republican -- and leave the extremes to Lamont and whoever the Republican candidate is. He can re-make the case for his vote. BTW, this would actually help Hillary Clinton enormously.