Friday, December 28, 2007

The Bhutto assassination and polarization in the wider war 

IraqPundit sees a connection that eludes American politicians:

All of a sudden, anyone who's anyone loves a modern, liberal Muslim -- except al-Qaeda, of course -- and unless those liberal Muslims are in Iraq....

I don't think we need any additional proof that al-Qaeda and their ilk think its their duty to murder modern, liberal Muslims wherever they are -- in addition to everyone else they disagree with....

Politicians and others can argue all they want that there is no connection between Iraq and the fight against terror. They can call for the abandonment of Iraq and claim it will have no impact on al-Qaeda. What matters is that the terrorists themselves can see the connection clearly.

I would like to point out that those who have declared Iraq a failure sometimes forget their own argument. WaPo's David Ignatius writes of "the assassination of this brave woman" today. He says, "Bhutto wasn't afraid of that tumultuous and sometimes deadly process of change, nor should anyone be."


Al Qaeda's war is, first and foremost, a civil war within Islam. It seeks to kill any Muslim whom it considers apostate, and any non-Muslim who rises to the defense of al Qaeda's enemies. The West can choose to leave liberal Muslims and other enemies of al Qaeda to their own devices, in which case they may lose the war and we will be in for a much tougher fight than we have today. Or we can pursue policies that sustain the enemies of the jihadis and polarize the Muslim world against them. The choice really is that simple.

Of course, there are those who argue that Western military intervention polarizes the Muslim world against us. Indeed, it is certainly true that Western military action makes it easier for al Qaeda to recruit. But it is also true that there are far more Muslims around the world today fighting against al Qaeda than there were before we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. Indeed, the increase in the number of Muslims fighting against al Qaeda seems quite obviously far greater than the increase in the number fighting for al Qaeda. Doves and other critics of the Bush administration emphasize al Qaeda's recruitment without acknowledging the rapidly growing numbers of Muslims walking a post against al Qaeda. They act as though these are independent events when in fact they are highly interrelated. The great masses of Muslims who oppose jihadi ideology are joining the fight against it because we have, through our policies, forced them to take a side. This does not require that they "like" or "approve" of the United States -- indeed, they may hate us -- but only that they understand which enemy is most likely to kill them capriciously.

Pakistan has apparently been an exception to the general trend in the war. There, the strength of the jihad seems to have risen more quickly than the numbers of people fighting against the jihad. Perhaps this is because al Qaeda and its allies have not yet made themselves so dangerous inside Pakistan that the average Pakistani is willing to take up arms against them. The question is, will that change with the murder of Bhutto and so many innocent people around her? If her assassination is the prelude to indiscriminate attacks on Pakistani civilians -- the only real military option at al Qaeda's disposal -- we may yet see Pakistan polarized against the jihadis as has already happened in Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia.

MORE: Army doctrine seems to reflect precisely the argument of this post. Heh.

CWCID: Glenn Reynolds.


By Blogger Steve M. Galbraith, at Fri Dec 28, 05:33:00 PM:

Bernard Lewis wrote this about two years ago re the ability to promote democracy in Muslim countries. He was speaking generically, but we can easily substitute Pakistan as the focus of his essay.

"[T]here is a good deal of pro-Western and even specifically pro-American feeling [in the Islamic world]. But the anti-American feeling is strongest in those countries that are ruled by what we are pleased to call "friendly governments." And it is those, of course, that are the most tyrannical and the most resented by their own people. The outlook [in promoting democracy] at the moment [again, 2006] is, I would say, very mixed. I think that the cause of developing free institutions--along their lines, not ours--is possible. One can see signs of its beginning in some countries. At the same time, the forces working against it are very powerful and well entrenched. And one of the greatest dangers is that on their side, they are firm and convinced and resolute. Whereas on our side, we are weak and undecided and irresolute. And in such a combat, it is not difficult to see which side will prevail."

Full essay link: Lewis

This is where the critics - including those friends on the Left and Right (libertarian version) - are correct. Our support for anti-democratic regimes does create anti-American sentiment. How could it not?

But where those critics are wrong, it seems to me, is in their espousal of a US retreat from these countries. To believe somehow that these problems can be solved by simply having the US walk away ignores the complexity of the problem. For the problem does not emanate solely from US support for anti-democratic rulers as much as the absence of democratic institutions and persons for us to assist.


By Blogger Christopher Chambers, at Fri Dec 28, 06:25:00 PM:

I don't know how this has escaped the PJM gang: hot off the presses Musharref's government announced they have a suspect...and he's al Qaida for sure. For sure, I say--and so does Musharref! The new evil empire has struck again. I'm glad our ally is on top of this (the way our former ally Osama bin Laden was on top of the Soviets...amazing how he's safe in Pakistan but Condi never remarked on how un-safe "Binky" Bhutto was).

To paraphrase another blog's commenter, "creating democracy" abroad has been more of a PR device or a cynical punchline rather than reality.  

By Blogger commoncents, at Sat Dec 29, 12:12:00 AM:

Excellent blog here!

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By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sun Dec 30, 05:17:00 PM:

While I agree with your analysis, that's not actual army doctrine, you simpleton.  

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