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14 January 2007

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lina

"The president says that we are locked in an ideological struggle."

No.

HE is locked in an ideological struggle. WE are just his captive audience. HE is a fanatic. WE are just trying to do our everyday lives. There are millions of muslims who are not zealots. There are millions of western Christians who are not following the tenets of the old testament. These are not the middle ages. Turning the whole world into Israel vs. Palestine was not the best way to go on 9/12/01.

Reasonable, rational, thinking people need to take the reigns of power away from the people who are still advocating this so-called ideological struggle.

Enough already.

Michael Singer

Dear Pat,
I have not read Carter's book. I agree with you that "this is tricky stuff." I would be the last person to defend the Israeli occupation of Palestine. I support a two state solution with the 1967 borders. However, I think it is a mistake to put the US and Israel on opposite sides. What is the real moral difference between our functioning democracy and that of Israel? And what is the difference between what we are doing in Iraq--unacceptable and against our interests and what the Israelis are doing in the territories--unacceptable and against their interests? Doesn't that make moiety?
Michael Singer

W. Patrick Lang

Michael

This is a good point. Like the Israelis we now are the occupying power over an alien people. I suppose I will hear about the Indians now from someone. you are right. We are no better.

Kevin

"My analysis leads me to the belief that we are fighting against traditional Islam."

Why Iran is Next

Michael Singer

Dear PAt,
On your second point about going to the defense of Israel were they to be attacked by Iran or whomever. I understand you supprt that policy. In the long list of rotten, fascistic, monarchies, dictatorships and oil and mineral rich regimes over which Presidents have shed American blood and treasure, Israel looks like a flawed but decent enough ally to fight with and for.
Smedley ButlerUSMC had it right along time ago. And so does Brezsinski and the peaceniks:Iraq is a colonial--blood for oil--war and equally it is Us against Islam though I think Lina adds much needed grey to this manichean struggle.
Michael Singer

W. Patrick Lang

Michael

We will obviously defend Israel if it is attacked. My point is that if WE attack Iran it will really be for the purpose of defending Israel. pl

Green Zone Cafe

I say that "freedom" as the bushies use the term is code and really means westernization and "globalization" in the sense that we want to see the world "ironed out" flat so the it meets the egregious Friedman's dream of a homogeneous world.

True, so much of the reform and governance efforts in Iraq, Jordan, Egypt and elsewhere have been to bring those countries within the fold of the WTO, IMF, WIPO and their economic and legal guidelines.

Globalization, as Friedman preaches it, is another utopian project, so much like Communism in its ideal form. The "flattening" of the world will attenuate all of the old ethnic, religious and economic divisions of mankind and bring about a world in which we can all sing the Ode to Joy: Alle menchen wurden Bruder. Of course the "Ode to Joy" is the anthem of the EU, the most advanced globalist governance structure.

The globalist project will also destroy local mores, cultures, religions and habits of trade (e.g. the souk replaced by the Mega-Mall filled with transnational retailers like The Gap), but to its proponents like Friedman, it's a small price to pay for world peace and prosperity.

We want an Islam similar in its role in life to the emasculated role that Christianity plays for most Americans in their lives?

My analysis leads me to the belief that we are fighting against traditional Islam.

Of course, the globalist/modernist/rationalist project which we provide the muscle and money for is a relentless enemy of all religions, not just traditional Islam. This is a main source of of religious/cultural conflict in the USA: the Founders, with their Enlightenment ideas and vague Deism, wrote a Constitution which operates now to give primacy to secularism in the public sphere. The free expression and neutrality about religion produces thousands of works everyday which are subversive to religious doctrine: from the most rarified scientific work to the lowest pornography. The scientific and media output of the West is destroying religious belief.

Dave Schuler

I think that “existential threat” is a bit of a sticky question. Can violent radicals who aren't the government of a major power destroy the United States physically? No, in that I agree with you.

But a very large part of our way of life is quite fragile, relying on low-cost transportation, communications, and computing and the marginal cost/benefit ratios of those things are threatened by an uptick in terrorism. The analogy here may be the North and the South during the American Civil War. The North did not have the ability to destroy the South in the sense of physically destroying it (obviously, since it still exists). But it could and did destroy the way of life there.

I don't know whether we're at war with traditional Islam or not. I don't know enough about the subject to render an informed opinion. But I suspect that business and cultural practices that rely on controlling information and the access to information have already lost the war whether you're talking about retailers with high margins or cultural practices that are only allowed to survive while they can be kept in the shadows.

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I agree with you, unfortunately. Some of the US President's speeches several years ago left we wondering when he would be stitching a cross to his chest. I also think the US & EU elites are fundamentally misjudging what is going on. They seem to be modeling their policies and responses on the Cold War where 2 (post-Christian) branches of the Western Civilization faced off each other.


I do not believe that US is in an ideological struggle with Islam; that struggle is over and Islam has won; ergo no struggle.

Furthermore, from a religious point of view one can argue that the manner by which Freedom, Pluralism, Democracy etc. are presented by the US & EU elites leads one to conclude that these are new idols. Thus, from a strictly monotheistic religious (Judaic, Christian, Islamic) point of view, such idols must be resisted, like any other idol - for they are against the one True God. In fact, 2000 years ago, based on similar reasoning, the Jewish Rabbis rejected Rome for her godlessness and idol-worship.

I would also like to observe here that US & EU are going to have similar problems with Hinduism once it enters its militant phase. It will make the current difficulties with the world of Islam look like a picnic. And you heard this from me first!

My impression (listening to various former and current US officials) has been that they are not fearful of a nuclear attack on US by a state. Rather, it seems to me, that they are fearful of a terrorist attack. If so, I think then that they are going about it the wrong way - in my opinion.

In regards to Israel and the Palestinians - I believe that the 2-state solution is a pipe-dream. After 40 years of evolution of the West Bank and Gaza under Israeli occupation I cannot see how paper agreements can change those facts on the ground. I think that the only workable approach is a bi-national state; which, then, by definition, would mean the end of the Zionist project.

I do not know of any formal treaty of defense between Israel and US. I cannot see the utility of a treaty between US and Israel - a state without defined borders. The answer to Israel's security could have been found in her joining NATO but then Israelis did not want that - it interfered with their land grab policy since their joining NATO would have required defined borders.

I think the best thing that US could do for Israel was to get her to recognized international borders and build on that. Now it is too late - the character of the war has changed - it is now a war between Judaism and Islam.
The neo-Salafi (a.k.a. International Jihadi Movement) is also a threat to Shia in general and Iran specifically. Shia in Pakistan have been targeted for more than 10 years long before 9/11. There were terrorist attacks against Iranian targets in Pakistan all throughout 1990s long before US woke up to their danger.

And lastly, you are right: Muslims are not a bunch of dead-dog liberals, offering the other cheek. Islam is not Christianity and will never be like it – which reminds of a speech by Ayatollah Khomeini in which he questioned the authenticity of the (Hadith) “…offer the other cheek”. For him (Khomeini) it was inconceivable that a Prophet of God – who is ordained to oppose oppression- would make such a statement.

Kevin:

The Iranian oil bourse would have been good for both buyers and sellers because it would have taken the middle men out. It was not a threat against US - it would have been beneficial (indirectly) to US.

It has not yet seen the light of day because there are powerful interests inside Iran that benefit financially from the current opaque situation (a.k.a. corruption).

holy_bazooka

Conclusion that may imply much the same end result r being drawn in the arab world.

John Hammer

There was alot of concern within the cultural left in the 1990's, that economic globalization would homogenize the world's cultures. It did the opposite by empowering the forces of nationalism and religeous fundamentalism. India and China are the two big cases.

The westernization of any eastern people is a complete fantasy. Iran 1979 anybody? Modernization, ofcourse, is a different story. Would the aigis of religeous nationalism be the best bet for Iraq to modernize under, socio-politically? I think so, but unfortunatly we are at war with Iraq's religeous nationalists.

Duncan Kinder

According to The Chinese Machiavelli: 3000 Years of Chinese Statecraft, by Ching Ping and Dennis Bloodworth, the first lesson of statecraft is "respecting the king and repelling the barbarian."

[W]hen the feudal states feuded, the first thing that happened was that the more uncouth tribal fiefs on their fringes rose against them...The royal house of Chou might have fallen into decay, but the king was still the king, the lord of All under Heaven, and the great Duke of Ch'i would stop playing the bully the other feudal states of the Middle Kingdom would accept his leadership and unite behind him against the woollier tribes threatening its periphery Chinese Machiavelli at p. 6.

Following this logic, an appropriate strategy for a weak king, who needs support, is to manufacture barbarians who appear to be threatening. Essentially Bush is now doing this.

I urge people to read this book. It complements H. John Poole's Phantom Soldier and The Tiger's Way, by setting forth Oriental political and diplomatic stratagems to match Poole's Oriental warfare.

meletius

It's interesting how for decades Israel was somehow able to contemplate its future existence with the Islamic Republic of Iran until after our invasion and occupation of Iraq--which Israel supported and which intentionally removed one of their sworn enemies and replaced it with a new "ally" in the Freedom Train ideology.

Yet now Iran has been elevated by Israeli and Republican rhetoric into an existential threat that we (Israel's only ally) must either defang or vanquish on their behalf.

So Saddam was the appararent key to the entire world being able to live with Iran, eh? He was pretty darn useful, it seems.

Matthew

For Bush, "freedom" means corporate freedom. All his actions make sense in that context. In the law, there is a legal fiction that a corporation is a "person." Some people can't distinguish a legal fiction from fact.

David

Iran is not an existential threat to Israel. Israel's nuclear arsenal (mutual assured destruction) will always deter any such possibility. Iran is an existential threat to Israeli hegemony. There is a big difference.

Will

It's not even about Israel. It's about GREATER Israel. Not about Islam, but the Salafists that grew enraged that the Saudi Royal House got too close to Cheney in the early 90's.

Baker and Carter are right. Solve the Israel/Palestine problem and the rest of the puzzle falls into place. Because it removes the NeoKon Likudniks agenda. They are the driving force of policy in this country.

john in the boro

‘My analysis leads me to the belief that we are fighting against traditional Islam.”

Yes, you are absolutely right because we can not admit we are fighting to maintain our privileged position in the international economic system. How can we say that we fight for rentiers and resource thieves? Indeed, the fight “against traditional Islam” seems strongest in those locales which are actual or potential sources of oil or that are actual or potential transit states for oil. The ideological struggle is over who controls a state’s resources: that state or multinational corporations. While elites fight the battle of greed and avarice, the rest of us are going to settle scores and wage religious-metaphysical warfare over our souls and consciences.

The issue of how Israel fits into overall U.S. foreign policy lies beyond rational discourse. Of course we will go to war for Israel. Hell, we’ll go to war for almost anything, just give us a convincing lie errrr excuse.

Provocative topic, again, my compliments.

Will

Patrick Buchanan, a former Presidential speechwriter has correctly parsed the Great Deciders ("GD") recent speech.

He makes the points that 1)the stakes are hi, 2) the troop surge is not going to do it, and 3) the GD'd GD has announced his ace in the hole, to wit: bombing Iran.

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=18914

All the indicia were there in the speech. Networks supplying weapons. Dispatch of another carrier. Patriot air defense systems to protect our friends from retaliation when we bomb Iran.

It's coming. Now, we"ll see how the NeoKon Likudniks control both sides of the Congressional aisle.

W. Patrick Lang

Will

Nah. The deciders are not sophisticated enough to really believe that. The talk about "extremists" is for the purpose of deception of others and themselves about the real nastiness. pl

W. Patrick Lang

David

Nah. The "deterrence" point is something out of war gaming seminars.

Ask yourselves if the Israelis will be willing to live with an Iran which is restrained from destroying Haifa and Tel Aviv by "deterrence." pl

Will

I can't see him not going for it. It's his last chance to make good.

"As George Bush reflects on his legacy, an urgent question must be pressing in upon him each day.

Will I leave here as the man who launched failed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that cost thousands of U.S. dead, to no avail? Or can I yet enter history as the Churchillian statesman who used U.S. power to save America and Israel from the mortal threat of atomic weapons in the hands of the Iranian mullahs? "

http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=18836

But more importantly
"Needed today are courageous men and women of both parties who will introduce and pass a congressional resolution stating, "In the absence of a direct Iranian attack on U.S. forces or personnel, or an imminent threat of such an attack, President Bush has no authority to launch a pre-emptive strike or a preventive war on Iran."

Chris Marlowe

Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Defense Dept. has been looking for new enemies to rally the American people against. On Sept. 11, 2001, they found it, or so they thought...

The US narrative was that the US was the super-powerful remaining superpower whose power was unlimited.

When a country becomes powerful, it first becomes economically strong, then diplomatically strong. Last of all, it becomes militarily strong. Smart leaders are very careful in their willingness to use military power; most believe in the power of diplomacy, and have had the good sense to read Sun Zi.

When a country goes into decline, it first declines diplomatically, then politically, then economically. Last of all, it sinks militarily. The US is now following this path of decline; it has accelerated under Bush.

Although Muslims are against US policy in the ME; in fact, they have had no personal hatred for the US until the Iraq debacle. Now, the fight has become personal.

My greatest fear is that if the US loses big-time in Iraq, there will be a wave of anti-Semitism in the US, as the neocons and their unquestioning support of Israel's irredentist policies will fuel a tremendous amount of animosity. This is unfortunate, as there are many good Jewish-Americans who stand for reason in the ME; Carl Levin of Michigan is a good example. However, there voices are comparatively unheard. Their voices of reason are completely ignored by the Bush administration, which prefers the Lieberman line.

Even more interesting is the rise of Islam in the US Bible belt. This is not a small movement; just watch this video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-9184353144432289069&q=Islam+in+Texas

The end result is that the US will no longer be the single dominant power; it will be replaced on the economic and diplomatic fronts by China, which is much more popular worldwide than the US. This is already rapidly happening now, at a much faster pace than the Chinese are comfortable with. The Chinese want to rise, but not so fast. However, they have no influence/control over the rapid rate of decline of the US.

The next generation of American leaders will have to come up with a new American narrative to explain how the country got to where it is going. Saying that America is the greatest country in the world just won't cut it anymore.

Kevin

The Plan for Economic Strangulation of Iran

Arun

One 9/11 - and we have habeas corpus suspended, the government without warrant listening to our phone calls, reading our email, obtaining our credit records, the President greatly expanding executive power and is the Decider answerable to none - what is all that other than a existential threat to the United States? What would happen after a more severe attack? Sure, the physical infrastructure will creak along, but the meaning would have vanished.

The Lounsbury

Very nice statement. I am not sure I entirely agree, but you highlight issues that are interesting to think about. In particular, My analysis leads me to the belief that we are fighting against traditional Islam. is at once thought provoking and disturbing as it is a losing proposition.

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