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Saturday, January 20. 2007
I heard the NYT's Frank Rich interviewed on 770 radio this morning, by Mark Simone, about Rich's new best-seller, The Greatest Story Ever Sold.
Rich is no dummy, but he is a knee-jerk partisan. For example, when Simone pointed out that the Clinton administration viewed Iraq in the same way - as a global threat and as a threat to the US, Rich dismisses that as irrelevant.
Rich's main point seems to be that the war was "sold" on the basis of flawed intel because the neos wanted the war. Of course the war was "sold" - leaders always have to "sell" wars because civilized people hate war. FDR was one of the great Music Men of world history. He could sell almost anything, but even he needed Pearl Harbor to "sell" the US on the war that he had long wanted us in, in Europe.
Bush couldn't sell water in a desert.
But Rich wants to talk about the flawed intel about Iraq's threat. Fine - it was flawed. But intel is always flawed. In life, we always act on incomplete information. This flawed intel was believed by the UN, the US, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia. You have to go on what you have, and you have make a decision. The buck stops somewhere. And the risks of inaction, in life, are usually comparable to the risks of action, even though passively-inclined folks are reluctant to accept that fact about life.
Odd, is it not, that so many are prepared to take us back to the stone age because of highly speculative and politically-driven ideas about man-made global warming - but those same folks don't want to see the danger of the Moslem imperialism which is on the front pages every day?
Were the neos biased towards nation-building in the Middle East? You bet. They still see it as the best path towards peace and long-term stability in the Middle East. Is it a fantasy? I don't know. But I still think Clinton would have gone into Iraq if he had had the stomach for it (and, if he had, I have no doubt that Rich would have defended that decision).
Based on the interview, the most important flaw in Rich's case against the war in Iraq is that he does not put it in context of global Moslem imperialism, of which Jihad is one particularly malignant piece. Rich does not want to talk about Afghanistan, or Iran, or the whole "circle of fire" -from Chechnya to the Balkans to Lebanon to Somalia to Indonesia to Thailand - that Bernard Lewis talks about all the time. Not relevant. What? It has even reached France, now. And gee, I almost forgot - New York City and London too. It's getting to be a big circle.
Iraq, like all wars, was/is debatable - especially with 20-20 hindsight. Saddam foolishly called the UN's and Bush's bluff, and discovered that it was no bluff. "Don't mess with Texas."
Thus in the spirit of Dr. Sanity and others, and borrowing the idiom of Al Gore, I will use the term "Jihad Deniers." Is Islamic imperialism a serious danger to us or not? That is what it all comes down to. Clearly Rich, in his current positioning, thinks it isn't. Many will wish to agree with him - until the next catastrophic attack brings the truth home again that it's not all about oil, and that it's too big for the police.
But if you think it's all about oil, then don't be a hypocrite - quit driving and flying. And if you believe it's all about the Jews - then dump Israel overboard (down the well?). But, IMO, neither of those would help one bit. Oil wealth is what funds Jihad - especially from the Saudis: it ain't about poverty - it's about wealth, power, and religion. A war of cultures, as they say. But the world will not give up their Texas tea until it runs out, and that will not be for a few centuries, at least.
I think it is a danger. Not a threat to get hysterical about, and yet a threat to be forceful about and to use force to address. Every detail may be debatable - as was regime change in Iraq - but the guesstimation of threat is the bottom line.
Jihad will continue to be a danger to the world, long after Iraq is finished. Our debates will continue, as they should, but shameful partisan sniping - gotcha games - is not honest and serious debate. Our governments and our military will be facing these issues for many years: our protection is the main reason we have hired them (the Left seems to always want to forget that is what national governments are for - we could do everything else we might want to do locally), but we cannot expect perfection from them.
Clinton and Albright tried the limp-wristed approach, and it didn't work out well. Bush is having trouble too, by trying to wage a "limited, compassionate" war. Who has a better idea, other than dhimmitude?
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Well stated. For whatever reason or lack thereof there is a segement of our population intent on using their freedoms to hasten those freedoms demise. Similar to the Dunkards sect which prohibited procreation.
However the lines were drawn for this generation during Vietnam and there are not enough words in all Christendom to alter the Lefts Marxists anti American bias.
In August of 1941 the Harrris Poll registered 82% of Americans against entering the war raging in Europe. This dispite the whisperings of concentration camps and mass killings. It took Pearl Harbor and even then we did not declare war on Hitler but rather the other way around.
It appears that it will take another attack on US territory of a mass scale to engage us in the business of slaughtering those who have earned it.
"Is Islamic imperialism a serious danger to us or not?"
Of course it is, and I think those Americans who work the land and deal with the vagaries of climate, economy and the threats of predators get it. Those who work jobs to put food on the table rather than out of self-fulfillment and who don’t resent their having to do so seem to understand it more. Americans who practice self-reliance, long-term planning and who give service to country seem to comprehend what we’re facing. And all of their kids are more apt to value what we have as a country and not take it for granted.
But our over-civilized elites and many of the urban middle classes live cocooned in isolation between three coasts, the NY, Hollywood and Euro west shorelines, swaddled in soft affluence and getting junk-sustenance from TV. They/we show a toughness more in extreme forms of play, style and sometimes business than in our self-absorbed personal lives. We’re only hard and calloused in our hip cynicism, not on working hands. We both indulge and loathe ourselves, not properly assessing and valuing our worth, because what we are and have has been too easily gained as the inheritors of liberty and opportunity won through others’ sacrifice. It’s difficult for us to imagine threats to a way of life for which we didn’t have to fight hard and to believe the safe, service economy bequeathed to us isn’t a steady-state situation forever, never not resilient to our narcissistic resentments, sense of entitlement and attacks from the outside world. And so we know in our well-fed gut that Islamist jihad is as unthreatening as the commie-reactionary Cold War scare that went away so “easily” some decades ago. We believe this because, we haven’t just forgotten the harsh, noble history of events and our forbearers, we don’t bother teaching it, anymore.
Perversely, too, some of those refusing to deal with the jihad threat may be attracted to the sight of others struggling for something in a bloody and against all odds kind of way. They seem to vicariously thrill at watching fanatics being strong and primary in an extreme sport gone real which we can see on TV news and occasionally experience in non-virtual life. Breaks up the monotony of easy living and serves as counterpoint to our own constant struggle- that of entertaining ourselves.
Going back to read the whole post & comments, but had to stop early on, to issue a plea for a clarification of this sentence:
"...the risks of inaction, in life, are usually comparable to the risks of inaction...."
The phrase "usually comparable" should be changed to "absolutely equal", imho.
Excellent essay--the presentation embodies just the sort of 'engaged distance' home-front civvies need to maintain. The Frank Rich mentality has converted global actuality into verbal formulations that function as small-talk before a show starts.
Sen Clinton's call for a "cap" on the number of troops, for example.
What information is that based on? If none, then what on earth is she thinking? Is her call based in terms of the military operation?
The "better ideas" are showing up with more frequency. Even the President has dropped the very foolish 'religion of peace' locution. There are more voices stating the very obvious - that the headchoppers are doing absolutely nothing not condoned by L Ron Muhammad himself in his "Mein Kampf". There is even some focus on treating Islam as an all encompassing system of governance - a political philosophy rather than a religion - occuring and that concept needs further exploration. The Israeli's elimination of Sheik Yassin (the "spiritual" leader of Hamas) and their erection of the wall needs to be examined more thoroughly. Killing Joey Jihadis is a waste of time if we leave their mullahs above ground. It is as if we had taken the approach that the Wehrmacht was fair game but the SS and National Socialist leadership were off limits in WWII. The Israelis have cut the number of terrorist attacks significantly through targeting leadership and walling out. There is no reason that any muslim cleric should be granted a visa any more than a National Socialist functionary would have been granted a visa in 1943. There is no functional difference.
It might even be helpful to recognize that the Wahabbis and Qutbs are the leaders of Islamic reform - they want Islam to return to its basic tenets as much as Luther wanted the same for the Catholic Church.
I agree. It's monday morning quarterbacking at this point to cast such aspersions at the Bush administration, especially when at some point Clinton felt almost the same way.
But what frustrates me is how inept Bush and company have been at doing what needs to be done to get the Iraqi people involved in their own destiny.
No one can make choices any better than their pre-chosen criteria - including you, me, GWB, - and the Iraqis.
Most criteria is man-made or springs from the flesh, the ego, the emotions, the appetites - unless it is God-made.
Iraqis have a moslem (man-made) religion and criteria foundation of unreality - and mediocrity, at best. We have made no effort to supply their very real need - trusting that the human desire for Freedom is present in them. It is not. Their 'faith' is ruled by self-applied ignorance and collectivist 'wisdom.'
Unless and until they are approached by the superior Criteria of Judeo-Christian faith and Value system, they will flounder. Since it cannot be imposed, and must be chosen, its presentation should be detailed as to Superiority over any other mind and spirit oriented system. Give them that choice with knowledge AND faith. Lacking awareness, they cannot choose well... Joel 3:14 kjv
"And the risks of inaction, in life, are usually comparable to the risks of action, even though passively-inclined folks are reluctant to accept that fact about life." I wrote a rather rambling essay exploring that very fact. I don't know what it's worth, but here it is.
On the Edge of Forever: Star Trek and the War on Terrorism