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Works and Days

So Close, so Far

November 21st, 2006 - 10:55 pm


No, no, no….

The problems in Iraq, in the radical Middle East at large—with democratization, with nuclearization, with Islamism—are not, repeat not, a lack of dialogue with Syria and Iran.

We know what both rogue states wish and it is our exit from the Middle East and thus a free hand to undermine the newly established democracies of Lebanon and Iraq—in the manner that all autocracies must destroy their antitheses.

They both sponsor and harbor terrorists for a reason—to undermine anything Western: a Western-leaning Lebanese democracy, a Western-style democracy in Iraq, a Westernized Israel, or soldiers of the United States in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Syria, as we see once again with the killing of Pierre Gemayel, is practicing serial murdering in Lebanon. I was on the Hugh Hewitt show last night, and he was right to make the point that Syria is like the Nazi regime of the late 1930s that sent its agents into Eastern Europe and Austria to assassinate and undermine republican leaders, to pave the way for the ‘necessary’ and ‘welcome’ entrance of the order-bringing Wehrmacht into a ‘brother’ state.

Iran is a rogue nation that seeks bombs to use them against the region’s only viable democracy in Israel. Neither Damascus nor Teheran can tolerate a democratic Iraq—no more than the Soviet Union would have allowed the Baltic Republics to have pro-Western democracies or Nazi Germany wished to be a partner in peace with republican Czechoslovakia.

Yes, yes, we need perhaps to have a national “dialogue”, but not over talking to Iran and Syria—but instead whether we wish to continue to fight and win this war.

Tell us it ain’t so?

As I understood the President, whether in his ‘Axis of Evil’ speech or his ‘with us or against us’ construct, the United States is no longer seeking Clintonian short-term, stop-gap palliatives of cruise missiles and federal indictments. Instead we are at war with both terrorists in the field, and the regimes that sponsor, pay, and host them. In such an existential struggle, democracy is as destabilizing to them as jihadism is to us, and so we promote it whenever we can as the right and smart thing to do—especially given the hysterical hatred toward it voiced by bin Laden and Dr. Zawahiri.

And for all the conundrum, the war against the jihadists is still going well. Iran and Syria are striking out because they feel surrounded—democratic Turkey on one side, Israel on the other, with nearby democracies struggling to become established in Kurdistan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is being dismantled, and a Europe galvanizing against Islamic fascism. Even the impotent UN is beginning to stir against Iran and Syria. If we can stabilize Afghanistan and Iraq, we can bring enormous pressure on both these two rogue nations. So why give up now—which is what talking to these amoral governments constitutes, given our previous rhetoric and vow to quit the appeasement?

Cui Bono?

But why would either Damascus or Teheran wish to talk? The answer is plain. The former wants to profess to cool it a bit in destabilizing Iraq in exchange for us turning a blind eye in Lebanon; the latter wants to act like stopping the sending of agents of our destruction into Iraq in exchange for cooling our rhetoric about their bomb. What we would be doing in essence by “dialoguing” is saying to both the democracies in Lebanon and Israel, “Sorry, but we have to find a way out of Iraq, and these fascists will promise to turn away from us if they can turn on you.”

All this is dressed up with realist “maturity” and “concern” but it would be consistent with those who brought us Iran-Contra, aid to both Iran and Iraq in their war, stopping before Baghdad, hugs with the House of Saud that paid money to those who killed Americans, and on and on. If Syria and Iran can be assured of a truce, that we won’t destabilize them at home or stop their adventurism abroad, then they might let us save face in Iraq. That they would ever honor such a deal is absurd, that we would ever believe they would is worse than absurd.

For five long years many of us have praised this administration’s constancy and idealism, in removing the Taliban and Saddam, and then staying on to do the hard, the easily caricatured work of democratization. The liberal hawks have long bailed. The paleos have turned venomous in their criticism. Many of the neo-cons have sought escape by blaming the flawed occupation for ruining their supposedly perfect three-week take-down of Saddam. But there are millions of us still out there who, Jacksonian in spirit, close ranks and will support our troops wherever they are. But we simply cannot ask Americans to die in Anbar province while talking to the Iranians and Syrians who are doing their best through surrogates in killing them.

The Cowardly Way

This Michael Richards mea culpa about his racist outburst against hecklers is pathetic—mentioning Katrina and war as he tossed out banalities about the nation’s “hate” and “rage.” The outburst and the apparent apology are right up there with the Judith Regan creepy confessional about her grotesque O.J. non-book event.

Let me get his Seinfeldian logic: a hip, sort of leftist cynic unloads on some impolite blacks in his audience with language right out of the Ku Klux Klan lexicon, and then tries to weasel out of it by suggesting some rage unleashed by things like the Katrina diaster? Apparently he thinks that hip nihilists like himself can’t be redneck racists. And if they slip up and show that they are, then it’s only because they suffer from a temporary sort of Bush-derangement syndrome brought on by the general “rage” unleashed in the country.

We need a new word in the vocabulary for this increasingly common syndrome where a liberal spouts far right nonsense that no conservative would utter and then blames his outburst apparently on the conservative climate. We all thought that the apology would be the alcohol or abused childhood common refuge, so surely “rage” is something new. Do we all suffer from it, or just Richards that evening?

And what is this new throat-clearing about the “war made me do it” (e.g. Richards’ reference to the “rage” between “this country and another nation”)? Even Mel Gibson sought cover in that idea of global conflict when his anti-Semitic rage boiled over in his cups (“The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.”). Apparently he thought the Iraqi and Lebanon fighting was both “the world” and were caused by the “Jews.”

Still waiting…

We are still waiting on the announcement that next year’s funds will be cut off for the Patriot Act and wiretaps. And surely Guantanamo will be defunded, with timetables mandated for troop withdrawal. That would be the natural conclusion from the Democratic rhetoric that equated Bush’s policies and our soldiers carrying them out so often with Nazis and terrorists.

Instead we get a few wild calls for ending the draft or quitting the war, in between the Speaker to be’s efforts to promote a checkered Murtha in the midst of a campaign to stomp out corruption. Of course, the reason for the stasis is that the Democrats deep down sort of believe that we haven’t had another 9/11 just possibly because of these programs and are hesitant to trust their luck in letting terrorists phone with impunity and be worry-free about detention.

Jihadist cowardice

China and Russia both have a history of rough treatment of their own Muslim minorities, the Uighurs and Chechnyans. Indeed, Muslims in western China are not even allowed to use public address systems to amplify their daily prayers. And the Chinese government cuts deals with the most autocratic of Middle Eastern regimes in its eternal quest for oil. No need to mention the Russian stance—Grozny says it all.

Then why has not bin Laden and Dr. Zawahiri turned jihadist attention to either country? While neither has troops in the Middle East, each might at least warrant some hateful rhetoric, inasmuch as their policies make the Danish cartoonists or the poor Pope pale in comparison.

The answer is, as we know, that China and Russia are not only strong like the United States, but, unlike America, wildly unpredictable and seemingly a little crazy. No jihadist quite knows what would be the reaction to a campaign of suicide bombing on Moscow or Beijing, and, more importantly, no rogue nation that sponsors Islamic fascists wishes to find out. What Middle Eastern state wishes to discover what being on the receiving end of a Russian nuclear version of the Beslan or Moscow theater “rescues” might look like?

Second, neither Russia nor China excites the appetites of the Islamists. The fundamentalists have a sort of peeping-tom ailment, of wanting to emigrate to Europe, to come to the United States, to buy an I-pod or satellite dish, to experience Western material bounty and personal freedom, and then almost immediately damn us for the desires and passions we apparently so easily excite. In Londistan, the obvious question arises, why in the world do not these Pakistani youth who profess such hatred of Britain simply emigrate back to the outlands of Pakistan where they can enjoy religious purity free from a decadent West?

The answer is not just that life then would not be free and bountiful and subsidized, but also quite lonely, and void of guilt-ridden rich Westerners who can be bribed, humiliated and, above all, forced to give attention to those who have otherwise not warranted it by any traditional method of accomplishment.

Which brings us to the concluding thought.

Most in the West profess, albeit secretly, that these particular, regional and perceived Middle East grievances really are connected. We nod in approval to each pundit and expert as they deceive us by convoluted exegeses—the West Bank is not Lebanon that is not the Taliban that is not Iraq that is not the Iranian bomb-making that is not Wahhabism, that is not…

But inside perhaps we know that they are really akin to the generic hatred that our fathers battled in Nazism, Italian fascism, and Japanese militarism—disjointed, often unconnected ideologies of evil that, nevertheless, found their common purpose—surely enough to go to war together—in hating liberal Western society.

And we all know, for all our self-doubt and self-loathing, that the West really is strong, at least strong enough to smash jihadists and their patrons.

So apparently we are in another Phony War circa October 1939 to May 1940, awaiting the provocation—another 9/11? A nuclear strike on Israel? A full-fledged brazen Syrian invasion of Lebanon? A terrorist killing of the Pope or mass murder in Paris or Berlin?— that sets us off.

And we know that like a Nazi Germany that invaded Russia and declared war on the United States, or a Japan that bombed Pearl Harbor and hoped for our instant surrender, that these jihadists have not a clue about the danger they are courting, apparently thinking that most Americans care only about Mark Foley’s email or Britni Spears’ divorce.

But tragically time will tell for these naïve and self-destructive killers. Their clock is ticking…

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