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Works and Days

The Middle East Won’t Be California

February 11th, 2007 - 10:22 am

A Stunning Morning in California

February marks the beginning of spring out here. I always counted on Santa Rosa plum (named for the home of the brilliant, iconoclastic, and maverick Luther Burbank’s laboratory) blossoms around February 28. The almond trees even earlier. Bermuda grass starts greening soon. And vine buds swell in March.

After the latest warm rain you can see from the Sierra Nevada to the Coast Range. We needed the air cleared and the snow pack freshened, after a hard and cold dry spell. A drive from the mountains to the coast through the valley explains perhaps why — when thousands in disgust, with degrees and skill, leave high-tax, high-entitlement California — the price of housing, in the midst of slump, still stays high.

That is, for all of California man’s efforts both to ruin what nature gave us, and to squander the hard work and legacy of prior generations of Californians who left us infrastructure, universities, and good government, more people are coming than are leaving. You can see why on a beautiful days like those this week when the sun interrupts the soft and warm rains. No life is better than in rural California in February when all the beauty of spring is in the air, and the great, perennial anticipation of yet another year, of warm weather, and of the emergence from dormancy of natural beauty in the months to come.

In 1976, I drove home from graduate school for a weekend with my 86-year-old grandfather, Rees Davis. He was then the third to live in this present house. On a late February day, we were walking in from the orchard. I remember him stopping near the now 120-year old fig tree, with sun, soft rain, snow on the Sierra all around us, and almost in tears, grabbing my shoulder and proclaiming, “Victor, there is nowhere like this in the world, it is a gift from God. Remember that.”

I try.

No Law Among Outlaws?

But what would our California be like if we embraced the mentality of the Middle East? California would devolve from a kind of paradise into the present hell of Waziristan, Gaza or southern Lebanon in weeks.

There Fatah fights Hamas while Sunnis in Iraq get money from Iran to kill its own brethren Shiites. Russia sends technology to Islamists who have butchered them from Afghanistan to Chechnya. Islamic Saudi Arabia wants to contain Islamic Iran. Secretly the Gulf sheikdoms want the Zionist entity to unload on either Hezbollah or Iran or both, but wouldn’t mind it either if Iran took out the one-bomb-state out and then lost Teheran in the exchange.

There is no apparent logic to all of this but there are at least four constants.

  • Whatever the United States is for most of these outlaws are against.
  • All hate Israel in elemental envy and the rage of anti-Semitism.
  • The desire for oil and the revenue from oil either enable or serve as catalysts for violence.
  • None of these rogues is democratic. As outlaws, they fight and make-up with ease and have no higher calling other than perceived immediate self-interest. Again, a true bellum omnium contra omnes.

If We Fail…

That speculation is now a parlor game. The latest was Gen. Odom’s serial assurances that whatever downside that would follow our departure wouldn’t be as bad as staying on. But surely we will revert to the pre-9/11 world—and what was so good about that? Our enemies realized then, as shown in Lebanon and Mogadishu, that the U.S. military would be withdrawn at the first sign of casualties, that our infantry forces were only effective in old-style WWII, Gulf-War scenarios but not in the real postmodern world, and that a cruise missile or GPS-bomb aimed at a cave or camp wasn’t that much of a deterrent. And then after two decades of cynical realism and appeasement came 9/11.

America in a dangerous world

It is common now to claim that America is isolated and that Europe and our allies drifting away. But I doubt it, for a variety of reasons. John Howard of Australia was recently taken aback by Obama’s promise to pull out of Iraq.

Putin’s comments that poor Iran is being bullied and doesn’t seek nuclear weapons must scare a disarmed Europe in range of Teheran’s long-range missiles and with a long history of Soviet divisions on its border.

And the EU must be shocked that its subsidized Hamas came back from Saudi Arabia still bragging that it thinks Israel never existed. Euros may trash Bush, but what about their godhead Chirac? He recently reiterated the (unspoken) Saudi position in discounting a nuclear Iran, by saying that after Teheran nuked Israel it too would be nuked (e.g. two birds with one atomic stone).

So for a rich and defenseless goose like Europe ready to be plucked, it’s a dangerous world when a rogue, oil-rich, and nuclear Russia supplies weapons to monsters, in a de facto alliance with the radical Islamic states like Iran—something that is not supposed to happen, according to liberal dogma, given its own Islamic problems in Chechnya. I pass on the unassimilated Muslim minorities across Europe, the Turkish EU/Cyprus question, the demographic time-bombs of its member states, and other European strategic worries.

But as we have seen, Shiite Iran backs Sunnis either in Iraq or the West Bank for blood sport; Baathists work with al Qaida when they like; and Russians apparently like to see the West squirm more than they are bothered by helping Islamists who hate them more.

This has nothing to do with Bush and will all continue after he is gone.

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