Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Political Wrap-up I: Int'l.

I've been doing some reading on criticisms of Wilber-5, and I want to get to those in short time. I want to get more into that, and also some initial thoughts on the current furor in the Anglican Communion and my place in all that as I take back up my theological studies starting in September. Also I'm experimenting with RSS Feeds (if someone has trouble signing up let me know, I got it to work for me) and technorati, and more importantly breaking up my monster posts into a teaser/link for the rest of the article. Like I said, I'm not very good at process. But some provisional "concluding" thoughts to the political. See the comments section for two responses of mine, if interested. First from Brother Tuff Ghost, who gave me a nice endorsement here; second on Colmar's blog.

The first essentially outlines what I see as the long term strategy. [In this Colmar and I are in disagreement].

--The Grand Bargain with Iran.
--Similiar Deal with China.
--Which allows us to focus on what I think is the real issue for the future of humanity, which we totally have our eye off the proverbial ball on---sub-Saharan Africa. It is there that the "war against terrorism" will be won or lost in my mind.

Also, I can't stress enough how important I think it is to keep up with the following blogs:
Thomas Barnettt, Global Guerillas, and BloggingHeads Diavlogs (especially when it's Robert Wright and Mickey Kaus, the neo-Odd Couple).

Matthew linked to this article by Norman Podhoretz, the torch-bearer for neo-conservatism (he and William Kristol I guess). Podhoretz asks whether the Bush Doctrine is dead. Though I don't agree with his conclusions, it is an excellent read; he very clearly articulates what the Doctrine is and the premises that underlie it.

Podhoretz lists three pillars to the Bush Doctrine.

1. The Aboslute rejection of relativism (note absolute), and the strict separation of the world into good and evil (with us or against us).
2. That terrorists are to quote Norman P., "irregular troops of the nation-states that haborerd them."
3. Pre-emption of threats (in a nuclear age) abroad.

The major flaw as I see it in this line of thinking is to project the special relationship between the Taliban and Al-Qaeda onto the rest of the world, particularly the Islamic world. There were elements within the Taliban that sought to expel bin Laden. So even that relationship as prototypical fails.

But anyway, the Taliban did harbor/aid al-Qaeda. And we see the rest of this "war" through that prism. So we had to argue that Saddam was aidiing al-Qaeda (false). We focus on Syria/Iran only to the degree they support Hebollah, and we see Hezbollah as only a different version of al-Qaeda. The original al-Qaeda, not the al-Qaeda inspired groups that just follow the idoelogy and free agent terrorize themselves out. Even that basic distinction is not totally clear it seems to the administration who wants to so strongly play up, in say the recent airline threat, the al-Qaeda element, which very well may have been there, and we certainly continue to underestimate their strength, but the real threat is the viral spread of the ideology/tactics through open-source.

And could we please distinguish between al-Qaeda and Hezbollah. Bin Laden wants a return to the Caliphate, which is never ever ever going to happen. Hezbollah has realistic political aims/goals. Do you think al-Qaeda is starting up hospitals in the Pakistan/Afghan border, is in charge of security there?

We often hear that Hezbollah is a state within a state. False. Hezbollah is a state within a non-state. That's why Israel, like the US in Iraq, "won" the war in Lebanon but lost the peace. You need light infantry to fight the guerillas, and large numbers of boots on the ground to hold the area in a peacekeeping/security fashion.

All the Bush Doctrine sees is non-state/quasi-state actors being supported by big states. But because of the prior assumption that everyone is either good or bad, instead of shades of each (which is not equality/relativism mind you), we must attack, even pre-empt the state actors. Whcih minus the Taliban and Saddam (who was never sbiupporting terorrism anyway), that's Iran.

Perhaps the Bush Doctrine should come to the exact opposition conclusion--if the big boys are the linchpin, a grand bargain isolates the non-state groups.

Because all we talk of is state-support and pre-emption, with this abstract notion of "security" and "non-proliferation", we have no diplomatic brilliance. Hence Iran is running the show right now and we are purely reactive. Whatever the value of pre-emption, it means nothing in a situation where you can not stabilize the situation after the initial thrust. Pre-emption without accompaning stabilization/reconstruction just leaves a further non-state, weakened state entity that is the perfect breeding ground and unintentional "harbor"-er of terrorism that 4GW groups need.

And terrorists are not necessarily--again notice the false Taliban-alQaeda analogy--just irregular trooops of the nations that support them. If that were so, as Podhoretz says, then we would have had war declared on us by all states. Or in the Lebanon case, then Iran has declared war on Israel.

But of course Hezbollah are not "irregular troops of Iran." They are their own reality, in strong alliance with Iran, like the US and Israeli relationship. Israelis are not irregular troops of USA. And this foolish notion of inability to broker with bad guys--because their Hitler and you don't bargain with Hitler--makes the WWIII/IV, Clash of Civilizations more and more a self-fulfilling prophecy (to use Robert Wright's phrase).

PS Tip of the biretta, to C4 for teaching me how to do expandable posts, the #1 complaint of this blog (it's monster posts).


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