Between Iraq and a hard place

The hell of a spot we’re in:

  1. Iraq and the occupying forces are facing ongoing terrorist attacks of an unprecedented nihilism. Not even Nazis blew up Red Cross stations.

  2. The anti-war side, brimming with Schadenfreude over America’s troubles, calls either for a precipitate withdrawal from Iraq or a handover of authority to the UN.

  3. The Bush administration and its supporters, such as Ralph Peters and the editors of the New York Post, know that either of those steps would mean complete disaster for Iraq and the U.S. They insist that we must stay the course, continue to kill the Ba’athist and Jihadi fighters whenever they pop up, and help to set up a viable government in Iraq.

  4. But this pro-war approach does not recognize the possibility that the terrorists could keep popping up indefinitely, meaning that we could never leave Iraq, because the moment we did so, the government we left in place there would be defeated by the terrorists. The underlying problem is Bush’s refusal to name our enemy. As long as our enemy is “terror,” rather than militant Islam or Islamo-fascism, we’re left fighting discrete terrorist individuals and groups, refusing to target the regimes and the belief system that feed those groups. It’s impossible to win a war, or even conceive of what victory would consist of, if you refuse as a matter of principle to identify your enemy.

  5. These considerations lead to the argument for an expansion of the war. We must go after terrorists’ bases and the regimes that back them—the Terror Masters.

  6. But to the Bush administration, already overwhelmed with its unexpected burdens, such an expanded war seems out of the question at this point, even though our “War on Terror,” in at least some of Bush’s formulations, targets all regimes that harbor terrorists.

  7. So we are caught between two stools. On one hand, to withdraw from Iraq or transfer control over it to the UN would be the height of irresponsibility, leading to the destruction of that country by resurgent Saddamites and Al Qaeda elements and a total defeat for the U.S. On the other hand, to expand the war and fight the regimes supporting the terrorists seems too much for us to take on. So we’re left in a middling mode, muddling through.

One more point in closing: while I have been a consistent supporter of the idea that we needed to topple Hussein, I felt from the moment that President Bush delivered his “axis of evil” threat in January 2002 that it was irresponsible hyperbole, unworthy of the leader of a great power. The statement was tantamount to a declaration of war against at least three countries—but we weren’t actually at war with those countries, and had no immediate prospect of being so. Bush’s cocky rhetoric has frequently been in excess of his actions, raising expectations that could not be met in reality, and this has been most harmful. Yes, he finally, after a year’s tortuous delay, carried through on his threat to topple Hussein, and he gets all credit for that. But he has made other threats and stated other fundamental principles that he has not acted on, and this has severely damaged his credibility in my eyes.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 29, 2003 07:13 PM | Send

Muddling is the wrong way to go. It is what we did in Vietnam and Korea, where we were too afraid to widen the war and too afraid to pull out. So our soldiers simply died.

The draft might need to be resumed and a full scale invasion and suppression of Iraq is needed even if it means going after terrorist neighbors sooner rather than later. Another idea is to drive the people of Iraq out of Iraq and remain behind a defensible geographic boundary with our nuclear weapons, but I suppose that sounds pretty crazy to others. In any event, a decision needs to be made to go full force or not at all. We can’t let fear paralyze us as we did in Vietnam.

If this eventuality was not planned for, as it should have been, Bush made a big mistake will certainly lose the election if he fails to effect a winning strategy. I am not brilliant, but I sure knew this was a possibility. I assumed our military could win with a no holds barred approach. Now I am not so sure, since I seem to be hearing silence from our brilliant generals.

Posted by: P Murgos on October 29, 2003 8:22 PM

I should have read the articles cited by Mr. Auster first. It seems an indefinite time period for the war might have always been inevitable. It is better they are killing our soldiers than our civilians here at home. Mr. Bush has made us appear weak with the appeals to the U.N. and to Turkey for help. I still can’t believe it. But Mr. Bush has done well so far with the war even though he has made some big mistakes as mentioned in the articles. I hope he will step up the propaganda campaign for the war and keep telling us how we are winning, which is what we seem to be doing. I hope he learned not to go begging for help but instead to go around asking who our friends are. We don’t need to trade with our nonfriends. I would like to hear him talk about the draft because that would send a message that he is in it for the long haul.

Posted by: P Murgos on October 29, 2003 9:13 PM

As Mr. Auster stated, the root of the problem lies in Bush’s inability or refusal to face up to the situation and name our enemy. In his news conference yesterday, Bush instead chose to repudiate and denounce General Boykin in yet another genuflection at the altar of multiculturalism.

In order to persue a multi-front war, a large and efficient military is indispensible. However, we are saddled with a PC-infected military that is already considerably overextended. Instead of purging the military of PC commissars and radical feminists while building up our forces, Bush continues most of the same failed policies of his predecessor. The only military reform from this administration is a program to allow illegal aliens a fast-track to citizenship as a reward fo breaking the law!

What the hell did he think would happen in Iraq? That Saddam and Al-Qaeda would stand and fight like honorable soldiers? Al-Qaeda has explicitly stated it’s strategy involves nothing more than inflicting continual casulties upon the Americans, just like Vietnam and Somalia. They are counting on the public’s inability to see Americans brought home in body bags and the leftist media’s assistance in making a long term commitment politically unfeasible. Even though the US won militarily in Vietnam, we lost politically, which was ultimately all that mattered. This is exactly what is happening now in Iraq. I’m really beginning to think that Bush is an utter incompetent fool - the stupid party’s version of Jimmy Carter - or a traitorous Tranzi/NWO stooge. Take your pick!

Posted by: Carl on October 29, 2003 11:04 PM

My guess is that, if the Iraq situation does not improve or continues to deteriorate, while the Left hammers Bush, we will all soon witness a very severe reaction against neoconservative foreign policy.

Most of us here would welcome (at least in theory) a reaction against neoconservative domestic policy (immigration, multiculti lassitiude, etc.), but neocon foreign policy has more to recommend to it.

I’ll note, for example, that James Woolsey seems to be backtracking from his “liberartion and democratization” theory. Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal, he joined Bernard Lewis is calling for a restoration of the Hashimite monarchy. Noah Millman writes cogently,

“I’m not asking Woolsey to say, ‘sorry, I was wrong.’ I don’t even know if his new angle is right; I can think of a few problems with the idea of bringing back the monarchy. I am, however, asking him — and Richard Perle, and the rest of the gung-ho crowd — to start taking this job seriously and stop acting like rebuilding Iraq is something we can make up as we go along. If we though the way to go was to restore the Hashemite monarchy, we needed to lay the groundwork a long while ago. We needed to make that clear before we went in, before we made anyone any promises, before we threw our lot in with the INC and before we rebuffed Abdullah of Jordan’s uncle (the likely candidate for the job of King of Iraq). We can’t just pull a switcheroo like this. We’re not founding an internet company here that can rebrand every six months with no one left the wiser. We are in no danger of losing Iraq due to excessive casualties. If we are in danger of losing Iraq, it’s because sometimes we seem to be going about this like a bunch of amateurs.”


Posted by: Paul Cella on October 30, 2003 8:23 AM

Yes, it would be prudent to withdraw, and apologize to the world for this criminal invasion. Of course there was no good reason to attack in the first place.

Posted by: Lord Fluff on October 30, 2003 9:14 AM

Contrary to Paul Cella’s remarks that neocon foreign policy has more to recommend it than neocon domestic policy, they are all of one piece with the same philosophy underlying them.

If America is a “Proposition Nation”, then anyone from anywhere in the world can come here and declare that they believe the line from the Declaration of Independence that “all men are created equal” and presto, they are real Americans in a flash.

As a corollary, if it does not take a long development of institutions and cultural heritage to make a nation here, neither does it in Iraq, which can be remade into a new nation in a flash, by the fiat of the neocons. Then, all surrounding nations will immediately want to transform themselves overnight, because everyone in the whole world secretly wants to be an American, or like the Americans, right?

Posted by: Clark Coleman on October 30, 2003 9:24 AM

I agree with Mr. Coleman that the neoconservative democratization thesis is dubious business, but more broadly their prescription of robust defense (the “realist” side) is a stronger position.

Posted by: Paul Cella on October 30, 2003 10:42 AM

I believe we’re in a holding action in Iraq until November 2004. After Bush wins re-election, we’re getting serious and going after the big fish like Iran.

Posted by: AWH on October 30, 2003 12:20 PM

Well I plan to vote for either the Democratic nominee or a principled conservative or traditionalist, if one ever steps forth in 2004. Bush, as leader of the only party containing substantial numbers of conservatives, is destroying the remnants of conservatism every day he remains in office. A vote for the leading candidate is mathematically more powerful than staying home or voting for a sure loser.

Absent some decisive weapon or strategy, the war on terror will be there whether or not Bush is re-elected. Some foolish Democratic president might (which is unlikely despite any of the usual empty presidential campaign promises) withdraw American forces from the war, but the withdrawal will last only until the terrorists strike American again.

Posted by: P Murgos on October 30, 2003 7:14 PM

The dilemma here is huge. I certainly do not want to see Mr. Bush reelected. And if a liberal Democrat were back in office, there would again be a conservative opposition that had some kind of substance to it.

The problem though is that considering where we stand in history at present, a far-left president could do irrevocable damage, especially in regard to our national sovereignty in the push toward global government. One need only review Mr. Auster’s NewsMax series on the U.N gun control conference and imagine a Clinton in office at the time to see the far-reaching implications of this.

Posted by: Joel LeFevre on October 30, 2003 7:20 PM

The root cause of Jihadism is that Americans funnel billions of dollars to the Saudi entity every year so we can drive real fast in our SUVs and the Saudi entity takes those billions and pumps them into Wahhabism and Jihad.

That is what makes the “War on Terror” so grotesque. Even while we affect to fight it we are financing our enemy because our “leaders” don’t have the political will either to confront him or to alter the behavior of the American “consumer”. And there is another even less savory kind of pathological co-dependency here, with the Saudi entity lining the pockets of our political class so they’ll be sure to keep funnelling them the money that they’ll keep funnelling to the Jihadists. (Another paradox: while the Islamists rant about the Jews getting others to do their fighting for them, it is the Saudis who are doing precisely that.)

In short, no oil money, no global Jihad. The howling Islamists aren’t about to get the resources for it from selling dates and figs. Yet our “leaders” will do anything, anything, rather than even think about cutting off the oil money - or, if we must have our SUVs, seizing the oil fields.

It won’t happen. Barb the presidential mother sent “Prince” Bandar’s wife a consoling letter when she fell under suspicion of having slipped some cold cash to the 9/11 boys. That may not be all ye know, but it’s all ye need to know.

Posted by: Shrewsbury on October 30, 2003 8:32 PM

In reply to Shrewsbury, one thing I do know is that Islamist terrorists have caused a lot of trouble over the years with very little financial backing in places like Chechnya, the southern Philippines, and Afghanistan. Money or not, they will continue to do as much as they can to cause trouble for “modernists” and “Westernists” as long as they perceive that Westerners are all soft and won’t respond, and as long as they believe they have some eternal reward for doing so. More money might make them even more effective, but it is not the root of the problem. Islam is the root of the problem.

Posted by: Clark Coleman on October 30, 2003 8:45 PM

I agree with Joel that there are risks. But nothing ventured, nothing gained. And in any event, Bush is going in the same direction as the Democratic Party, just slow enough so as to not outpace his whipped down, stoic conservative allies.

Shrewsbury is right. SUV’s need to be taken off the roads and mass transit introduced. We already have the rights of ways and the construction highways available to build mass transit. But it will require considerable cost to ensure we can safely use the transit without fear of being victims of violent crime. I am willing to pay, just as I was willing to pay for airline security before 9/11, but most people don’t want another government controlled pork barrel so they settle for the highway-building pork barrel they are used to. That is not even mentioning bucking the auto labor unions, trucking industry, automobile parts industry, auto repair industry, legal industry, insurance industry, and highway construction industry.

Posted by: P Murgos on October 30, 2003 8:55 PM

I found Shrewsbury’s remarks very interesting, as well as Mr. Coleman’s reply.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on October 30, 2003 11:09 PM

The root cause of Jihadism is Islam. The violent expantion occurs whenever surrounding nations/peoples are deemed weak. It has been a constant since 627CE.

Oil money is not a cause of Islamism, but it does fuel it. The Saudis are Wahabbists. They are officially militant Muslims who believe in conquering all non-believers (including other Muslims.) The Saudis have systematically destroyed the monuments and ornate fortificaitons of the Ottoman period.
The Saudi rulers, are Islamic supremecists, but not practitioners. The country has a booming population and a wide disparity of wealth. Unemployment is high and their is little hope of progress for Saudis without tribal ties to the regime. The Saudis have saught to diffuse this bomb, not by bettering their people, but by ensuring the loyalty of the Mullahs. The Mullahs preach Jihad overseas not reform at home.
The Saudis also use petrodollars to influence foreign politicians, departments in universities, influential members of the press. Furthermore, the Saudis fund foreign Mosques, creating or hijaaking local Sunni organizations.

It is in our interest to reduce our dependance on foreign oil. Personally, I support a combination of nuclear power and fuel cells.

Posted by: Ron on October 31, 2003 1:04 AM

Methanol! We have the capacity to make the switch if only we had the will.

Posted by: Joel LeFevre on October 31, 2003 1:07 AM

The editors write “The hell of a spot we’re in:…”

And the Gods of the Copybook Headings said: “Stick to the Devil you know.”

Posted by: Mabus on October 31, 2003 1:53 AM

Kipling’s advice, “Stick to the Devil you know,” is the counsel both of wisdom and of our own predilections. But, given the existing realities of the world, is it really possible for us to avoid the Devil we don’t know? The antiwar right ASSUMES that it is, but they give the lie to that assumption, because they do not just urge _disengagement_ from that devil, but (because they seem to recognize that complete disengagement is not possible) APPEASEMENT to him, in the hopes that he will not bother us any more. They have not offered a geopolitical strategy by which we could really avoid that devil and not have him affect us.

Posted by: Lawrence Auster on October 31, 2003 7:12 AM

(Because it’s off topic, I’ll be brief: Joel, where will sufficient methanol come from?)

Posted by: P Murgos on October 31, 2003 8:43 AM

To Mr. Murgos: The answer to the question would not be so brief, but it is of the greatest importance. It is really the _underlying_ and _overriding_ issue that runs in these threads.

As Dr. Pipes noted in the article which is the subject of the thread above, it is oil that has given the Arab nations the MEANS. Without the means, that would pretty much be that. So really the topics of threads like are this are in a way a subcategory of our dependence on accursed fossil fuels. If we don’t address this, these threads will continue ad infinitum, or until we are facing a catastrophic situation.

I believe it is entirely possible to transition away from oil, and with much greater speed than is imagined — if we treated this as the national emergency that it is, the way we treated the loss of fiber sources during WWII for instance when the Japanese cut off our Pacific supply lines. But powerful interests are opposed to it, as should be eminently clear.

Ron’s other suggestions, nuclear or hydrogen fuel cells, certainly may have their place as well. The more resources the better. But methanol would be indispensable.

As to how this would be done, to even begin talking about it would lead this thread off into a tangent which I don’t think is advised. If you wish to e-mail me directly I could send some links that would serve as introductory to the matter.

Posted by: Joel LeFevre on October 31, 2003 1:30 PM

Well, I’ve never heard of a muslim group blowing up a church or synagogue, though the kkk did both.

so that’s worse that a muslim group outdoing nazis by blowing up red cross station or not. the muslim groups have not outdone the kkk.

Posted by: Nitin Batra on February 12, 2004 12:52 AM

Mr. Batra,

What KKK atrocity do you have in mind that exceeds the enormity of the Moslem attacks of September 11th, 2001? HRS

Posted by: Howard Sutherland on February 12, 2004 9:47 AM

Anti-Semitism against the Jewish people as a whole is the direct product of Satanism. From Edenic times until now in this generation, he (Satan) has been brooding over the shoulders of history and making every attempt to destroy God’s Covenant People. THe Jew, as a person, is the closest contact we have with the Living God; the Scriptures are the most authorative and direct access. Wherever the Jew has dwelt, that nation has been blest! All prophecies are in relationship to the Jewish people. This, in itself, is not coincidental. Thank God for this channel of blessing in the world!

Posted by: Edwin Vogt on February 12, 2004 12:10 PM

True, kkk doesn’t exceed sep 11. but slave voyage definitely exceeds sep 11.

Posted by: Nitin Batra on February 12, 2004 2:26 PM

Many more slaves died at the hands of Muslim slave traders than in Atlantic voyage crossings. What is your point?

Posted by: Clark Coleman on February 12, 2004 2:28 PM

To this day Muslims treat their woman as slaves. Just look what was going on in the Afghan world with the Taliban.

Posted by: Fritz on April 14, 2004 10:15 AM
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