Pipes “worries” about Romney’s support for Syrian intervention

Daniel Pipes criticizes Romney for “channeling Bush’s Middle East policy.” But he does it in the usual cautious, personalistic, “I worry,” “I hope,” “I fear,” “My personal view is…” manner in which for many years he softly and ineffectually dissented from the very Bush Democracy Project that he now “worries” Romney is adopting. Pipes doesn’t have it in him to take a stand and argue for it and show that the people with the opposing view are wrong. He takes all sides, so as never to be accountable for any position and to remain on good terms with everyone. Consider how all over the place he was on the Libya intervention in 2011, first saying that we should support the rebels, even though, as he worried, they might be worse than Kaddafi, and then, after Kaddafi’s fall, saying “I am not partying,” because “I fear that dead-end despotism will be replaced by the agents of a worldwide ideological movement. I fear that Western forces will have brought civilization’s worst enemies to power.” Yet he himself supported bringing those enemies of civilization to power.

I concluded:

Pipes personifies the complete intellectual decadence of a culture in which writers, if they are “established,” are never held accountable for their statements and positions, and as a result feel free to indulge themselves in the most spectacular and irresponsible contradictions. Debate is dead. Discourse is dead. And only a society in which discourse is dead would have allowed the madness of the Libyan intervention.

So now Pipes is “worried” that Romney will initiate a military intervention in Syria. But does he take a definite stand on this? Does he actively challenge the people who support such intervention so that they in turn would have to defend their policy from his criticisms? No. In fact, while saying that Romney’s “readiness to jump into the Syrian morass worries me,” Pipes also says: “I hope that Romney will shake the GWB-era illusions, not repeat them.” In other words, just as he did with Libya, Pipes occupies the mushy middle. He is not going to marshal his arguments and make a case against Romney’s democratism in a way that might put the neocon/Romney camp on the defensive and perhaps even lead them or their supporters to think through their heretofore mindless position and change their mind. He’s just going to “hope” that the neocon/Romney camp change their mind, even as he “worries” that they won’t.

Here’s his article:

Romney Channels George W. Bush’s Middle East Policy
by Daniel Pipes
October 8, 2012

Mitt Romney gave a generally fine speech today on the Middle East. Sensibly, he criticized the Obama administration for its Benghazi shenanigans, for the “daylight” with Israel, fecklessness vis-à-vis Tehran, and the cuts in military spending. Very justifiably, he called it “time to change course in the Middle East.”

But I worry about three specifics.

First, Romney’s policy ideas echo the rosy-tinted themes of George W. Bush’s failed policies in the region. Flush with optimism for Afghanistan, Iraq, and “Palestine,” Bush spoke a language that now seems from another world. For example, almost exactly nine years ago he predicted “a free Iraq [that] will be an example of freedom’s power throughout the Middle East.” I espy shades of this otherworldliness in Romney’s pronouncement that the Middle East hosts “a struggle between liberty and tyranny, justice and oppression, hope and despair,” his goal to build democratic institutions in Egypt, and his dream of “a democratic, prosperous Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security” with Israel. These are slogans, not serious policy.

Second, except in reference to the attack in Benghazi, Romney pointedly avoids mention of Islam, Islamism, or jihad. Rather, he refers to “terrorists who use violence to impose their dark ideology,” avoiding the real issue and portending problems ahead.

Third, his readiness to jump into the Syrian morass worries me. While one can hardly disagree with Romney’s call to “identify and organize those members of the opposition who share our values and ensure they obtain the arms they need,” those friendly members of the opposition are, in fact, a bedraggled few. Operationally, Romney is prepared to arm the Turkish-allied Islamists, a long-term prospect even more frightening than the Iranian-allied Assad regime now in power.

In office, I hope that Romney will shake the GWB-era illusions, not repeat them. (October 8, 2012)

Posted by Lawrence Auster at October 09, 2012 10:58 AM | Send

Email entry

Email this entry to:

Your email address:

Message (optional):