Sunday, 03 August 2003
War and Peace Reloaded: The Liberal Response. Last week I started to dissect Steven Den Beste's strategic overview, a right-of-center outline detailing why America is at war. I managed to claw my way through Part I of his 6000-word essay (!) before minor pressing engagements like food and continued employment kicked in.
This week I've decided that, rather than take the easy option and continue nitpicking Steven's work, I'm going to take the harder road. Here, then, is the first part of a more balanced view of why we're at war; I'm going to have to split this into several entries, which is a first for me, but I think I can make a better summary of American policies to date—one with fewer blind spots, and one that isn't loaded with gratuitous insults for Democrats and Arabs. (And I'll try to keep the Republican-loaded barbs to a minimum, in spite of my instincts.)
So, without further ado, here it is. I'll re-use Steven's major headings, but the rest of the outline will change.
- What is the root cause of the war?
- For most Americans, our entry into the war was caused by the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.
- Terrorists, primarily from Saudi Arabia and funded by Osama bin Laden, killed 3,000+ innocent civilians in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania.
- This cannot be excused. Whatever grievance any party may have, or think they may have, against the United States—pursuing it by way of mass murder is, and shall remain, unacceptable.
- The United States will act to secure itself from such acts of terrorism, and will continue until we're confident the threat has been eliminated.
- The root cause of 9/11 is a political and cultural climate that fosters terrorism as an acceptable instrument of policy.
- Terrorism is not unique to the Middle East, but it thrives there and has been tacitly encouraged by many governments in the region.
- Terrorism is not a function of poverty but of politics. Poverty is not unique to the Middle East and does not correlate closely with the backgrounds of terrorists.
- Terrorism is not unique to Islam, but Islamic extremists encourage its use by providing religious sanction for murderers.
- Together, these factors create a climate that approves and supports the use of suicide bombers, attacks that deliberately target civilians, and unrestrained chemical, biological, and nuclear attacks as soon as the means are available. This is the environment that spawned September 11th, and this is what must be changed to prevent future 9/11-style attacks.
- Why is the U.S. fighting this war? Why were we attacked?
- In the aftermath of 9/11, America has become less tolerant of political and cultural memes that support terrorism, and has re-assessed the risks of allowing WMDs to fall into the wrong hands.
- The line moved, putting Afghanistan and Iraq on the wrong side of it.
- North Korea is now on the wrong side of the line, but is holding Seoul hostage.
- …and now they're trying to draw a bead on Tokyo.
- …and are starting to fall on the wrong side of China's line.
- Saudi Arabia is now on the wrong side of the line, but is a critical supplier of oil.
- The Saudis are our "friends" in the same sense the Shah of Iran was.
- Under current conditions, speaking or acting directly against the Saudis will cripple the global economy.
- Iran, Syria, and the Palestinians are close to the line.
- The U.S. has stopped urging "restraint" as Israel's only response to terrorism.
- Internal or diplomatic pressures may succeed at reducing the threat these groups now present.
- Historically, American foreign policy has put American interests (e.g., oil, containment of Communism) ahead of the liberty or welfare of Middle Eastern people.
- That's why they call it "American foreign policy." All governments are expected to consider the welfare of their own citizens as a first priority.
- America's interests extend beyond containment and oil, however.
- Strong, stable democracies make better trading partners and declare war on the United States much less often.
- "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." —MLK
- For 40 years in the Middle East, we sacrificed long-term interests to fight the immediate (Soviet) threat.
- Our part in the CIA-KGB shadow war included coups d'etat in Syria (1947), Egypt (1952), Iran (1954), Syria (1957), Iraq (1963), Iraq (1968), Libya (1969), Iraq (1976), and others.
- Oil and geopolitical concerns frequently trumped our interest in promoting democracy in this region. Syria's 1947 coup toppled a representative government over an oil pipeline; Iran's 1954 coup was over nationalization of the oil industry.
- Whether these actions helped us win the Cold War is a question for Monday-morning quarterbacks, but many believe that in the long run they may have hurt our cause more than they helped.
- The end of the Cold War did not do for the Mideast what it did for Eastern Europe.
- Governments in Saudi Arabia, Syria, Iran, Iraq, Egypt, Lebanon et al. remained stagnant and oppressive.
- Kuwait's liberation simply restored the status quo ante. America showed more interest in preserving stability than promoting democracy in the Middle East.
- Political unrest in Saudi Arabia spilled over onto America because of our role as the Saudi royal family's patron and sponsor.
- Without us propping up the royal family, Saudi Arabia would (might?) collapse into civil unrest and revolution.
- As Saudi Arabia goes, so goes the world economy.
- Our short-term interest is to maintain stability there.
- Al Qaeda's initial goal was to get our troops out of Saudi Arabia.
- They attacked us for propping up the Saudi government.
- They expected that we would withdraw in the face of casualties, as we did in Vietnam and Lebanon and Somalia.
- Those who forget history get JDAMs dropped on their heads.
- Al Qaeda's ultimate goal is for their brand of Islam to dominate the earth.
- All evangelistic religions have this goal. Spread the Word!
- The issue is with the means Al Qaeda uses, not the ends they pursue. If Al Qaeda had sought to convert us by selling magazines door to door, their ultimate goal would never have troubled us.
To be continued…