Saturday, August 25, 2007

Islam Critical Cartoon Banned In America

Note to Opus readers: The Opus strips for August 26 and September 2 have been withheld from publication by a large number of client newspapers across the country, including Opus' host paper The Washington Post. MORE HERE

Berkeley Breathed, the raving Bushophobic Leftist cartoonist is banned by his own Neo-Commie pals in the Mainstream Media. Hmmm? What should we do? Since the Democommie Ministry Of Truth won't touch this cartoon, then how about a Rightist Blogburst that will surely get the attention of the World Hordes Of Unwashed And Always Pissed Off Muslims who will surely go crazy, run amok, riot, burn American flags and an embassy or two, and have an Imam somewhere to issue a Fatwa against Comrade Breathed.

Mo Toons Redux?

Is America's Future Islamic?

Is America's future Islamic?

It’s the nation's fastest growing religion, based on noble traditions and compassionate principles, yet Islam can still be tainted by mistrust and misunderstanding. Here Winston Smith argues that an Islamic America would be a better place.

The noise from the expectant crowd hushed to a murmur as an open-backed lorry that had driven slowly up the Washington Mall – known since the Islamic revolution of 2050 as The Way of the Martyrs – nudged its way through the thousands gathered in Mohammad Sidique Khan Square in Front of the Capitol Building. On the lorry, two masked guards held a young man, black hood over his head; a quiver running through the material suggested he knew what was coming.

The lorry halted by the plinth that had once held the statue of George W. Bush – long since removed as an insult to Islam – and was now the place of public execution. A rope noose attached to a wire cable hung from a mechanised hoist. The main doors of what had been the U.S. Supreme Court were flung open and an Imam walked down the steps of the new Institute of Islamic Jurisprudence, opened only a week before by Sultan William Clinton III, Prince of Islam and protector of the faithful in America.

The official executioner placed a stepladder against the plinth. The lorry pulled up and the young man was pushed out, then forced up the ladder. The noose was forced over the condemned man’s head. The crowd chanted ‘Allahu akbar’ (God is greater than everything).The hoist driver put his finger on a green button …

Okay, not really – that’s a hysterical, right-wing nightmare of a future Muslim America : where an cruel alien creed is forced on a liberal country. A society where women are second-class citizens, same sex relationships a crime and Sharia law enforces terrible public disfigurement and death. But the reality is a long, long way from this dark vision.

According to the 2000 census there are 2,500,000 Muslims living in the USA. The majority of Muslims live in the east of the nation and by 2012, CAIR estimates that the Muslim population will be over six million. There are plans afoot (though no formal application has yet been submitted) to build the USA's biggest mosque – capable of welcoming 40,000 worshippers on the site of Ground Zero for 9/11 where the World Trade Center once stood, a move which has prompted predictable outrage from some quarters. Consequently, Muslim disillusionment with a reactionary and often ill-informed press is at an all time high.

But rather than fear the inevitable changes this will bring to America, or buy in to a racist representation of all Muslims as terrorists, we should recognise both what Islam has given this nation already, and the advantages it would bring across a wide range of areas in the future.

Public health

On the surface, Islamic health doesn’t look good: the 2000 census showed that 24 per cent of Muslim women and 21 per cent of Muslim men suffered long-term illness and disability. But these are factors of social conditions rather than religion. In fact, Islam offers Americans potential health benefits: the Muslim act of prayer is designed to keep worshippers fit, their joints supple and, at five times a day, their stomachs trim. The regular washing of the feet and hands required before prayers promotes public hygiene and would reduce the transmission of superbugs in America's hospitals.

Alcohol is haram, or forbidden, to Muslims. As America is above the world average for alcohol-related deaths in males, with 17.6 per 100,000 people, turning all the nation's alcohol bars into juice bars would have a massive positive effect on public health. Forbid alcohol throughout the country, and you’d avoid many of the 52,000 alcohol-related deaths and the $7.3 billion national bill for alcohol-related crime and disorder each year.


‘The world is green and beautiful,’ said the prophet Muhammad, ‘and Allah has appointed you his guardian over it.’ The Islamic concept of halifa or trusteeship obliges Muslims to look after the natural world and Muhammad was one of the first ever environmentalists, advocating hima – areas where wildlife and forestry are protected. So we could expect more public parks under Islam, but halifa also applies to recycling: in 2006, 12,000 Muslims attended a series of sermons at the Tampa Bay Mosque in Florida explaining the theological evidence for a link between behaving in an environmentally sustainable way and the Islamic faith.


Presently, Muslim students perform less well than non-Muslim students. In inner Dearborn, Michigan 37 per cent of 16 to 24-year-old Muslims have no qualifications (the figure for the general population of the same age and location is 25 per cent). When it comes to university education the picture is equally gloomy: 16 to 24-year-old Muslims are half as likely to have degree level or above qualification than other inner Dearborn young people.

Again, social factors rather than religion have led to this state of affairs. Young Muslims in Dearborn are often of south Asian origin and therefore more likely to live in households where English is not the first language, more likely to encounter racism (both intentional and unintentional) during their education, and more likely to suffer from poverty and bad housing conditions.

But Tahir Alam, education spokesman for the CAIR, claims Muslim children do better in their own faith schools than in the mainstream state sector: ‘Muslim schools have their own distinct ethos. They use the children’s faith and heritage as primary motivators to provide the backdrop for their education and behaviour. This ethos is consistent with the messages that children are getting at home, so it is a very coherent operation between the home and the school.’

If Islam became the dominant religion in America,the same ethos could be applied to schooling across swathes of underprivileged and deprived areas of the city. This could have a revolutionary effect on educational achievement and, perhaps just as importantly, general levels of discipline and self-respect among America's young people. While controversy rages over faith schools, there are 37 Muslim schools in the USA. As of 2004, only five were state schools, but there is growing pressure to bring more into the state sector which, according to Alam, will ‘help raise achievement for many sectors of the Muslim community. Many private Muslim schools are under-resourced and if they can be brought into the state sector this valuable experience can be extended to more children.’


Application of halal (Arabic for ‘permissible’) dietary laws across America would free us at a stroke from our addiction to junk food, and the general adoption of a south Asian diet rich in fruit juice, rice and vegetables with occasional mutton or chicken would have a drastic effect on obesity, hyperactivity, attention deficit disorders and associated public health problems. As curry is already Dearborn, Michigan's favourite food, it would be a relatively easy process to encourage the adoption of such a diet. Not eating would be important as well. The annual fasting month of Ramadan instills self-discipline, courtesy and social cohesion. And Americans would benefit philosophically and physically from even a short period when we weren’t constantly ramming food into our mouths.

Inter-faith relations

In an Islamic America, Christians and Jews – with their allegiance to the Bible and the Talmud – would be protected as ‘peoples of the book’. Hindus and Sikhs manage to live alongside a large Muslim population in India, so why not here? Although the USA has a long tradition of religious bigotry against, for instance, Roman Catholics, it is reasonable to assume that under the guiding hand of Islam a civilised accommodation could be made among faith groups in America. This welcoming stance already exists in the capital in the form of the City Circle (see Yahya Birt interview), which encourages inter-faith dialogue and open discussion.


Some of the finest art in the USA is already Islamic. The Jameel Gallery at the V&A houses ‘ceramics, textiles, carpets, metalwork, glass and woodwork, which date from the great days of the Islamic caliphate of the eighth and ninth century’ up until the turn of the last century. Or take a free daily tour of the Addis Gallery of Islamic art (at the Smithsonian). Dearborn-based Nasser David Khalili, an Iranian-born Jew, has amassed what is considered to be the world’s largest private collection of Islamic art. Islamic influences have also flourished in other areas of the arts, with novelists, comedians (Birmingham, Alabama-born Shazia Mirza was an instant hit in Hollywood), and music (from rappers Mecca2Medina on, to the less in-your-face Yusuf Islam).

Social justice

Each Muslim is obliged to pay zakat, a welfare tax of 2.5 per cent of annual income, that is distributed to the poor and the needy. If the working population of the USA, 152.5 million, was predominantly Muslim this would produce approximately $3.5 trillion each year. More importantly, everyone would be obliged to consider those Americans who haven’t shared their good fortune. The USA would become a little less cruel.

Race relations

Under Islam all persons are equal. Once you have submitted to Allah you are a Muslim – it doesn’t matter what color you are. End of story.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Of Islam And Christianity

I have heard some people call for a Muslim "Reformation," implying that Islam needs to go through the same process Christianity went through when the Protestants undermined the authority of the Catholic Church. But I have always found the analogy to be deeply flawed. The great Protestant reformers—men like Luther and Calvin—were religious fanatics who wanted to back to the "old-time religion." They were not advocates of religious liberty, and they ushered in more than a century of religious wars. So if there is a Muslim Reformation today, the closest equivalents of Luther and Calvin are probably Ibn Wahab and Sayyid Qutb—the founders of modern Islamic fundamentalism.

That is the argument offered in an excellent article in the Washington Post.

There have been those who have argued that modern Christianity is just as dangerous as Islamic fundamentalism and even that America is in imminent danger of collapsing into a Christian theocracy. As a corrective to this wild exaggeration, I offer a fascinating overview by Christopher Hitchens of how he was received an a book tour for his best-selling anti-religious screed God Is Not Great—a tour that deliberately took him deep into the Bible Belt and uncovered a deeper reserve of secularism than many of us might have suspected. After an appearance in Little Rock, Arkansas, he observes: "At the end of the event I discover something that I am going to keep on discovering: half the people attending had thought that they were the only atheists in town."

One of the things Hitchens notes is the generally polite reception atheists are given by religious believers. I have noticed this, too. I have gotten death threats from environmentalists, but when I upset Christians, they mostly tell me that they are going to pray for me. They are almost annoyingly nice.

Yes, the influence of religion is rising, relatively to its low point at the middle of the last century. But thankfully we have a very long way to go to get to that theocracy.

We Are Winning In Iraq: LET'S QUIT!

President Bush on Fire at VFW; Vietnam Comparison Angers Libs

August 22, 2007


RUSH: Boy, the president was on fire today at the VFW convention in Kansas City. By the way, for the Hollywood liberals out there, VFW, Veterans of Foreign Wars, are soldiers -- rapists, murderers, barbarians, in your eyes. He has ticked off the Democrats. We're working on the sound bites of the speech even now, ladies and gentlemen. Even after the program has begun, we continue working for you, and, of course, ourselves. But he essentially said, "All right, you want to compare Iraq to Vietnam? Well, then let's compare Iraq to Vietnam," and he went on a tear about the millions of people who lost their lives, innocent people, when we left Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. He quoted the New York Times columnists who were saying the problem with America in the world is America's presence, particularly in Vietnam. It was a Vietnam-era column. He gave a history lesson. It was almost like this show. He went around the world. He described how the defeatists said the imperial Japanese government would never, ever be a democracy, we were silly to think that that could ever happen. He cited all the pessimists, he quoted them, and then he cited history and reality as it is today to show that they were all wrong. Soviet Union, South Korea, North Korea, you name it, he was just on fire.

Of course, it's got 'em all upset out there on the left. The text of the speech was released in advance. He even went after Carl Levin, not by name. He said, (paraphrasing) "Look, the Iraqis are a functioning democracy. It's up to them to decide who their leaders are, not a bunch of politicians in Washington." This is because Levin came back after he toured Iraq and said Maliki's gotta go, the prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, gotta go, and Bush said screw you, bud. By the way, Maliki has said the same thing, which is also terrific. He lashed out at US criticism saying no one has the right to impose timetables on his elected government and his country can find friends elsewhere. Mr. Prime Minister, you don't have any friends in the Democrat Party in this country. You have friends in certain Americans. You have friends in the White House. In the text of the president's speech he links withdrawal from Vietnam to the rise of the murderous Khmer Rouge regime in Cambodia and asserts that the American pullout caused pain and suffering for millions. He said, "Whatever your position in that debate, one unmistakable legacy of Vietnam is that the price of America's withdrawal was paid by millions of innocent citizens whose agonies would add to our vocabulary new terms like boat people, reeducation camps, and killing fields."

Well, "Those assertions are already being criticized by Democrats, including the Senate majority leader, Harry Reid, and at least one historian, Robert Dallek, a biographer of presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. Both said Mr. Bush was ignoring fundamental differences between the conflicts. Citing Cambodia in particular, Mr. Dallek said in an interview that the mayhem under the Khmer Rouge 'was a consequence of our having gone into Cambodia and destabilized that country,'" which is exactly what Bush said today, he said what they're going to say, and they are saying it. When I had my meeting with him, he was on fire about this. I had a sense something was up. I just got a sense that the gloves were about to come off here, but I didn't want to speculate on that because it was just a perception. But he took me around the world and gave me a current events lesson as to what's happening in various capitals and countries. He told me he was meeting with some leaders at NATO or European Union people. He had a couple of them come up to him and say essentially here what Dallek is saying: The problem with the world is the US goes too many places, and our interventionism destabilizes all these places that otherwise would be full of peace and tranquility. And Bush told me, "I looked at him right in the eye and I said the American people and the United States government are the solution. We are not the problem." And that's what he was saying today. That was the theme of this speech.

He also said that the Iraqi legislature's passed 60 different pieces of legislation and the creation of a budgeting process that would distribute oil revenue despite the lack of an oil revenue sharing law, which is one of the key benchmarks that Congress had set for the Iraqi parliament to meet. Congress had set the benchmark. They set these benchmarks in a way that would be almost impossible, which gave them the cover to start running around now talking about the political process. But did you see the headline in The Washington Post today? "Democrats Refocus Message on Iraq After Military Gains. Criticism Shifts to Factional Unrest." A coordinated effort here between the Drive-Bys and the Democrats. Listen to this opening line -- and you know this because I have told you this weeks ago before the Congress went on recess. "Democratic leaders in Congress had planned to use August recess to raise the heat on Republicans to break with President Bush on the Iraq war. Instead, Democrats have been forced to recalibrate their own message in the face of recent positive signs on the security front, increasingly focusing their criticisms on what those military gains have not achieved: reconciliation among Iraq's diverse political factions."

Folks, they have to stay invested in defeat right now for the sake of holding Congress. The kook base that they think determined the outcome of the '06 election (it's not the case, but that's what they think) their kook fringe lunatic base is going to force them to continue this position. They're going to try to recalibrate with the help of the Drive-Bys. They're going to try to have it both ways so that they can be supportive and acknowledging of the success everybody admits is occurring on the military side. But it doesn't matter in the end. We should still get out.

"And now the Democrats, along with wavering Republicans, will face an advertising blitz from Bush supporters determined to remain on offense. A new pressure group, Freedom's Watch, will unveil a month-long, $15 million television, radio and grass-roots campaign today designed to shore up support for Bush's policies before the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, lays out a White House assessment of the war's progress. ... The leading Democratic candidates for the White House have fallen into line with the campaign to praise military progress while excoriating Iraqi leaders for their unwillingness to reach political accommodations," that Democrats in Congress demand that they make. We need benchmarks for the US Congress, folks. They're not doing anything, which is good. It's great when they don't get anything done, but they are little ankle biters. They're out there harassing the president, trying to do all these investigations.

One more reference to the president's speech, because they did release the text early. This was in the Los Angeles Times. "Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. (D-Del.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, criticized Bush's speech, saying the president 'continues to play the American people for fools. The only relevant analogy of Vietnam to Iraq is this: In Iraq, just as we did in Vietnam, we are clinging to a central government that does not and will not enjoy the support of the people.'" The people elected them! "Unless the president acts on that lesson from history and works toward a federal solution in Iraq, there is no prospect that when we leave, we will leave anything stable behind." Then they quote this historian again, Robert Dallek. "It just boggles my mind, the distortions I feel are perpetrated here by the president. We were in Vietnam for 10 years. We dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we did in all of World War II in every theater. We lost 58,700 American lives, the second-greatest loss of lives in a foreign conflict. And we couldn't work our will."

What the Democrats don't like, and what the left doesn't like, is they want the Iraq-Vietnam comparison all to themselves. They want to be able to be in control of the narrative of that comparison, and they want to be able to say, "See, we lost in Vietnam because we had no business being there. We destabilized the region, and we have no business being in Iraq. The president lied to us and people have died because the president lied," blah, blah. So when the president gives a speech and says, "Okay, you want some comparisons? Here's the one that counts." They just erupt and they have conniption fits.


RUSH: We have some President Bush sound bites ready to go here, and I really want to you hear these. I've asked Cookie to put together a couple of more from where he was quoting all the doomsayers, particularly in the media, during the Vietnam era. He cited a New York Times article or column. He didn't name the reporter. I'm having her dig that up. It was a powerful moment. I want you also to hear some of the things he said about Japan and how, after World War II, people said, "You're crazy! You're not going to make them a democracy. It's not going to happen. The Japanese don't have it in 'em." His point was that the doom-and-gloom crowd is consistent, and they've been consistent throughout history, and they've been consistently wrong, and yet they are still considered the "experts." He kept throwing that word around, with little quote marks in his voice: "Experts." You could tell he clearly disdains the "experts" that are cited by the other side. Here is one of his explanations of what happened after we left Vietnam and why we should not repeat it.

THE PRESIDENT: Many argued that if we pulled out, there would be no consequences for the Vietnamese people. The world would learn just how costly these misimpressions would be. In Cambodia, the Khmer Rouge began a murderous rule in which hundreds of thousands of Cambodians died by starvation and torture and execution. In Vietnam, former allies of the United States and government workers and intellectuals and businessmen were sent off to prison camps, where tens of thousands perished. Three decades later there is a legitimate debate about how we got into the Vietnam War and how we left. There's no debate in my mind that the veterans from Vietnam deserve the high praise of the United States of America. (applause)

RUSH: Right on. Right on. Right on. We cut the applause here in the interests of time, brevity being the soul of wit. Here's bite number two.

THE PRESIDENT: There's another price to our withdrawal from Vietnam, and we can hear it in the words of the enemy we face in today's struggle, those who came to our soil and killed thousands of citizens on September the 11th, 2001. Osama bin Laden declared that the American people had risen against their government's war in Vietnam, and they must do the same today. Bin Laden has declared that the war in Iraq "is for you or us to win. If we win it, it means your disgrace and defeat forever." Iraq is one of the several fronts in this war on terror. But it's the central front. It's a central front for the enemy that attacked us and wants to attack us again, and it's the central front for the United States -- and to withdraw without getting the job done would be devastating. (applause)

RUSH: Democrats are just out there fuming over this. They think they own the comparison to Iraq and Vietnam. By the way, I hasten to add that they've failed to make it. They're out there having to backtrack. They've been outmaneuvered again. This Washington Post story: "Democrats Refocus Message on Iraq After Military Gains," they just opened the door right into their nose again before they had a chance to go in the doorway. So now they're going to "recalibrate." They want this kind of flexibility, and the Drive-Bys give it to them. The Drive-Bys will never make them stick to a position. "Oh, oh, surge is doing well! Dingy Harry and Pelosi, you've gotta come up with something! Recalibrate, here, so you can have it both ways. We'll help you out. We'll keep your base for you, and you can get on board with this thing because reality is reality. You can't sit there and deny that." But they've tried. Everything the Democrats and the Drive-Bys have done the past three and a half, four years, has been to create negative public opinion about the war. It's turning around, and it's gotta be disappointing to them that this has happened and it has failed, their efforts failed, now that they're clearly seen on the side of defeat. We're not going to let 'em. On this program, we're not going to let 'em get back on this side, folks. They may try to "recalibrate," but it ain't gonna work here. Our disgronificator will not let their calibration equipment succeed. It ain't going to happen here.

These people own their position on this program and we are going to continually play you audio of what they said in the past four months, six months especially. Especially if you go back to April, March, when the whole surge idea was first floated, they have been opposing it. They have said it can't win. They said it's already defeated, blah, blah, blah. Just yesterday, the surge just finally hit full force, in terms of manpower. So they're out there trying to recalibrate. One of the things they tried to do was to say that this administration's the equivalent of Nixon and Watergate, with all this corruption and all this executive privilege and all these things going on that nobody knows about, like the immigration bill the Democrats were in charge of. Nobody knew about that, and when we found out about it, it was toast. They tried to say that the Iraq war is just Vietnam, a quagmire, we're going nowhere -- and, why? Because they want us to lose, and they were happy we lost in Vietnam. What they've forgotten is, after they succeeded in pulling off the loss in Vietnam by de-funding it, they nominated a guy like George McGovern who lost in a landslide to the -- at the time, hated and despised -- Richard Nixon. Yet they still go back to that era and look at it as an era of glory for them, and they seem hell-bent on emulating it. So, president comes along, destroys their comparison between Iraq and Vietnam, and puts it in his own words and now they're running around fulminating and they're getting all these historians to speak, too, saying that Bush is out of his mind, doesn't know what he's talking about, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Here's a little bite giving an interesting idea here of how many terrorists we are killing.

THE PRESIDENT: Day after day, hour after hour, they keep the pressure on the enemy that would do our citizens harm. We've overthrown two of the most brutal tyrannies in the world and liberated more than 50 million citizens. (applause) In Iraq, our troops are taking the fight to the extremists and radicals and murderers all throughout the country. Our troops have killed or captured an average of more than 1,500 Al-Qaeda terrorists and other extremists every month since January of this year. (applause)

RUSH: How about that? How about that? You know, ever since Vietnam, we don't get enemy casualty figures. You remember [General William] Westmoreland got sued over that because everybody said he was making them up. The Cronkites of the world were out there saying, "Ah, these battle figures and these enemy casualties, why, we don't necessarily believe this." So for policy reasons, those figures, exact figures are not announced. Now, since he said this... He told me this when we had a little meeting before dinner, and he gave me the monthly stats for July. I'm not going to repeat those. I mean, it's his province to do that, but he's said 1500 average a month captured and killed. He didn't give me the captured and kill total. He gave me the kill total. But that's still his province to talk about. Anyway, quick time-out. We've got a few more of these, followed by a brilliant bite by John Kerry -- who served in Vietnam, by the way -- to put all this in perspective.


RUSH: Three more bites here to go, two of the president and one of John Kerry. This is the president reassuring the VFW members he's not going to abandon Iraq or the surge.

THE PRESIDENT: Today our troops are carrying out a surge that is helping bring former Sunni insurgents into the fight against extremists and radicals, into the fight against Al-Qaeda, into the fight against the enemy that would do us harm. As they take the initiative from the enemy, they have a question: Will their elected leaders in Washington pull the rug out from under them just as they're gaining momentum and changing the dynamic on the ground in Iraq? Here's my answer: We'll support our troops; we'll support our commanders, and we will give them everything they need to succeed. (applause)

RUSH: Right on, right on, right on, right on, right on, right on, right on. Now, you know, Carl Levin came out yesterday and said (summarized), "Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has gotta step down. The guy's incompetent. They're not meeting the political benchmarks. Yeah, the surge is working, I saw it with my own eyes, but this guy's gotta go," and Bush decided to reply to that in these remarks today.

THE PRESIDENT: Many are frustrated by the pace of progress in Baghdad, and I can understand this. As I noted yesterday, the Iraqi government is distributing oil revenues across its provinces, despite not having an oil revenue law on its books, but the parliament has passed about 60 pieces of legislation. Prime Minister Maliki's a good guy, good man with a difficult job, and I support him -- and it's not up to the politicians in Washington DC to say whether he will remain in his position. That is up to the Iraqi people who now live in a democracy and not a dictatorship! (wild applause)

RUSH: And they came to their feet in Kansas City with that remark! So with all this in perspective, the president laying out the genocidal scope of death in Vietnam and Laos and Cambodia after we left Vietnam. Unfinished business. Back on July 19th of this year, C-SPAN's Washington Journal hosted Senator John Kerry (who served in Vietnam) and he got a caller from Lubbock, Texas, on the Democrat line. The caller said, "I remember the horrible killings after Vietnam and the boat people coming over here, and I'd really hate to go off and leave our allies over in Iraq and I'm concerned about that."

KERRY: Let me just say to the first part of your question with respect to boat people and killing, everybody predicted a massive bloodbath in Vietnam. Uh, there was not a massive bloodbath in Vietnam. There were reeducation camps, and they weren't pretty and, and, and, you know, uh, nobody, you know, likes that kind of outcome. But on the other hand, I've met lot of people today who were in those education camps, who are thriving in the Vietnam of today.

RUSH: Well, let's come out for reeducation camps! I mean, if you're thriving in Vietnam after a reeducation camp, let's try 'em here! That may be what the Democrats can secure their future with is reeducation camps. If your kids, after 12 years of school and then college still don't get how wonderful liberals are, just send them to reeducation camps. Those were communist-run reeducation camps! He never met a communist he didn't want to defend. These people don't criticize communists. Talking about these reeducation camps, "They weren't pretty," he said. "You know, nobody likes that kind of outcome, but, on the other hand, I met a lot of people, they really went well through those things, and thriving well in Vietnam today." Everything is an either/or, BUT... There's an "and" or something. Yeah, nobody wants that, BUT... He just can't come out and say what they did was wrong. You know what this guy was saying when he got back from Vietnam. We don't have to go through that again. There wasn't a massive bloodbath in Vietnam? (sigh) I don't know. It's revisionist history. I think these people try to revise history. In the process of reviving it they end up believing the lies they are using to revise the truth of history.

RUSH: This is Andrew in San Diego. Andrew, greetings sir, you're on the EIB Network.

CALLER: Mr. Limbaugh, it's a pleasure to talk to you. I've been listening to you for about 14 years, which puts me in seventh grade, I think, when I began.

RUSH: A Rush Baby.

CALLER: A Rush Baby, proud one. I just wanted to thank you for inspiring me to teach high school a few years ago and you've also inspired me to join the military.

RUSH: Wow.

CALLER: So my point is, I guess, if there's any.... My mother and I woke up this morning and were reading the newspaper and we saw The Washington Post's article there on the Drudge Report. I said, "You know, mom, if there's any question left about the Democrats' patriotism and their willingness to play politics with my friends and, you know, your son eventually, when I go over to fight, there is no question left. They're willing to do anything and everything to remain in power," and I said, "So if you call them 'unpatriotic,' mom, it's okay." She said, "Well, but they'd get really offended at that," and I said, "Well, the truth is offensive most of the time to most of the people," but it's just absolutely ridiculous to me to watch these people, because I live right outside of DC now. I'm just visiting my family in San Diego. But to watch these people play games with my friends' lives and the lives, and the blood of the American people, I just don't understand it anymore.

RUSH: Yeah you do. You understand it.


RUSH: You may not want to believe that it's true, because it is so deeply disturbing and offensive. You understand it. You nailed it: They're playing politics with the lives of American troops.


RUSH: They want to be able to "recalibrate their message." They want to be able to shift their message and have the media promote whatever the new calibration of the message suggests, so that they are able to stay on the offensive about this in whatever message they want. They're not being held accountable. The Drive-Bys give 'em a pass on this. People like you notice it. This would not have happened 18, 20 years ago. People like you notice it, so do the guys that you're going to serve with.


RUSH: They know all this is happening, and while this may not have demoralized the troops, it certainly has encouraged the enemy.


RUSH: That is also unconscionable. It's also true that this bickering in Washington has led to some problems -- a Democrat even admitted this -- in the political solution moving forward.


RUSH: That's right. There was no massive bloodbath in Vietnam, no massive bloodbath in Cambodia, no massive bloodbath in China, no massive bloodbath in Soviet Union, Cuba, Rwanda, you name it! The tolerance for bloodbaths in the Democratic Party is stunning. Of course, they love the people, folks! They love the people more than we do -- because they tell us all the time, don't they?


Thursday, August 23, 2007

Rudy Giuliani Would Continue The Bush Foreign Policy

Rudy Giuliani's campaign for the Republican presidential nomination is based on one big issue: his image as someone who will be tough in fighting the War on Terrorism. That is the issue that he hopes will be so important to Republican voters that they will agree to back a twice-divorced pro-choice candidate who wants to keep his religious views private, arguing that "My religious affiliation, my religious practices, and the degree to which I am a good or not-so-good Catholic, I prefer to leave to the priests."

I have been very sympathetic to his candidacy for precisely this reason. As an advocate for the "secular right"—a political viewpoint that favors free markets, a strong national defense, and strict separation of church and state—I think it would be terrific if Republican voters chose to regard the war as a higher priority than the agenda of the religious right.

But I have also noted that Giuliani's reputation as a "hawk" is based largely on his rhetoric and on his local leadership in New York City following the September 11 terrorist attacks. Yet he has not discussed in much detail either his foreign policy "grand strategy" nor the details of what he would do (and do differently) as president.

Now Giuliani has begun to do so, in a long article in Foreign Affairs.

The article clearly reveals Giuliani's appeal to the "hawks." The overall theme that emerges from the article is: peace through strength. Following up on the article's title, "Toward a Realistic Peace," Giuliani writes:

The first step toward a realistic peace is to be realistic about our enemies. They follow a violent ideology: radical Islamic fascism, which uses the mask of religion to further totalitarian goals and aims to destroy the existing international system. These enemies wear no uniform. They have no traditional military assets. They rule no states but can hide and operate in virtually any of them and are supported by some.

Above all, we must understand that our enemies are emboldened by signs of weakness. Radical Islamic terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in 1993, the Khobar Towers facility in Saudi Arabia in 1996, our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998, and the USS Cole in 2000. In some instances, we responded inadequately. In others, we failed to respond at all. Our retreat from Lebanon in 1983 and from Somalia in 1993 convinced them that our will was weak.

This is a good analysis of the nature of the enemy and how he was emboldened to attack us—with one glaring error. When Giuliani says of the Islamofascists that "they rule no states," he is forgetting Iran. (President Bush has done somewhat better; in a speech about a year ago, he described the Iranian regime as the equivalent of al-Qaeda taking over a large nation.)

I will return shortly to this issue of what to do about Iran, but Giuliani continues to do an excellent job of sketching out the consequences of defeat in our current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan:

We cannot predict when our efforts will be successful. But we can predict the consequences of failure: Afghanistan would revert to being a safe haven for terrorists, and Iraq would become another one—larger, richer, and more strategically located. Parts of Iraq would undoubtedly fall under the sway of our enemies, particularly Iran, which would use its influence to direct even more terror at US interests and US allies than it does today. The balance of power in the Middle East would tip further toward terror, extremism, and repression. America's influence and prestige—not just in the Middle East but around the world—would be dealt a shattering blow. Our allies would conclude that we cannot back up our commitments with sustained action. Our enemies—both terrorists and rogue states—would be emboldened. They would see further opportunities to weaken the international state system that is the primary defense of civilization. Much as our enemies in the 1990s concluded from our inconsistent response to terrorism then, our enemies today would conclude that America's will is weak and the civilization we pledged to defend is tired. Failure would be an invitation for more war, in even more difficult and dangerous circumstances.

Strength is also the issue on which Giuliani closes, invoking the disastrous policy of appeasement from the 1930s.

The 9/11 generation has learned from the history of the twentieth century that America must not turn a blind eye to gathering storms. We must base our trust on the actions, rather than the words, of others. And we must be on guard against overpromising and underdelivering. Above all, we have learned that evil must be confronted—not appeased—because only principled strength can lead to a realistic peace.

So what does Giuliani propose to do, specifically, to make the US strong and to put us "on the offensive" against terrorists? Among other things, he proposes to increase the size of the US military.

For 15 years, the de facto policy of both Republicans and Democrats has been to ask the US military to do increasingly more with increasingly less. The idea of a post-Cold War "peace dividend" was a serious mistake—the product of wishful thinking and the opposite of true realism. As a result of taking this dividend, our military is too small to meet its current commitments or shoulder the burden of any additional challenges that might arise. We must rebuild a military force that can deter aggression and meet the wide variety of present and future challenges. When America appears bogged down and unready to face aggressors, it invites conflict.

But the big question is: will this expanded military be used to go on the offensive against Iran? Iran is now clearly revealed as our central enemy, controlling an "Islamist Axis" with tentacles from the Mediterranean to the Himalayas. So what would Giuliani do about it?

It is revealing that his answer comes under the heading "Determined Diplomacy," in which he argues for the need to use diplomacy, but to make sure that diplomacy is backed by the credible threat of force.

America has been most successful as a world leader when it has used strength and diplomacy hand in hand. To achieve a realistic peace, US diplomacy must be tightly linked to our other strengths: military, economic, and moral. Whom we choose to talk to is as important as what we say. Diplomacy should never be a tool that our enemies can manipulate to their advantage. Holding serious talks may be advisable even with our adversaries, but not with those bent on our destruction or those who cannot deliver on their agreements.

Iran is a case in point. The Islamic Republic has been determined to attack the international system throughout its entire existence: it took US diplomats hostage in 1979 and seized British sailors in 2007 and during the decades in between supported terrorism and murder. But Tehran invokes the protections of the international system when doing so suits it, hiding behind the principle of sovereignty to stave off the consequences of its actions. This is not to say that talks with Iran cannot possibly work. They could—but only if we came to the table in a position of strength, knowing what we wanted.

The next US president should take inspiration from Ronald Reagan's actions during his summit with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev in Reykjav√≠k in 1986: he was open to the possibility of negotiations but ready to walk away if talking went nowhere. The lesson is never talk for the sake of talking and never accept a bad deal for the sake of making a deal. Those with whom we negotiate—whether ally or adversary—must know that America has other options. The theocrats ruling Iran need to understand that we can wield the stick as well as the carrot, by undermining popular support for their regime, damaging the Iranian economy, weakening Iran's military, and, should all else fail, destroying its nuclear infrastructure.

This is a disappointment. In short, what Giuliani is offering is pretty much the same policy as the Bush administration: to engage in diplomatic negotiations in an attempt to convince Iran to drop its nuclear weapons programs and to stop supporting insurgents in Iraq—backed by the eventual threat of economic sanctions and air strikes. Giuliani brings to the issue of Iran no heightened sense of urgency, no need to rapidly accelerate our efforts to undermine the Islamic Republic.

The use of a Cold War analogy—Reagan's summit with Gorbachev—is revealing. Giuliani would continue to confront Iran on the slow, plodding Cold War model favored by the current administration: through proxy battles and the brinksmanship of diplomatic standoffs.

That's why "peace through strength" is the best way of summing up Giuliani's theme. He wants to fight our conflict with Iran while avoiding a "hot" war that would directly topple the Iranian regime. Instead, he wants to increase America's military and diplomatic strength and persist in our proxy wars against Iran in Iraq and Afghanistan, in the hope of collapsing the Iranian regime through indirect economic and military pressure, the way we did with the Soviet Union.

So why is Giuliani not more hawkish against Iran? A big clue is his repeated use of a phrase that constitutes another, largely implicit theme of the article. Throughout his essay, Giuliani repeatedly refers to "the international system." Here are a few examples:

"Civilization itself, and the international system, had come under attack by a ruthless and radical Islamist enemy."

"The second [key foreign policy challenge] will be to strengthen the international system that the terrorists seek to destroy."

"The purpose of this fight must be to defeat the terrorists and the insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan and to allow these countries to become members of the international system in good standing."

"A lasting, realistic peace will be achieved when more effective diplomacy, combined with greater economic and cultural integration, helps the people of the Middle East understand that they have a stake in the success of the international system."

"NATO should dedicate itself to confronting significant threats to the international system from territorial aggression to terrorism"

The stressed repetition makes it clear that "The international system" is not a mere stock phrase, and at several points Giuliani also refers to "the international state system" or "The sovereign state system." Giuliani never explains these phrases or defines exactly what they mean, but these formulations have the sound of specific catchphrases or "terms of art" taken from a larger theory of international relations.

And that is exactly what we find. A little digging reveals the origin and meaning of this appeal to "the international system"—and what it implies for Giuliani's foreign policy grand strategy.

So why is Rudy Giuliani not more hawkish against Iran? A big clue is his repeated use of a phrase that constitutes another, largely implicit theme of the article. Throughout his essay, Giuliani repeatedly refers to "the international system."…

The stressed repetition makes it clear that "the international system" is not a mere stock phrase, and at several points Giuliani also refers to "the international state system" or "the sovereign state system." Giuliani never explains these phrases or defines exactly what they mean, but these formulations have the sound of specific catchphrases or "terms of art" taken from a larger theory of international relations.

And that is exactly what we find. A little digging reveals the origin and meaning of this appeal to "the international system"—and what it implies for Giuliani's foreign policy grand strategy.

Recently, I posted a link to a brief profile of Yale professor and former diplomat Charles Hill, who has signed on as Giuliani's chief foreign policy advisor. Professor Hill is the source of Giuliani's new talk about the "international state system."

A quick search of the web turns up a 2005 essay by Hill in the Yale Israel Journal which explains what he means by "the international system" and how he applies that concept to the War on Terrorism. The title indicates we've hit paydirt: "The Islamist War on the International System."

Hill argues that there is "one big thing" our diplomats need to remember:

[T]he international order, the foundation on which world affairs have been organized and conducted for more than three centuries, is based on a system of sovereign states. Having forgotten this lesson of history, in recent decades we have allowed our international state system to be ignored, abused, and stretched dangerously out of shape. Nowhere is the decline of the state system—and the urgent need to revamp it—more significant than in today’s Middle East, where states across the region are threatened by militant Islamist radicals bent on destroying the current system and replacing it with an entirely different one. The extent to which these Islamists will be kept from reaching their goals and the chance that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will be resolved peacefully ultimately depend on our ability to strengthen and reinvigorate the international system of states.

So what is the "international state system"? In slightly opaque academic style, Hill briefly sketches out that system.

[T]here is general acknowledgment that out of the horrors of the Thirty Years’ War and the subsequent Peace of Westphalia in 1648 a new state system was born: the world of Christendom transformed into a world of states….

The elements of the state system are conceptually clear and few in number, yet profound in their effect. On the most fundamental level, there is the state itself as the building block of international affairs. International law—which also emerged from the Thirty Years’ War by way of Grotius’ De Jure Belli ac Pacis of 1625—international conferences, and the organizations they spawn are all features of the system, while norms, an unattractive word for a precious achievement, have provided the vital, substantive fluid for the system. Finally, in order to control the religious sources of the terrible European wars of the seventeenth century, the system required that relations between states be conducted on a secular basis.

Of these, the one that is least spelled out is what Hill means by "the state itself as the building block of international affairs." From what I can tell, he is describing the premise that every area of the world should be under the control and sovereignty of a particular state, which is answerable for what happens there; as we shall see, this is the opposite of the anarchic concept of Islamic rule. The other "elements" of the "international system" are international law or "international norms"—that is, basic standards of expected behavior by states—and the concept of states as secular rather than religious institutions.

Typically, when you hear a career diplomat talk glowingly of the "international system" and describe it as the answer to all of our problems, you can bet that he is talking about the UN and urging the US to harness itself to the edicts of UN commissions and the Security Council—organizations that have proven to serve the interests of the tyrants and dictators who wield votes there, rather than the interests of the free world. But Hill is more ambiguous in his view of the UN, which he regards as having failed to serve its intended function of maintaining the "international system." (As for Giuliani, we will see his views on this subject in a moment.)

Reflecting the occupational hazards both of a diplomat and of an academic, Hill's style is a bit overly formal and stilted. He tends to express his ideas in vague, general, and formulaic terms. He is a little more lucid when talking extemporaneously, so a quote from the American Spectator profile is a little more comprehensible.

To Hill, one of the biggest challenges we face in fighting terrorism is that the international mechanisms that we have established to deal with past threats are not applicable to it. This is one of the key differences between the War on Terror and the major ideological conflict of the 20th century.

"The Cold War was of course a long war," Hill said. "It was an ideological war being waged against the international system by a communist ideology that opposed every element of the international system, starting with the state. But the communists did in some sense participate within the system. They did conduct diplomacy. They did have embassies. They did have a professional military. What we are facing today is a war being waged on us by an ideology that is just as virulent, just as vitriolic as communism, and maybe more so, in its views of the international system, and its determination to undermine it and to destroy it and to replace it. But it has none of the attributes. It does not conduct diplomacy. It doesn't apply by the laws of war. It has no professional army. It regards the state as an abomination. It regards democracy as an abomination."

What is needed, said Hill, is "an adjunct to the established international system that will deal with enemies, or combatants, that simply don't fit the kind of mechanisms that have been developed for decades and generations to deal with international conflicts."

Here is how Hill expresses the same point in writing:

Into the vacuum created by faltering or failed state authority [in places like Somalia and Afghanistan] has come an adversarial system: Radical Islamism and associated forces who oppose the state and state system, or who seize it for their own purposes. The Islamism discussed herein should be distinguished from Islam the religion in general as a violent and radical revolutionary ideology committed to destroying virtually all aspects of the international system and replacing it with a new “Islamic” order.

For some years it has been clear from the fatwas of Osama bin Laden and other prominent Islamists that they regard the concept of the state as an abomination. To them, the very idea of a state is un-Islamic. They envision the revival of a traditional form of pan-Islamic rule, the Caliphate, which would have no place for the state. In remote stateless parts of the world, from the southern islands of the Philippines to Afghanistan to Somalia to the Paraguay-Brazil-Argentina tri-border area, that they plan, train, and launch their operations….

What we are now witnessing is nothing short of a civil war in the Arab-Islamic world. On one side are those who, on the basis of Islamist beliefs, reject the international system of states, international law and organization, international values and principles, and diplomacy as a means to work through problems.

On the other side of this civil war are those regimes in the Arab-Islamic world that, however much they may have appeased, bought out, or propagandized the terrorists, have recognized that they are members of the international system of states and must find a way to reconcile Islamic beliefs and practices to it….

The state and its fate are at the heart of nearly every major issue in the Middle East and around the world…. From the global perspective, the stakes are enormous. If the Islamists can defeat the Middle Eastern states that seek to reform and work with the international system, we will be faced with another world war.

There is a significant element of truth to this view. It is similar to an observation I recently made in arguing that we have to learn how to fight and win counter-insurgency wars.

Consider how the threat of radical Islam differs from the old Middle Eastern threat of Arab nationalism. Arab nationalism was a blend of Communist and Fascist ideology that envisioned a united Arab dictatorship led by a military strongman—the role coveted by a succession of dictators, from Nasser to Saddam Hussein…. [N]ote that this old dictatorial vision was one of large armies, masses of bureaucrats, and the conventional conquest of Middle Eastern lands to be controlled by an organized, all-powerful state.

For all their talk of an Islamic "caliphate," today's Islamists do not really have such an organized vision. Their ideology is not taken from Lenin but from Mohammed—a cruder, more primitive source. It is a charter, not for a modern state, but for tribal gang warfare, and the rule of the Islamists has been dominated by the capricious whim of holy warriors, usually without much pretense of scientific organization or the rule of law.

This can be seen in many of the societies where Islamists have risen to power: their model of the ideal society has been on display in Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza, and Waziristan. It is best described as anarcho-totalitarianism: total control over the individual, not by an organized state, but by roving criminal gangs of religious zealots.

But in looking back at those comments, I realized I should have made it clearer that there is one big exception to this general trend. Iran is the one place where Islamists have managed to combine their tyrannical rule with the trappings of traditional, organized state power—though Iran still chooses to fight us by supporting terrorist insurgencies elsewhere in the Middle East. Because Iran is a conventional state with a conventional military power, I advocate a conventional military confrontation with Iran (even as we use the unconventional tactics of counter-insurgency war to wipe out Iran's agents and allies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere).

Curiously, however, Iran seems to be a major blind spot in Professor Hill's world view. In his entire article on the War on Terrorism, Iran is not mentioned at all. Why? Because it is a state within the "international state system"—and thus regarding it as the central enemy in the War on Terrorism would undermine his argument that the "strengthening of the international system" is the fundamental issue of the war.

I mentioned above that one of the occupational hazards of diplomats and academics is an opaque style of writing. The other occupational hazard is the substitution of process for substance. They say that when you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. The tools of diplomats are the protocols of international conferences and the etiquette of international "norms." The biggest issue is how states talk to one another—not the substantive goals which those states are organized to achieve. The professional diplomat is tempted to imagine that all of the world's problem could be solved if only leaders accepted the negotiating process managed by the diplomats.

But the "international system"—to the extent that such a system exists and to the extent that it is valuable—is simply one means to a far more important goal: protecting free nations by limiting the power of dictatorships. And the fundamental evil of "rogue states" like North Korea or Iran is not that they "defy the international community," but that they do so in order to preserve and export tyranny.

Judging from this article, Professor Hill's process-focused ideas about the "international system" do not provide the framework we need to identify and defeat the enemy in this war. After all, his theory does not allow him to identify the conclusion that is obvious from the facts on the ground: the central role of Iran in supporting Islamic terrorism and Islamist insurgencies in the greater Middle East. To make that identification requires an outlook that focuses on the substantive goals of states, rather than just the process by which they wrangle with one another at international conferences.

There is, however, one issue on which Hill does begin to grasp the importance of a government's substantive values. Remember that one of his "elements of the state system" is the requirement that "relations between states be conducted on a secular basis." He argues that the "international state system" has its origin in the end of the Catholic-versus-Protestant religious wars that ravaged Europe in the 17th century. He returns to that observation in the final paragraph of his essay.

In recent years there have been many signs that the international system is nearing collapse. The most ominous sign has been the return of religion—in the present case, Islamism—as a cause of major warfare. The lesson of history that must be recalled today is that the modern age began with an international system that enabled states to cooperate without the non-negotiable pressure generated by differing religions. International affairs have been conducted within such a system ever since. A thousand years of confrontation and conflict between the Islamic world and Christendom was followed by more than a century of intra-Christian warfare that produced an essentially secular international system for Europe, and over time that system was adopted and worked well throughout the world. The system is far from perfect, and international thinkers have longed to replace it. But it is all that we have at present, and history teaches that we should shore it up, defend it, and make it work as best we can. A solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict depends on it, as does the stability and future of the rest of the world.

The idea that relations between states should be secular in nature, and that an imperial religious agenda has no place in the international system, is a vital concept that certainly ought to be applied to the current conflict. The answer to Islamofascism is precisely the concept of secular government, which we should seek to export and enforce throughout the Muslim world. It is also an issue that we might expect to resonate with a leader like Giuliani, who is essentially a secular politician who regards his religious convictions as a private matter.

And that leaves us with one final question. How deeply is Giuliani influenced by Charles Hill's theory of the "international state system" as the fundamental issue in the War on Terrorism? How does that theory influence Giuliani's own foreign-policy ideas, and to what extent are his views better than Hill's?

How deeply is Giuliani influenced by Charles Hill's theory of the "international state system" as the fundamental issue in the War on Terrorism? How does that theory influence Giuliani's own foreign-policy ideas, and to what extent are his views better than Hill's?

Giuliani's Foreign Affairs essay lays out his "grand strategy," a term that refers to a nation's highest-level foreign policy agenda, a strategy that integrates our military, diplomatic, and political strategies across the globe.

While Professor Hill tends to fall into the usual diplomatic error of focusing on "the international state system" rather than the kinds of states within that system and their goals, Giuliani does somewhat better. He accepts one of the biggest good ideas that President Bush has brought to America's grand strategy: the idea that America's national security is served by the promotion of liberty throughout the world.

At the core of all Americans is the belief that all human beings have certain inalienable rights that proceed from God but must be protected by the state. Americans believe that to the extent that nations recognize these rights within their own laws and customs, peace with them is achievable. To the extent that they do not, violence and disorder are much more likely. Preserving and extending American ideals must remain the goal of all US policy, foreign and domestic.

Giuliani's only concession to the current political backlash against President Bush is to say that the "idealism" of the Forward Strategy of Freedom must be "balanced" by "realism." Yet he explicitly refuses to embrace the old "realist" school of foreign-policy—the kind that dismissed the moral character of foreign governments as irrelevant and sought instead to achieve a pragmatic "balance of powers" within the international system. By contrast, Giuliani says,

A realistic peace is not a peace to be achieved by embracing the "realist" school of foreign policy thought. That doctrine defines America's interests too narrowly and avoids attempts to reform the international system according to our values. To rely solely on this type of realism would be to cede the advantage to our enemies in the complex war of ideas and ideals. It would also place too great a hope in the potential for diplomatic accommodation with hostile states.

All that Giuliani takes from the "realists" is the notion that we "cannot achieve peace by promising too much or indulging false hopes"—in effect, Giuliani's acknowledgement of the critics of President Bush's foreign policy, which assumed that a free society would rise in Iraq quickly after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and with little need for military support from the United States.

This does involve one substantive difference between Giuliani and Bush. Where Bush emphasizes "democracy," Giuliani emphasizes "good governance." Here is how he puts it:

America has a clear interest in helping to establish good governance throughout the world. Democracy is a noble ideal, and promoting it abroad is the right long-term goal of US policy. But democracy cannot be achieved rapidly or sustained unless it is built on sound legal, institutional, and cultural foundations. It can only work if people have a reasonable degree of safety and security. Elections are necessary but not sufficient to establish genuine democracy. Aspiring dictators sometimes win elections, and elected leaders sometimes govern badly and threaten their neighbors. History demonstrates that democracy usually follows good governance, not the reverse….

The election of Hamas in the Palestinian-controlled territories is a case in point. The problem there is not the lack of statehood but corrupt and unaccountable governance. The Palestinian people need decent governance first, as a prerequisite for statehood. Too much emphasis has been placed on brokering negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians—negotiations that bring up the same issues again and again. It is not in the interest of the United States, at a time when it is being threatened by Islamist terrorists, to assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism. Palestinian statehood will have to be earned through sustained good governance, a clear commitment to fighting terrorism, and a willingness to live in peace with Israel.

All of this is good. The Bush administration has too often regarded "democracy" as a magic solution that can bypass the need for "sound legal, institutional, and cultural foundations." And Giuliani's application of his ideas to the Palestinians is particularly apt. The big news from this section is that Giuliani formally disavows the goal of creating a Palestinian state, instead calling for the creation of "decent governance" first—though he provides no answer to the question of who, other than the Israelis, would be capable of creating such a government there.

In this respect, he is significantly better than Hill. In his 2005 essay, Hill argues that "negotiations [between Israel and the Palestinians] have not made significant progress, despite some apparent high points, because there has been no state partner to sit across the table from Israel." He then goes on to laud the Bush administration's "road map" because "It provides for the establishment of a Palestinian state, not at the end of the negotiations, as in the Oslo process, but in the middle of the effort. That means there will be a state partner for Israel to negotiate with."

By contrast, Giuliani declares that "The problem there is not the lack of statehood but corrupt and unaccountable governance" and declares that the US must not "assist the creation of another state that will support terrorism."

Giuliani also adopts another worthwhile adjunct to the Forward Strategy of Freedom: a policy of free trade. I have called this the Forward Strategy of Capitalism—the idea that we can spread our values to other nations, not only by encouraging representative government, but also by encouraging global capitalism. Here is what Giuliani has to say on this:

Economic development and engagement are proven, if not fail-safe, engines for successfully moving countries into the international system…. Other nations have found that following the US model—with low taxes, sensible regulations, protections for private property, and free trade—brings not only national wealth but also national strength. These principles are not ascendant everywhere, but never has it been clearer that they work….

Foreign aid can help overcome specific problems, but it does not lead to lasting prosperity because it cannot replace trade. Private direct investment is the best way to promote economic development. The next US president should thus revitalize and streamline all US foreign-aid activities to support—not substitute for—private investment in other countries….

Today, we need a similar type of exchange with the Muslim countries that we hope to plug into the global economy. Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are pointing the way by starting to interpret Islam in ways that respect the distinctiveness of their local cultures but are consistent with the global marketplace. Some of these states have coeducational schools, allow women to serve in government, and count shopping malls that sell Western and Arab goods side by side. Their leaders recognize that modernization is their ticket to the global marketplace.

So Giuliani's goal is to encourage as many states as possible to "plug into the global economy," giving them an incentive to "modernize" by "following the US model" of government.

So the "international system," as Giuliani means it, includes a system of free international trade and global capitalism. But what about the standard diplomats' meaning of the "international system"—the system of conferences, negotiations, and "peacekeeping" efforts managed through the bureaucracy of the United Nations?

I mentioned before that Hill seems to be equivocal on the role of the UN. Giuliani is markedly less enthusiastic. Relegating the UN to the very end of the section titled "Strengthening the International System," he notes:

The organization can be useful for some humanitarian and peacekeeping functions, but we should not expect much more of it. The UN has proved irrelevant to the resolution of almost every major dispute of the last 50 years. Worse, it has failed to combat terrorism and human rights abuses…. International law and institutions exist to serve peoples and nations, but many leaders act as if the reverse were true—that is, as if institutions, not the ends to be achieved, were the important thing.

This is Giuliani's clearest repudiation of the implication, in Professor Hill's theory, that the process of the international system takes precedence over the substance of the values on which governments are based.

So in place of the UN, Giuliani proposes that the "international system" be led by a consortium of free nations, in the form of an expanded, global NATO.

America is grateful to NATO for the vital functions it is performing in Afghanistan and elsewhere. Yet NATO's role and character should be reexamined. For almost 60 years, it has been a vital bond connecting the United States and Europe. But its founding rationale dissolved with the end of the Cold War, and the alliance should be transformed to meet the challenges of this new century. NATO has already expanded to include former adversaries, taken on roles for which it was not originally conceived, and acted beyond its original theater. We should build on these successes and think more boldly and more globally. We should open the organization's membership to any state that meets basic standards of good governance, military readiness, and global responsibility, regardless of its location. The new NATO should dedicate itself to confronting significant threats to the international system, from territorial aggression to terrorism.

We are seeing, in these passages, a greater emphasis on the idea that only free nations are good long-term allies of the United States, and a proposal to gather these nations together in a new global alliance that seems intended to bypass the UN.

So where is the influence of Professor Hill's belief that "strengthening the international system" is the fundamental issue in the War on Terrorism. Has Giuliani taken his advisor's catchphrase, but not the theory behind it?

First, remember that Iran was Professor Hill's blind spot. In talking about the War on Terrorism and the Palestinian terror war on Israel, Hill neglected to mention Iran at all, even though it is one of the prime movers supporting terrorism in Iraq and in Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. Since Hill wants to maintain that terrorism is primarily a result of the collapse of the state, he does not recognize how it also serves as the tool of a state with imperial ambitions in the Middle East.

And as I observed before, this helps explain why Giuliani does not make confronting Iran a more urgent priority, and why he seeks to do so primarily with diplomacy, saving military force as a longer-term threat used to support diplomacy. And Hill's views also influence Giuliani's proposal to commit a much larger portion of America's resources to "nation-building."

Giuliani is famous for cracking down on crime in New York City by relying on the "broken window effect." The idea was that vigorous law enforcement against minor crimes would send the message that the police, not the criminals, were in control of a neighborhood, which would deter other, more serious crimes. In his Foreign Affairs essay, Giuliani argues for what I have called a "broken country effect."

In this decade, for the first time in human history, half of the world's population will live in cities. I know from personal experience that when security is reliably established in a troubled part of a city, normal life rapidly reestablishes itself: shops open, people move back in, children start playing ball on the sidewalks again, and soon a decent and law-abiding community returns to life. The same is true in world affairs. Disorder in the world's bad neighborhoods tends to spread. Tolerating bad behavior breeds more bad behavior. But concerted action to uphold international standards will help peoples, economies, and states to thrive. Civil society can triumph over chaos if it is backed by determined action.

To implement this idea, he proposes a kind of international flying squad for nation-building:

[S]ometimes America will be compelled to act in those parts of the world where few institutions function properly—those zones that lack not only good governance but any governance—and in states teetering on the edge of conflict or recovering from it. Faced with a choice between leaving a troubled zone to anarchy or helping build functioning civil societies with accountable governments that can serve as bulwarks against barbarism, the American people will choose the latter.

To assist these missions, the next US president should restructure and coordinate all the agencies involved in that process. A hybrid military-civilian organization—a Stabilization and Reconstruction Corps staffed by specially trained military and civilian reservists—must be developed. The agency would undertake tasks such as building roads, sewers, and schools; advising on legal reform; and restoring local currencies. The United States did similar work, and with great success, in Germany, Japan, and Italy after World War II. But even with the rich civic traditions in these nations, the process took a number of years. We must learn from our past if we want to win the peace as well as the war.

I am not opposed to "nation-building" as such, though I believe it should be done very selectively, where the US has vital interests, and not as a kind of international altruist "meals on wheels," with US troops leaving Iraq, for example, in order to deploy to Darfur. Giuliani, however, seems to have a more expansive view.

So what is the final result from this overview of Giuliani's foreign policy? We get a mixture. We get rhetoric about refusing to appease terrorism or ignore gathering storms, and we get an attempt to bypass the UN and to promote free societies while opposing dictatorship. That is mixed with rhetoric about the importance of the "international system," advocacy of diplomacy as our primary approach to Iran, and a greater emphasis on the use of American power for potentially altruist "nation-building."

So on Iran, for example, we can expect to see a President Giuliani pursue a diplomatic strategy centered, not on the UN, but on our European and NATO allies—which is pretty much what President Bush is doing right now. We can expect to see a President Giuliani persist in fighting terrorists in Iraq and Afghanistan, while claiming that he is doing so for the well-being of the people in these countries and to "strengthen the international system"—which is pretty much what the Bush administration is doing now. And we can see a President Giuliani holding back on endorsing a "road map" for Palestinian statehood until a Palestinian government can be formed that provides "good governance" (a development that is not likely to happen any time soon)—which is slightly better than our current policy.

In other words, we can expect a foreign policy that is pretty familiar. We can expect strong rhetoric about defeating terrorism and dictatorship and some acts of American self-assertiveness—combined with lip service to the "international system" and the frequent bogging down of American action in a morass of diplomacy.

The disappointment in Giuliani's foreign policy is that it is not much better than that of the current administration. It is not much stronger or more clear in its grasp of America's vital national interests.

I will probably still back Giuliani, if he gets the nomination, because he is still far better than his likely Democratic opponent. I will back him for the same reasons I backed Bush, but without the reservations about Bush's domestic religious agenda.

Unfortunately, it looks as if we will have to back Giuliani with the same enthusiasm—or lack thereof—with which we have had to support the current administration. We will still be backing a mixture of egoism and altruism, of American assertiveness and timid "multilateralism," and we will still have to hope that the mixture is just good enough to muddle through to victory in an unnecessarily drawn-out Cold War against Islamism.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Iraq: A Battle We Cannot Lose

Toppling and disarming Saddam Hussein was accomplished quickly in 2003, and if that were all that were at stake, we could have packed up and returned home by now. But that is not all that is at stake.

America has long since demonstrated that it has the military power to quickly topple any hostile regime in the Middle East--but we have not demonstrated the persistence and moral certainty necessary to do the work that is not quick: the work of establishing a new regime to replace that dictatorship. This is the task that requires American to find the moral and intellectual fortitude to endure through a long conflict.

This task is not optional, and in fact a self-imposed failure at this task will cripple America in the War on Terrorism.

The opposition to the war on the right is the opposition that really matters, since it will require Republican votes in Congress to pass any legislation mandating a retreat from Iraq. That opposition to the war has been growing among those who believe we should never get involved in a counter-insurgency war. This is the type of conservative whose central foreign-policy principle is opposition to the use of the US military for "nation-building" (an opposition President Bush stated, ironically, in his first presidential campaign).

But "nation-building" has always been a false issue. It was the conservatives' indirect way of opposing altruistic military missions in places where the US had no vital interests at stake, such as Bosnia. But the conservatives did not dare to reject altruism as such, so instead they chose "nation-building" as an artificial stand-in--focusing on a non-essential as an excuse to evade the essential one.

In fact, the propriety of "nation-building" depends on what nation you are trying to build, and why.

In Iraq, the need to create and support a new government there--one that is not likely to be a threat to the United States--flows directly from the decision to invade. After all, there is no point in toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein, only to see it replaced by an equally hostile rival--whether al-Qaeda in Iraq or the Iranian-backed Mahdi Army.

Thus, the shifting goal of the Iraq war should be no surprise. We invaded to pre-empt Saddam Hussein's acquisition or use of chemical and nuclear weapons--but we had to stay to avoid handing Iraq over to the control of our other enemies. And that involved creating and defending a new government, which turned out to require a "nation-building" counter-insurgency war.

As I hinted at in the first part of this article, the greatest proof that the Bush administration did not invade Iraq primarily to spread "democracy" is the fact that they made no preparation to use military force to achieve that goal. The invasion was designed only to topple Saddam Hussein's regime, with the assumption that a relatively free society would simply emerge on its own in the absence of a tyrant to suppress it. And the administration assumed that this new liberal society would require only our diplomatic and political support--since that is the only real support it offered.

Even as late as 2006, when we were beginning to use counter-insurgency techniques in Iraq, the overall military strategy (now usually referred to as the "Rumsfeld-Casey strategy") was simply to keep the insurgents suppressed until we could goad the Iraqis into achieving a grand political reconciliation. The handover of sovereignty to the interim government, the drafting of a new constitution, the Iraqi elections in 2005 and 2006--all of these events were supposed to create that political breakthrough, on the assumption that a political reconciliation would cause the insurgency to wither away. It was assumed that purely political means could be used to win a military conflict (an illusion that still holds sway among many members of Congress). It is only now that General Petraeus is attempting to implement a unified political and military strategy against the insurgency.

Fighting this kind of counter-insurgency war is unavoidable because an insurgency is the strategy our enemies have chosen--and they chose it because it hits us directly at two of our crucial weak spots.

America's two crucial weak spots in war are the pragmatism and moral timidity of the right--and the active Western self-loathing of the left.

The first weak spot, for example, causes such strategic errors as the belief that we could fight a war narrowly within Iraq, without fighting a larger regional conflict against Iran and Syria. That decision allowed those two dictatorships to create and support the insurgency with impunity.

The second weak spot furnishes the left with a moral fifth column, a wide cultural movement within the West that will seek to exploit any errors and setbacks in the war as proof that we are morally unfit to fight it and must surrender. (And when the left can't find evidence of our moral unfitness, they will fake it.)

A terrorist insurgency is perfectly aimed at these two weak spots. The right's timidity will prevent it from taking decisive action against the sponsors and supporters of the insurgency, causing the war to drag on longer than it needs to--and the longer the war lasts, the more the culturally influential left will chip away at public support for it.

Our enemies know that these are our weaknesses, because we have proved them again and again, in Somalia, in Beirut--and particularly in Vietnam. These are the examples they look to in pursuing this strategy.

Insurgency war is not only aimed at our weak spots; it is also well suited to our enemies' capabilities. It is an inexpensive war to maintain in terms of manpower, weapons, and technology. It requires, not massive armies and fearsome warships, but a few thousands car bombs and a few hundred suicide bombers. This is a war our enemies know they can sustain. They are short on military and economic power--but long on ideological indoctrination and religious fanaticism, precisely the resources called for by an insurgency.

But there is one final, broader reason why an insurgency war is a strategy peculiarly suited to the advocates of modern Islamic totalitarianism. I used to grumble about the use of the term "War on Terrorism," citing the objection that terror is a tactic, not an enemy. But I eventually accepted the term, in part because terrorism is a tactic that is distinctive to our enemy and describes his particular methods and goals. The same applies to an insurgency, which is a terror bombing campaign writ large.

Consider how the threat of radical Islam differs from the old Middle Eastern threat of Arab nationalism. Arab nationalism was a blend of Communist and Fascist ideology that envisioned a united Arab dictatorship led by a military strongman--the role coveted by a succession of dictators, from Nasser to Saddam Hussein. Nasser's ambitions were thwarted forty years ago in the 1967 Six Day War against Israel, and Arab nationalism further withered with the defeat of Saddam Hussein in the 1991 Gulf War. The invasion of Iraq in 2003 killed Arab nationalism definitively. But note that this old dictatorial vision was one of large armies, masses of bureaucrats, and the conventional conquest of Middle Eastern lands to be controlled by an organized, all-powerful state.

For all their talk of an Islamic "caliphate," today's Islamists do not really have such an organized vision. Their ideology is not taken from Lenin but from Mohammed--a cruder, more primitive source. It is a charter, not for a modern state, but for tribal gang warfare, and the rule of the Islamists has been dominated by the capricious whim of holy warriors, usually without much pretense of scientific organization or the rule of law.

This can be seen in many of the societies where Islamists have risen to power: their model of the ideal society has been on display in Somalia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Gaza, and Waziristan. It is best described as anarcho-totalitarianism: total control over the individual, not by an organized state, but by roving criminal gangs of religious zealots.

This can also be seen in a far more organized society which still holds the principles of Islamism in its black heart: Saudi Arabia. I recently came across an eye-opening article about the Saudi religious police, who enforce its strict Islamic law. I had assumed that these religious police were endowed with some kind of formal legal authority under the direct charter of the Saudi rulers. It turns out this isn't true. The Saudi government's only constitution is the Koran--literally--and the religious police are simply vigilantes who cite the Koran as their authority to use force against Saudi citizens. (The article, incidentally, is about attempts to subject these religious police to legal scrutiny and some rudiments of the rule of law.)

You can see how a terrorist insurgency is suited to this nihilistic vision. The insurgency in Iraq primarily seeks to sow chaos--which is all that its kidnappings, revenge killings, and car bombings can actually achieve.

So these are all of the reasons why we have to learn to fight and win a counter-insurgency war: it is the kind of war that is best suited to the goals and capabilities of the enemy--and best calculated to hit us at our weaknesses. Conservatives are correct that withdrawal from such a conflict will convey weakness to our enemies, but it is not just a generalized weakness. It is a specific weakness: the unwillingness to fight and win a counter-insurgency war. In ratifying this weakness, we will be telling our enemies: here is where and how to strike us, if you want to defeat us every time.

Let's say, for example, that we were to withdraw from Iraq now--then set out at some later point to topple the Iranian regime. Don't you think the remnants of that regime--even if they were defeated in a conventional conflict or faced an uprising from their own people--would have every incentive to turn Iran into another terrorist "quagmire," replicating the model that succeeded for them in Iraq? That would be the message of a successful Muslim insurgency in Iraq: that the US may always win on the conventional battlefield--but the Islamists will always win in the unconventional battle that follows.

The enemy's incentive to use this strategy against us is far too strong. We're going to face it again and again until we demonstrate that we have learned how to break a Muslim terrorist insurgency. And on that issue, Iraq is a test we cannot fail.

Surrender in Iraq would validate the terrorist insurgency as an infallible winning tactic. It would validate that tactic far more thoroughly than our previous retreats from Somalia and Beirut, and losing this time would make it ten times harder to demonstrate our ability to win a counter-insurgency war in the future.

On the positive side, facing down this insurgency and defeating it provides us with an excellent opportunity to discredit the cause of Islamism. The Islamists share one crucial characteristic with the old Arab nationalist strongmen: they promise their followers strength. They promise victory and conquest as a balm for the deep-seated Muslim sense of inferiority and humiliation. Bin Laden described the theory behind his international terrorist crime spree as the "strong horse" theory: the people will support his cause because they regard it as successful, while they see the enemy as weak.

Winning in Iraq would have a unique power to discredit the view that the terrorists are the strong horse. The terrorists already know that they can't win in a conventional, stand-up fight. A victory in Iraq would tell them that they can't win an insurgency, either. The Islamists would come across, to their supporters and sympathizers in the Arab and Muslim world, as just another group of posturing failures who promised greatness and delivered humiliation.

There are two things we ought to do to win the counter-insurgency war. The first is to follow the new counter-insurgency strategy employed by General Petraeus within Iraq, a strategy based on intensive study of previous counter-insurgency wars. The second is one that is not being tried: to starve the insurgents of funding, training, weapons, and support by toppling the regimes outside of Iraq who are supporting the insurgents.

But there is one prerequisite that makes these other measures possible: we have to stay in Iraq and keep fighting.