Sunday, December 30, 2007

2007: The West's Year of Failure

[Cross-posted to THE ASTUTE BLOGGERS]

From this December 28, 2007 article in Spiegel Online International:
Ongoing difficulties in Iraq. A Taliban offensive in Afghanistan. And now the assassination of opposition leader Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. For the West, 2007 has been a year of failure and missteps.

There are three lessons to be learned from the strategy followed by the US to this point.

Lesson one: The conflict with radical Islam is not the hobby of a US president gone berserk. This will become all the more clear next November when American voters go to the polls. Bush, who cannot run for re-election due to term limitations, will go, but the conflict with Islam will remain. In fact, it is growing more intense. That, at least, is what the murder of this exceptionally brave woman in Pakistan has given to the West: a high degree of clarity. The radical Islamists will not tolerate any democrats, even if they come from their own countries. They are looking for a showdown, apparently at any price. They will even accept the failure of a country as big and proud as Pakistan.

Lesson two: Bush will not be in a position to do much to end this conflict. He is a war president and an unsuccessful one at that. Even if he talks about diplomacy, it sounds like preparation for war. His partners in Berlin, Paris and London will have to act cleverly in this difficult situation. Any belligerence or crowing must be avoided so as to not damage the Western position as a whole. As strange as it might sound, this beleaguered president must be ushered into retirement with dignity and civility.

Lesson three: The classic military intervention -- Bush's formula against the danger of terrorism -- has not been successful up to now and will not be so in the future. And the situation in nuclear-armed Pakistan is clearly not one where any sort of military operation should be considered....
The article, avoiding insofar as possible any reference to Islam, emphasizes the role of diplomacy (Even with "thugs"!), which has been, for the most part over the past fourteen centuries, an abject failure with any Islamic nation. The Spiegel article, overlooking the religious element and the emphasis which Islamic terrorism places on Islamic jihadi-martyrs' status in eternity, also attempts to draw fallacious comparisons between the present clash of civilizations and the Cold War:
A look back and the Cold War -- an era full of provocations on both sides -- provides a useful model. In 1953, construction workers building the great Stalin Allee in East Berlin, rebelled against their communist government. Many in the Soviet zone hoped that the West would support their fight against the East German communist dictatorship. In West Berlin, the US propaganda station RIAS became shriller -- but nothing more was done.

In Budapest in 1956 there was the same calm discipline. The armed Hungarian students (this writer's father among them) rebelled against the Moscow puppet regime. They were hoping for Western help, but that hope was in vain. The students saw this as a betrayal. For tens of thousands, my father included, there was nothing to do but flee from the Soviet tanks rolling in.

The West's abstention was painful; in fact, it was unbearable -- but it made political sense.

These provocations continued until the dismal high point -- the military putsch by General Wojciech Jaruzelski in Warsaw in 1981. The armies of the West stayed in their barracks. Soviet Communism broke apart all by itself a short time later.
Toward the end, however, the article also states the following, thus ending on a contradictory note:
The West has to protect itself and its people with everything modern technology has placed at its disposal....[T]here is an important role to be played by the military and by secret services -- but primarily in the service of targeted operations against terror camps and cells. While mass invasions have proven useless, pinprick operations continue to have an important place in the West's arsenal.
In my view, the article overlooks a necessary component of victory in this long, long war against Islamic expansionism: Stop whitewashing Islam by calling it "the religion of peace."

[Hat-tip to Mark Alexander, where I found the article from Spiegel Online International]

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posted by Always On Watch @ 12/30/2007 08:54:00 AM