Friday, December 15, 2006

A Modest Proposal?

The current Administration finds itself these days on the horns of a dilemma with regard to the global culture war as it applies to the middle east. One of the alternatives suggested by Diana West is worthy of consideration.

As a culture, the West is paralyzed by the specter of civilian casualties, massive or not, that accompanies modern (not high-tech) warfare, and fights accordingly. It may well have been massive civilian casualties in Germany (40,000 dead in Hamburg after one cataclysmic night of "fire-bombing" in 1943, for example) and Japan that helped end World War II in an Allied victory. But this is a price I doubt any Western power would pay for victory today.
So, the military solution — which isn't the same as boosting ROE (rules of engagement)-cuffed troop levels in Baghdad — is out, unless or until our desperation level rises to some unsupportably manic level. The great paradox of the "war on terror," of course, is that as our capacity and desire to protect civilians in warfare grows, our enemy's capacity and desire to kill civilians as a means of warfare grows also. Our fathers saved us from having to say, "Sieg Heil," but what's next — "Allahu akbar"?
Not necessarily. There's another Middle Eastern strategy to deter expansionist Islam: Get out of the way. Get out of the way of Sunnis and Shi'ites killing each other. As a sectarian conflict more than 1,000 years old, this is not only one fight we didn't start, but it's one we can't end. And why should we? If Iran, the jihad-supporting leader of the Shi'ite world, is being "strangled" by Saudi Arabia, the jihad-supporting leader of the Sunni world, isn't that good for the Sunni-and-Shiite-terrorized West?
With the two main sects of Islam preoccupied with an internecine battle of epic proportions, the non-Muslim world gets some breathing room. And we sure could use it — to plan for the next round.

The major problem with the implementation of such a strategy other than the public relations issue is the temporary dislocation in the distribution of the energy sources of the region. That dislocation, however is likely inevitable in any event.


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