Sunday, March 28, 2004

He actually read Clarke's book 

Kevin Drum actually read the book and has a great post on it.

Here's the part that gives me the heebeegeebees...

"The ingredients al Qaeda dreamed of for propagating its movement were a Christian government attacking a weaker Muslim region, allowing the new terrorist group to rally jihadists from many countries to come to the aid of the religious brethren. After the success of the jihad, the Muslim region would become a radical Islamic state, a breeding ground for more terrorists, a part of the eventual network of Islamic states that would make up the great new Caliphate, or Muslim empire."

From his point of view, then, Bush's post-9/11 obsession with attacking states was simply playing into al-Qaeda's hands. "It was as if Usama bin Laden, hidden in some high mountain redoubt, were engaging in long-range mind control of George Bush, chanting 'invade Iraq, you must invade Iraq.'"

It gives me the heebeegeebees because I've been trying to articulate this point for some time now, only without any support from insider views. I think this points to the greatest divide amongst the "pro-war" and "anti-war" crowd (where Iraq is concerned) after whittling both sides down to those who know something about the whole situation and are rather intelligent people. This is the crux of the debate. If you believe state sponsorship is essential to terrorism and that attacking states is the solution, then you will likely be pro-war. If you feel that effective terrorist organizations (in the sense that they are good at killing people and being terrorists) can exist without state sponsorship, you are likely to see the war as a mistake (especially in light of the lead-up, which was at best disingenuous on the part of the administration). Clarke's portrayal of bin Laden's goals is the ridiculous extreme of the "no state-sponsorship required" fears about what the war is likely to "accomplish". A more reasoned response is my belief that though Iraq was not a "terrorist state" or a front in the war on terror prior to the war, it threatens to become the former now and decidedly is the latter (now replete with American targets!).

My issue is that if you are really going to go after a "terrorist state", why Iraq and not Iran or Lybia? Even that argument fails on this tree-hugger. The threat, admittedly so on all sides, is a diffuse one. So why pretend like attacking a single state (or even a small handful of them) is going to significantly affect it? It doesn't make sense to me. Treat it as a war? Sure. Treat it as a conventional war (or use it to start one)? Waste of resources and likely counterproductive.

There is the argument that if Democracy takes root in Iraq that it will create a domino effect, leading to the democratization of the Middle East and goodies for everyone (they get freedom, votes, and a free market and we get no more bombs in the face). The concept is intellectually and emotionally seductive, but I find it about as convincing as Osama's wet dream of a Middle East entirely unified under a single monolithic theocratic empire. Neither extreme is likely to occur.

UPDATE: Consider this my promised continuation of that earlier Clarke post in which I promised a continuation (that I never delivered because I'm a lazy bastard).


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