News+and+politics religion philosophy the cynic librarian: Stalemate in the Mideast?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Stalemate in the Mideast?

The notion that there's a terrorist behind every bush is propaganda. Its purpose is to win elections inside the US, not to confront and win the "war on terror." Unfortunately, the domestic effects of such propaganda destroys American solidarity and sets the stage for polarizing culture wars whose purpose is less than strengthening virtue.

Perhaps the only way to maintain the US empire is to instil a military ethos, hopefully returning us to virtue--but that will not occur when politicians and their cronies exploit the fear to gain power and line their pockets. ...

One of the lessons of this so-called "war" is that the US military and its civilian leaders are not very good at knowing their enemy. Not only have we had intelligence failures in this regard, but the military itself has been slow to recognize who the enemy is and to work outside the box when it comes to recognizing the enemy's tactics.

While it helps to consolidate the home front, all moralizing does is to propose easy solutions that fit outmoded preconceptions. While I don't think that the neocons are done yet in trying to impose their template of old-world hegemony on to a region whose untapped masses have yet to exhibit their true worth, it should become obvious that the new "war" is more on the political front than on the battlefield.

If someone hasn't already posted a link and selection from this article, here it is. It's one of the more cogent and realistic descriptions of what's gone wrong and what's potentially workable than anything i have seen in a while.

At the American Conservative, Andrew Bacevich writes:

So it turns out that Arabs—or more broadly Muslims—can fight after all. We may surmise that they now realize that fighting effectively requires that they do so on their own terms rather than mimicking the West. They don’t need and don’t want tanks and fighter-bombers. What many Westerners dismiss as “terrorism,” whether directed against Israelis, Americans, or others in the West, ought to be seen as a panoply of techniques employed to undercut the apparent advantages of high-tech conventional forces. The methods em-ployed do include terrorism—violence targeting civilians for purposes of intimidation—but they also incorporate propaganda, subversion, popular agitation, economic warfare, and hit-and-run attacks on regular forces, either to induce an overreaction or to wear them down. The common theme of those techniques, none of which are new, is this: avoid the enemy’s strengths; exploit enemy vulnerabilities.

What are the implications of this new Islamic Way of War? While substantial, they fall well short of being apocalyptic. As Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has correctly—if perhaps a trifle defensively—observed, “Our enemy knows they cannot defeat us in battle.” Neither the Muslim world nor certainly the Arab world poses what some like to refer to as “an existential threat” to the United States. Despite overheated claims that the so-called Islamic fascists pose a danger greater than Hitler ever did, the United States is not going to be overrun, even should the forces of al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraqi insurgents, and Shi’ite militias along with Syria and Iran all combine into a unified anti-Crusader coalition. Although Israelis for historical reasons are inclined to believe otherwise, the proximate threat to Israel itself is only marginally greater. Although neither Israel nor the United States can guarantee its citizens “perfect security”—what nation can?—both enjoy ample capabilities for self-defense.

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