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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 04, 2003

Who's the realist (Ted Belman)

PM Chretien proclaims he is shocked that the US now says it wants regime change in Iraq and not just disarmament. Why is Canada's PM the last to know?

Jeffrey Simpson, writing in the Globe and Mail properly describes the aim of the US
Mere disarmament would never have sufficed to kick-start the long-term objective of the "war party." The whole purpose of replacing Mr. Hussein's regime with one tutored by the U.S. was to send a shock throughout the Arab world -- and maybe to Iran, that other country so maladroitly linked by the ideologues to the "axis of evil."

The fall of Mr. Hussein would signal that no country could defy the United States. No country could harbour terrorists. Even a country with such unproven links to al-Qaeda as Iraq would be a target.

Arab countries -- with their corrupt leaders, secret police, fire-breathing mullahs, sclerotic economies and "dream palace" politics that underscored victimization and resentment instead of modernity and progress -- would change, and for the better, once their publics witnessed the U.S.-led transformation of Iraq.
So far, so good. But he doesn't leave it at that.
Mr. Hussein's fall would show Palestinians that they must stop drawing comfort from "rejectionist" states that dream of eliminating Israel. The shock would bring them around to negotiating with Israel, largely on Israel's terms, the precise strategy of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and his U.S. supporters, including the Likudniks in the Bush administration.
This seems to me a positive result but he makes it sound like a nefarious scheme. Considering all the Palestinian treachery and terrorism and ultimate goal of destroying Israel, why shouldn't they be brought to heel and forced to make a deal to Israel's liking. Israel is a democracy and our ally. It entered the Oslo Accords in good faith and made a good faith offer. It has suffered over 700 deaths as a result of Palestinian terror. Why shouldn't it have the right to defeat the Palestinians and dictate terms.

But Simpson makes it sound like the US is doing Israel's bidding at the behest of Israel's supporters, "including the Likudniks" in the Bush Administration. How outrageous, how insidious, how anti-Semitic. In barely camouflaged language he is saying that the Jews control the Bush administration and are directing US policy in support of Israel and contrary to American interests. The truth of the matter is that Israel and the US have common interests, namely the defeat of terrorism. Neither can retreat from this battle without bringing irreparable harm to themselves.
These, then, were the administration's underlying objectives, always apparent but now revealed. Many are dubious, some are dangerous, and all will lead to the perception in the Arab world that there is, indeed, a "clash of civilizations" -- one launched by the West's most powerful country against the Arab world in particular and the Islamic world in general.
He is so wrong . He is also disingenuous. There is already , in the Islamic world, a perception that there is a clash of civilizations. That is why it is so anti-American and anti-Semitic. That is why they reject our values, our democracy and our liberty. That is why they blow us up. What is lacking in the West is a recognition that there is such a clash. We pretend that we are in a war against a tactic, "terror" and not a people. We refuse to identify that our war is against militant Islam including the regimes that sponsor it. Simpson's remarks are a case in point.
The "dream palace" will be one in which the Americans are led by their political and military leaders through unfamiliar cultural territory, using largely inappropriate means toward long-term engagements for which Americans are not prepared, financially or psychologically.
The Americans fully support the "war on terror" and intend to win it. They have long been told that this is a ten year project. They are prepared for it . They are up for it. And they will win it.
An administration with revolutionary objectives is running U.S. policy. The realists have been banished or marginalized, considered wimps too inclined to compromise.

The ideologues believe they are the terrorists' nightmare, but, instead, they are the terrorists' dream, because they have overreacted. By pursuing "regime change," starting with a U.S. general running Iraq for two years or more, the U.S. will turn even more people against them and provide the best recruiting ground yet for militant fundamentalism.
Ah therein lies the rub. How Orwellian. The threat is real and therefore those who want to meet the threat head on and defeat it, are the realists. It is the pacifiers and the conciliators and the compromisers who are the idealists just as they were in the thirties. And they are just as wrong.