Saturday, January 15, 2005
InsurgentsIn Iraq, the insurgents—a coalition of diehard Saddamists, domestic Islamofascists, and foreign jihadists—have a simple objective. They are trying to drive us out before the seeds of democratization that we are helping to sow have taken firm root and begun to flower. Only thus can the native insurgents hope to recapture the power they lost when we toppled Saddam; and only thus can the Iranians, the Syrians, and the Saudis, who have been dispatching and/or financing the foreign jihadists, escape becoming the next regimes to go the way of Saddam’s under the logic of the Bush Doctrine.
Isolationism, Right and Left
Consider—to begin once more on the lowest rung of the ladder—the isolationists of the paleoconservative Right. Their line is that a conspiracy of "neoconservative" (i.e., Jewish) officials holed up in the White House and the Pentagon is dragging this country, against its own interests, into one conflict after another with the sole purpose of "making the Middle East safe for Israel."
So, too, with the isolationists of the hard Left. These—exactly like their forebears in the late 1930’s who fought against America’s entry into World War II—have made common cause with the paleoconservatives at the other end of the political spectrum. True, the isolationism of the Left stems from the conviction that America is bad for the rest of the world, whereas the isolationism of the Right is based on the belief that the rest of the world is bad for America. Nevertheless, the two streams have converged, flowing smoothly into the same channel of fierce opposition to everything Bush has done in response to 9/11.
With no mass audience to lose, no such worry bothers the exponents of another line of attack on the Bush Doctrine that has emanated from a neighborhood on the Right where utter ruthlessness is considered the only way to wage war, and where the idea of exporting democracy is thought to conflict with conservative political wisdom. On the Right though it obviously is, this neighborhood of superhawks is as distant from the precincts of paleoconservatism as it is from the redoubts of the anti-American Left.
Moving now away from the margins and closer to the center, we come to one of the neighborhoods inhabited by the foreign-policy establishment.
Here—housed in bodies like the Council on Foreign Relations, the Brookings Institution, and the Carnegie Endowment, and surrounded by the populous community of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s)—live the liberal internationalists, with their virtually religious commitment to negotiations as the best, or indeed the only, way to resolve conflicts; their relentless faith in the UN (which they stubbornly persist in seeing as the great instrument of collective security even though its record is marked by "an unwillingness to get serious about preventing deadly violence"); and their corresponding squeamishness about military force.
But of all the groups making up the coalition against the Bush Doctrine, the one with the most to lose is the realists.
The realist perspective is shaped by two related precepts. The first is that in international affairs the great desideratum is stability, which can be achieved only through a proper balance of power. Following from this is a very old principle, going all the way back to the arrangements of the 16th century that allowed for more or less peaceful coexistence among perennially warring Catholic and Protestant principalities. In its original form this principle was expressed in the Latin motto "cuius regio eius religio" (the religion of the ruler is the religion of the region). Translated into secular terms, it holds that the internal character of a sovereign state is strictly its own affair, and only the actions it takes beyond its own borders are the business of any other state.
And a whole lot more...
If you want to understand the argument you need to understand where the different viewpoints come from. Read it!