Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Hayward v. Tucker, Part II

David’s rejoinder might be summarized as a counsel of caution, along with a meditation on what course prudence demands.

I seldom worry that American government is being incautious anymore (except when it comes to domestic social policy, where there is seldom any caution. . .) To the contrary, I worry about an excess of caution, of the kind that leads to the kind of half-measures we saw in Vietnam. This is especially the case, I think, in our national security structure. As Churchill once remarked of such a process, "Everyone claims his margin at every stage, and the sum of the margins is usually ’no.’" In the current context, I am guessing the role of caution is being very well represented by Colin Powell (whom I suspect is not as bad as many conservatives think).

A more interesting problem is the question that both David and I have raised: If we smash up Iraq, then what? Are we prepared to run the place as we did Japan after 1945? And on what basis do we expect to succeed? We have, I think, debated and thought through the idea of pre-emptive war, but we have not had a serious debate about the prospect of American empire which this entails, an empire, however temporary, that derives from America’s principles as well as its interests, as Peter suggests. I think we need to have this discussion soon. (It might, by the way, have salutary benefits on the calculations of the Iraqi military and other leaders to hear talk of the U.S. deciding that it IS willing to run the place for the next five years. They might decide to start reforming the country on its own.)

I am in heated agreement with David that an American occupation of Iraq may be a very bad idea, though I am less persuaded that there is mass anti-American sentiment in Iraq and other Middle East nations. I think there is a chance that there may be a large number of Iraqis who would welcome liberation by Americans from Saddam’s tyranny, just as there were in Afghanistan, and from such people ther core of a decent polity might be forged. I have had one conversation with a member of the exiled opposition Iraqi National Congress who argues this case, though obviously he has an ax to grind. (We might we be able to win the trust of the Kurds, if we can persuade them that they won’t be abandoned again.) It is hard to tell from here. (Michael Ledeen argues forcefully that ordinary Iranians have become very pro-American and would welcome our help in ousting the mullahs.) Ultimately Bush’s decision will likely be guided by another Churchill maxim: "Assume that the favorable and adverse chances equate, and then eliminate them from the calculation."

Finally, I am not sure I agree with David that the war on AQ and the war against Iraq are separate enterprises. To do so means rejecting the case made by Laurie Mylroie, former CIA chief James Woolsey, and others that Iraq is deeply involved with AQ, had a role in the 1993 WTC bombing, etc. Perhaps Mylroie and Woolsey are wrong (the supposed meeting in Prague between Atta and an Iraqi intelligence operative is in hot dispute, as is the claim that Iraq has a Boeing airplane for terrorists to train in--I think that if such a plane exists, it would be kept in a hangar away from snooping US satellites and not out in plain sight where it can be shown on Fox News. . .). To repeat what I said before, it is strange to me that the U.S. wouldn’t cite such evidence if they have it, unless it is too circumstantial.

It may be a more prudent course to go about patiently rolling up terrorists bit by bit. I have my doubts. It seemed to me that one of the virtues of the hellfile missile attack on the car in Yemen was that it sent the signal that the U.S. was able and willing to kill terrorists in other nations besides Afghanistan.

Discussions - 2 Comments

There is a link between Iraq and Al Qaeda that has not been adequately explored; yet its importance looms large. This link is the philosophical. Let me sneak up upon this link crabwise.

First, although Al Qaeda has shown little interest in Israel -- if the Kenya attacks are Al Qaeda, they would be the first on Israel -- there is a clear and unambiguous link between Al Qaeda and other groups whose raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel: for one big example, Egyptian Islamic Jihad was co-founded by Ayman Al-Zawahiri, OBL’s butt monkey. Indeed, it is wise to note that there is a philosophical parity here, too: the typical Islamic terror organizations -- Egyptian & Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al-Aqsa, Fatah, the PLO, and the smaller groups -- hate the United States because we’re the Great Satan that supports Israel; while Al-Qaeda hates Israel because they support the Great Satan of the United States.

Second, whether or not one believes in a direct connection betwixt Saddam Hussein and Al-Qaeda ("the Base"), nobody now denies that there is a direct connection between Hussein and the anti-Israeli Islamic terrorist organizations (anti-IITOs), both Sunni and Shi’ite, Wahabbi and other fundamentalist. Among other pieces of evidence, Hussein pays a tremendous lot of money to the family of any homicide bomber who kills Israeli Jews. And of course Hussein himself shot forty-some Scud missiles at Israel in the Gulf War and has repeatedly played to the antisemitic character of Arab Moslems to rally them to his side against America.

Thus, we a have a strong and /reciprocal/ philosophical (and military) connection between Al-Qaeda and the anti-IITOs; and an equally strong and equally reciprocal philosophical, financial, and political connection between the anti-IITOs and Iraq under Saddam Hussein.

Even if one discounts any military, financial, or political connections, there remains the philosophical one.

And lest this be dismissed as so intensely theoretical it borders on the precious, bear in mind that our alliance with Great Britain is more philosophical, sharing the same goals, ethos, morality, and view of the world and the individual’s place within it, than it is military, economic, or political. All deep and surviving alliances have their basis in philosophy, rather than the expediency of joint military maneuvers or banking reciprocity. Alliances based upon the latter are ephemeral, as superficial as the Hitler-Stalin Pact of World War II.

Taking down Saddam Hussein chops away one, perhaps two of the legs of the militant Islamism stool /whether or not/ Hussein’s agents had any personal meeting with Mohammed Atta in the Czech Republic. By their very natures, Hussein’s Iraq and Osama Bin Laden’s Al-Qaeda support and rely upon each other’s ability to recruit new antisemites and murderous thugs: hurt one and we hurt the team.

Dafydd ab Hugh

Hello, hello, is this thing on?

My apologies for improper paragraphing above; I didn’t realize that a pair of carriage returns did not constitute a paragraph.

The comments section may actually work better if each was not rigidly tied to a particular posting, or at least there were some way to view /all/ the comments (on all postings) in a single pass. I’m not sure if the software you’re using supports this; perhaps it’s even available right now, but if so, I cannot find it.

(It also would be more popular if you fellows responded to comments .)

Dafydd ab Hugh

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