ARC's 1st Law: As a "progressive" online discussion grows longer, the probability of a nefarious reference to Karl Rove approaches one

Friday, July 21, 2006

Changing the Status Quo

Interesting article at Tech Central Station today by Josh Manchester.

Shaken and Stirred
By Josh Manchester : 21 Jul 2006

The US invasion of Iraq has so shaken and stirred the Middle East that some exceptionally strange things are happening. More importantly, these things unequivocally favor the US in influencing the outcome of the Israeli-Hezbollah War now taking place in Lebanon.

What sorts of strange things? Well, consider an Arab League meeting in Cairo over the weekend, where a fight of sorts broke out.Jed Babbin described it best:
"This meeting began with the Lebanese foreign minister Fawzi Salloukh proposing a resolution condemning Israel's military action, supporting Lebanon's 'right to resist occupation by all legitimate means' ... The Lebanese draft also called on Israel to release all Lebanese prisoners and supported Lebanon's right to 'liberate them by all legitimate means.' ... The Syrian foreign minister, Walid Moallem, strongly supported Lebanon and Hizballah. But an historic obstacle was raised that blocked the Lebanese endorsement of terrorism.

"The Saudi foreign minister, al-Faisal, led a triumvirate including Egypt and Jordan that, according to the AP report, was '...criticizing the guerilla group's actions, calling them 'unexpected, inappropriate and irresponsible acts.'' Faisal said, 'These acts will pull the whole region back to years ago, and we simply cannot accept them.' . . . The Arab leaders are frightened that the acts of the terrorists they have coddled for decades might have consequences for them. And they are very frightened of what Iran may do next.'
Decisive action is what has traditionally been missing from the wars of the Middle East. Land changes hands, blows are exchanged, and peace eventually is negotiated. But the underlying dynamic never changes because the sides are rarely faced with a decisive defeat, the only condition that can force the most avowed of men to abandon the ideas they hold dear.

Israel now has the chance to destroy Hezbollah. Only time can tell what Israel will do with the opportunity it possesses. Opportunities forsaken are opportunities lost forever, as MacArthur was sometimes rumored to say. But let there be no mistake: this moment would not have been possible without the invasion of Iraq, and the destruction of Hezbollah is very much in the interest of the United States and that of any other nation that abhors terrorism.

Regular readers and co-conspirators know that this was the primary reason for Operation Iraqi Freedom. (See here, here, and here from a brief search of ARC on "status quo.") Other, secondary reasons for the war were:
  1. there was the concern over possible WMDs;
  2. the 12 year mini-war that we had with Saddam after '91; and
  3. (as all good conspirators know) oil, fat contracts for Halliburton (HALLIBURTON!!!) and the usual need to satiate the Carlyle Group, the Illuminati, and the Pentaverate (headed by Col. Sanders and his wee beady eyes).
But, in the final analysis, the entire response to 9/11 was the recognition that the status quo in the Middle East had to change. And Saddam was in the unfortunate position (along with the Taliban) of being key components of the status quo who could not be changed through diplomacy.

***ARC: Brian adds ***

Excellent points Saint. I'd like to add some points if I may.

Some 9/10 democrats may question the "recognition that the status quo in the Middle East had to change." They would question that anything needed to be changed at all. Keep Saddam in his box, cruise missile a few tents in the Afghani hinterlands, and we can go back to debating how many billions we should be spending on public education and stop worrying about the rest of the world.

This worldview is prevalent in the Scowcroftian and Madeline Albright schools of foreign policy which could no longer prove viable in the wake of 9/11. The reason is simple, no longer could we simply shut our eyes to the damage a potential attack could take. In terms of direct costs the events of 9/11 were miniscule in actual damage inflicted and lives lost. A little over 3000 lives lost, a few (although large) buildings, and the shutdown of air traffic across the country. America could survive any of that. Pick herself up, mourn for the dead, rebuild and move on.

But the indirect costs were the real kicker. While perhaps in a mild downturn at the time, the attacks pushed us into much deeper recession than would have happened without the attacks. Billions of dollars lost, jobs lost, livelihoods lost. Maintaining the status quo would have continued to inflict these indirect costs. Businesses would have taken more cautionary positions. Urban flight would intensify as people and businesses would no longer decide to live in a potential target zone and would move to the countryside.

Despite the sympathy friendly nations would have provided, they would question their continued friendship with us, detecting a lack of resolve to do big things.

Our enemies would be emboldened to attack our interests elsewhere, knowing that the worse that would happen would be to be punished mildly. The only lesson our enemies, specifically Kim Il Jong and Saddam, would take from our lack of resolve is that they should be careful about getting caught committing attacks against us. Saddam and others would use Al Queda and other terrorist groups to commit attacks on us while maintaining an arms length and "plausible deniability". All the while pressuring and bribing the world community to lift the sanctions imposed on them.

No, the status quo could not be maintained. Just as a bank failure can cause a ripple into the confidence of the entire banking system, a foreign attack can cause a ripple of the confidence in the United States.

I often imagine what pressure there must be on our leaders in Washington, when they consider where the next attack might come from. Worrying about the effects of even a small dirty bomb attack on a city the size of say, Chicago. Not just in the direct costs to the residents of that city, but the indirect costs to other cities in the country. The costs to St. Louis, to Minneapolis, to Milwaukee, to Memphis. The loss of productive GDP. The lost lives and influence those people brought to our country. Gone. Forever.

After 9/11, the status quo could no longer be maintained. We could give up, or we could fight. Maintaining the "box" would just cause us to lose slowly.


Your Co-Conspirator,
ARC: St Wendeler

Comments (1)
Frank said...

This writer claims that two “strange” things have happened in the Middle East because we invaded Iraq and that these two “strange” things favor the United States.

Strange thing #1. Sunni Arabs have criticized Hezbollah.

Strange thing #2. Saddam Hussein has criticized Iran.

NEITHER of these two things is strange.

Hezbollah is Shiite.

Sunni Arabs have been criticizing Shiite Arabs for decades and will continue to do so.

Sunni Arab Saddam Hussein criticizing Shiite Iran, a nation he went to war with for 10 years, is not strange either.

What is strange is that Iraq is now Shiite and supports Hezbollah. You now have two large countries, Iran and Iraq, that will support groups like Hezbollah. Iraq is unable to support them at the moment because their economy is in shambles. But give them time.

What is even stranger is that our young men and women are in Iraq helping an Iraqi government that will not say one work publicly against Hezbollah and privately supports them.

How this is in our interests escapes me.

P.S. I have heard a rumor that the Iraqi P.M. has condemned Hezbollah. This is UTTERLY FALSE. The Iraq P.M. has condemned Israel and has gone out of his way in refusing to say anything bad about Hezbollah.