Monday, September 04, 2006

Which way will it go? 

By happenstance, Juan Cole and James Wolcott are one after the other on my blogroll. So I click on Woldott and read this:
. . . despite all of the Cheneyesque bluster, the Bush administration is pursuing the diplomatic route with Iran. To the dismay of the hard nosers, Bush is also reeling back his use of "Islamic fascists", which will be interpreted as a capitulation to political correctness. You even have Rumself whining that his recent appeasement slur was taken "out of context," and calling for "constructive" dialogue regarding the situation in Iraq. And then there's the happy novelty of Rudy Giuliani blowing the whistle and calling a foul on "partisan bickering", which will not endear him to the more strident dickheads in his party.
There has been a major shift in the mood climate, one which the War Party and its bloggers are resisting at the top of their lungs. But resistance is futile. As John Robb writes in an important post at Global Guerrillas, "Playing at War", we're not going to the get the grand, conclusive World War III (or IV) that same neocon ideologues crave. Conflict is being ratcheted down, dispersed . . . What we're hearing from pundits, bloggers, and likeminded belligerents this August is a baying to a false God, a nostalgic need for motivational clarity and a macho yearning for deliverance that the facts on the ground will deny them. Their commando belts tied up in knots, their umbrellas unfolded, they can turn on Bush, or on Condi Rice (as Richard Perle has done), but who can they turn to? Nobody. That's why they're egging each other on, flexing their biceps, and clinging to Mark Steyn for warmth. It's the only way to hold on to their fading relevance.
Whew! Well, that's a relief. But then I click to Juan Cole and read this:
The Times of London details Israeli planning for a war with Syria and Iran. Richard Perle, who sold the American people the fantasy that the US could march into Iraq, install corrupt businessman Ahmad Chalabi in power, and would be greeted with garlands of flowers, is disappointed that Israel did not attack Syria during its recent war on Lebanon. Hey, Perle, in case you didn't notice, the Israeli military did not do so great against 5,000 Hizbullah militiamen. So you wanted them to compound the failure by widening the war? The man never met a war he didn't love and never let reality interfere with his power fantasies. If there were no arms industry, people like that would never get to be on television.Note especially the ending grafs of the article:
Advocates of political engagement believe a war with Syria could unleash Islamic fundamentalist terror in what has hitherto been a stable dictatorship. Some voices in the Pentagon are not impressed by that argument.“If Syria spirals into chaos, at least they’ll be taking on each other rather than heading for Jerusalem,” said one insider.
Why assume that the Syrians would stay busy with each other? If the Muslim Brotherhood managed to come to power, backed by the vast Sunni majority in the country, it could fairly quickly establish order and begin concentrating on getting back the Golan Heights and "liberating" "Palestine". The Syrian MB would be even closer to Hamas than the Syrian Baath. It would also be closer to the Salafi Jihadis fighting in Iraq. And it might well angle to overthrow the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Israel might end up facing a massive, militant, fundamentalist Sunni state, aiming to unify all the Sunni Arabs in the neighborhood for a final drive against Israel, using Hizbullah guerrilla tactics and rockets and missiles. Sunni fundamentalists increasingly see themselves as caught in a pincers between Israel/the US on the one side, and Iran/the Shiites on the other, and would have lots of incentive to create a united front.You wonder if that phrase, “If Syria spirals into chaos, at least they’ll be taking on each other rather than heading for Jerusalem,” is how the Neoconservatives in the Pentagon feel about what has happened in Iraq. It is an astonishingly shortsighted perspective. And when did the US Pentagon begin caring who rules Jerusalem?
I wonder which will turn out to be right? As much as I hope it is Wolcott, I'm more afraid it will be Cole.

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