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(More generally) A Response to the Baker/Hamilton Report, and a prequel to any weblog entry Dan Pipes may write to that report

Reader comment on item: Gaza cease-fire

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Dec 9, 2006 at 15:45

One two-part question seems to be lacking from the minds of everybody in Government, elected or appointed, and whether they are Conservatives or Liberals. It also seems to be lacking from the 'mainstream' of the think tank, columnist and talk show world of chatterers and scribblers, again whether these hundreds of individuals are basically conservative or liberal in their foreign policy outlook.

I think the stunning bipartisan absence of this two-part question is a tragic flaw in their World view, and in the basic political psychology of trying to deal with the perennial disaster of Middle Eastern politics. If this gloomy conclusion is true, it is also about an abject and dangerous failure of both so-called Idealism and so-called Realism

On the other hand, if this question becomes part of their thinking in trying to form US or Western policy toward that flaming cauldron of grievance and violence, it just might point to a long term solution - at least from the point of view of Western geopolitical interest. However, just asking this question would stir up something of a firestorm at first - perhaps that's precisely why there has been such an iron taboo to asking it, even behind closed doors or in the personal privacy of their own minds.

That two-part question is: What if the Palestinians in particular, and the Arabs in general (including the Mullahs in Iran) DO NOT WANT a Palestinian state IF the price of that establishing that State means they must accept the existence of Israel and live in peaceful co-existence with it? Second part - if this 'elephant in the middle of the room' is admitted to exist, WHAT THEN?

I can't detect in the written or spoken word of any public official, or any 'mainstream', widely followed commentator, evidence that this question has been asked, and if the seemingly obvious answer given, intelligent thought given to ...... WHAT COMES NEXT.

In my view, we are paying, and have already paid, a frightful price for not having faced the seemingly in-your-face fact that none of the Moslems in the Middle East are actively working for any sort of a peace that Israel, or its Western supporters could rationally accept.

There are many ways to look at the consequences of this inability to recognize our collective bipartisan failure to deal with this reality. I'll consider just one in order to keep this short. If valid, it portrays the Western Mind, again emphasizing its bipartisan nature on this issue, in terms of a mordantly humorous but pitiable ignominy.

Consider that the developed world, including most of North America and Europe if not the developed Far East (whose interest is in fact just as involved) has a collective GNP of, what, over 25 Trillion dollars.

Then consider also the military strength of all those countries, both actual and potential.

Now consider the collective GNP of all of Israel's neighbors which, without going to the encyclopedia, must be something like 4% of that, or less.

And consider their 'armies' and the state of their arms, which can only be supplied and maintained by buying from the West, even while they threaten the West directly or indirectly through their mortal hatred of Israel (which if not true of every individual Moslem in the area, is in no way countered by any active, vocal, meaningful opposition anywhere)

Of course to accept this last statement includes the minimalist degree of realism to recognize that all the goals of the 'peace process' from the Moslem side are either totally cynical (a mere pretext for continued hatred and violence), or completely unacceptable and unreasonable, such as giving back every square foot of land that Israel acquired in 1967.

So, despite this colossal imbalance, what do we have, looking at things globally? We have a relative microscopic handful of humanity - the so-called Islamic "extremists" - shouting and demanding that 'Israel should be wiped off the map', and then that Islam deserves to take over the entire world, or at least to obtain complete political and military submission from whatever part of the planet is not directly converted. If this benighted five sixths of the planet does not accept Allah, they promise and threaten to drown us in our own blood - or theirs, since, as they repeatedly say, they '"value death more than life", while our reverse preference is proof of our moral weakness and their moral superiority.

From the $25 trillion part of the world, we first of all have no direct answer to this. That is, no so-called statesmen has directly stated to this shouting, violent minority, Islam is never going to take over the world, and there will be no Sharia-led enclaves [will there?] in any part of the West. Pallid statements about freedom, always excusing Islam per se from any responsibility for the acts and rantings of the minority are a kind of frightened appeasement rather than a direct answer to what they are saying and promising.

Of course, even with some directly oppositional statement, nobody in the past century talked about Hitlerism as a "deviation" from an otherwise respectable Nazism - although of course many did talk for some decades about Leninism, Stalinism and Soviet Communism as deviations from the "true" doctrine of that great humanitarian figure Karl Marx. In contrast, almost everybody now still says, under the control of a fearful internal taboo, that the handful of "extreme" Moslems have "hijacked" the otherwise "great and peaceful" religion of Islam. If it not true that Islam is not a "great and peaceful" religion, then of course we are profoundly against ourselves on this great world issue.

Further evidence of how far and how dangerously we are acting against our own interest is in the new rush to restart the so-called peace process, as called for in the Baker/Hamilton report, which was unanimously signed.

I submit that it is exactly the wrong thing to go back to the 'peace process', which means in practice to start figuring out how much Israel should be browbeaten or threatened, to give up, for example the Golan Heights to Syria, to show our "good faith" to those who can only see such a process as a pathetic weakness and pandering to them.

One of the worst things about the disastrous invasion of Iraq was how it sabotaged the wisest course to try and introduce even a bit of genuine democracy in the Middle East. The best way to have done that, in my view, was to said, There is a Democracy in the Middle East, and you should study it instead of trying to destroy it. Period - no more than that.

I still harbor the suspicion that. in a weird way, the invasion of Iraq, especially by its fellow-traveling supporters such as the NY Times, was a coward's way out of not having the nerve to openly and unambiguosuly support Israel and its people, not only as deserving of strategic and explicit support in its own right, but as the vanguard of Democracy and the Rule of law in an otherwise politically backward, violent and ominously immature part of the world.

If these are the terms of encounter, which we still refuse to face, i.e. a Middle East which will not accept any State in Palestine that requires an acceptance of Israel, then it appears that the so-called Islamists will have to hit us again, and more terribly, before we wake up from our bipartisan political mirage.

Put another way, as long as we dignify a 'peace process which we know, or ought to know, can't produce any terms which can honorably or safely be accepted by Israel or the West, we will not have serious progress on any other issue between us and the fanatical opponents of the West throughout the region. Conversely, if we draw the line here, as we should have after 1967, and certainly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, then we will eventually be on the road to some peace, which however cannot logically leave the religion of Islam as it it now.

In other words, in one way or another Islam itself will have to suffer a moral defeat, as did Nazism, Japanese Imperialism, and thankfully without Armageddon, Soviet Communism.

However, if we are unable to face this and discard our present appeasement policy, we do have one secret, if terrible "ally" in this world-consequential struggle. That ally is the Moslem capacity for internecine murderousness. If we are not bright enough to face the terrible beliefs at the core of Islam, and in the psychology of that religion, that are fueling all this violence, then maybe in a kind of default, we, however sadly, have to count on the looming civil war both in Iraq and between Sunni and Shiite Islam throughout the region, to do the work, or at least conduct a bloody series of events that deflects Moslem fury away from us and inward on itself.

From the above analysis, if true, Civil War in the Moslem Middle East, howver bloody, is not the worst thing that can happen, from the point of view of Western strategic interest.

This is unworthy of the kind of geopolitical thought that the best thinkers and leaders of the West have produced in the past, but in view of the incredible bipartisan pusillanimity drearily exhibited once again in this Baker/Hamilton report, perhaps this is all we can rely on for the time being.

Oh by the way, isn't this the same Baker who was midwife to getting the Trojan Horse of the PLO and Arafat into the West Bank and Gaza after the appeasement show in Madrid and Oslo? Obviously, he, and we, have learned nothing from that.

Ron Thompson, Fairfax, Va


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