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mid-term course-adjustment

Reader comment on item: Impact of US elections in Mideast

Submitted by paulmurphy (Ireland), Nov 15, 2006 at 17:04

US politics has just undergone a complex re-adjustment.

Whether this is an adjustment towards the 'centre' is not altogether certain. It would be more accurate to say that the Democratic Party has moved slightly to the right on social and economic issues and has co-incidentally found itself at the centre of the new consensus.

However, social and economic matters were eclipsed by an issue which exists in a parallel political universe with its own ideological signifiers - the war in Iraq. There is no doubt that fiscal and social conservatives have heretofore been more likely to be hawkish on the war, but the unease with, or opposition to, the war has now infected the entire width of the political spectrum. The ideological underpinnings of the foreign policy which has guided this Administration are now being questioned by traditional conservatives and liberals alike.

The US is an extremely conservative polity. By and large it does not readily accept new and radical ideas until the new has been proved and tested by time. Conservatism may have become the new consensus, but it's radical bastard-child, 'neo-conservatism' has been the major victim of the mid-terms. Not only is it's ideological radicalism counter-intuitive to most Americans, but it has also been 'found-out' empirically. It has spectacularly failed the test of reality. It has been exposed as little more than wishful thinking. It is also seen as a cover for a hotch-potch of foreign policies which are now regarded by the average American to have little benefit for the interests of the US.

The consequences are enormous for US foreign policy. Having dumped him in his present mess, Bush has deserted the discredited neo-con ideologues for the hard-headed realists of traditional conservative foreign and defence policy. Just look at the names on Baker's team. Only one proper neo-com in the entire bunch. You have in this group a virtual 'privvy-council' of the great and good of the establishment displaced by the 'krystalnacht'. At the same time, staunch (and only substantial foreign) Bush ally, Blair has suddenly regained his voice.and is weighing in behind the neo-realists (as we may call them).

The 'war of the worlds' - an ideological nostrum for the neo-cons (and their extremist counterparts in the fringes of the Islamic world), is now off the menu. Instead there will be an attempt to address the interests and grievances of the West and the Islamic world respectively by a process of engagement rather than confrontation. This will be founded on a recognition that while 'world-domination' is a preoccupation of a tiny extreme, the issues that radicalize the foot-soldiers of terror (without whom Al Quieda would be a chimera) are specific and need to be addressed both to lance the boil of terror and because there are real wrongs and injustices to be addressed, and we in the West can hardly preach justice and respect for liberal rights with effect while practicing the exact opposite in our dealings with the Islamic world.

The neo-con spin is that to address such Islamic grievances is to appease terror - or more recently - that the objective of Islam is really 'world-domination' (think early 'Bond' movies) and as such is incapable of being addressed. The road-block that such thinking imposed on the war on terror is now on the way out. We will now be dealing with terror, both on the security front, and by attacking the issues that radicalize and create the terrorists. Moreover, on the security front we are likely now to have a more whole-hearted support from traditional allies. These allies have up to now been inclined to let the US stew alone in its zillion-buck folly in Iraq because firstly, they have long been convinced that it is useless to fight terror by pursuing policies that just create more terrorists, and secondly because they have become very fed up with the constant barrage of hatred directed against Europe by the neo-con media comentators close to the pre-mid-term Bush administration.

In short, the outlook for the war on terror has taken an optimistic turn.

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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