Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday screed

Dr. Leon Hadar blogged a post last week entitled "Cheese-eating surrender monkeys" to the rescue. He is referring, of course, to the French commitment of troops to the United Nations' pitiful and mostly symbolic attempt to put a peacekeeping force in Southern Lebanon. Read the whole post if you wish. It's short. But it ends with...

Even Bush is sucking up now to the Frogies."France has had a very close relationship with Lebanon," Bush said during his Monday press conference. "There's historical ties with Lebanon. I would hope they would put more troops in. They understand the region as well as anybody." What I found really interesting is the fact that everyone, including the guys from the Weekly Standard didn't challenge the notion that the U.S. won't be sending its troops to Lebanon. Well, you know, there was that 1982 bombing in Beirut and so many marines were killed. But the French also suffered many casualties at that time. It seems to me that the Americans are sending a message that "we can't do Lebanon; we are passing this portfolio to the French" Are we to conclude that perhaps the Bushies are beginning to feel that we're indeed overstretched in the Middle East? I believe that this is a very important development since from now on it's the French that are going to be "in charge" in Lebanon, something that the Israelis have accepted. If this works, I won't be surprise to see the French and the Italians (who are also sending troops to Lebanon) and the Germans (who have good ties with the Syrians AND the Israelis) becoming more active in the region. The American Hegemon has been humbled.

Come to think of it, go read the whole thing. Read it two or three times. If you're among the French-bashers, you should choke with embarrassment.

I went looking into my archives because I remember thinking at the time how shallow and stupid criticism of all things French became as the war began. I'm sure I wrote something to that effect, but I didn't find it. Instead I read something I wrote just prior to the election in 2004 and got pissed off all over again. That was nearly two years ago and I feel even stronger now than I did then that the time for the US to get out of Iraq has long passed.
The connection between September 11 what is happening today in Iraq is virtually non-existent. We are in Iraq because a lot of good people made a lot of mistakes in good faith (another great phrase, don't you think?) but were not able to admit it for political reasons. The end of the Saddam era in Iraq may become one of the most important and beneficial events of the Twenty-first Century, and I'm glad that it happened. Although the tyrant is no longer there, the aftermath of his poison remains and America has an obligation to finish what it began, like the doctor who removes a limb has an obligation to his patient help him recover from the trauma then provide him with a prosthesis.

But American young people are not sacrificing their lives in Iraq because of September 11. They are there because criminals released by Saddam from Iraqi prisons are running unchecked among a diminishing population of decent Iraqis. They are there because outside forces, probably Sunni and certainly of the extreme fundamentalist stripe, are penetrating the porous borders of that country and are raising hell. They are there in order to make good a commitment to hold elections in January, one way or another. But they are not there because airplanes crashed the World Trade Center three years ago.

The connection, of course, IS world terrorism. But that is the beginning and the end of the connection. I am firmly persuaded, no matter whatever else may be true, that our presence in Iraq is feeding the forces of terrorism with eager recruits. We are not ameliorating terrorism by waging war in Iraq. We are, in fact, doing just the opposite. And thanks to modern telecommunications, we may be recruiting more terrorists outside of Iraq than there.

So is there evidence in the last two years of terrorism outside of Iraq?
Overall, has the US presence in Iraq resulted in more terrorism or less?
In Iraq or elsewhere?

So why put the war in Iraq in the same post as comments about the Lebanon-Hezbollah-Israel conflict?

Don't ask me. Ask the boss. He's the one that said we were fighting terrorism in Iraq and promoting democratic values. Maybe he can explain how the rise of Hezbollah is somehow not in the category of "terrorism" we are supposedly fighting.

While he's at it, maybe he can also explain how the two best examples of representative democracy in the Middle East got into a war as we who are doing all we can to advance the cause of democracy stood by and watched it spin out of control. One knocked the other backwards a decade or so, politically and economically, while at the same time elevating yet another extremist into the ranks of populist heroes.

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