Saturday, March 31, 2007

"...the potential to kill Osama via a crushing overload of joy."

Disclosure: This is a re-post from last November (11/18) when the famous "surge" was getting underway in Iraq. As we approach half a year later it looks as though events may be unfolding along lines outlined here. The US is in bed with some of the most unsavory characters in the country, people are still being killed by the score -- civilian and uniformed alike -- and the news is only different because the specter of an Iranian conflict seems more imminent. OBL, of course, is not the point. He may very well be dead by now. But if that is the case, his power, like that of all martyrs, is even more difficult to defeat.

It is easier to kill an individual than to kill an idea. In fact (and the war in Iraq is a recent illustration) killing individuals may spread an idea more than making it weaker. The "idea" in this case is that of America as occupier rather than liberator.

The seeds have been planted and nourished by the blood of many good Iraqis and Americans. But in a misguided effort to make the seeds grow, we are over-doing the "nourishing" part. As in gardening and farming, seeds cannot be made to germinate and grow overnight. In a few cases there may be more than one growing season until fruit is produced. Efforts to rush the process are apt to kill the plant before any fruit is harvested.


Wonderful image. Killing Osama with an orgasmic surge of happiness because the war in Iraq finally led to a development that would pour petrol into the already hot al-Qaeda recruitment fire.

That was the image painted by Eric Martin in yesterday's comment posted at American Footprints (Blake Hounshell/praktike's blog) and his own (total information awareness).

As the US finds its way out of the mess in Iraq, there are serious indications that at the last minute our policy may very well be to climb into bed with Shiite forces in one final effort "to once and for all neutralize the Sunni insurgent groups." If that happens it could be the most catastrophic of all possible decisions. The implications are breathtaking.

Osama would be afforded imagery and accounts of an all out, no holds barred Shiite/US alliance vanquishing a once-dominant Sunni population. The scenes of death and destruction would be graphic. The blame would shift to the Sunni regimes with friendly ties to the US. The narrative would be compelling. A true propagandist's coup, making the Christmas gift of the Iraq invasion itself appear a mere stocking stuffer.

It would set the passions of neighboring Sunni populations ablaze with ferocity. There would be little chance to contain the sectarian conflict within Iraq's borders. A larger regional war would likely catch a fire, with all its destabilizing permutations.

Although international relation is one of my passions my blog is not dedicated wholly to IR issues, and I imagine most readers have already left by this time. But for those who are still with me, go to the links and get informed.

Just because the US is about to end the occupation of Iraq (which will amount to hunkering down in the Green Zone in Baghdad, furnished with a lifetime supply of military and technical resources, keeping troops there in significant but less visible numbers and trotting them out from time to time to remind whoever purports to be in charge what might happen if they fail to show proper respect...) it is still not too late to make matters even worse.

President George Bush has told senior advisers that the US and its allies must make "a last big push" to win the war in Iraq and that instead of beginning a troop withdrawal next year, he may increase US forces by up to 20,000 soldiers, according to sources familiar with the administration's internal deliberations.

That's from the Guardian and elaborated on by Swopa, yet another very smart group of blogger/commentators who follow these matters. I am no longer surprised when developments like these occur. I'm simply disappointed.
Getting older is not helping my attitude. I heard an interesting interview two nights ago with an author who has written a biography of Andrew Carnegie whose "Gospel of Wealth" made him an out caste among his super-rich peers. He held to the solid belief that wealth came from the community and it was incumbent on anyone who because rich to return to the community before he died whatever wealth he had accrued during his lifetime. He considered dynastic wealth, passed on children, to be an aristocratic notion that would not do anything to raise the standards of mankind.

It was an interesting interview, making me want to learn more about this man whose name is still a household word. But what made me remember him was something the writer said toward the end. Carnegie was a little man with a big mouth, a textbook example of how a very short person (he was under five feet) displays a Napoleonic personality. He talked, wrote and travelled endlessly. He was also a dedicated peace activist (another quality that marginalized him among his peers...silly guy, thinking that peace was better than conflict...) but for the last three years of his long life he simply stopped talking altogether. He gave up. He was disillusioned with mankind and seemed to come to the sad conclusion that he could say nothing that would make any difference to the world.

I can relate. Whether it's urging someone to do a better job of stewarding resources, working hard, getting better organized, moving from a credit economy to a cash economy...or striving to advance unpopular political causes...I find myself getting tired. When employees "call in" for whatever reason, or drivers behave more like children than adults, or (fill in here your own favorite example) I am no longer surprised. Politics is only the same expression of human folly writ large. It just makes me feel disappointed.

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