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GLOBALONEY AND ITS MALCONTENTS


"Terrorism has no religion" -- rough translation of a common PSA billboard seen throughout Baghdad.
Actually, I can think of one religion in particular...
photo by Buck Sargent


While America's military strength is important, let me add here that I've always maintained that the struggle now going on for the world will never be decided by bombs or rockets, by armies or military might. The real crisis we face today is a spiritual one; at root, it is a test of moral will and faith.

That was President Reagan speaking before the National Association of Evangelicals midway through his first term, delivering what would come to be known as the "Evil Empire" speech. It was a telling window into the soul of his winning strategy for defeating the commie red giant by treating it like an exhausted white dwarf. That is, forcing it to collapse under its own immense gravity and inner contradictions through confrontation via oblique ideological warfare rather than chancing mutual annihilation through conventional military action.

Today the Soviet menace is kaput and the communist advance rolled back, and we didn't have to hug our children with nuclear arms after all. I feel it’s safe to say it worked.

Soon after, the Berlin Wall came tumbling down with the Warsaw Pact in fact crumbling to the ground, ding dong the witch is dead, long live the wicked witch. It was the End of History as we knew it (and we felt fine). Global cooling was out, global warming back in.

But the Iron Curtain lifted only to reveal an Islamic Veil that had quietly been descending behind it, which for another decade the West proceeded to ignore like it does all impending matters that don't involve the next election. Why bother tracking the market when you’re already living comfortably off your peace dividends? Black Tuesday? Never heard of it.

Exactly how does globalization promote stability again? For one, it doesn’t. True, you can purchase virtually any model of cellular phone your technological heart desires from any street vendor in Baghdad. But one moment you’re walking away with your state of the Korean art LG camera-phone and five minutes later an Improvised Explosive Daewoo is raining supersonic shards of rear axle down on you for having the temerity to engage in global commerce while wearing a reversed stars & stripes velcro-ed to your right shoulder.

So clearly "It's a Small (minded) World After All" cuts both ways. It means that wherever in the world you travel you’re no longer able to lament: "Y'know, I wish we could just get a dang cheeseburger here." But it also means that an entire culture 7,000 miles away can hate your guts before you even set foot on the tarmac.

So if your conception of "stability" refers to the fin shape on the long range booster rockets that North Korea is likely shipping to Tehran via FedEx next week, then sure, I suppose it does promote it. But ultimately, globalization is to stability what McDonalds is to world hunger. It means your looming humanitarian crisis could soon be obesity rather than famine and still it’ll be "everyone’s problem." (Though I do find it the mother of all ironies that the mid-eighties liberal bleeding heart hunger telethons helped lead to a revitalized generation of Ethiopians more willing and able to confront militant Islam without wetting their pajama pants than we currently seem to be).

We are the world...
We are the children...
We are the ones who spoil al-Qaeda's day, free of handwringing...

Condoleezza Rice prefaced her remarks to the American University in Cairo a few years back that our nation was "founded by individuals who knew that all human beings—and the governments they create—are inherently imperfect."

For sixty years [we] pursued stability at the expense of democracy in this region here in the Middle East—and we achieved neither. Now, we are taking a different course. We are supporting the democratic aspirations of all people.
A group of prominent intellectuals and dissidents then erupted in wild applause as the Secretary of State triumphantly left the podium, at which point they were promptly led away by agents from the "Mubarakat," aka the Egyptian Ministry of Love. Condi Rice is, after all, the protégé of Brent Scowcroft, the Dapper Dean of the college of Realist Arts University State, so when she mentions things like "the democratic aspirations of all people" the implied parenthetical is of course "all people (under Middle Eastern governments not already on our payroll)." Cold warriors never die, they just fade away. (With exceptions that prove the rule made for former SecDefs who fight losing uphill battles against bastions of entrenched thinking they once championed and in fact helped seat.)

But I know what you're thinking: Assuming the nation-state is still the effective unit of action in world affairs, where are we today in the life cycle of international political systems? (These are the type of questions one has to wrestle with as a redeployed postgrad). What, no multiple choice?

The Russians lost the Big Chill and they haven’t forgiven us since. And neither have most of the Middle East client-state beneficiaries of their military-industrial largesse. The Realist World of Ford, Kissinger, Carter, and even Bush père was predicated on the Soviet counterweight in Middle Eastern affairs keeping every sheik in his right place; make sure you tell-em, status quo antebellum. He may be a son of a despot, but he’s our son of a despot. But a single clear September morning changed all the rules in one fell swoop after nineteen not-so-frequent fliers rotated our nation’s foreign policy completely off its axis of see-no-evil.

If winning the Cold War by forfeit proved anything it's that it sure can be lonely at the top. If the United States is still the "indispensable nation" in world affairs it’s only due to the fact that we’re one of the few remaining Western holdouts to the Eutopian ideal of One World Government whose overriding mission often seems predicated on the coming day new Secretary General Tojo Annan can scold us for not getting with le programme sooner. Panacea-told-you-so…

But is it American primacy that’s the endangered specimen, or is it the United Nations General Assembly that is the Last of the Potemkins? The international community’s vacillation over Iranian nuclear ambitions would seem to suggest the latter.

Iran’s mullahs have plenty of petro-fueled moolah, but what they’re really seeking is the security and venture capital of the radioactive variety. Russia’s ex-coms enjoy dangling their isotopes-on-a-rope over Iran's grubby paws, even if in hindsight the enrichment they'd rather have back is all the rubles spent on them over that blasted septuagenarian cowboy. But the con artists formerly known as Persia have assessed correctly that the barriers to entry in the superpower status club are lessened mightily once you’ve passed your first underground test. Supply, meet demand. A pleasure doing business with you Comrade Ahmadinejadovich. Please give our regards to the 12th Imam, da?

The fifty-year Cold War paradigm simplified American foreign policy into one basic premise: with our guns pointed east and theirs pointed west, mutual security rested on keeping our fingers off the triggers and thumb safeties engaged. Stubborn September 10 mindsets notwithstanding, events of the past five years have proven that the U.S. is hardly a "Reluctant Sheriff,*" unless by sheriff you mean Gary Cooper in High Noon. If anything we’re a Dirty Harry--one who tries to work within the system as best he can, but at the end of the day doesn’t shy away from doing what has to be done, the system be damned. But to many of our so-called allies not only are we not the antihero, we're the antichrist.
*WARNING: Do not read prior to operating heavy machinery

Still, the $64,000,000,000,000 Question remains. In the decade since the bi-polar ice caps thawed, has the world scene become more or less dangerous? The answer, of course, varies with the individual. Which scenario do you find less appealing: the peril of Mutually Assured Destruction or the threat of Globally Acquiesced Submission? If the Cold War wasn’t the long war, then how long is the Long War really going to take?

A truly inconvenient fact is that there are currently over one billion and counting, and I don’t mean all the Happy Mao's in China. If even 1% of this billion plus have become radicalized--a process that began long before the War on Terror was even a southeasterly blip on the FAA's radar--that still equals out to as many as ten million angry young Muslims for whom the "religion of peace" means never having to say mecca culpa.

By this point our options have become quite limited. We can continue to push back, to stay on offense, to keep spreading the seeds of political and economic liberty to oppressively damp corners of the world that otherwise will remain Petri dishes of cultural backwardness -- violence and hatred their chief exports -- or we can disengage, pull the wool back over our eyes, and start memorizing our suras al-pronto. But either way, things are going to get worse before they get better.

I miss the Bad Old Days already.
 

Cross-posted at Military History Blog, a site I was invited to join as a contributing blogger.

If this post seems a bit esoteric in scope, it's because it's adapted from my work in a graduate level International Security course. Thought I may as well make use of it, especially with nothing else in the pipeline currently.

Make of it what you will.

Many good points. Too many to note. Well done. Appeasement is alive and well. I'm having visions of neutron bombs. Lots and lots and lots of ugly little places turned to glass.

Buck..On 9/11 I had two thouhts. (1)..We can go after the bastards on their own ground knowing we will get little or no help from the rest of the world and much hinderence...or (2) We can close our borders, round up all the enemy within that we can possibly find,put our big bombs on the ready, bring our Military home to protect our own borders, seas and cities, speed up the old star wars program, tell the rest of the greedy guttless world they can defend themselves, and issue a warning to the world.."Don't attack us anywhere or your country will be glass".. Both 1&2 had flaws, Buck...like we have become so dependent on the rest of the world for energy, etc. (thanks to short sighted tree huggers and corrupt politicians)and we are too PC and nice to really fight a war to win on foreign soil. I will read your blog a couple more times but I'll be danged if I saw any solutions in there better than mine. :) And I'm just a dumb woman, Buck. There are solutions to defeating Islamic Terrorism, if that is what you want to call it, but I don't think their are enough American people left to do what needs to be done. I think too many will just go out and buy a prayer rug and bow down to any old false God in order to stay alive and not have to face reality until it is shoved in their face by the enemy. Maybe I missed something...I'll read your blog again..and again....and again..until I get it right. I think what you said is right on...all of it.
Thanks Buck
One woman who will never convert.

Alright..I see you are Pro-war how will you comfort me when my soldier is back in Iraq for the 4th time?

"Actually, I can think of one religion in particular..."_____I think this is true. It is mainly a psychological problem, and can use almost any religion as an excuse. The big trouble we had in the UK was from Catholics. Other countries have trouble from Maoist terrorists, or from "freedom fighter" style nationalists such as Baluchs or Tamils. If Islamic terror is the biggest problem today, it is because there are a great many disturbed and unhappy Muslims. It is a kind of mass psychosis - and very dangerous for the rest of us. But I don't think the religin itself is the primary cause.

Buck..I have a question or two for you. Is all of the Military volunteer now? And as for the National Guard and Reserves..as individuals do they have to go to Iraq if called up? And do you have to stay in the National Guard or Reserves if you don't want to go to war? And if your hitch is up does anyone put a gun to your head and make you sign up for another tour? Are men being extented beyond the the time they have signed up for? Do men have the opportunity to consult their wives and family before joining up? Does anyone that you have served with really like war? Is it the consequences of not going to war they compelles you to fight and maybe some patriotism? And if you don't like our foreign policy would you get out? I apologize that we have not pushed the politicians to give you men better medical help where it is lacking. We have all let you down with our failure to elect better people to hand out our money. Perhaps if there were more of you to buy votes from you would get a bigger share...or maybe if you whined more about how you have been wronged. It makes me sick the way we haven't supported our Military as we should. And some of us actually think we are more moral than you. How disgusting we can be. Thank you for all that you have done, are doing and will do in the future. Thank you for being smart enough and for caring enough to faithfully write this blog.
Annie

I can think of one religion....I am an American Christian. I had no shoes once and sometimes little or no food. I took in ironing and babysat to survive..no government help for me..I wounldn't have taken it. Later I married a man who deceived me. He beat me and threatened to kill me daily. He held me captive. I escaped. I have two potentially fatal diseases. I worked hard and prayed a lot. I eventually had a job where I supervised 100 employees and was responsible for 125 client families. I became very ill and had to leave the work I loved. I have been dealt will cruelly by many and well by others. I have been called names, had bones broken, been left without support from anyone except from my God and myself. I am a human being. I never wanted to murder or force my beliefs on others. My God does not require that of me. I know from experience, reality, from living life, that it is not a psychological problem. It is a spiritual, and in the case of Muslim terrorists, a religious problem. Evil is evil no matter how you rationalize it. I have a free will...so do Muslims. They make decisions just like the rest of us do. The truth is not hard to find if you choose to seek it out. You do not have to remain blind. Thank you Buck Sargent for the decisions you too have made in life. I am sure it has taught you much and I love your blogs.
NH

"But the Iron Curtain lifted only to reveal an Islamic Veil that had quietly been descending behind it, which for another decade the West proceeded to ignore like it does all impending matters that don't involve the next election."

This really is the point all of us have to learn. As the 'presidential candidates' are running all over the country and not providing any substance to listen to, I see us retreating further into ignoring what is going on in the world. Our leaders certainly don't give us reason to pay attention.

Thanks, Buck, for a well-thought out piece with some excellent points.

I think it very well to have an army with bloody spears but to use that army as ours is being used I think it shameless on the part of our so called leaders. War is good for the economy my wages have gone up seventy percent in the last six years. I just wish that we would have had people in charge of the army who know war, instead of the politicians who send in the army with only a forth of the soldiers needed to get the job done right. If that would have constituted a draft so be it. All the looting that took place in Iraq after the start of the war sure didn’t create any good will towards us, all the main infrastructure should have been secured but we didn’t have enough troops in country to do the job right. Thanks to the firing of the generals at the beginning of the war that argued with the current administration on how to proceed with the war and win !

i like army most. i want to work in army. but i can't clearing the exam of enters test.that time i am very sad.

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