w4TyrT I cannot thank you enough for the article. Will read on...
from a military (if not political) standpoint, other countries in the region destabilize. It's the anti-reverse-domino effect.
Two possible explanations jump to mind: we've sunk so much of our resources into Iraq that we're unable to assist in maintaining (or credibly threaten to impose) order elsewhere; or, the "enemy" we're fighting in the region really is all connected at some level and we're playing regional whack-a-mole. Probably both wrong when you start looking closely at particulars and specific context, but maybe there's an element of truth in them anyway.
Come, my friends. 'Tis not too late to seek a newer world -- Tennyson
We could have--and should have--sunk more diplomatic resources into Pakistan. Had we gotten Special Forces into the provinces, we might've been able to cut the heart out of al Qaeda years ago, resulting in a less violent Afghanistan and maybe fewer al Qaeda fighters flowing into Iraq.
How is that a credible threat to the United States?
Iran does not have an intercontinental delivery system nor do they have submarine launch capability. They can reach Israel pretty easily, but Israel has several hundred warheads, submarines and cruise platforms. An attack on Israel would be national suicide.
The only real potential threat would be if Iran turned over a warhead to a terrorist group, which is highly unlikely. First, Iran would never give one to al Qaeda because al Qaeda is just as likely to use it against a Shiite regime like Iran. And it won't give one to Hezbollah because a detonation in Israel will be automatically blamed on Iran and massive retaliation would follow -- same as if a detonation occurred in the U.S. Iran would get the blame and the blowback.
Pakistan is a far greater potential nuclear threat to the United States if the government collapses and a fundamentalist regime assumes power.
North Korea, which is a lot more unstable than Iran and has leaders far more psychotic, had several warheads and had shown a willingness to spread nuclear and missile technology and we weren't debating taking out Pyongyang.
We cut a deal with the North Koreans, which is what we should do with Iran. The North Koreans created a bomb because they wanted to be players, they wanted leverage. It's the same reason Iran is building one.
Nuclear weapons are no longer military weapons, not since the end of the Cold War. They are political weapons. You build them to gain leverage -- either to deter an enemy that has nuclear weapons and force him to make a deal with you or you trade them for something else you want.
qui tacet consentire
I'm saying that there's a decision point ahead, and if Ahmadinejad isn't blowing smoke, then that decision must come sooner rather than later. I haven't decided yet if a nuclear bomb toting Iran is a credible threat. I don't know likely or unlikely it is that they will pass a nuke over to al Qaeda or some other terrorist group. They might just sell one to Hugo Chavez, for all we know. There are quite a few possibilities that need to be examined.
The conflicts you cite are not so much between countries, but with a transnational movement: radical islam. Further, this movement is not going away because we win against its foot soldiers in one place or another. They are highly motivated by their brand of Islam, and the radicals are becoming ascendant in the islamic world both in their traditional countries and among muslims in the west. We can argue what percentage of the muslim world is radical, as opposed to moderate. Further, there is very little "we" in the west can do to make the "radicals" become "moderate".
That being said, and realizing the limits to our power in those parts of the world, a more reasonable approach would be to influence that which we can influence. Specifically, immigration policy in the west. I advocate that we legally prohibit radical islamist from entering the west and deport non-citizen radical islamist already living here. So if you are a radical islamist, no more green cards, no tourist, student, work visas. The radical islamists are at war with us, and they know and acknowledge same. By adopting a policy of deportation of radical islamists we would be letting our enemies know that we know who the enemy is. This policy may have more impact--long term-- in places like Pakistan, than all the current and contemplated military action we are engaged in (which military action I support).
Definition: A radical islamist is an individual who wants to institute sharia law in their new host country or who advocates or supports jihad attacks as a way to settle political issues.
name the enemy, win the war
but the trouble is identifying them, and I don't think it's reasonable to exclude a large number of Muslims who are not Islamist on the chance that you'll keep the militant Islamists out. Your policy also doesn't address homegrown Islamists such as Padilla and others. I think we can do more, though, to expose the groups that support more radical versions of Islam such as Wahhabism, which is Saudi supported. CAIR would be a good starting place, as well as any schools financially supported by the Saudi regime.
We very well have more influence than you think. In a previous post, you can see in the graphs that more and more Muslims are turning their backs on bin Laden and rejecting suicide terrorist attacks.
However, I did not say that keeping all Muslims out should be the general policy, just those who are defined as radical islamists owing to our being at war with radical islam. Surveillance, prosecution, exposure, etc. all are fine, but deportation has to be a publicy stated policy. Why should we be spending public money to surveil radical isamists who shouln't be here in the first place,
We took our eye off the ball and went after Iraq instead.
Now we're going to face an even bigger problem. Pakistan. It isn't a backwater South Asian country. Sure, it has people who aren't educated, but they aren't the majority. Most Pakistani's I know say that how the US handles Musharraf's coup will determine how educated Muslims think of the US for a long long time.
Mind you, the Pakistani's I know are educated as well. They also don't trust the Imam's in the frontier areas. They especially don't like the Madrasses that have been built with Saudi money and staffed by Saudi dominated views. They say that isn't the interpretation they grew up around and the one's it's really effecting are the peasants who aren't educated.
We're in a bind. We can't do nothing and support the Coup because then we'll lose the future. We can't jettison Musharraf because we don't have a groomed heir apparent set up that we can trust.
I say, we walk the middle ground. Pressure Musharraf to reinstate the Supreme Court, even though they were just about to rule against him, and pressure him to allow the country to hold free/fair elections.
And we really need to talk to the Saudi's. They AREN'T helping us with the influence they are spreading through out the world.
that our support of Musharraf effectively undercuts our (increasingly weak) claims to moral authority in Middle East intervention, since we're propping up a transparently anti-democracy regime that is actively cracking down on the liberalizing elements around him. Musharraf is acting out all the reasons we deposed Saddam, except that the people are rallying in the streets against him in the face of military force. To continue supporting him, even in the face of a less sure strategy against Al-Qaeda, is politically idiotic of us in the long run.
Besides, if Bhutto regains power, I sincerely doubt Pakistan will be more of a hive for terrorist cells. Whatever other issues Bhutto may have, she's hardly a supporter of terrorism.
Saint, n. A dead sinner revised and edited. - Ambrose Bierce
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