Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Hard Place, Tough Talk

I'm thinking this kind of analysis might not make it into the GOP's YouTube debate. Or the Democrats', for that matter. From "Beyond Iraq: Lessons Of A Hard Place", by Anton K. Smith:

Muslim extremist terrorism is not wanton. It has political purpose, is based on warped but attractive religious precepts, and is built around the cause of confronting Western oppression and restoring Islamic dignity. It constitutes an insurgency against the global order. To employ the tools we have by attacking states is counterproductive, since an implicit target of the Muslim insurgency is the system of states itself, at least insofar as it can be forcibly altered to permit reestablishment of the caliphate... (p. 3)

Good thing the monograph is published by the Army War College, otherwise Smith might be accused of rooting for the enemy. Actually, he'll probably be accused of that anyway, seeing as how he works for the State Department. But what, in fact, he's arguing for is a reshoring of the nation-state system, namely through the United States re-assuming its traditional role of guarantor of the global stability:

Our response to 9/11 may have done more to further the interests of our jihadist opponents than our own, in that we have weakened an international system they view as illegitimate and destabilized the Middle East in a manner they now seek to exploit... Perception of the inability of the United States to deliver global security (and unwilling to be constrained by international opinion and cooperative arrangements) will erode global confidence, contribute to economic and political instability, and encourage non-state insurgents. Within the Middle East region, our natural allies in this fight are strong, moderate states, even if some of those states espouse views that run counter to our own. To restore vitality to the system we must begin to reconcile with proto-democratic Iran and secular Syria... (p. 6)

...Promoting the primacy of economic over political development is as crucial to stability in the Middle East today as it was in our own history. In the end, encouraging the growth of strong, vibrant and moderate states in the Middle East is our best hedge against the global jihadist threat. (p.7)

Note the primacy of economic over political development, because that's the thrust of Smith's argument. The problem he has with the Bush doctrine was its emphasis on free elections instead of free markets:

...Strong and economically vibrant middle classes will do more to support our goals than all the military power we can muster. (p. 7)

And while the establishment of socially dispersed economic freedom depends upon security and order, we also need to be realistic:

Our own history tells us states are most often forged in the crucible of violence. If we wish to see mature states in the Middle East, we must make way for violence there, reserving the exercise of force and subversion to those instances when vital U.S. interests are truly at stake... This clash of Islam is internal, reflecting a division within a religion. We have seen something like this in our own history. The bloody battle is on, but it is not ours. Our best hope is to contain and shape the conflict in ways that support the modern states system. Despite the fact states maturing in the Middle East diverge from our conceptual framework, we should avoid undermining upstart republics as the system develops. We have accepted a nuclear-armed religious state wrapped around democratic principles in Israel. We may have to accommodate one in Iran... (p. 7)

It's a sharp analysis, although the Milton Friedman worship makes me a bit uncomfortable. But I'm willing to forgive that to anyone who manages to cite Clausewitz and Kurt Vonnegut in the same article. 

Posted by Judah in:  Global War On Terror   Iraq   

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