'City on the Hill' or whacking the hornets' nest?


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Ian
April 1, 2003, 10:31 AM
Hawks and Hornets
by William Raspberry

There is this interesting notion that while it is quintessentially American to debate matters of grave importance, once the decision is made, the debate should be over.

Sometimes it makes a good deal of sense. One hears hardly a word of debate over the outcome of the 2000 presidential election -- even though less than half of the American electorate voted for the guy who wound up in the White House. The Supreme Court decided and the debate ended. Similarly, most Americans have little taste for debating the war in Iraq. The president has decided and further debate seems pointless -- even unpatriotic and dangerously divisive.

I suppose I am inclined to that view. But what are we supposed to do -- what are we supposed to think -- when we suspect that our desire for national solidarity is being exploited in quite cynical fashion?

To get to the point: What if we believe we are being manipulated into supporting positions we don't believe in -- positions we believe will be harmful to our long-term national interests?

Maybe I read too much. I've just been looking at articles by Seymour Hersh in the March 17 issue of the New Yorker and by Joshua Micah Marshall in the April issue of Washington Monthly and feeling more than slightly used. Hersh's piece, on the personal financial implications of Richard Perle's involvement as an adviser on defense policy, is disturbing enough, though it stops short of accusing Perle of anything worse than having a tin ear for the appearance of conflict of interest.

Marshall's piece disturbs in a quite different way. His thesis, in a nutshell, is that far from ignoring the things some of us fear will result from our venture in Iraq -- radicalization of the Arab world, new waves of terrorism, transformation of the conflict into a species of religious warfare -- the administration's hawks are actually counting on such an outcome.

"In their view," he writes, "invasion of Iraq was not merely, or even primarily, about getting rid of Saddam Hussein. Nor was it really about weapons of mass destruction, though their elimination [would be] an important benefit. Rather, the administration sees the invasion as only the first move in a wider effort to reorder the power structure of the entire Middle East."

Not because they are hopelessly monomaniacal but because they see it as essential to an effective war on terrorism.

There are, basically, two views regarding the source of anti-American terrorism in the Arab world. The first was articulated by retired Marine Gen. Joseph P. Hoar in testimony last September before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The problem, he argued, is that the Muslim world does not trust us. "They believe the U.S. government has acted unilaterally, sometimes as a bully, sometimes has used other nations for its own interests and abandoned them when the objective has been achieved. And most important, they believe the U.S. has unjustly supported Israel over the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.

"At the end of the day, the war on terrorism will be won only when we convince 1 billion Muslims that we are, in fact, a just society; that we do support peace, justice, equality for all people; that in fact we really are the 'City on the Hill.' "

On the other hand, the administration's plan, says Marshall, is "to use U.S. military force, or the threat of it, to reform or topple virtually every regime in the region, from foes like Syria to friends like Egypt, on the theory that it is the undemocratic nature of these regimes that ultimately breeds terrorism."

The problem is not that this second view is wrong (though I have no doubt that it is dangerously so) but that its adherents have consciously avoided letting it become part of the public debate. Instead, they have sold a sort of incrementalism-without-retreat by which we have only to accept the necessity of getting rid of Hussein to wind up supporting the radical realignment of the Middle East.

We accept the Iraqi invasion out of patriotism and conviction, then accept the need to do something about the resultant anti-American assaults elsewhere in the world because we have to. I mean, if Hezbollah targets American citizens, or if Egypt and Syria prove unable to control their radicals, are we just supposed to let it happen? The time for debate will be over.

Marshall likens the strategy to whacking a hornet's nest in order to get the hornets out in the open and force a showdown. You can have a spirited debate over whether such a strategy ought to be supported.

"The problem," he says, "is that once it's just us and the hornets, we really won't have any choice."


http://www.commondreams.org/views03/0331-05.htm

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Khornet
April 1, 2003, 01:54 PM
Common Dreams.org
William Raspberry

benewton
April 1, 2003, 02:16 PM
More than likely, we're spraying the hornet's nest, not wacking it.

Dangerous, yes, but necessary. I do it here every summer, because there is no choice. I neither like it nor hate it, it's merely a job that needs to be done. The insects, for whatever reason, can be dangerous, and I prefer not to risk their stings.

In the political sense, I think my analogy holds. Post 9/11, it should be obvious that our mere existance bothers some to the point of wanting to destroy us and/or our way of life. I consider this attitude with about the same respect that I give to the hornet's point of view.

Now, people aren't hornets, so, with luck, a single example will be sufficient.

If not, then we'll have to spray the next nest.

Destructo6
April 1, 2003, 02:18 PM
Better to whack a small, weak hornet's nest than wait around for the swarm.

Ian
April 1, 2003, 03:26 PM
Khornet - Yeah, I know. Judge it by its arguments, not by its authors. If it matters, consider that the view being promoted is taken from a retired Marine Corps general.

jmbg29
April 1, 2003, 11:06 PM
Judge it by its arguments, not by its authors. If it matters, consider that the view being promoted is taken from a retired Marine Corps general.A Marine Corps General that either doesn't know the enemy, or is making believe that he doesn't know them for some ulterior motivation.The problem, he argued, is that the Muslim world does not trust us. "They believe the U.S. government has acted unilaterally, sometimes as a bully, sometimes has used other nations for its own interests and abandoned them when the objective has been achieved. And most important, they believe the U.S. has unjustly supported Israel over the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people.The dangerous death-cult sect of Islam is going to hate us no matter what. To quote OBL, that prince of peace, "The first thing I am calling you to is Islam." Unless we wish to adopt the death-cult version of Islam ourselves, they will hate us enough to kill us in the most cowardly fashion they can design. No conversion, will mean more death, more dismemberment.

The non-death-cult Muslims have nothing to fear from us, and they know it. Many of them live here in the U.S. for the very purpose of being able to live and worship freely, and without the fear of being victimized by fundamentalist psychotics!

Until the time of America's conversion - the Sun will burn out of the sky before I convert - we are now seen, and will continue to be seen for all eternity, as the Great Satan."At the end of the day, the war on terrorism will be won only when we convince 1 billion Muslims that we are, in fact, a just society; that we do support peace, justice, equality for all peopleemphasis added; that in fact we really are the 'City on the Hill.' "So they will admire us for possessing virtues that they (as nations, not individuals) have never aspired to themselves?!?

Peace must mean murder-bombing women and children.

Justice = Sharia?!? I'm laughing so hard, that soda is shooting out my nose! I hope that my keyboard doesn't short out!

Equality for all people goes a long way to explain why there are so many Churches, Cathedrals, Synogogues and Buddhist Temples in Saudi Arabia, the home of all things Muslim.

How about equal, but veiled and bourka'd, to explain the chattel status of women? Hmm?

This General might have one too many metal plates screwed to his skull.

I reckon that I'll judge the argument when you post one that doesn't make my sides hurt from laughing so hard.:rolleyes:

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