Saturday, February 19, 2005

AHH

President George W Bush added a new twist to the international tension over Iran's nuclear programme last night by pledging to support Israel if it tries to destroy the Islamic regime's capacity to make an atomic bomb. ... 'Clearly, if I was the leader of Israel and I'd listened to some of the statements by the Iranian ayatollahs that regarded the security of my country, I'd be concerned about Iran having a nuclear weapon as well. And in that Israel is our ally, and in that we've made a very strong commitment to support Israel, we will support Israel if her security is threatened.' ... coments later, Mr Bush was asked another question on Iran and appeared to return to his script -- this time emphasising the need for a diplomatic effort.

I don't like this.

80 comments:

Roger Kimball said...

Which brings us to Aristotle. The terrorist attacks [of 911] precipitated a new clarity. In The Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle discusses the qualities that define gentleness, praotes. Today, we are apt to think of a gentle character as a pacific one: a sandal-wearing, non-smoking, cosmic vegetarian, eco-sensitive type. But Aristotle knew better. True gentleness is not pacifism but "observance of the mean in relation to anger."

Consequently, "we praise a man who feels anger on the right grounds and against the right persons, and also in the right manner and at the right moment and for the right length of time."

Those who lack gentleness can err in one of two ways. Some are irascible: they anger too quickly, for the wrong reasons, or in too implacable a manner. Others are deficient in anger: They are aorgesia, "lacking in spirit." Such people are blamed, Aristotle notes, because "those who do not get angry at things at which it is right to be angry are considered foolish, and so are those who do not get angry in the right manner, at they right time, and with the right people."

For example, let's say you are unhappy about the end of the Caliphate and the increasing irrelevance of Islam to modern life. Let's further suppose that you are an anti-Zionist fanatic who has never been able to accept the existence of the state of Israel. Finally, let's say that you are profoundly irritated by the spectacle of American influence in places like Saudi Arabia — not all American influence, of course, since without American technology most Arabs would still be sleeping in tents and moving about by camel. You just hate the really bad stuff: treating women as human beings instead of chattel, allowing people to practice infidel religions like Christianity and Judaism, condoning unsettling institutions like representative democracy and freedom of speech. You carry these grudges around for a few decades and then start blowing up American embassies and battleships. Eventually, you graduate to enticing a few fellow fanatics to fly some American airliners into the World Trade Center.

This is not how a gentle person acts. But what if you are on the other side and someone starts dragging the bodies of your soldiers naked through the streets of Mogadishu, or planting bombs in the basements of your skyscrapers, or blowing holes in your warships? Are you being angry in the right manner, at the right time, and with the right people when you wring your hands in public, talk about peace in the Middle East, and, when an election looms, launch a few cruise missiles against an aspirin factory in Africa? I don't think so.

Or consider where we are now. Minions of a crazed Islamo-fascist destroy a large chunk of downtown Manhattan and part of the Pentagon. The United States declares a war on terrorism, obliterates one important base of operations in Afghanistan, and publicly sets about planning to eradicate other sources of support. These are the acts of a true gentleness, because without them barbarism and savagery would triumph over civilization. As of this writing, Saddam Hussein has not yet has not yet made his conge. But if you haven't yet said goodbye, don't tarry. He is going, and soon. Only a few privileged people know who is next in line. If America's gentleness persists, as I expect it will, those 7,000 Saudi princes would be well advised to be sure their Swiss bank accounts are in good order.

Adam Scavone said...

I couldn't have come close to saying what RK said so well myself, and I thank him for his comments.

I'll only add that I'm much more disturbed with the Orwellian "defense" pact between Iran and Syria, formed to protect their "right" to develop nuclear weapons and to aim them at our overseas military installations and (more likely) major population centers of our allies and our "allies" in Europe, and to protect the "right" of Syria to continue to forcibly occupy and control Lebanon, whose people seem (at the very least) discontent with the arrangement.

Meanwhile, we've got the Lebanese Hizbollah "political"/terrorist party, backed by Syria and Iran, telling the Lebanese people to shut their mouths and "peacefully" work with them to reform in the way that Chirac, de Villepin, Schroeder, Putin and others wanted us to "diplomatically" work out our "differences" with the belligerent, defiant Saddam Hussein, who refused to meet the obligations imposed on him by the United Nations after 12 years of toothless diplomacy.

We were told that the Bush administration is bent on "neo-colonialism" and that we are "occupiers" spilling blood for oil, yet the Iraqi people have stood by President Bush's vision of democratic rule and the toppling of tyrants. We were told that the time was not right, that no blood should be shed for a greater goal, that President Bush is a madman throwing our military might around and telling other countries how they are and are not allowed to govern themselves. The critics made the mistake of assuming that totalitarian dictators spoke on behalf of their people and that President Bush could never comprehend their interests. They bet against freedom, they continue to bet against freedom, and they will lose those wagers. We can only hope that they will lose them peacefully, and, barring that, with as little bloodshed as possible.

Jeff said...

I've always had the same feelings about Israel. It has one of the most powerful militaries in the world, and always can defend itself against the constant terrorism and threats from neighboring countries. The foreign policy of the United States should be to just let Israel do what it wants, and to stay out. When the US gets involved it pisses people off.

What Bush should do is not say anything. If Iran really gets that close to building a nuclear weapon, I bet Israel takes out the missile plants with their own cruise missiles. I can't imagine Israel allowing Iran to have nuclear capabilities, because there's too good of a chance that they will be used to try to take Israel off the map. At that point Bush should say something along the lines of, "Oh, well it would have been better to do it through diplomacy." Then he should do nothing.

That way Israel can defend itself, and we don't have to spend so much time upsetting the rest of the world by getting so involved in the Middle East. Isn't foreign policy and diplomacy all about lies and deceit anyway?

marco said...

I appreciate - and agree with - RK's and Adam's eloquent defense of the use of force, but my point was much triter; mainly, that this was better unsaid. Not to mention that I think Jeff is quite right when he says that Israel won't wait for the US to secure their safety.

Dan said...

1. A little historical context... Iran today is a good deal like Iraq in the early 80s- it is in the process of acquiring WMDs. Back in 1981, the Israeli air force took out Iraq's French-built nuclear reactor at Osirak in the middle of the night, without a single casualty on either side. Of course the next day at the UN was filled with oratories of protest of Israel's actions. Guess who lead the protests. The French. Who gives a shit. Importantly, Iraq had no nukes from that day forth.
Details here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/onthisday/hi/dates/stories/june/7/newsid_3014000/3014623.stm

2. Having established that blowing up Osirak was a smashing success, I posit that this current talk of IDF jets bombing Iran's nuclear facilities is not really on the table right now. The Osirak operation was planned and conducted entirely in secret. The current Israel-will-bomb-Iran-shhhh-don't tell meme has made it around the world in thousands of news stories over the past few months. Its entirely possible that this is just psychological warfare. Why is Bush dropping cryptic lines now? Is he that dumb that he is going to give away our best defense against Iran's nuclear program? Or perhaps, is it that the Europeans have been such pussies with Iran that now's the time for someone ot play bad cop. Enter Bush.

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