It’s the Grievances, Stupid

Steven Clemons, in his blog The Washington Note, has focused on the problem of our supplying the fuel necessary for terrorist type fanaticism to flourish. In the piece from which I’ve extracted a few excerpts he makes some very valid points with which I’m in substantial agreement:

The masterminds of terrorist groups — like Bin Laden and Zawahiri — are not driven by the failure of the U.S. to pressure Israel and its neighbors into a final, two-state deal between Israel and Palestine — even though that grievance is regularly waved in America’s face as the one that motivates these people.

I’m not sure what to think about bin Laden’s motivations. I think he may want to be a Muslim pope; that he may see himself as a modern-day version of the Mahdi who led Muslim resistance against British colonial control over Sudan; or that he wants to lay the groundwork for organizing the Middle East politically under his brand of extreme Islam.

What I do know about bin Laden is that he and other terror-masters exploit the perception of grievances among the citizens they are attempting to appeal to and eventually govern. Without grievances, terrorism is a pathetic act. With grievances, terrorism has fuel.

We have few tests of how significant resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian problem would be because we have never delivered, no matter how close resolution may have seemed in the past. We have not delivered — and we must. A majority of Israelis desire a negotiated, final status negotiation with the Palestinians, and Palestinians desire the same — according to numerous, credible polls.

In addition, the leadership of nearly all Arab Muslim “states” in the region have told America privately that peace with Israel is achievable if the land and border disputes are solved.

Israel’s, America’s, and the Arab Middle East’s problem is not so much with misbehaving states as it is with a growing population of fanatics that ebb and flow within and among Arab states and who are increasingly independent of state control. This is a true problem — and it needs to be contained — as this kind of power is one that is very hard to squelch.

Israel had the moral high ground after Hezbollah’s incursion into Israel and the kidnapping and killing of IDF soldiers and that the U.S. and Israel had a moment to tie mutually shared concerns about Hezbollah with the leading states of the Arab region.

But just as the United States somehow lost the world’s outpouring of support and empathy after 9/11, the U.S. and Israel lost connection as well with this powerful opportunity to ally with Arab support.

There is no doubt that Hezbollah had acquired sophisticated weapons and command and control systems that needed to be confronted. If anything, our collective intelligence in the region — American, Israeli, Saudi, Jordanian, and Egyptian — missed this build-up of capacity.

But the manner in which Israel challenged Hezbollah, turning its assault against Southern Lebanese armed militants into a real war against Lebanon proper, lionized Hizbollah — rather than delegitimating it.

The way to confront terrorism is not an abandonment of national security capacity or all military responses — but without solving fundamental grievances — while at the same time checking and pushing back the militants — America accomplishes precious little in its so-called “global war on terror”.

There is quite a bit more to this very capable write-up than the paragraphs I’ve excerpted here. I’d suggest clicking the headline and reading it all.

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1 Response to It’s the Grievances, Stupid

  1. Kent says:

    American Jingoism is almost dead. There is no justice in the world. When a god fearing leader like Saddam is deposed or a rotten economic system like the Soviet Union busts itself out, we take the heat. And George Bush. What is he thinking? Trying to stop nuclear weapons proliferation in the world? Without Russia, China and France and Hillary Clinton on board? Ridiculous.We can only look back fondly over the past 62 years and dream of the good old days when only the squeakiest wheel got a little Jingoistic grease; when we could buyoff dictators by selling them surplus conventional weapons at the Paris Air Show for oil and NATO was a trade organization for weapons manufacturers. When we could send six obsolete twenty-five year old F-111’s to bomb Kadaffi’s home for instance to scare the hell out of him for ten years or so. Can you believe the French, Germans and Russians are in complete denial that this model has changed?Now that free market economics has come to the nuclear weapons business, our worst nightmares about weapons/market/capitalism have come true. The old market for conventional weapons has collapsed. Russian T-74 tanks can be had for less than $5,000 each. After market surplus AK-47’s are down to $75 each in some markets. Anti-tank weapons are nearly free depending upon whom your supplier is.Since the General Belgramo was sunk off the Falklands, the world market for surplus WWII era battleships has dropped to nothing. Israelis may not bother to repair their ship which was hit by an Iranian radar-guided anti-ship munition last week.Today, Nuclear weapons are all the rage. In fact, after the collapse of the Iraqi army, under crushing American Air Power, nukes are the only weapons game in town. Everyone is building them. Jingoism won’t stop them. So, let’s be realistic and get on board with the Russians. Why don’t we start selling them at the Paris Air Show before the bottom drops out of the market in five or ten years’ time.Nukes are like drugs in the 1960’s. At the beginning of the decade we jailed anyone with a marijuana cigarette. By the end of the decade, people everywhere were making brownies out of hashish. GWB notwithstanding, nuclear weapons will go the same way. However, If we opened the bidding today, Japan would buy hundreds to target large Chinese and Korean cities. Iran could afford to buy enough nukes and ICBM’s to target European capitals and most large cities in the United States. However, at the moment, they seem to prefer their Russian supplier. We would have to engage in some serious price cutting to displace their Russian suppliers. Those big heavy Soviet rockets with their fifty megaton warheads are pretty hard to beat. Israel would buy at least forty or fifty intermediate range Rockets, most likely, Soviet era SS-20’s with mobile launchers, with which they could incinerate the entire Muslim World plus a few heavy lifters to finish off Muslims in India and Indonesia once and for all.Once the primary big ticket markets were satisfied, we could go into submarkets like Darfor and Sri Lanka to sell tactical nuclear weapons with low yields that could be fired in artillery shells. We could supply Greece and Turkey to revive their war over Cypress. We could arm the Tamil Tigers to attack the Indian backed government on Sri Lanka, etc. Taiwan to target Beijing. How about selling suit-case nukes to the IRA F.O.B. London?Which begs the question. How do you suggest we deal with the coming threat of sneak attacks from terrorist organizations employing small sized nuclear weapons hidden in shipping containers in about ten years or so? Preemptively or reactively? The choice is tantalizing. Reactively, we would have to hit nearly everyone after they were on “launch on warning alert”. This would be suicidal.Classic nuclear war plans favor hitting every major capital at once pro-actively with a devastating first strike from space based launchers. This will cut down measurably on our second strike targets. This way with our surviving satellites, we can track most of the incoming missiles from those surviving countries with a devastating second strike from submarine launched missiles, as most likely, most of our major cities and along with our land based missiles and bomber forces along with a hundred million American civilians would already be turned into glass.To summarize, Jingoism doesn’t seem to work anymore. Human nature doesn’t change.If GWB fails for find allies to impose a multi lateral and forceful nuclear disarmament, and do so soon, even knowing he will probably fail, particularly with Democrats like Hillary Clinton on his case, what do you suggest?Australia doesn’t seem to be at war with anyone do they? Can we get visas? With some luck, we could hold out there for five or six weeks after initial hostilities begin.I know it’s stupid to dream; and as irrational as it may seem to you, I still pin my hopes and dreams on Bush and his Quixotic attempts to bring peace to the World; before nuclear proliferation and nuclear doomsday is assured.

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