Friday, August 2, 2013


President George W. Bush said that even though human cultures can be vastly different, the human heart desires the same good things, everywhere on earth. This belief, rooted in the American exceptionalism as formulated in the neo-conservative Perle-Kristol-Kagan agenda, can no longer "walk."  It agonizes in Afghanistan, Iraq or anywhere where a jihadist culture of death prevails. The Americans were not greeted as liberators in Baghdad, neither will they be regretted by an ungrateful Kabul. The probabilities for a lasting contemporary, democratic, equal model after the Americans will leave are close to nil.  A large part of the world chooses to remain in some theocratic theorem rather than to probe a more empirical path.  Put to a vote, Sharia would prevail from Rabat to Jakarta, even if it had to compete with Western style democracy!

Since 9/11 we have witnessed how the scorpion's "bite" became more lethal than states' "might."  The horde of isolated non-actors who aspire to martyrdom is harder to defeat than conventional armies.  One can rightly ask if the loss of so many lives, the cost of war, the trauma, were worth the unleashing of a war machine which ends up being seen as unable to kill the scorpion. I perfectly understand that few want to get involved in the Syrian tragedy, which is cannibalizing all camps, which fight each other while sharing an identical creed ... Allah Akbar!

The American psyche is often misguided, unfamiliar with the ailments it pretends to cure. On the other hand the United States is too often dragged in various conflictual situations, not by choice but by lack of takers.  It is one thing to make mistakes, quite another to be used.  So the dilemma is real. The Middle East is a perfect example of this perverse situation wherein the Americans find themselves, trying to solve an inextricable problem over the heads of a majority of people who feast on anti-American hatred.

The Arab Spring is giving refuge to jihadists worldwide who end up creating a war within a war, more insecurity in existing chaos and giving legitimacy to terrorists who are taking over movements which where not necessarily evil at the start.  The US Army will leave, or better stay away from further mayhem and the scorpions will multiply and,  dangerously so, spread.  The "collective" mood under American leadership, be it Wilsonian or post World War II, is no longer. The" problem states" from earlier days have become players in a multi-polar new galaxy. The new generation of rogue entities did not figure on the map after World War I and own their "existence" to the same world concept they are currently fighting against, directly or by proxy. They own their existence to democratic principle but chose to become "parricides." 

Should responsible countries turn their backs and give up? Certainly not, but conditional involvement needs some form of reciprocity. The choice is clear. One has to choose between being a state or some "safe heaven" for the hackers of lives, security and good governance. What good does it do to continue being involved in Afghanistan if the Taliban Jirgas rule?  Are we going to mediate between Sunnis and Shias?  There might be a time, as is the case with the Israelo-Palestinian conflict, where there is a small window of opportunity, less because the two sides have become closer than because the Palestinians are more isolated today.  Egypt is another paradox of sorts. One is obliged to swallow the democratic deficit for some better (?) geopolitical terms at least. So much for democracy, a la carte.

Realpolitik can be the better choice if antagonistic partners still recognize the rules of the game. If they do not, it is better to bet on integrity than on uninformed miscalculation. The United States remain indispensable but they had better rally China and Russia (despite the chill after Putin's accustomed brutal "anachronistic cold war style" handling of the Snowden affair) which have an equal stake in radical pest control. This triple alliance against terrorism and radical freelancers should not take second place because of unpleasant "bumps" in the road. Scorpions are reputed to play hide-and-seek in their natural habitat...and to sting undercover, overseas! Hidden threats loom larger than blatant indiscretions.

No comments:

Post a Comment