The Shotgun Blog
Tuesday, August 22, 2006
Picking the wrong battles with Iran
Parents hear it over and over again: "Pick your battles." Apparently the Bush Administration has tried the same thing with the Iranian mullahcracy, i.e., let punches be pulled against Hezbollah and the Iranian operations in Iraq to cobble together more support from the "international community" to keep Tehran from going nuclear.
As a result, Iran is seizing momentum from the Lebanon denouement to thumb its nose at said "international community" (fourth item). This is what happens when you try to pick your battles with terrorist-sponsoring regimes, instead of battling to help the people oppressed by said regimes to take back their homelands. Given that the Iranian regime in particular is now gleefully engaged in the killing of American soldiers in Iraq without consequence, the weakness of the Administration has gone from maddening to outrageous.
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Not knowing how to cut and paste, or even use spell check on this blog, I highly recommend an excellent article by Dr. Thomas Sowell. It is intelligent, clear-sighted and common sense. You can find it at www.townhall.com/columnists/ThomasSowell/2006/08/22/point_of_no_return
Posted by: Alain | 2006-08-22 11:25:39 AM
One of my friends sent me the following article. It is a little long, and has been published somewhere, although I am not certain where, as that did not come with the article. I think it goes well with the subject.
The Region: Talk of talk is damaging
By BARRY RUBIN
There have probably been more articles and interviews in recent days advocating negotiations with Syria than Hizbullah has gunmen. Yet each of these statements does about as much damage as a terrorist. They make the West less able to respond to the current crisis while inspiring the radicals to be more intransigent.
Talks may be good in principle but in this context they are harmful. The problem is not that Syrian President Bashar Assad or the leaders of Hizbullah and Iran are bad guys or fanatics. The problem, in fact, is the exact opposite: they are acting rationally in pursuit of their interests. To paraphrase Bashar's cinematic equivalent, Michael Corleone in The Godfather, "It's not personal it’s politics."
There are five basic reasons why the belief that negotiations with the Fabulously Extremist Four (Hamas, Hizbullah, Syria, and Iran) are going to solve anything is the opium of the opinion-makers.
1. They have far-reaching goals. They want a Middle East without Israel; a world without America; and a chador in every closet. These are not agrarian reformers: they are consistent totalitarians on a level with fascism and Communism.
2. They think they are winning. Even defeats are interpreted as victories, with some help from large portions of the Western media and intelligentsia. Especially now, they believe that the tide of history is running in their direction. Why should they be willing to make deals with those thought soon to be their victims?
3. They believe their enemies are weak and cowardly. Can you blame them? The calls for concessions, the demands for d tente, the nattering for negotiations are all taken by them as signs of weakness. Compromise is not a concept, at least right now, in their vocabulary.
4. All the assumptions made by the negotiate-now crowd (part of which is an appeasement-now crowd) are wrong.
THIS IS the point upon which I want to focus. The interests of Hizbullah, Hamas, Iran and Syria are in line with extremism and aggression, not moderation. These people are not deluded or merely aggrieved - they have a pretty good strategy going. Why shouldn't they sing, "The future belongs to me!"
If the appeasers win out, it will.
It is vital to understand that this strategy serves two purposes. One is to try to achieve their ends - defeating the West, destroying Israel, and taking over the Middle East.
But even if they know they will never succeed in these goals, they have a very good set of reasons for acting as they do: it either keeps them governing (Iran, Syria) or moves them closer to taking power (Hamas, Hizbullah). They reap praise, money, and glory. To cite one example: Syria has helped devastate Lebanon, has a bad economy, no freedom, and a high level of oppression. Yet the regime is wildly popular at home and abroad. And it has intimidated most of the world. Similarly, there is lots of talk about Iran's nuclear drive but who is going to stand up to Teheran really? Their strategy has plenty of short-term benefits.
Let's try a simple test. Answer the following questions "yes" or "no." Does the Syrian regime:
• Want peace and quiet in the Middle East and benefit from it?
• Want a calm Lebanon-Israel border?
• Want a stable Lebanon in which political factions obey the government there?
• Want Hizbullah to be respectful of Lebanese sovereignty?
• Want a Palestinian-Israel agreement?
• Want the US to be respected or liked in the Arab world because it has succeeded diplomatically and brokered peace agreements?
• Want a stop put to Iran's nuclear program?
• Want a stable Iraq?
• Want a world in which the sponsors of terrorism are quickly and effectively punished?
• Want a Syria which is democratic and focuses on economic development rather than on war and subversion?
IF YOU answer "no" to all these questions, you get the picture. But - guess what - the United States, Canada, most of Europe, and Israel would answer "yes" to all these questions. So what is there to negotiate about given these divergent objectives? Why should they be persuaded that their interests lie in another direction if they really don't? Remember, we are not talking here about the average citizen but rulers and revolutionaries who find demagoguery more effective than providing good schools or hospitals.
And how can you give them things they want without helping them achieve their despicable aims? Syria turned down the whole Golan Heights in 2000 in exchange for peace. Hizbullah is not going to be satisfied with the release of one convicted Lebanese terrorist held in Israel after being convicted of murdering a father and his child in cold blood. Nor will they go away and settle down to productive lives if given the barren little piece of Israeli-held Syria they claim and the UN says isn't theirs.
Is what Hamas is really aching for is an independent Palestinian state living peacefully alongside Israel when they say they will fight decades to wipe out Israel and deride Israel's total withdrawal from the Gaza Strip as the sign that the end is near for the Jewish state? Appetite, as was said of the totalitarians of the 1930s, grows with the feeding.
The idea that dangerous extremists can be bought off by sympathy and slices is understandable in terms of wishful thinking but suicidal as a strategy. Just read what they are saying and watch what they are doing.
The writer is director of the Global Research in International Affairs Center, editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs, and journal editor of Turkish Studies.
I am not certain that Canada would actually say yes to all of the questions. I believe that the Conservatives are far more knowledgeable on the subject. Had it been the LIBERALS, well, of course, they would have said yes to all three, without taking up any of the intelligence on the subject matter.
Posted by: Lady | 2006-08-22 5:26:33 PM
Thanks Lady. It is also a very good article. Too bad I could not have done the same with Dr. Sowell's "Point of no return?" article, but am unable to cut and paste and do not have time to retype it from scratch.
Posted by: Alain | 2006-08-22 5:38:09 PM
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