A Disgraceful 'Détente'
The retreat and ultimate defeat of the West will be made possible by an alliance of pragmatism and altruism. Since the stated U.S. policy is to avoid "collateral damage" and loss of "innocent" civilian life, President Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice have opted for two policies: To cripple our military by establishing "rules of engagement" to avoid collateral damage (especially to civilian infrastructure) and minimize civilian casualties; or, not to engage the enemy at all, but seek a diplomatic solution to a conflict.
This is our operating strategy not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but now in the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah-ruled Lebanon. It accounts for the paradoxical, astonishing failure of Israel to defeat its militarily inferior foe. Israel failed because Bush and Rice engineered the failure in the name of "peace."
After allowing Israel to attempt to "shock and awe" Hezbollah into ashes with air strikes, and seeing that strategy fail, Bush and Rice allowed Israel to launch a delayed land offensive against Hezbollah into Lebanon. At the same time, they instructed Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to not attack Lebanon's civilian infrastructure, even if Hezbollah fighters were using hospitals, schools and even homes to fire its rockets into Israel and from which to fire at Israeli troops. Despite this hamstringing, non-military policy, Israel advanced rapidly to the Litani River in Lebanon. U.S. satellites observed the advance, and Bush called a halt to it. Israel was suddenly in possession of the field but under "orders" to simply maintain a holding action.
General George Patton's philosophy of war it's not. He did not believe in "holding actions," but advancing and destroying the enemy.
According to the Debka File report (August 22nd), "Olmert's absolute compliance with Rice's directives without fully comprehending their military import threw Israel's entire war campaign into disorder." At the behest of the U.N., Israel subsequently surrendered its gains, knowing full well that Hezbollah would simply fill the vacuum.
When one thinks that our leadership's craven pragmatism has reached its limit, that it must acknowledge the utter failure of its policies, what followed was an even greater example of its moral turpitude: Both the U.S. and Israel turned to Syrian president (dictator) Bashar Assad to assist in the resolution of the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict.
Instead of conceding that their policy was wrong, the U.S. and Israel compounded their irrational policy by following it to its logical conclusion: by sending out "peace feelers" to the enemy.
The U.S. then handed the "moral" task of enforcing a peace between Israel and Hezbollah to the U.N., which ordered the assembly of a multinational force to create a "buffer zone" between them. With one or two exceptions, the nations sending troops to serve in this capacity are hostile to Israel. France is no friend of Israel, and three of these nations are Islamic. The others are "neutral." Two other dictatorships, Russia and China, refuse to consider U.N.-imposed economic sanctions against Iran; Russia needs the revenue, and China needs the oil.
Was the hamstringing of Israel an obscene "gesture" to Iran, intended to be an inducement to "talk" about its pursuit of nuclear weapons? Very likely. The cowardice is obvious to our enemies. Why isn't it obvious to the cowards? Were any lessons learned by Bush, Rice and Olmert? Apparently not. To minds that regard reality, language and principles as "fluid," with no anchorage in reality, no lessons are possible. Bush, Rice, Rumsfeld, and the European appeasers all pose as "realists" in global politics, but reality is not their sole reference. Their rule of thumb is: Reality is what you make it. Reality, however, is not cooperating.
The comparison was made elsewhere by another astounded observer: Just as we did not conduct a war against blitzkrieg and kamikazes in World War II, we should not be conducting a war against "terrorism" but against those nations that facilitate terrorists or encourage them.
The current, unbelievable mess is made possible also by a concern about what the world - the Arab world and Europe - would think of the U.S. if it used its strength to defeat its enemies once and for all. But the concern about what the world will think of the U.S. is a symptom of a perilous lack of self-confidence, not only in the capacity to act, but in its own value and worth. The U.S. will not act with pride.
Economist Walter Williams, in trenchant article on Capitalism Magazine, "Will the West Defend Itself?" (August 23rd) posed this question:
"Think of it. Currently, the U.S. has an arsenal of 18 Ohio class submarines. Just one submarine is loaded with 24 Trident nuclear missiles. Each Trident missile has eight nuclear warheads capable of being independently targeted. That means the U.S. alone has the capacity to wipe out Iran, Syria, or any other state that supports terrorist groups or engages in terrorism - without risking the life of a single soldier."
But, our policy, based not on self-defense, but on global consensus and approval, regards our strength as a liability.
Thomas Sowell, in another Capitalism Magazine article, "Point of No Return?" (August 22nd) also paints a disturbing picture of what the "realists" in Washington and Europe refuse to see about the nature of our enemies. By his analysis, we are either reaching the "Munich pact" point, or have already passed it.
What is one of the major contributing factors to a lack of self-confidence? Multiculturalism, or the policy that no culture is superior to another (though Islamists claim otherwise). Moral relativism, which predates multiculturalism, is another factor. It takes a "global village" to imbue such nihilistic ethics, and a "world community" to teach the proud and the strong a lesson in humility.
Bush and Rice are Kantian manqués par excellence: altruism, or the sacrifice of the good to evil, is the moral fuel that powers their pragmatism. Their maxim is: peace. Period. Not "peace at any price," not even "peace in our time." Just "peace," with no projection of the consequences.
Career pragmatists come in two varieties: those rendered insensate to reason and insulated against reality; and those hostile to reason. In either case, the corrupting power of pragmatism is evident. And, it is futile to point to a pragmatist's intelligence. One might ask: can't these people see what we are seeing, and reach the same conclusions about what is happening and what ought to be done about it? But intelligence is no guarantee of a fealty to reality or a commitment to rationality.
The fear of taking a proud, selfish moral stand against the West's enemies and a queasy reluctance to take action against them have exponentially multiplied the perils to the U.S. and Western civilization in a pattern just as ominous as that which occurred in the 1930's, when a sustained policy of appeasement for the sake of "peace" resulted in World War II.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran read Hitler's book of how to treat appeasers and other "useful idiots." For the last two weeks his military has conducted "war games," including the firing a missile from a submarine and numerous surface-to-surface missiles. He inaugurated the opening of Iran's first heavy water producer. He has in his possession two or three Soviet nuclear warheads obtained in 1993 by Iran after that other "Evil Empire" collapsed. While their fissionable material has expired, undoubtedly they have served as adaptable models to place onto long-range Iranian missiles, to be targeted on Israel.
Ahmadinejad has laughed at the West all the way fulfilling his mission of being the new Muslim "Mahdi," or "expected one," giving the U.S. and the U.N. the equivalent of a Bronx cheer. His immediate goal: the erasure of Israel. His long-range goal: to establish a new Persian empire in the Mideast.
The rumblings you hear in the distance are the Persians, the Tartars, the Huns and the Visigoths rallying around their Farsian fuehrer.
Edward Cline is the author the Sparrowhawk series of novels set in England and Virginia during the Revolutionary period, the detective novel First Prize, the suspense novel Whisper the Guns and of numerous other published articles, book reviews and essays.
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