Thursday, August 24, 2006
A New Middle East, Part IV: Islam is the Answer
The day is won. Israel has succeeded in its generational struggle with Arab National-Secularism.
Yet now the medium-term interests of the United States and the Jewish State diverge. The United States, the world's leader, desires a "rule-set reset" across the Middle East, replacing the divded and confused Arab regimes with something sustainable. Yet such division and confusion is precisely in Israel's interests, because weak and disoriented enemies cannot threaten her. In particularly, the map of Israel's near-abroad that America must strive for will naturally spook our allies in Jerusalem.
A Levant Worth Creating: Blue = Globalized States, Yellow = Traditional States, Purple = Muslim Brotherhood States
American actions not in Israel's preferred direction occurred soon after the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, and can be seen by comparing the recommendations of the seminal 1996 paper, A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm
King Hussein may have ideas for Israel in bringing its Lebanon problem under control. The predominantly Shia population of southern Lebanon has been tied for centuries to the Shia leadership in Najf, Iraq rather than Iran. Were the Hashemites to control Iraq, they could use their influence over Najf to help Israel wean the south Lebanese Shia away from Hizballah, Iran, and Syria. Shia retain strong ties to the Hashemites: the Shia venerate foremost the Prophet’s family, the direct descendants of which — and in whose veins the blood of the Prophet flows — is King Hussein.
with what actually happened
- Attempted implementation of an indigenous, secular, Shia government
- Actual implementation of an indigenous, religious, Shia government
Israel desired a restored Hashemite Kingdom of Iraq to calm the Middle East, as soon as possible. The United States desired a Shia Iraq to explode the Middle East, as soon as possible.
Such a disagreement extends beyond the failing state of Iraq to Israel's immediate neighborhood. With the internal remnants of Arab National-Secularism, the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Fatah patronage machine, in shambles, Israel's best medium-term future was a globalized Lebanon and weak (and easily blackmailed) Egyptian and Syrian regimes. Yet America's goal is continuing the 3/20 Revolution wish must include replacing the Arab National-Secularist governments of Egypt and Syria with the Muslim Brothers. The Global War on Terrorism requires replacing dysfunctional worldly rule with Islamic Law.
Sharia's modernizing track record in the Middle East is positive, National-Secularism's is negative. Don't believe it? Compare the religiosity of Egyptians and Iranians. Compare the strength of Egypt and Iranians.
In a recent post, Tom Barnett wrote:
And yes, forcing us all to live together in connectedness (known today by the moniker of globalization) will force a tremendous amount of change on both those who welcome it (by all indications, the bulk of the populations throughout the Gap) and those who revile it (a small minority who will fight these changes to the very end, and yes, for them, the conflict will be "genocidal" in that they will not survive it).
In that conflict process, which I believe is both inevitable and good, it will be harder before it gets easier, but putting off the hard part only ensures greater conflict and death totals down the line, because if integration isn't achieved, colonial mercantlist-style economic transaction patterns will predominate, as will local authoritarianism and failed states, and the death totals associated with those pathways will (as they do today) dwarf the death totals of integrating conflicts (and if you don't believe that, then you are woefully ignorant of what's happening every day in Africa right now).
The challenge before us is not one of deciding "yes" or "no" to this historical process. That train left the station a generation ago when the East decided to join the global economy.
The only question that remains is how we rise to this challenge. How we get smarter about how we wage both war and peace.
To pretend that the choice lies between war and peace is self-delusional, just like pretending we must choose between globalization-the-integration-process and globalization-the-disintegrating/reformatting-process. Life is simply not that binary.
Israel, being only a state, is too weak to influence systems and instead must play for time, merely surviving into her surroundings are magically improved. But America is a system-level power, and America has the power to change the nature of Israel's surroundings.
It is by bringing 3/20 to Cairo and Damascus that we can truly prevent another 9/11. Redirect the violent feedback of the National-Secularists to the National-Secularists. Bring the rage of crooked Arab economies to crooked Arab states. Shrink the Gap by destroying-in-detail the National-Secularism that helped expand it.
A New Middle East, a tdaxp series
A New Middle East 1: Our Vanquished Enemies
A New Middle East 2: Iran
A New Middle East 3: Israel
A New Middle East 4: Islam is the Answer
Very nice, Dan.
I'm reminded of two things:
1. Ohlmert to Condi: "Back off!"
2. The man who thinks his toolbox is just a seat with a handle.
Someday, just maybe, we may figure out the power of business professors, bricklayers and muni bonds really does have more utility and universal appeal than the Biff Tannen routine.
Posted by: fouro | Thursday, August 24, 2006
You might be right. Our support of Iran's former National-Secularist regime didn't exactly help our popularity.
But does this mean we are rooting for Iranian influence?
Posted by: Adam | Friday, August 25, 2006
Thank you for the comment. Barnett's big contribution is the idea of the Non-Integrating Gap, not just the Seam but those areas in a tailspin. In that, frankly Islamic, non-integrating gap, business professors, bricklayers, and bonds don't have much appeal. That's why we need a ruleset reset.
Iranian influence can be seen in two ways: is it in America's current interest and is it better than systematically what came before. As of now, the answer is "no" to the first question and "yes" to the second. A strategic relationship would make both halves positive, and let us truly root for Iran (instead of just smiling when they kill Qaedists, Baathists, etc.).
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, August 26, 2006