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Monday, August 25, 2003

PFAFF IDIOT ON THE WAR That William Pfaff man, who is one of the columnists I loathe the most, has just given us a further utterance of his distorted worldview. This weeks' events have got him rather excited in that it gives him ample opportunity for his favourite hobby of blaming the West first, second and last for any ill that happens to appear:

PARIS The intensification of violence in Iraq is the logical outcome of the Bush administration's choice in 2001 to treat terrorism as a military problem with a military solution - a catastrophic oversimplification.

But is this really an oversimplification? The roots of al Quaedaism are mainly ideological and are the result of an internal struggle within Islam. How exactly does Pfaff imagine the Bush administration and America's allies could do anything about this? Starting to tell Muslims how they are to interpret their faith so they fit into Islington dinner party society would rightfully be interpreted as an illegitimate interference and would only strengthen the fanatics who could then say they are the true defenders of the faith. Pfaff goes on:

Choosing to invade two Islamic states, Afghanistan and Iraq, neither of which was responsible for the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, inflated the crisis, in the eyes of millions of Muslims, into a clash between the United States and Islamic society.

What?! "Neither of which was responsible for the attacks of Sept.11, 2001". Is Pfaff mad? I can see the point about Iraq (see post below), but Afghanistan? So where does Pfaff think al Quaeda sat around for several years training thousand of wannabe jihadis and planning in great detail the 9/11 attacks? As for his charge that the crisis has been inflated, well, that's what happens in a war when one side belatedly decides to start hitting back. There was no choice to taking on al Quaeda militarily. The fact that according to Pfaff millions of Muslims see this as a clash between America and Islam is hardly a relevant factor for policy consideration; it's just a further burden we have to bear in this war. In any case it's not the US and the West that is at fault here but Pfaff's “millions of Muslims” who are wrong about the issue at hand. The West is so obviously disinterested in religion that anybody who seriously believes our governments' policy is driven by religious motives either has no idea what he's talking about or is purposefully ignoring the facts.

The two wars did not destroy Al Qaeda. They won it new supporters. The United States is no more secure than it was before.

It's true that al Quaeda is still a problem but that's no reason that we shouldn't try to destroy them. As for the claim that it has won new supporters, where's the evidence? The assertion that the US is less safe is obviously stupid. The US is far safer today with al Quaeda's training grounds and operational headquarters destroyed and its remnants on the run.

The wars opened killing fields in two countries that no one knows how to shut down, with American forces themselves increasingly the victims.

"opened killing fields"? Either Pfaff is a liar or completely uninformed, two characteristics that should disqualify him as major newspaper columnist. Afghanistan's killing field has been open since the late 70s and in fact is today the most peaceful it has been since then. Same in Iraq where the fallen coalition troops are a sad distraction from the fact that Saddam’s murder regime is gone and in fact everything else is looking up (see this Stephen Pollard piece for an argument that Iraq is better than before the war).

There is no victory in sight, not even a definition of victory. If Saddam Hussein were captured or killed, Washington would claim a victory, but that isn't a victory over terrorism.

No, but it would be victory in Iraq, wouldn’t it, silly Willy? Perhaps, though, Pfaff has got something right:

…the neoconservative project, taken up by President George W. Bush with seemingly little or no grasp of its sources, objectives or assumptions.
The neoconservatives believe that destruction produces creation. …
They believe that the United States has a real mission, to destroy the forces of unrighteousness. They also believe - and this is their great illusion - that such destruction will free the natural forces of freedom and democracy.
In this, they are influenced by the Trotskyist version of Marxist millenarianism that was the intellectual seedbed of the neoconservative movement. But their idea is also very American, as they are credulous followers of Woodrow Wilson, a sentimental utopian who really believed that he had been sent by God to lead mankind to a better world.

Ok, I could agree with a lot in there. I think the necons are excessively optimistic. While it is right that we should destroy our enemies we should not believe that the destruction of evil automatically brings in good; it can just as easily bring in a different evil. Branding Woodrow Wilson as a "sentimental utopian" strikes me as odd though. So he wanted to create a better future for humankind. How bizarre. Now I could understand this derision of idealistic foreign policy if it came from a conservative realpolitik hardhead. But from William Pfaff?
On the other hand, he does seem to be dissatisfied with the prospect that the US might pull out of Iraq if there is little sign of progress by next year’s US presidential election. A few weeks ago Edward Luttwak made a quite convincing case that this might not be a bad idea, as the Iraqis aren’t taking up the opportunities the coalition has offered them and we can’t and shouldn’t stay in Iraq indefintely. We don’t need another Kosovo or another Vietnam for that matter. We’ve done most of what we need to do, only the wmds are missing (if they ever existed that is).

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