January 26, 2010

Iran’s Private Army Digs in for a Wider Lebanon War

“There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.” — Henry David Thoreau

The Obama administration needs to start paying attention to Lebanon again before it explodes.

The Washington Post reported over the weekend that Hezbollah is moving long-range rockets and missiles away from the Israeli border and even north of Beirut in a move that would make a Third Lebanon War much more destructive over a much larger area than the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The previous conflict was mostly, but not exclusively, confined to the Hezbollah-controlled Shia areas in the south and in Beirut’s southern suburbs. Israel Defense Forces Brigadier General Aviv Kochavi says Hezbollah is now capable of firing rockets all the way to Tel Aviv from as far north as Beirut. Depending on where Hezbollah is placing its arsenal, taking out launch sites from the air might endanger America’s allies and Hezbollah’s enemies in the Christian, Sunni, and Druze parts of the country.

IDF Major General Giora Eiland says if a third war does in fact start, “Israel will not contain that war against Hezbollah. We cannot.” The last Lebanon war didn’t end well, and as Dwight Eisenhower once said, “If a problem cannot be solved, enlarge it.” The problem, though, must be enlarged in just the right way and to just the right size.

“The only way to deter the other side and prevent the next round,” Eiland continued, “or if it happens, to win — is to have a military confrontation with the state of Lebanon.”

That would make for both too much and too little enlargement. Too much because Prime Minister Saad Hariri’s “March 14″ parliamentary majority is being held hostage by Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria and is not really part of the larger problem; too little because the problem is much larger than Lebanon. Hezbollah is but a piece of a region-wide resistance bloc. It can’t be effectively dealt with without acknowledging what it is — the Lebanese branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Syria is the logistical hub Iran uses to maintain its division abroad on the Mediterranean. Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan Nasrallah doesn’t answer to anyone in Beirut, but to his patrons and armorers in Tehran and Damascus.

It looks like he’s itching for a fight, but no war need be fought at all if Israel can convince Syria and Iran to back off. Jerusalem doesn’t strictly require American backup and support to enlarge the scope of the problem to include those two countries, but having it would certainly boost the deterrent effect.

Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei might be undeterrable, but Syria’s Bashar Assad certainly isn’t. Turkey convinced his more ruthless late father, Hafez Assad, to cease and desist supporting the Marxist-Leninist Kurdistan Worker’s Party (PKK) back in the 1990s, and did so without firing a shot by threatening to invade. Turkey didn’t want to invade, yet Turkey never had to. Syria, meanwhile, has continued sponsoring or even outright committing terrorism against the more “reasonable” Israelis, Iraqis, and Lebanese.

Syria is without question the junior partner in its relationship with Iran, but Tehran’s Islamic Republic regime would have a lot less power in the region — especially in Lebanon — if Assad were spooked into noncooperation. Without assistance from Syria, Hezbollah would develop serious logistics problems that might eventually render it as militarily weak as Hamas. Without support from Iran, Hezbollah would eventually run out of cash and ammunition entirely. No other government in the world would give money and guns to a totalitarian-minded Shia militia.

Read the rest in Commentary Magazine.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2010 9:58 AM
Comments
Michael,

I read often that you love to call Hezbollah the "the Lebanese branch of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps." Yet, I see that you offer little proof that Hezbollah is the taking orders from Tehran. Sure there are connections--both inspirational and with arms--but you make it sound like it is an automatic thing.

If you could just list a few reasons in the comments I would be more incline to believe this statement.
Posted by: Abu Guerrilla at January 26, 2010 11:01 am
Abu Guerrilla,

Hezbollah does not dispute my characterization and readily admits its bosses are in Tehran. I don't have any sources off the top of my head because I didn't think this was even remotely controversial.

I'm too busy to go digging on your behalf, but next time I come across something, I'll post it for the record.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2010 11:04 am
Isn't the fact that Hezbollah's ideology is velayat-e faqih tell you all you need to know? It makes them, by definition, subjects of Ali Khamenei.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2010 11:06 am
If you use google for just a few seconds you should be able come up with several references. Try this.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2010 11:08 am
You could see also this. I'll let you explore more for yourself.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 26, 2010 11:14 am
Abu,

Hezbollah's weapons, money, logistics, and, yes, orders, come from Tehran -- from the Pasdaran and the Ayatollah. Pick up Robert Baer's excellent book, "The Devil We Know," and you will see how Tehran basically built Hezbollah and made it what it is today (and how Tehran has its claws in basically every other guerrilla force, even non-shia, in the middle east).
Posted by: ScottNYC at January 26, 2010 11:14 am
"Isn't the fact that Hezbollah's ideology is velayat-e faqih tell you all you need to know? It makes them, by definition, subjects of Ali Khamenei."

Exactly.
Posted by: ScottNYC at January 26, 2010 11:16 am
Abu Guerilla, I've never seen anyone seriously dispute the fact that Hezbollah is a proxy of the IRI. I think that much at the least is considered to be fact. I suppose whether or not they function as an organic part of the IRGC is open to debate, but that'd be getting into semantics. I've seen at least one person on this blog deny that the Basij is an organic part of the IRGC, even though the Basij is commanded by IRGC generals and appears as a subordinate organization on Iran's own IRGC organizational charts.


MJT,

IDF Major General Giora Eiland says if a third war does in fact start, “Israel will not contain that war against Hezbollah. We cannot.”

Reassuring words, but in my view the major problem Israel had in the last war is that they initially intended to go in on the ground and clean out the HA strongholds in the south but got stopped by unexpected levels of resistance. They then turned to aerial bombardment of "strategic targets" in all of Lebanon. I view that (the aerial bombardments) as a face-saving measure. And one that had a tremendously detrimental impact for everyone involved. If the Israelis are unable or unwilling to tackle Hezbollah on the ground then threatening to bypass HA and take the war to all of Lebanon is just more of the same. If they really feel the need to bypass HA then they should just bypass all of Lebanon, and take it to Syria and/or Iran. If they go into Lebanon, job #1 should be to cripple HA. And there is no job #2.
Posted by: Craig at January 26, 2010 11:55 am
"Turkey convinced his more ruthless late father, Hafez Assad, to cease and desist "

Odd that no one ever talks of Syria's neighboring Arab states, Iraq and Jordan, applying pressure to the Assad regime. Jordan has a peace treaty with Israel and Iraq has a vested interest in resisting the Iranian mullahs' empire.

Furthermore, the EU is Syria's largest trading partner, so if the EU banned travel to Europe by top Syrian officials and their families that would immediately strike at the heart of the regime, but without hurting the little people.

Since these things don't happen, the conclusion we can draw is that no one in these countries cares enough to avoid another conflict. It is enough for them to pat their wallets tell themselves that they aren't responsible, whatever may happen.
Posted by: Solomon2 at January 26, 2010 12:33 pm
"Without support from Iran, Hezbollah would eventually run out of cash and ammunition entirely."

Why isn't logistical support (money, weapons) the place to squeeze these non-state actors? Why do we (the West) have to fight goat-herders and farmers? We should just move up the food chain until we hit a spot that is dealing in the civilized world of international transactions and totally demolish it.

I guess this is what international sanctions are for, but if a few banks on Wall Street can almost stop the rotation of the earth surely there must be some pressure points we can squeeze effectively.
Posted by: Max at January 26, 2010 12:42 pm
Michael, what do you think about the article in today's Haaretz on Israel and Syria - http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1145203.html.
Posted by: Rebecca Lesses at January 26, 2010 1:19 pm
Michael,
Great article
I dont think Nasrallah is itching for a fight and although there can be triggering mechanisms in Lebanon we most likely are not going to see a war anytime soon.We have seen similar posturing a few times since the end of the last war when Israel carried out exercises and Hizbullah building new positions north of the Litani etc. It seems to be reaching higher peaks alright but I believe this current spate of actions and comments by both sides will die down again and another war is likely to be some way off. Im in Ireland and Ive started up a blog,spent many years in and out of the Leabanon,did my MA on Hizbullah. Take a look at my blog if you wish,Im still working on it.
Its www.donnchacuttriss.blogspot.com
Donncha
Posted by: Donncha Cuttriss at January 26, 2010 5:01 pm
...my armchair suggestion resulting from utter disgust with the first year of his administration is that our Obama would do well to leapfrog Lebanon and go after Syria, and Iran itself by dispensing with his futile and smirk-inducing "outreach" to the Arabs. This talk-talk-talk.... has got us nowhere. And it certainly won't in future.
Going after Syria/Iran with quarantine-type moves along with visibly positioning our fleet in nearby waters might, just might, get a message across. Maybe those days of "gunboat diplomacy " aren't outdated after all.

Remember Tom Jefferson, and later, those Marines "...to the shores of Tripoli"?

We're still fighting those same Islamists....Tripoli was only the start.

Elsewhere I posted a link to the Islamist concept of "Taqiyya" , there's an additional paper subtitled.."Lying for the sake of Allah". Google around and choose your own at random, our host doesn't have time to double check pasted links...

(..apologies for my earlier, longer pasted link, Michael..)
Posted by: Hrothgar at January 26, 2010 6:43 pm
"No other government in the world would give money and guns to a totalitarian-minded Shia militia."

Prompted by Hezbollah's "assistance" in Latin America in recent years, I wonder if El Hombre Loco in Venezuela might "repay favors", particularly if his new "amigo" in the White House stands idly by in (non)response.
Posted by: Paul S. at January 26, 2010 7:53 pm
I believe this article lays the logical groundwork for seeing how the region could be more stable and benefit everyone West of Basra.

Calling the attention to the fact that Iran and Syria seem to get away at no cost for setting fires in the region is important. They should pay a price, and a steep one.

The article also exposes the weak link in the chain. A change in direction from Syria would benefit the entire region, including Syria. But if the regime in Iran loses the people there, it won't be long before Nazrallah loses the Shiites in Lebanon.

It is an interesting problem and difficult to address when the Western political leadership seems to avoid attempting to get any real traction outside of Gaza or the West Bank.

Liked the article.
Posted by: crosspatch at January 26, 2010 8:06 pm
What Abu is getting at is that the characterization painted here of hezbollah would imply that they would blindly follow every order given by Iran. Whereas in reality, were iran to order them to start a civil war tomorrow, they would not comply. Hezbollah would not be as successful as they are today were they to ignore the local demands placed upon them by their constituents.


Furthermore, Israel could easily bring Syria into the Egyptian/Jordan fold were they to give up the Golan Heights they currently occupy.

But of course, much like the west bank and east jerusalem, there's a large faction that wants to keep the spoils of war.

Threats towards Syria will only respond in threats against Israel.

What you're proposing is basically threatening Syria into surrendering to a de facto state of peace with Israel. I'm sure if this was possible it would've happened decades ago.

With Iran increasing its missile arsenal and Turkey now shifting alliances towards Iran/Syria, it is far less likely such a plan would work now.
Posted by: tg at January 26, 2010 9:46 pm
Michael,

This is where it gets interesting... The kind of proof you ofter is:

"Isn't the fact that Hezbollah's ideology is velayat-e faqih tell you all you need to know? It makes them, by definition, subjects of Ali Khamenei."

My experience with Hezbollah suggests that though they are supporters of the Iranian revolution (I mean, look at the AK's on the flags) there is a difference between paying tribute for support and being firm believers in velayat-e faqih.

To support this difference, Nasrallah himself says that velayat-e faqih is what Hezbollah believes in, but it simply is not the right model for Lebanon. This is a clue.

And, these are the markings of a shrewd politician who plays along with the "exporting the revolution" crowd in Tehran and beyond, while understanding that the local/nationalist agenda--which Hezbollah was founded on vis-a-vis Israeli occupation and the influx of Palestinians--really is the issue at hand for his Shia Lebanese.

Thus, I think that we cannot assume that Hezbollah simply an army of the IRGC. Though many NEOCONS in DC love to think the Middle East is that synonymous. Every group I can think of, perhaps besides the Taqfiris, have some kind of local/nationalist agenda. The rest is just Islamist glitter.

Best of luck on the book,
Abu G
Posted by: Abu Guerrilla at January 26, 2010 10:24 pm
And for the link you posted, yeah, sure, Tehran has tried VERY hard to make Hezbollah an "automatic" organization. Mostly for the looming Israeli strike.

But the fact that this post exists suggests that there are forces in Hezbollah that do not want to be Persian puppets.

Do not assume anything is automatic in the Middle East. Iran knows this--that is why they are trying to hard to make it so.

Best,
Abu

PS--80,000 to 100,000 words for your book right? I'm about a quarter way into mine:

http://bloggingthecasbah.blogspot.com/2010/01/preview-of-my-book-on-surfing-middle.html
Posted by: Abu Guerrilla at January 26, 2010 10:31 pm
"were iran to order them to start a civil war tomorrow, they would not comply."

What scares me is a completely different way of looking at it. Imagine you have religious fanatics with nuclear weapons. They are of a culture that idolizes martyrdom. Once they obtain said weapons, do they see it as their religious duty to use them try to destroy Israel even if it means their own destruction? Do you have a fanatic that decides to martyr his entire country?

If that is possible, what kind of deterrent works against something like that? In that case the only thing that works is preventing them from obtaining the ability to even try it because if they can try it and if there is a possibility of success, maybe someone's warped sense of religion leads them to believe it is their religious duty to try to slaughter millions of people.

So then Hezbollah becomes Iran's "insurance policy" where if Iran wipes out Israel and somehow Iran is wiped out, then Hezbollah is assured of being able to reclaim Israel as being the "last man standing". And when I see things like Hezbollah pulling back from the border areas, it can get a little scary wondering why they need to put distance between themselves and Israel.

I have read reports recently of the Shiite population in Southern Lebanon beginning to disperse as well. It was played in the reports as if Hezbollah was trying to stop it, but that might be "make believe". Hezbollah might well be intentionally dispersing the population.
Posted by: crosspatch at January 26, 2010 10:41 pm
...but in my view the major problem Israel had in the last war is that they initially intended to go in on the ground and clean out the HA strongholds in the south but got stopped by unexpected levels of resistance. They then turned to aerial bombardment of "strategic targets" in all of Lebanon....

Got that exactly wrong.

In fact it was the opposite. Israel thought (incorrectly as it turned out) that it could stop the rockets by bombardments from the air and took its sweet time before deciding to go in with ground troops, which is what eventually happened in about the third week of the campaign.

In the two final weeks (weeks three and four), progress was made in spite of stiff resistance, and some units made it up to the area of the Litani River.
Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 26, 2010 11:58 pm
Ah yes, the nuance peddlars.

When it comes to the destruction of Israel, Hezbullah, Iran, and Hamas (and the PA, though by different means) are all on the same page.

But keep on stroking those chins....
Posted by: Barry Meislin at January 27, 2010 12:56 am
A more general, admittedly loosely formed thought here; doesn't it ultimately boil down to strength and weakness, the former triggering respect, the latter exploitation? If "Enough." has the teeth of courageous, demonstrated resolve, molecules can be moved that may have been stagnant for generations. What discourages me so much today is the cheapening of rhetoric to the point of insignificance when it isn't backed up by commensurate action.
Posted by: Paul S. at January 27, 2010 1:10 am
www.donnchacuttriss.blogspot.com
Posted by: Donncha Cuttriss at January 27, 2010 3:24 am
In fact it was the opposite. Israel thought (incorrectly as it turned out) that it could stop the rockets by bombardments from the air and took its sweet time before deciding to go in with ground troops, which is what eventually happened in about the third week of the campaign.

Your recollection is substantially different than mine.
Posted by: Craig at January 27, 2010 8:34 am
clarification, Barry:

Israel thought (incorrectly as it turned out) that it could stop the rockets by bombardments from the air...

And at the same time I recall stories on the news that Israel was only launching ground operations into Lebanon for "rescue operations" to try to relieve several ground units that had been cut off. I remember wondering how those ground units got inside Lebanon to be cut off in the first place, and why they had to be relieved, if Israel wasn't mounting ground ops in Lebanon. As a former infantryman, that sounds to me like the Israelis went in light and aborted their plans when they discovered they were in over their heads.

...and took its sweet time before deciding to go in with ground troops

Israel never did fight aggressively enough on the ground, in my opinion. Which is why HA was able to pull off the "divine victory" claim. A conventional army can never afford to let itself be stopped by irregulars. That looks REALLY bad. Irregulars are supposed to succeed only in wars of attrition.
Posted by: Craig at January 27, 2010 8:59 am
I don't believe the IDF was going to allow itself to be baited into a large scale incursion over roads with pre-positioned IEDs and in towns with buildings pre-rigged with explosives and reinforced fighting positions.

The way I remember it happening at the time, it seemed to me that they were doing quick in/out strikes and seemed to want to avoid long-term exposure to a hostile population. This seems to have thwarted one of Hezbollah's strategies.

If I were to plan an operation that took ground forces into Lebanon from Israel, I would probably go in "engineer heavy" and try to cut entirely new lines of communication and avoid the established roads/villages/bridges/chokepoints.
Posted by: crosspatch at January 27, 2010 9:34 am
Yes, I agree with your analysis, crosspatch. However, Israel's stated goal for that war was to dismantle Hezbollah. Somebody screwed up bigtime if they thought they could dismantle Hezbollah by avoiding Hezbollah strongholds. That's a bit counter-intuitive. Bypassing enemy strongholds and hitting enemy weak spots is usually a sound tactic but not when your one and only objective is to take out enemy forces. The statements out of Israel that MJT talks about here remind me of the same wrong-thinking that when into the 2006 war. How does threatening to take the war to all of Lebanon harm HA? Somebody needs to rethink either what it is they are trying to accomplish, or come up with a more realistic game plan.
Posted by: Craig at January 27, 2010 1:39 pm
"However, Israel's stated goal for that war was to dismantle Hezbollah."

I don't believe those were the exact words. The words were something closer to Hezbollah would no longer be a threat to Israel. What changed things was the UN saying they would put boots on the ground and act as a buffer / inspection force to prevent Hezbollah from breaching the peace.

The trouble is that the UN is pretty ineffective at everything it tries to do and if you look at my previous comment, actually being a physical threat to Israel is probably not really part of the overall strategy so much as it is for Hezbollah to claim Israel after her destruction even if Iran is a smoking hole in the ground.

Witness yesterday's comments from the Supreme Leader:


TEHRAN (FNA)- Supreme Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said that the region would soon witness annihilation of the Zionist regime, stressing that Muslim countries can make such a happening even more imminent.

"Certainly, the regional countries will witness the annihilation of the Zionist regime one day and its proximity in terms of time depends on the function of the Islamic countries and Muslim nations," Ayatollah Khamenei said in a meeting with Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz on Wednesday.


"annihilation" is a pretty strong word and Hezbollah surely doesn't have the ability to do that.
Posted by: crosspatch at January 28, 2010 8:34 am
My question is directed towards the right of center people here. If radical Islam is such a global threat, then why have there been no attacks in Taiwan and Japan?
Posted by: Lindsey Abelard at January 30, 2010 2:11 pm
Lindsey,

There haven't been any attacks in Iowa either (the heartland of the Great Satan), although I'm not convinced that's significant considering that there have been attacks in North America, South America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, South Asia, Southeast Asia, North Africa, and Sub-Saharan Africa--in other words, most regions of the world where human beings live.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 30, 2010 2:32 pm
Yes, but the rising East Asian economies of China, Taiwan, and Korea, as well as the stagnant but very large economy of Japan have to figure into the minds of the jihadis. Perhaps you are correct that they are all focused on us and that they will turn their attention to East Asia when they have "done us in". However, I find this argument weak. I think the reason for the terrorism is because of our interventionist foreign policy in the region. The Japanese, Taiwanese, and other East Asians do not stick their noses in the affairs of middle-easterners. They just trade with them and be done with that.

Do consider that Al Quida and some of the other Islamic groups are actually creations of the CIA. They were created and funded by the CIA to combat Soviet Communism (remember that?). Even the Taliban was largely assisted by the CIA in their takeover of Afghanistan in the mid 90's. Why you ask? Because we wanted to build a pipeline from the Caspian Sea to the Indian Ocean through Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much of the much ballyhooed Islamic jihad movement is actually a CIA creation that got out of hand. I largely agree with Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan's arguments that much of the terrorist problem is simply blow-back from our past activities in this region of the world.

The other reason why I do not believe much of this issue of Islamic terrorism is because the people promoting this fear also use it to justify and promote an illiberal (the Lockean sense of liberalism) domestic social agenda (like banning abortion, regulating our sex lives, etc.) that has nothing to do with combating this threat if it really existed. If the neocons want to convince us of this threat, then need to stop promulgating social conservative crappola and focus on dealing with the threat of Islamism, free of any connections to unrelated domestic politics. Until then, I see no reason to believe them. After all, we did beat the threat of Soviet Communism and its 30,000 nuclear warheads aimed at us without having to give up out personal liberties, sexual and otherwise, at all. I see no reason why we should have to give up any measure of our social life freedoms to combat Islamism, assuming that it was a real threat to us.

Personally, I'm with Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan on this one. I think the threat of Islamism, which doe not exist, has been hyped up for political reasons. I think a lot of people make money from the interventionist foreign policy (military establishment, defense contractors, etc.) and that this is the real purpose for our interventionist foreign policy. Its nothing more than a gravy train.
Posted by: Lindsey Abelard at January 30, 2010 4:55 pm
Lindsey: Do consider that Al Quida and some of the other Islamic groups are actually creations of the CIA.

That's complete crap, and if you don't know even the most basic historical details -- that the Taliban is the creation of Pakistan's ISI -- then we have nothing to talk about.

the people promoting this fear also use it to justify and promote an illiberal (the Lockean sense of liberalism) domestic social agenda (like banning abortion, regulating our sex lives, etc.) that has nothing to do with combating this threat if it really existed.

Are you fucking kidding me?

I think the threat of Islamism, which does not exist, has been hyped up for political reasons.

Here's your homework assignment: figure out why Al Qaeda is at war with a billion Hindus in India, and why Al Qaeda in Iraq massacred thousands of Shias with car bombs.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 30, 2010 5:24 pm
Michael,

You are wrong, not I. Al Quida was created by the CIA in 1979 as a guerrilla force to combat the Soviets in Afghanistan. Yes, the Taliban was started by Pakistan's ISI. However, the CIA fully supported their take over of Afghanistan in order to provide a stable government so that the pipeline could be built without having to deal with Iran or to have it go West to the Black Sea.

...the people promoting this fear also use it to justify and promote an illiberal (the Lockean sense of liberalism) domestic social agenda (like banning abortion, regulating our sex lives, etc.) that has nothing to do with combating this threat if it really existed.

Are you fucking kidding me?

Now your the one being rude and impulsive. Of course, its your blog and that's your right. In any case, I do stand by my previous comments here. Notable neocons such as Diane West and Dinesh D'souza are those that link the so-called threat of Islamism to the promulgation of the illiberal domestic social agenda. If these people really did believe that the threat was genuine, they would not be trying to use it as a pretense to promote illiberal domestic social agenda. As soon as they stop doing this, we might take them seriously. Until then, they are nothing but frauds.

I think Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan are right. This whole thing is cooked up to justify the same gravy train (military establishment, spy agencies, and defense contract industry) that has been a plague on our economy for decades. It was Eisenhower who first warned us about this gravy train and he was absolutely right.

This whole jihadi threat is as much a fabrication of the political right as global warming is a fabrication of the liberal-left. Both of these are frauds to bamboozle the American people into providing money for various special interest groups and to restrict both our social and economic freedoms.
Posted by: Lindsey Abelard at January 30, 2010 6:33 pm
Lindsey,

Al Qaeda was founded in 1988, not in 1979. Osama bin Laden and a few of his friends also went to Afghanistan as freelance guerrillas, but they were not working with the CIA, and it would be nine more years before Al Qaeda was founded.

Diana West and Dinesh D'souza are not neocons, nor do I take either one of them seriously.

I do not wish to ban abortion or regulate anyone's sex life.

If you think the so-called "jihadi threat" is a "fabrication," what do you think happened on September 11?

And why did Barack Obama, who obviously does not wish to ban abortion or regulate anyone's sex life, just escalate the war in Afghanistan?
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 30, 2010 6:42 pm
Here is a map of the location of 16 recent Al Qaeda attacks. They are all over the world, from North American to Southeast Asia.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 30, 2010 6:45 pm
If the neocons want us to take them seriously, they need to completely disavow any connection, whatsoever, with the social conservatives. Indeed, they should be courting and seeking alliance with socially liberal types such as myself.

The social conservative movement in the U.S. is a form of bigotry, plain and simple. Is there any reason to assume that if I were to be gay or a trans-gender, that I would be any less economically productive or any less a loyal member of the U.S. than if I were straight? Of course not. It is irrational to believe otherwise. Yet, this is what the social conservatives claim. It is bigotry to believe this. Social conservatism is a pathologically sick, mentally twisted worldview that has no legitimacy whatsoever in a modern technological society.

If the jihadi threat is real, they need to stop associating with the social conservative bigots and instead make clear the threat it represents to anyone who lives a life that is not compatible with Islamic life-style. They also need to come up with a convincing roadmap with believable milestones that they can present to the U.S. electorate to convince us to support. It is plainly obvious that I despise the social conservatives here at home. I have no problem with killing the same kind of people (the Islamists you keep warning me about) internationally. If the neocons presented themselves as the defenders of the liberties that we so enjoy and stop associating with the domestic political factions that question those liberties, they just might find that their message gets far better traction than it does now.
Posted by: Lindsey Abelard at January 30, 2010 7:08 pm
Lindsey, national security has nothing to do with domestic gay or abortion rights. You aren't going to get anywhere by lumping them together like this. (For what it's worth, I support both abortion rights and gay marriage.)

Anyway, if it makes you feel any better, most neoconservatives began their political lives on the left and tend to be more socially liberal than others who are right-of-center.

The "neo" prefix means "new," as you surely must know. The phrase "neo-" or "new conservative" was coined to describe left-of-center Democrats in the 1970s who broke with their party over questions of national security.

Social conservatives are an entirely separate group of people, as are paleoconservative bigots like Pat Buchanan.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 30, 2010 7:18 pm
Lindsey, national security has nothing to do with domestic gay or abortion rights. You aren't going to get anywhere by lumping them together like this. (For what it's worth, I support both abortion rights and gay marriage.)

I'm not the one who lumps national security with domestic social issues. It is some of the right leaning neocons that do this. They need to stop doing this. I am aware that many neo-cons originally came from the democrat side. I am economically conservative, but socially liberal. I guess I got overly excited about this. It just that I utterly despise the social conservatives. I just think social conservatism is newly repackaged bigotry. Their positions have absolutely no validity at all and I cannot understand for the life of me why they even exist.

Anyways, back to the issues of jihadism.
Posted by: Lindsey Abelard at January 30, 2010 7:36 pm
I think that the neocons need to come out and say that the social conservatives are the American equivalent of the Taliban and that their views have no legitimacy in a modern civilization such as ours. Such a disavow of any connection, whatsoever, with the social conservatives is essential for attracting liberal support on the war against Islamism. They need be straight forward in stating that Islamism is a direct threat to sexual and social liberty and they intend to help us protect these liberties.

I think once we successfully deal with the threat of Islamism, we then need to deal with the threat of Christian fundamentalism as well. Any form of religious fundamentalism is a threat to our civil liberties.

BTW, I enjoyed your interview with Christopher Hitchens. I think his views on religion, in general, are 100% spot on. I agree with them 100%. I believe that people have the right to believe in any religion they choose. However, the idea that religion is necessary for society as a whole is just plain silly.
Posted by: Lindsey Abelard at January 30, 2010 11:17 pm
Good grief, Lindsey, social conservatives aren't even in the same time zone as the Taliban. Every culture in the world has social liberals, moderates, and conservatives.

The Taliban are none-of-the-above. They are mass-murdering fascists.
Posted by: Michael J. Totten at January 30, 2010 11:31 pm
I had a thought about this. It seems to me that Islamism (Salafi and Wahhabi Islam) is really Arab imperialism. There are a great many non-Arab ethnic groups in the middle-east that may be amenable to this meme. If they can be convinced of this, they could become allies in the fight against Islamism. Same thing with the Malays in Malaysia and Indonesia. Why would these people want to suck up to Arab imperialism and more than any other kind of imperialism?
Posted by: Lindsey Abelard at January 31, 2010 2:26 pm
Post a comment

Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Read my blog on Kindle









Sponsored Links

Buy a used boat

Shanghai Hotels

Yachts for sale


Recommended Reading