January 15, 2010

Let Them Be

I know this is going to sound harsh and unfeeling but we ought to leave failed states alone to stew in their own self-imposed cruelties. It is, in the end, up to their own citizens to either put up or shut up.

I really thought Obama was going to usher in a new era and stop trying to cure those sick parts of the world that do not want to be healed. But it seems his arms dealers, his scaremongers, his political allies and supporters all have a vested interest in keeping armed forces overseas, sending young men and women to their pointless deaths, and throwing away vast sums of money that could better be used improving the fabric of society and infrastructure at home. I remember in my youth the arguments for staying in Vietnam. There was the domino theory that all of Asia would collapse into Communism. The line had to be drawn. Failed states would present a danger to the USA and World Peace. And they all proved to be false.

If you cannot tend to everyone else's garden, at least you can make sure yours grows properly. And if you put all your energy and resources into trying to help someone who hates gardening to spend time weeding, you will inevitably fail. Have we not yet learnt that no matter how benevolent an occupier is, an occupier is a resented alien who will never be accepted?

I remember vividly the 1967 war in which Israel ejected the Jordanians from the West Bank they had illegally occupied in1948 (though no one in the UN seemed to mind if it was Arab occupying Arab). The Palestinians threw roses at the Israeli tanks as they passed through the villages, so hated were the Jordanians. Unbelievably, the victors simply refused to learn from what their own eyes were telling them--that any occupier comes to be hated, and certainly one who tries to subjugate and disenfranchise. About the only thing to be said in favor of Russia this last century was that she actually did give up on Afghanistan and get out.

So I say cut your losses and get out. Occupation does not work.

Will a failed state become a haven for Al Qaeda terrorists? So isolate that state. Track those who come and go, rather than try to change it from the outside. Any attempt from the outside will be regarded as a crusade, imperialism, or an American Zionist plot. It will only reinforce blind fundamentalism.

In Iraq, the US ended up in league with the very Sunnis it initially booted out of power. The Taliban rulers were ejected from Afghanistan. Yet most analysts now think the only chance of any kind of success is by making a deal with the new Taliban. Meanwhile, they and Al Qaeda are protected within Pakistani territory, because its own political and military system is riddled with fundamentalists and it is a nearly failed state with an already tested nuclear bomb. Look at all the failed states harboring Al Qaeda or other dangerous potential terrorists. Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. And in the case of Somalia the US left with its tail between its legs. The world cannot even deal with Somali pirates.

There is a mindset amongst many moderate Muslims that only outside intervention can rescue then from the oppressive Muslim regimes they live under. That is why it is argued that the USA should reach out to and support moderates in Iran or Saudi Arabia. Not that she will be thanked. Only when a sufficient number of oppressed citizens within a country feel so strongly about it that they are prepared to rebel can there be any hope of regime change. That, for example, is precisely what happened in Honduras, and in time it will happen in Venezuela too. Hopefully Zimbabwe as well. They are not as toxic as Iran and North Korea--two virtual nuclear powers. Yet no one I have heard is arguing that the USA should invade them.

In Iran the oppressive regime murders, tortures, and rapes its own people. That’s the way in the East. No one is making a fuss of Christians killed in Egypt or Malaysia. Who cares if in Abu Dhabi a royal prince gets off scot-free after torturing and maiming another Muslim. We don't expect justice or freedom in such places. Shall we invade them too?

Thanks to China's refusal to countenance any interference in the internal affairs of regimes, there is no way to impose universal sanctions or effective restrictions. Free countries have no alternative other than to rely on their own methods of self-protection.

As for locally born terror, stop pretending it is exceptional. Political correctness and appeasement will not protect anyone. Britain still refuses to acknowledge that its universities are centers of recruitment for aggressive Islam, something students have been telling anyone who would listen for years.

America's decision to require stricter security for visitors from certain Muslim states which harbor terror has been attacked both by American Muslims and Civil Rights campaigners. I hope the USA stands firm (I know Europe won't). I do feel very sorry for innocent peace-loving Muslims who suffer as a result. But they have it in their own hands either to help change regimes or bring the pressure to bear on those Muslims who give Islam a bad name.

8 Comments:

At 3:13 AM , Anonymous Leila said...

Mostly, I agree with you, Jeremy. The only niggle I have is that failed states with nuclear bombs are going to give/sell that technology to insurgents and terrorists. How do we combat that?

 
At 10:23 AM , Blogger leosch said...

Yes, what you suggest could work but only inside a new framework.

Instead of invasion and occupation, there has to be diplomatic and economic isolation and punishment for any aggression.

A decision has to be made to actively support in every way, democratically oriented opposition to any dictatorship.

And any aggression from any country should lead to attacks (from a safe distance) on the leaders of that country (at the moment, that is illegal).

Then it might just work, but there is still the niggly point made by Leila?

 
At 11:00 AM , Blogger Rabbi Jeremy Rosen said...

Leila:
Yes, I agree it's a concern. Both Pakistan and North Korea have tried this with varying success, but new international cooperation between the US, China, and Russia on this issue is proving effective. So far. But then rogues are always a danger. Nothing's 100% safe and we require eternal vigilance and effective intelligence. I'd rather see money spent there.
J

 
At 6:54 PM , Anonymous Derek said...

But what about genocidal states like Sudan and Congo-surely you can't be suggesting we do nothing there?

 
At 7:36 PM , Blogger Rabbi Jeremy Rosen said...

Derek:

Zimbabwe too!

Sadly, there is no intervention because China and Russia block intervention and in the Congo restrict UN proactivity. And look at Rwanda.

I actually believe the UN, if it is to be anything more than a farce, OUGHT to intervene to protect people from evil rulers, but until there is agreement from third world nationt, etc., there's no chance.

J

 
At 9:05 PM , Blogger Rabbi Jeremy Rosen said...

leosch:
Sadly, there is no way the UN International community can ever agree on anything substantial. And therefore it must be left up to individual sytates to protect themselves where possible (Hobbes). This doctrine leads to one of necessary alliances. The trouble is, weaker allies resent the power of stronger ones (EU). Frankly, I put my money on the USA even if she has so far failed to get her act together sufficiently. Despite repeated errors and internal political divisions onn balance the USA gets it more right than wrong.
J

 
At 10:32 PM , Blogger Jack Cohen said...

Yes, but whereas Jordan's occupation of the so-called West Bank was illegitimate, that of Israel's is legitimate, since it haslegitimate claim to that territory. Whether or not Israel chooses to give up part of that land to a Palestianin State depends on the results of negotiations.

 
At 7:08 PM , Blogger Rabbi Jeremy Rosen said...

Jack Cohen:
You might be right in theory, but just try to find me one governmental or legal international body that agrees with you.
J

 

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