Casuistries of Peace and War

M. Junaid Alam redjaguar at attbi.com
Fri Mar 7 00:48:36 MST 2003


Some of Anderson's points are crudely misleading.


"Terrorism. Al-Qaida is a network bonded by religious fanaticism, in a
faith that calls for holy war by the Muslim world against the United
States. The belief that Allah assures victory to the jihadi is basic to
it. There is therefore no surer way of demoralising and breaking it up
than by demonstrating the vanity of hopes from heaven and the absolute
impossibility of resistance to superior American military force. Nazi
and Japanese imperial fanaticism were snuffed out by the simple fact of
crushing defeat. Al-Qaida is nowhere near their level of strength. Why
should it be different?"

This is nonsensical. Recognition of superior American military force has
always been fundamental to Al-Qaeda's overall tactics. What does an
attack on Iraq illustrate that has not already been illustrated in
Afghanistan, where al-Qaeda was actually based? Terrorist tactics,
fundamentally tactics of weakness and frustration, cannot be snuffed out
by leveling one state.  The analogy with fascism is equally ludicrous,
because Islamic fundamentalism in the broadest sense has a potential
base of 1.2 billion people spread out over the entire world rooted in
1400 years of history and civilization. This is not a case of a 10 year
capitalism-on-steroids stunt based in one country with a standing army.
Annihilating Iraq, as an outspoken FBI agent pointed out recently in the
NYTimes, will only anger and enrage others who will commit acts of
terror.

"Pre-emption. Far from being a novel doctrine, this is a traditional
right of states. What, after all, is the most admired military victory
of the postwar era but a lightning pre-emptive strike? Israel's Six-Day
War of 1967, so far from being cause for condemnation, is actually the
occasion of the modern doctrine of Just and Unjust Wars, as set out by a
distinguished philosopher of the American Left, Michael Walzer, in a
work glowingly evoked by the still more eminent liberal philosopher John
Rawls, in his aptly entitled The Law of Peoples. Indeed in attacking
Iraq, we will be doing no more than completing the vital preventive
strike against the Osirak reactor of 1981. Who now complains about
that?"

A precision military attack against one reactor and military occupation
of one country are hardly equivalent. So far as Israel's 1967 military
success is concerned, the author fails to note that this included
occupying the Gaza Strip and West Bank. We have seen with what results.

"Over-reach. An occupation of Iraq does pose a challenge, which we don't
underestimate. But it is a reasonable wager. Arab hostility is
overrated. After all, there hasn't been a single demonstration of
significance in the whole Middle East during the two years it has taken
Israel to crush the second Intifada, in full view of television cameras,
yet popular sympathy is far greater for the Palestinians than for
Saddam. You also forget that we already have a very successful
protectorate in the northern third of Iraq, where we have knocked
Kurdish heads together pretty effectively. Do you ever hear dire talk
about that? The Sunni centre of the country will certainly be trickier
to manage, but the idea that stable regimes created or guided by foreign
powers are impossible in the Middle East is absurd. Think of the
long-term stability of the monarchy set up by the British in Jordan, or
the very satisfactory little state they created in Kuwait. Indeed, think
of our loyal friend Mubarak in Egypt, which has a much larger urban
population than Iraq. Everyone said Afghanistan was a graveyard for
foreigners - British, Russian and so on - but we liberated it quickly
enough, and now the UN is doing excellent work bringing it back to life.
Why not Iraq? If all goes well, we could reap great benefits - a
strategic platform, an institutional model, and not inconsiderable oil
supplies."

Actually, there have been a number of major recent demonstrations in the
Arab world. Initial reaction this time around really depends on how the
war goes. To say that Arabs sympathize with Palestinians more than
Saddam is to assume that the 3,000 missiles falling in the first 48
hours are all going to fall on Hussein's head. The Afghanistan
liberation has hardly resulted in 'excellent work' from the UN, the
whole project is severely underfunded, with vast rural areas still in
the hands of warlords, and the puppet president being guarded against
constant assassination by American soldiers.

No one will even remember Afghanistan once this new crusade commences.


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