Saturday, November 03, 2007

Hell in a Handbasket

Because Darfur isn't enough, you know?

- Christians are under attack in Gaza. I can't say I'm surprised; you don't hear Hamas and think ecumenical. Incidentally, I wonder who the Palestinian Christians tend to support politically? Are they pro PLO? Or maybe some of the smaller third parties? And I must confess I don't know much about their stance vis-a-vis Jihad against Israel. My recollection is that almost no Christians have been involved in attacks during the past Intifada, but there might have been a couple. Also, I was under the impression that most Palestinian Christians lived in Bethlehem, but apparently there are still some in Gaza and, of all places, Ramallah.

- Yet another religious/ethnic group in Iraq is being massacred. Ever heard of the Mandeans? I think I have once before, that's about it. I've recently finished reading S.Y. Ansky's Enemy at his Pleasure about the Soviet-Ukranian wars of the 1920s and all the people- especially Jews- caught in the middle. Much like the Marsh Arabs and Assyrian/Chaldeans, Mandeans are stuck in the same position; neither Sunni nor Shiite, just screwed.

- Pakistan is self-destructing. A necessary step to keep control over Islamists? Or just the latest in Pervey's attempt to hold on to power? Maybe both?

- Hugo Chavez is pushing ahead to make himself President-for-Life. Never let a little thing like massive protests harsh your buzz, I always say.

- Burma is still a hellhole. Nuff said.

- I for one am getting a bit annoyed at Turkey. I'm not a fan of the PKK (I hadn't heard of them until last week), but Turkey, it's not like your shit don't stink. Kudos to Maliki for saying that he's willing to work with the Turks to clamp down on the PKK, because God knows we can't do it. Incidentally, I'd feel a lot more confident if Maliki had a better track record on, say, doing anything he promises to do.

- Speaking of broken promises, remember that whole Taliban thing? Yeah. So glad we finished that job. Oh, and way to go on finishing that war on drugs thing. Two birds with one stone.

- The Mukasey water boarding thing. I'm stuck somewhere between this and this.

Looking at the state of the world, I feel like now is the time to ruminate on Sultan Knish's post earlier in the week about how Americans (specifically Conservatives) should respond to the fact that some of the strongest anti-Jihad voices in Europe happen to be, well, neo-Nazis. Here is the first of three posts on the subject, in which he points out some very bitter truths:

In the United States... the part of the Conservative Culture movement that tended to add the "White" part and threw in doses of explicit bigotry and either openly sympathized with the Nazis or penned apologetics for them, were the paleoconservatives who split from the Republican party. Figures like Pat Buchanan, Joseph Sobran, Scott McConnell and Taki Theodopolus formed a splinter group that went on the attack against the Republican party and formed the right wing of the Anti-war movement. Unlike the Christian Conservatives who represent the Conservative Culture movement today, these are more likely to be Catholic and to be enraged against America in a way that reaches nearly Westboro Church proportions.

In Europe the divisions aren't anywhere as neat because in Europe the war against Islam is a domestic cultural affair. The reality is that despite the insidious penetration of the Koran and Islamization into public schools, it will be decades before this is a real cultural threat to any significant number of Americans. By contrast in Europe it is a threat today. In America the resistance to Islam is primarily a struggle abroad. In Europe it is a domestic cultural war, rather than a foreign one. That is why European Anti-Islamic movements are much less likely to be involved in a foreign War on Terror and much more interested in a cultural war against the Islamization of their countries.

Where domestically white power groups continue to view Blacks, Jews and other minorities as the real threat, while paleoconservatives focus on liberals, atheists, big government and of course the Jews-- in Europe, paleoconservatives and white power groups generally (with exceptions like LePen) have focused on a campaign against Muslims.

In American, both conservatives and the Patriotic Movement have the luxury of being able to avoid the white power and the more bigoted fringes of the right, mainly because the right and the white power movement want nothing to do with them anyway. At the moment they're on the side of Islamic terrorism. That makes things a lot easier.

European movements don't have that convenience and as the experience with Ron Paul supporters should be telling Republicans, the far right is good at infiltrating organizations and movements. If you think getting rid of Ron Paul supporters is tough, try the real European variety. It's one reason for some of this controversy.

But the more practical reality is that in Europe, Christian Conservatives are not multi-racial the way their American counterparts may be. They want a version of Europe that predates the wave of post-war immigrants and in which other races know their place. And yes that often includes Jews too.

American Conservatives have increasingly created a 'big tent' of sorts that at least admits other races and gives Jews a limited place at the table. But American Conservatives were a lot closer to European Conservatives a century ago. Some like the Buchanan and Sobran crowd still are.

What does all this mean? In practice a lot of the European conservative movement is going to be racist by our standards. The people most likely to want to do something in European countries, particularly states like Sweden or Belgium where real opposition is all but illegal in some ways, are going to be people on the right.

We can't dictate to the European movements who they're going to put forward, from a purely practical standpoint. It doesn't really matter what we tell them anyway. By exposing some of the far right roots in a Vlaams Belang we're not reforming them, we're just joining the choir of their existing critics. European anti-islamization movements in the end will have to define themselves and inevitably a proportion or even more than a proportion of their membership will be racist. Some even Neo-Nazi. This is unsurprising because the Nazis tapped into the nationalist and conservative movements of many European countries. Where the American Far Right has become anti-nationalist with Ron Paul as their figurehead, the European Far Right remains nationalist.

The reality is that wars are not won by carefully selecting your allies for ideological purity. In WW2 we allied with Stalin. Our mistake was not in an alliance with Stalin, our mistake was that in allying with him, we insisted on pretending that he was something other than what he was. That made it easier for him to stick the knife in our back.

In the long term, a Muslim takeover of Europe is far more likely than a far right takeover of Europe. The far right does not have the numbers or the demographics on their side and we can't fight both Hitler and Stalin at the same time. We have to pick one and ally with the other. The grave threat to us, as Americans and Jews on a global scale, comes from Islam, not from the far right. The sporadic bursts of violence by the far right are of concern to Jews still living in European countries but France's meltdown alone should be a lesson in where the real threat lies.

We are facing a global war against Islam and we have to back anyone willing to fight them, Christians, Atheists, Hindus, Communists, Fascists, Satanists, Democrats.

...You deal with the people who are out there. You fight the Nazis by backing the Communists. You fight the Communists by backing the Islamists and you fight the Islamists by backing anyone willing to fight them. It's not pretty and as any idiot can tell you, it has consequences. But that's war. Wars don't end neatly. There's always a price to pay for them down the road. There's no such thing as a free lunch, just a battle worth winning.

On the one hand I understand real-politik. On the other hand, I have a really serious problem with the premise that the enemy of my enemy is necessarily my friend, regardless of any evidence suggesting that he's basically just as big of a douchebag. It's disconcerting that a great many numbers of hot spots around the world seem to at least partially be due to American (or, before them, European) attempts to divide and conquer, to support the seemingly better option over another, who then turned out to basically be a bastard, too. Most of South and Central America, along with the Middle East, shows this story. Time after time we supported ruthless dictators as long as they were anti-Soviet. I'm not saying Soviet puppet states were great, either. But how can you look at a guy like Pinochet or Marcos, or freaking Saddam or the Shah (or the Mujehadin) and say, "Job well done?" I understand the desire to both improve the world as well as manipulate affairs for our own benefit- after all, the three rising superpowers Russia, China and India aren't likely to give a shit about helping us out. And I want to resist the conclusion that maybe part of the reason places like Iraq and Afghanistan still want to butcher each other is because they aren't ready for democracy yet (not that this helps us, or them, much). What do you do when all the options are bad? What do you do when your choices are Taliban warlords or the other warlords? Is America better off having less allies and more principles (hooray for us being buddies with Turkey and Egypt, supposedly moderate Muslim states; too bad their human rights records are atrocious)?

As America looks like it may be losing its influence, how do we hang on to our dignity? To our moral, if not physical, power? Is it foolish to throw away our moral credibility to try to sustain our empire for another few decades? Or vice-versa, to sacrifice strategic advantages, whether economically or security-wise, to gain an illusory moral high ground?

I just don't know. But saying that we should always go with Stalin because at least he's not Hitler... I don't know if I can accept that. I don't know if I can respect that. And I don't think a lot of other people can, either. Isn't part of the problem with America's image abroad the perception that our foreign policy has nothing to do with principles and everything to do with advantage? We're basically strategy and business whores. It would be one thing if we were honest about it, but it kills me that we still wrap ourselves in "freedom for all" horsecrap. That's what I find offensive. Pure and ruthless utilitarian pragmatism makes me ill but at least it's honest (and in some ways, a lot less annoying). But of course, if we came out and said that, you'd have a lot fewer people enlisting in the military (to say nothing of the other advantages you get in international politics via the wonders of spin and advertising).

Sometimes maybe it's better to stand alone and take the disadvantages and risks that come with that in exchange for being able to truly stand by your conscience and principles, to hold our heads high and say that no, we don't partner with brutal dictators, even if they're supposedly the "good kind." Sorry Pakistan, sorry Egypt, sorry Saudis. Sorry China, sorry Belarus. How about some elections, Jordan? Get your shit together Russia. Cut that shit out, India.

And, call me an optimist (that'd be a first), but maybe we also need to give the rest of the West a little more credit. Perhaps part of the reason our perception is that everybody else intends to lie down and submit to the terrorists is that America has been at center-stage for so long. Before America started being a big mucky-muck, I doubt that England or any of the European powers thought we were capable or even interested of taking care of business. We laugh at supposed idealists in Scandinavia and Europe, but if some of the weight of the world was falling on their shoulders, they might be more realistic- AND might have some positive influences of their own on helping the West deal with its own problems, as well as with addressing global issues, including Islamic terrorism.

Maybe we'd be better off having a different standard of who we choose to ally with. It would be a lot lonelier, but we might gain something else in return.

Or maybe we'll all get blown up by suicide bombers. Still better than living in Burma.

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