by Hugh Fitzgerald (Nov. 2007)
Winning in Iraq for the Americans (the “Iraqis” are quite another matter) should be defined as a result, or a situation, that weakens the Camp of Islam. Bringing “freedom” to “ordinary moms and dads” in Iraq, hopeless as that effort necessarily is, if that “freedom” is defined as anything like what the advanced Western democracies offer their citizens, and what was created over the centuries by successive generations of the progressively enlightened (their achievements largely under-appreciated, or even ignored, by the current inheritors of that political legacy) is an unattainable and pointless goal, unless it can be demonstrated that such “democracy” necessarily weakens the hold of Islam, politically and socially, on those in thrall to it.
But what would even a cursory glance at Islamic states reveal? It would reveal that those who were best at constraining Islam were despots, enlightened despots, but despots. They include Shah Reza Pahlevi of Iran, who greatly improved the treatment of non-Muslims in Iran, and who tried, fitfully, to emphasize the pre-Islamic past of Iran, so that even his self-celebration at Persepolis, that spectacle in which so many foreigners took part (the English director Peter Brook, I recall, may have been the guest metteur-en-scene), may be less deplored, for its extravagance, today, and seen as one more element in the attempt to excite the popular imagination with that pre-Islamic Persian past.
In Morocco, Mohammad V, as a Sherifian monarch (descendant of the Prophet), and as such did not have to prove his Muslim bonafides, and could afford not to be fervent in his faith. In Tunisia, the hero of the nationalist movement, Habib Bourguia, established his one-party rule — the party being his creation, the determinedly secular Destour Party — and his inheritors run what many do not realize is a police state, but a benign police state that makes Tunisia safe for advanced secular thought. Finally, the most successful of these despots determined to limit the power of Islam is, of course, Ataturk, who put in place a series of measures designed to systematically constrain Islam. His successors found it useful to create a Cult of Personality around Ataturk, and the figure of Ataturk clearly replaces Muhammad just as the cult of “the Turk” replaces, or acts as a brake on, full-throated and therefore dangerous Islam.
All of these cases were ignored by the Bush Administration, for sentimentality about “democracy” is a useful arrow in the quiver of those who are mostly, at home, defenders of privilege. That the Administration was prepared to ignore the demonstrated wishes of the Framers on the role of Congress in war-making, and to continue a war that is opposed by at least 70% of the public, in a runaway-train scenario (with Bush as engineer, stoking the engine, and intimidating Congress, preventing it from stopping him even as the very same misguided war, that in Iraq, prevents Bush from acting, as he should, on the matter of Iran’s nuclear project).
The only result that constitutes “winning” in Iraq is that which will weaken the Camp of Islam. And the only way to obtain that result is to leave promptly. Forget all that stuff that the rulers of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan keep prating about (the oil! the oil!). Of course they want the Americans to stay, and to shore up the Sunnis. Of course many of the Shi’a still want the Americans to stay as long as staying means more tens of billions in aid, and the likelihood that the Americans will leave behind all kinds of military equipment to be inherited by the Shi’a-dominated government of “Iraq.” And of course the Kurds want the Americans to stay as long as possible, because ever since 1991 the Americans have protected the Kurds, and allowed their incipient state, now an autonomous and successful region, to flourish. But what this or that group of Muslims want, for their own obvious purposes, is not what a sensible Administration should want. The interest of the American people should be its only concern.
It should be thinking, everyone should be thinking: how do we weaken the forces of Jihad? How do we halt and reverse the demographic conquest, slow but speeding up, and if nothing is done inexorable, of the countries of Western Europe? How do we constrain the use of the Money Weapon, by Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E., Kuwait, Qatar, and other rich Arab oil states? How do we diminish the amounts available to be used to pay for Muslim propaganda, the buying-up of so many well-placed Western hirelings and apologists, the financing of so many Western academic “centers” like the infamous Esposito operation, the paying for mosques and madrasas everywhere, seen rightly as beachheads of conquest, as signs of increasing dominance, not merely as quiet places of private worship (the Western notion of “religion” does not fit Islam), the funding of lawyers to suppress or threaten or intimidate with lawsuits all who stand in the way of this well-financed Muslim effort, the campaigns of Da’wa that target the psychically and economically marginal, including the literally captive audiences of certain prison populations? All of this has nothing to do with the expensive effort, with its squandering of men, money, materiel, and morale, both civilian and military (for that is plummeting, and the results can be seen in the rates of re-enlistment, and the quality of the officers and men who leave, not to mention the loss of trust between the Army and its civilian soldiers who have been treated so badly, misused with such arrogance and such contempt by those who think they can take whatever advantage can be taken of people who had no idea of what, in joining the National Guard and the Reserves, how badly they would be misused and how indifferent was the Army to that misuse).
And yet here is Iraq, which offers on a platter two of the three great fissures in Islam: the Sectarian (Sunni and Shi’a), and the Ethnic (Arab and Non-Arab Muslim), and yet the Administration lacks the wit, and possibly the necessary intelligent ruthlessness, to see its opportunity and to take it. It need not do a thing for those fissures to grow and grow. It need only stop doing things, stop the squandering, stop the posturing, stop being so confused about Islam and the nature of this war. Yet those who prate about World War IV do not convince by their statements, when they immediately show, in their unshakeable enthusiasm for the war in Iraq, that they have not analyzed the problem, have decided that they will remain Bush loyalists and loyalists of a policy that does not makes sense, and that, if such policy were successful, if somehow Iraq could be held together and made the recipient of another 50 or 100 billion in what is so mistakenly called “reconstruction” aid by the long-suffering, unrepresented American taxpayer, who has no desire to shell out tens of billions for Iraq or other Muslims anywhere, it would do nothing to weaken the Camp of Islam.
The terminal stupidity of the Administration, and of the kagans and kristols who have a personal stake, the stake of careerists, “career conservatives,” in pursuing this madness should now be clear to everyone, not least to those, perhaps especially to those, who are alarmed, and also well-informed, about the nature and permanent menace to Infidels everywhere, of Islam.
Bush and Rice and the Administration’s loyalists in the so-called “conservative media” are not among them. They, you see, have too much at stake, because the size of the mistake that has been made is too colossal for them to own up as to how wrong they have been. They just can’t do it. Their careers, you see. Their lecture fees, you see. Their everything, you see.
The Democrats may have tried desperately to derail the Iraq war but they haven’t tried intelligently, which is a different thing.
What would be the “intelligent” way not to “derail” this war but rather, to slightly vary the metaphor, to stop this runaway train that a vote nearly five years ago permitted the engineer, a naif named Bush aided by other people equally ignorant of Islam and of Iraq, to pull out the throttle of old Engine 99 and start the train in motion that has become a runaway train, that apparently no one can stop?
There are two ways. The first is not to timidly attempt to use the power of the purse, but to openly declare that the continuation of this war, which is opposed by three-quarters of the population in every opinion poll, and was certainly opposed by those who voted in the 2006 election, is simply an unconstitutional violation of the Separation of Powers. It is not the President, who is Commander in Chief, to declare war, and it is not the President who should have the power to continue a war when it has lost the support of three-quarters of the population (at least, for some of the Bush loyalists also think the war folly, but are more consumed with scoring points against “leftists” and “traitors”).
The most convincing summary of the War Powers and the Separation of Powers is by the Library of Congress expert in this area, Louis Fisher, in testimony he gave to Congress in January 2007. It should have been made much of at the time. It is a comprehensive summary, and includes what might be called the legislative intent of the Framers, for Madison, Jefferson, and others are quoted on their view of the War Powers, and who is to possess them, for what purposes. But apparently not everyone attended that hearing, or their aides failed to pass on to them Louis Fisher’s detailed report, and no one — not a single Democratic candidate, for example — discussed Fisher’s analysis. More inattention, more laziness.
And along with that, there is the timidity of the Democrats, their retreat in the face of being threatened as “disloyal” or “appeasers.” But the war in Iraq is a war of appeasement. It is a war based on the notion that Islam itself is no threat, Islam itself can be “appeased” by Western actions, Islam itself only needs a dose of old-fashioned American “democracy” — brought to “ordinary moms and dads” in the Middle East, by the long-suffering American troops, now virtually alone (a few thousand British troops, and a handful of others from small countries, each offering its Pentagon-extracted mite, to allow the Administration to keep talking, crazily, about some “Coalition”) and just as the participation of various countries has helped bring down their otherwise very helpful governments, as with the regime of Aznar (and Gustavo de Aristegui) in Spain, and soon, possibly, the government of Howard in Australia will also fall because it insists on keeping troops in Iraq, and that government, full of people who appear to have a good sense of the menace of Islam, yet has tied its fortunes to the Iraq venture, when Australia too, an important ally, should not be clinging to Bush clinging to Tarbaby Iraq, but should pull back, see that the Iraq venture is pure stubborn folly, and the attainment (impossible in any case) of stated American goals in Iraq would not weaken, but strengthen, the Camp of Islam.
But the Democrats do not attack Bush’s conduct of the “war on terror” in the right way. They do not say it is not intelligent enough, not ruthless enough, not farseeing enough, not based on a desire to exploit pre-existing fissures within the enemy camp. They do not use the word “Jihad.” They do not refer to the ideology of Islam. They do not use the word “dhimmi.” None of the Democratic candidates appear to think they need change the mixture as before, none of them have said that in the last six years it has become necessary to study Islam and the “threat of Jihad” and therefore the need to conduct an “intelligent war of self-defense, world-wide, against all those who are enrolled in the army of Jihad.” (Yes, leave it thus: “enrolled in the army of Jihad.” That will do the trick.)
Furthermore, the resolution about the Armenian genocide was not some kind of clever trick, designed to deliberately cut off supply routes from Turkey. In fact, everyone in Washington was surprised by the behavior of Turkey in March 2003, when it prevented the Americans from entering Iraq with a fourth division from the north. Bush was surprised, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were surprised. No one understood the nature of Turkey as an “ally,” everyone thought Turkey would remain just as stoutly allied, under Erdogan, as it once was, during the Cold War, when Turkey was happy to take part, and be lavishly rewarded for taking part, in a war that could be seen as against not so much against Communism as against Turkey’s historic enemy, Russia. Everyone thought that Turkey could remain unaffected by Islam. But Islam came back, or never really went away, and it is back in Turkey with a vengeance. Those who served as agents of Turkey just a few years ago –Richard Perle for example, who also introduced Erdogan at an A.E.I. event a few years ago, thus helping to legitimate him — knew all about the Russians and Communism, but were old dogs who could not learn new tricks, and never studied Islam comme il faut, never studied the insecure position of Kemalism, and merely assumed that the Turkey they knew, from the kind of Turks they met in the Turkish Defense Ministry in Ankara, represented the “real” Turkey, nor did they realize that even behind that “real” Turkey there was something else, something that still lay in wait for those secularist Turks who assumed they could continue to control things: Islam.
As Youssef Ibrahim wrote in New York Sun, this episode shows us what Turkey is all about. It shows us that the replacement theology of Ataturk (for Muhammad) and of “the Turks” as the best of peoples (replacing the Arabs in Islam), offered a veneer, but that veneer is now peeling off, and the hysterical reaction of the Turkish people and state to this resolution shows just how thin is that “alliance” and of what little use Turkey is now, or can be as a member of NATO, if the new main enemy of NATO — Islam’s Jihad, and all of the instruments of that Jihad (Money Weapon, Da’wa, demographic conquest) — are intelligently recognized, and the ways to render them less potent and dangerous are to be discussed at NATO meetings. This can only be accomplished without Turkey as a member, for it can only inhibit real discussion and planning, and the time for such discussion and planning is now.
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