Wednesday, May 25, 2011
Scarecrow Empires and Broken Alliances
Prime Minister Netanyahu's address to congress was less about the contents of his speech and more about the familiarity. Like Tony Blair, he was startlingly at home here. His presence an instinctive reminder of an alliance based on commonality and fellowship, weighed against the realpolitik of multinationalism. The warmth in his tone countering the cold counsel of foreign policy hands demanding more pressure.
The chilly reception that Gordon Brown and Benjamin Netanyahu received on their visits from the Obama Administration are post-modern fracture points in the old friendships. The instinctive kinship that Blair and Netanyahu called on are completely alien to Obama who feels far more warmth toward Egypt or Indonesia, than England and Israel. But Obama's foreignness to the old traditions is only a small fracture point in the larger break. The US and EU have become empires without an empire, obsessively trying to maintain a world order based on multinational alliances and international law. The transition of Russia and China to capitalist states has eliminated any need for the order as a counterweight to Communism. Instead through such organizations as the United Nations, where the majority vote means global mob rule, the blade of the order is turning against the alliance of nations that founded it.
The obsession with creating a Palestinian Arab state, in a region already chock full of Sunni Arab states, is not about peace with Israel. It's about pacifying restive Muslim populations around the world and inside Europe. The countries that are most bent on breaking up Israel, have sizable Muslim minorities, business interests in the Middle East and concerns about terrorism.
The British Empire went full circle from endorsing a Jewish state, to fighting against it tooth and nail, even using its own commanders as mercenaries on the Arab side. The reasoning was the same then as it is now. Maintaining British influence in the region would be easier without having a Jewish state there to upset the Dar Al Islam.
Every Western foreign policy apparatus is dominated by the same view, that to consolidate and stabilize the Middle East, the 'one problem country' in the region must go. Or at least be diminished. Kissinger demanded that Israel lose a war to the Arabs in order to boost their self-esteem. Then Carter demanded that Israel give up the land in exchange for a treaty that the current Egyptian government has torn up. Since then presidents have pushed Israel to create a Palestinian Muslim state. Now that it has been all but created, more concessions are being demanded. And when the negotiations inevitably fail-- Israel is held to blame.
Very little of this has to do with 'peace' in the popular understanding. There are global conflicts going on all the time. Most of them far bloodier than anything in Gaza or the West Bank. These conflicts rarely make it to the front pages of newspapers or lead to boycotts and protests. Compared to the actions of Indonesia or Turkey-- nothing that goes on in Israel should get this level of attention. That it does is really not about Israel. It's about the Muslim world.
The global hegemony needs regional stability, even as it has less ability to enforce it. Armed assaults to remove governments in Iraq and Libya have stretched the resources of the US and the EU. And such nation building projects have been shown to be futile. The current push for digital democracy is even more hopeless, rewarding insurgent factions at the expense of established governments, without breaking the cycle of violence and tyranny in any way.
The US and the EU can't force the Muslim world to behave itself. Instead they pursue stability the mirage of regional stability by doing their bidding. Cracking the whip over Israel is cheap. All it requires is political and economic pressure on a single country. Which is a lot easier than applying pressure to the 57 Muslim states of the OIC to rein in terrorism and give their people a better life. Given a choice between untying the Islamic knot or chopping up Israel, the choice is simple enough.
The same worldview that demands Israel partition itself, also calls for a Ground Zero Mosque, enforced Ramadan fasting for non-Muslims and a thousand other 'accommodations' all in the name of peace. Sooner or later we will ban burning the Koran, not because there's any Constitutional basis, but because we're still trying to keep all the pieces of a sprawling angry world together. And individual freedoms and alliances don't matter in the face of that urgent chaos.
While Netanyahu came to Washington D.C. to remind Americans of friendship-- that friendship is mostly unwanted here except around election time. American and European leaders have been focused on reaching out to the Muslim world and convincing them that we are their friends. And that they should be our friends. This pathetic show of appeasement is an attempt to build links and avoid the inevitable conflict with an ascendant Islam. Even though such a Clash of Civilizations remains unavoidable.
The US and EU, without their old military and economic might at their disposal, are falling back on the goodwill of the Muslim world. Pity the Muslim world doesn't have much of that. The entire farce of Pakistani cooperation in the War on Terror fell apart in a single day. It might just as easily have been Saudi cooperation or that of half a dozen other Muslim states. None of them are committed to fighting terrorism beyond the point where it threatens them.
While the Western multinational alliance dreams of a stable world order, the Muslim world knows that stability is an illusion. That violence is constantly present and has to be directed and channeled. The paradoxical relationship between Muslim governments and Muslim terrorists is defined by this need of regimes to channel the violence away from themselves. It's a Push-Pull relationship as governments offer limited support for the terrorists to carry on their war somewhere else, while the terrorists pull back home to overthrow the government. The closest Muslim countries can come to stability is to maintain a balance of terror between all the internal factions. And that balance can only be met through ruthless repression or international terrorism.
The view of Israel as a disruptive force in the region has always been wrong. It has actually helped stabilize its enemies by giving them an outlet for their violence. This is a role that Jews have played for thousands of years as regional minorities. Whipping boys in popular uprisings and political instability. That is the role that Israel now plays for both the Muslim world and the West. But the whipping boy is a proxy for abuse. Beating him is a way to avoid dealing with the real problem. The Muslim world remains incapable of dealing with its problems. And Western political elites continue to live in denial about their own dream of a united world order.
But the foreign policy model of the US and the EU focuses on creating stability by removing destabilizing forces. But their attempts to damage Israel and remove Arab dictators actually bleeds away whatever regional stability existed, and replaces it with chaos. That is an apt description of the aftereffects of such experiments in Cairo, Baghdad or the Palestinian Authority. The US and EU cannot stabilize the Muslim world. They can only destabilize it further.
American politicians may talk the pro-Israel talk when running for office, but once they get elected, they find themselves walking in the pro-Islamic direction of a foreign policy establishment which blames Israel for disrupting the prospects for peace, radicalizing Muslim populations and impeding an East-West alliance. But this view is not only false, it's based on an unnecessary need to maintain a global order.
The end of the Cold War means that there is no longer a practical need for this scarecrow empire that the US and EU foreign policy establishments insist on maintaining. If the UN and the IMF and the rest of the tawdry bureaucracy wants to maintain a global order based on greed and mob rule, they're welcome to it. But there is no need for the United States or England or Germany to provide them with the backing to do it. The fiction of international law has unraveled a long time ago. Human rights exist only in countries where they are enforced by local laws, not international ones.
Communism could be checkmated by an international alliance, but no international alliance that includes Muslim countries and their enablers can checkmate Islam. They certainly can't checkmate that boojum known as radical Islam, which is an expression of political and religious factions within the Muslim world that has always been there and will always be there.
The left insists on shattering the old alliances, but they have nothing to replace them with. Their war on Israel is equally misguided. Their post-American order is already rotten through and through. Like Blair's speech to congress, Netanyahu's address is a reminder of a different road that is being abandoned. Alliances based not on global orders, but on friendship and the fellowship of kin cultures. A warmth that is lacking in the hollow charades of the UN and the endless peacekeeping and aid missions to the hopeless. The vision of a global order is already dead. If such an order emerges it will not be based on liberal values or international law, but on Islam.
It's time to take down the scarecrow empires, forget one world governments and international laws, and rebuild the old alliances once again.