Saturday, October 30, 2004

Can He Be Serious?

Thomas P.M. Barnett -- self-styled strategic planner -- has reacted to the latest bin Laden tape by posting this:
Not so much a warning as yet another offer of civilizational apartheid. Last spring Osama told Europeans they had 90 days to leave the Middle East or he promised to have all of them still there killed--one by one. This time he sounds a far softer note, in effect telling Americans it doesn't matter who wins the election, there will be no peace until America "respects" the security of Muslim states in the region: "Any state that does not mess with our security, has naturally guaranteed its own security."...

Take Osama's offer, America. In your heart, you know he's right . . . about us. We're a selfish, greedy country, full of guns and self-hating polemicists. We're not built for this long-haul conflict. We just got lucky on the Cold War because it was led by the Greatest Generation. We don't have that leadership now because we don't want that leadership now. Bush is the most polarizing president in anyone's memory, beginning to eclipse Nixon with this campaign. Neither he nor Kerry could ever hope to rule over anything but a severely divided and self-doubting nation after this election.

Take Osama's offer, America. Let the self-healing truly begin.
Is he serious? Perhaps. There's this:

If Kerry wins, it'll be put up or shut up on Iraq, and most European experts expect a booming silence from the Old Continent come 3 November if winner Kerry starts speed-dialing his chums across the pond.

I think the last prognosis is a bit gloomy, reelecting the European tendency to want to weasel out of any difficult job as quickly as possible (but understanding their reticence on this one because it's completely our doing). I don't think Europe stonewalls Kerry because it really would create a backlash--hence the depressive fear of a Kerry win (Mon Dieu! Now we must actually help the Americans!).

Plus, I don't think the price tag the Europeans assume will be so hard for us to meet will actually be that hard to meet. Here's the list from the editor of Die Zeit, the hugely influential German paper:

(1) After Abu Ghraib, we have to promise to the world that we'll be more careful in following the Geneva Conventions [Hell, I'll throw in an apology if they'd like]

(2) That we work to dramatically reduce our own nuclear stockpile at home and not just tell others to stay away from WMD [Wow, that one would be really hard, wouldn't it?]

(3) That we enter into serious discussions on how to fix Kyoto [Easy, get India and China into the treaty]

(4) "a return to a less arrogant tone of conversation" [Again, not exactly stressing]

That's it! That's the entire list to get Europe to come to the aid of the US in Iraq!

Tell me any of those is hard for Kerry, then tell me Bush is capable of making any of them happen.

And this:

...My point is this: the strategic despair is on our side (our troops decry: "My God, there's too many of them to kill, we'll never get the job done!"), when it should be on our opponents' side ("My Allah, there's too many of them to kill, we'll never get the job done!"). So guess who's talking about pullout and who's talking about jacking up the effort?

The only way we effectively jack up the effort is to internationalize the military occupation force dramatically, plussing up our total numbers hugely. That's how we'll create strategic despair on their side: filling our ranks with New Core troops who have a long and bloody history of killing Muslims. We can generate that strategic despair in the minds of the terrorists fielding a team of almost exclusively European-descent countries. We need to change the occidental skin tone of this force and fast. Otherwise the terrorists think all they need do is wait out the Americans just like they waited out the Sovs in Afghanistan.

Any other talk of getting more aggressive in Iraq is complete bullshit. Ask any knowledgeable military officer who's been there: there is no military solution to this situation—only a political one.

The question of this election is—therefore—who will get you that solution fastest and at the lowest cost? A nuanced and deal-cutting Kerry or the steadfast and full-of-certitude Bush?

That may well be the choice between winning and losing in Iraq.
And this:

...Here's the interesting conclusion on foreign policy from these two*: they see the neocons as being a spent force, so the real question for Bush II is who rules the roost: the social conservatives or the anti-gov types?

My point is this: either way it goes, this administration will be sorely restricted in its ability to continue this global war on terrorism. That's why I know Kerry will do better: not just the change in his tone, but the leeway offered within his party.
There's a brilliant, all-knowing "strategic" planner for you. The world and its workings can be explained in glib, assured -- if defeatist -- tones. Barnett must be hoping for a slot in a Kerry administration,** so that he can wave his magic wand and transform the world into a place where Americans are beloved by Euro-snobs and Islamofascists. It's all so easy to do -- just surrender.
* "'Bushism': This president has remade the politics of the right," op-ed by John Micklethwait and Adrian Wooldridge, Wall Street Journal, 27 October 2004, p. A16.

** Or as a script writer for "The West Wing" -- where every problem, no matter how complex or irrelvant to the legitimate functions of government, can be solved in an hour (including commercials) by wise, all-knowing, all-seeing President Bartlett and his merry band of genii.