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Thursday, August 29, 2013

David Brooks, "One Great Big War": Whatcha Talkin Bout, David?

Oh, the Protestants hate the Catholics,
And the Catholics hate the Protestants,
And the Hindus hate the Muslims,
And everybody hates the Jews.


- Tom Lehrer, "National Brotherhood Week"

In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "One Great Big War" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/30/opinion/brooks-one-great-big-war.html?_r=0), David Brooks concludes:

"Going forward, there probably has to be a global education effort to reduce anti-Sunni and anti-Shiite passions. Iran could be asked to pay a higher price not only for its nuclear program, but for its mischief-making around the region.

But, at this point, it’s not clear whether American and other outside interference would help squash hatreds or inflame them. The legendary diplomat Ryan Crocker argues in a recent essay in YaleGlobal that major outside interventions might only make things worse. 'The hard truth is that the fires in Syria will blaze for some time to come. Like a major forest fire, the most we can do is hope to contain it.'

Poison gas in Syria is horrendous, but the real inferno is regional. When you look at all the policy options for dealing with the Syria situation, they are all terrible or too late. The job now is to try to wall off the situation to prevent something just as bad but much more sprawling."

Whatcha talkin bout, David?

A "global education effort to reduce anti-Sunni and anti-Shiite passions"? These "passions" have been around since the battle of Karbala on October 10, 680. Good luck! But more to the point, how do you go about educating people in Egypt, for example, where the illiteracy rate is some 28 percent, or in Afghanistan, where the illiteracy rate exceeds 30 percent?

The most we can do is hope to "contain" the forest fire in Syria? And here I thought that Egypt, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon, Sudan and Afghanistan were also ablaze. (Turkey, with its large restive Kurdish minority, Bahrain and Tunisia continue to smolder.)

"Poison gas in Syria is horrendous, but the real inferno is regional"? Well, who is responsible for spreading those flames? Who has been arming Hezbollah, Hamas and the Assad regime in Syria? Who sought to grow intimate with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt? Who has been seeking to build nuclear weapons, thereby stoking extreme anxiety in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt and Turkey, not to mention, of course, Israel? Answer: Iran.

And what has the Obama administration done to control Iran over the past five years? Answer: Nothing, unless you believe that sending the EU's imbecilic (I'm being kind) Catherine Ashton  to manage the P5+1's "make believe" negotiations with Tehran over its nuclear weapons development program qualifies as "something."

"Poison gas in Syria is horrendous, but the real inferno is regional"? I would start by making Assad understand that the use of sarin against civilians is taboo before seeking to deal with the entire Muslim Middle East mess, which is far beyond repair.

9 comments:

  1. Will you send YOUR children on a mission, or your private money to refinance remaking the mid east?

    Since it's not vital to us security interests, no need for the taxpayers to continue financing israel's neighborhood.

    Let it burn... perhaps israel can be pursuaded to give up some contested land and return to the negotiating table. If not, godspeed to their people and their defensive troops.

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    1. Mary, thank you for your comment.

      Me? I have spent more than 30 years in the regular army and reserves, most of that time in combat units.

      Two of my children have also served in combat units. A third is entering the army in March.

      "Let it burn," you say. Query: Would you have also opposed any effort to prevent Hitler from exterminating Europe's Jews during World War II? Then, too, there were those who said that war with Hitler was "not vital to US security interests."

      Mind you, I am not advocating American "boots on the ground" in Syria. On the other hand, I personally think it is immoral to ignore war crimes, e.g. murdering over a thousand Syrian civilians with sarin gas. Can a no-fly zone be created to protect Syrian civilians? Should Syria's stock of chemical weapons be destroyed at least in part with Cruise missiles without risking American lives? Or would you just "let it burn"?

      Israel, by the way, has given up land for peace: Sinai to Egypt. Israel also unilaterally evacuated Gaza, and its southern towns and cities were subsequently hit with thousands of rockets fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad. In addition, Israeli prime ministers Barak and Olmert offered to return the West Bank to Fatah and, in the instance of Olmert, also share Jerusalem in exchange for peace. Arafat and Abbas refused these offers.

      Again, thanks for writing.

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  2. "global education effort to reduce anti-Sunni and anti-Shiite passions"
    Yeah, Brooks is babbling. As usual. But now it's more leftist babbling.

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  3. One might feel utterly resigned and cynical in the face of the immense "mess" but I tell myself that the universe is unfolding as it should and that we need only do what we can---BE what we can. Now that congresses and parliaments seem to be expressing reserve, the time may be at hand for Israel, reluctantly, to flush out Iran with little support int'l support--if any. Is that part of our destiny?

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  4. Gotta say one more thing...in a world that is turning away from the reality of Iran, your blog is sane voice I take comfort in.

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  5. And one more thing....I shared your recent post on my FB page.

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  6. Regretably, it looks like the US has to make a limited strike/statement against Syrian war crimes; did you see the article about how the current mess in the mideast closely resembles europe in the 17th century (i.e. 30 Year's War stuff)?

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  7. It is truly astonishing how many allegedly well educated people, e.g. David Brooks and a majority of Britain's parliament, fail to distinguish between "making Assad understand that the use of sarin against civilians is taboo" and that whatever is about to happen is about 'taking sides' in Syria's civil war.

    I did have a thought about Egypt's illiteracy rate. There seems to be a lot of young educated Egyptians without jobs. I read that their education does not really train them for anything, but they ARE literate, so why not send them out to teach others basic literacy?
    Hopefully, Egypt's gvernment will come up with that idea.

    JG: you should take a look at these photos of Syria, include four on Kurds, one on Israel. explanatory captions below each photo:

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/newsdesk/2013/08/slide-show-the-syrian-crisis.html

    As for that Shi'a-Sunni schism?

    Half-joke, but I wish the USA had spent some of that Iraq reconstruction money teaching Iraqis the benefit of re-enactment of great battles. Karbala re-enactments without live ammo might work as well as the Gettysburg re-enactments work for the USA, still fighting that Civil War by different means.

    But, there is something unique about how Islam fails to resolve schisms peacefully.

    They all need a layer of Sufism. Worked well for Saladin, but, he was a Kurd. Yes, my solution is Greater Kurdistan to become the regional hegemon.

    k2k

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