Friday, June 13, 2003

Why the "roadmap" only shows part of the map

In a June 11, 2003 post, Why Bush is restraining Sharon, Belmont Club argued that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was not the decisive theater in the wider war on terror.

The main theater of war is in the West. Islam is not strong; it's that the West is civilizationally weak -- perhaps at the lowest point in the last 1,000 years. The other main areas of conflict are the moneybags of Islamism Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states; it's technological powerhouses such as Pakistan and possibly France. If Islamism is discredited in the West and loses it's financial clout, then it will be fatally wounded. If not, then Israel will continue to be attacked. Palestinian Authority chief Abbas couldn't stop this war even if he wanted to.

... The obvious next moves are for the US to break down Egyptian and Lebanese support for Palestinian groups. By neutralizing Hezbollah; by reducing arms flowing to the Gaza enclave from Egypt. Perhaps it may even forment trouble in Lebanon itself. America is certainly preparing to take on the terrorists on the ground. The United States is retooling the Armed Forces and redeploying its bases to fight groups like Hezbollah and not another army. Donald Rumsfeld's appointment of retired ex-Special Forces Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker to be the next Chief of Staff of the Army is extraordinary. It indicates the lengths to which the entire national defense structure is being transformed to meet the needs of a new strategy.

Victor Davis Hanson later made the same point on June 13, 2003 in his NRO article An Indirect Approach?, subtitled: Peace in the Middle East will not be won on the West Bank. Here Hanson argues that:

If we continue to get tough with Syria and Iran, and if we stay the course in Iraq, we can turn generic terrorism in the Middle East into a sort of Potemkin existence — snarly, ugly, loud marchers, who when the cameras cut out skulk home in fear that either American arms or a suddenly hostile host government are waiting at the door. Even as bombers strap on their munitions and head for Israel, an entire avalanche of events, both military and cultural, is undermining their entire bankrupt ideology — whether it be pan-Arabism, theocracy, or international jihad.

The strategic balance is tipping ever so gradually away from the terrorists and toward the realists, who grasp that the end is coming for Hamas or Hezbollah, and for the safe houses of Lebanon, Syria, and the West Bank from which they unleash their terror. Yasser Arafat is no longer welcome at the White House; he sees that some of his old cronies, such as Abu Nidal, Abu Abbas, and Saddam Hussein, are no longer on the loose.

Sometimes, the Belmont Club's analysis isn't too shabby. Not too shabby at all.