LB Revisits a Christmas past….

Amazing admissions by Mike Morrell in the Washington Post: “Former CIA official cites agency’s failure to see al-Qaeda’s rebound”

So ridiculous to blame the Arab Spring and rapidly changing events – I’m too disgusted with these way too late admissions to comment a great deal. Any analyst with a brain should have seen the Arab Spring, as a huge destabilization of several governments in rapid succession, with collapsing governments,  through time immemorial creates “POWER VACUUMS” and those who are organized and willing to use force rise to fill them. The American democracy experiment, where thoughtful men met in the aftermath of a revolution to discuss and reach a peaceful consensus on the new government and worried about the rights of individuals, is the exception in history, not the rule. There were some of us who predicted this was the biggest boon to Islamists, who were prepared to seize this opportunity. There was no viable democracy movement in these countries to produce the miracle the Obama administration, the media and starry-eyed analysts waxed on about.

Time for a LB repost from a Christmas past:

December 25, 2012 · 8:12 pm | Edit
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Thoughts on the Arab Spring

Yes, I know it’s Christmas and I’ve already got my Christmas dinner started, so between dashes back to the kitchen to keep dinner moving along I’m going to jot down a few thoughts on why just about everyone in punditry, left, right and in between, gets it wrong on the Arab Spring. The first mistake many people make is what I’ll call cultural relativism, a natural off-shoot of our moral relativism, where we try to replace moral absolutes (i.e. right or wrong) with some ever-shifting sliding scale of excuse-making and finger-pointing of causes.. Once we muddy the water on defining behavior as right or wrong, we quickly get sucked down by underwater currents , akin to swimming in water-filled old quarry holes that abounded where I grew up in rural PA. As years of this muddled thinking spread by that contagion, I’ll refer to as the loons of academia, well, now many people hesitate to take a moral stance on just about any behavior, or they try to rationalize away individual responsibility for bad behavior. That same type of brainwashing on evaluating cultures spread like kudzu took root here in the American South, leading to our present strategic failures. If we start with all cultures are of equal merit and no culture has a superior value system, to better the life of its citizenry, then we end up quickly drowning in this swimming hole of cultural relativism. If we survive, we end up flailing about looking for some sound underpinnings to our understanding of what is going on in the world, what the likely outcomes of unfolding events will be and what these events mean to American interests.

The petals of optimism about the Arab Spring faded quickly, spreading seeds of discontent, disillusion and disconnected reasoning blowing across the strategic plain. Americans like everything fast, not just their cars and food, no, we like fast solutions, even when dealing with conflicts and cultures, dating back two millennia. I’ve read so much about the Arab Spring written by supposed experts on the Middle East, yet sadly most of these pages would serve a more useful purpose lining the bottom of a birdcage to catch the droppings. I’m quickly going to run through a few common fallacies that weave an uneven magic carpet of Arab pipe-dreams. My Christmas ham is happily baking so lets start with Islam (okay, I apologize that wasn’t culturally sensitive). Islam does not mean peace, it means submission to the will of God and obedience to his law. So, in Islam, God’s law is defined by the prophet, Mohammad and every aspect of Islamic culture is defined by this. The concept of separation of church and state falls as an anathema to Islamic teachings. Holding “democratic” elections does not a free, democratic, pluralistic society make. Cultures still steeped in tribal forms can’t jump the arc of historical enlightenment and instantaneously fall at the end, finding Jeffersonian democratic pots of gold. . And a last point is Islam lends itself more easily to autocratic forms of government, because the overwhelming consensus in these countries is that they want sharia law, which sets the stage for a theocracy (hint, that can never be a free, pluralistic society). Even the Puritans who fled persecution in England initially set-up a theocratic form of government and while lots of historians tend to miss this fact, cherry-picking only American themes they like (like how they tried communal living and it failed – strike one against communism in America) , the truth is they weren’t a pluralistic, welcoming group initially. There’s an excellent five-volume set of “The Life of George Washington” written by John Marshall and Volume 1 deals with a very detailed history of America’s founding from the very beginning (long before Washington’s birth). Marshall explains how other Protestants were run out of some Puritan towns, because they didn’t allow free exercise of religion, except for their own. This changed over time, but Catholics faced persecution in other colonies, as did various Protestant sects. So, our religious tolerance wasn’t at the high-water mark at America’s founding. The Marshall series is available for free at amazon.com (here) or volume 1 is at gutenberg.org (here).

So, then we reach the conundrum of why do some countries make successful democratic breakthroughs and others don’t and why are there so few successful democratic breakthroughs. There’s no exact recipe for democratic success, but having the basic mix of vital ingredients (free enterprise, democratic institutions within the society, property rights to list a few) helps increase the odds for success. The Mid-East, except for Israel, has none of the ingredients on hand. Trying to wing it with rhetorical substitutions and pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking won’t produce the desired results. I kept noticing this entrenched belief system when that clamor arose about the Palestinians and all the Jimmy Carteresque blather about holding elections, which led not to joyous democracy, instead it led to the posthaste election of Hamas. Even western-style image makeovers can’t turn a sow’s ear (like Arafat) into a silk purse and we end up with the same old dictators and tyrants. Here’s the best analysis of why the road to free, pluralistic, democratic governance has more potholes and road construction signs than highways in PA. It’s a book (sorry the kindle version isn’t free and the formatting is lacking) titled, “America’s Inadvertent Empire” by the late GEN William Odom and Robert Dujarric. GEN Odom’s wisdom will be sadly missed and I greatly admired him, in fact, I long for generals of his stature (alas, we’ve sunk to the GEN Casey/Petraeus/ Clapper politico types) . As a starting point in getting back on rational strategic terrain, this book maps out an excellent route toward understanding the landmarks to look for along the difficult road toward democracy. These are a few of my thoughts on what’s wrong with our American foreign policy in the Arab world. I’m not an expert on much of anything except needlework and homemaking, so I welcome opinions and comments. Time for Christmas dinner. Merry Christmas everyone!

2 Comments

Filed under Culture Wars, Foreign Policy, General Interest, History, Islam, Military, Politics, Terrorism, The Constitution

2 responses to “LB Revisits a Christmas past….

  1. “We did not seize power in Russia. We found power lying in the streets and picked it up.”—Vladimir Illych Ulanov(better known as Lenin…) At the time of the Russian Revolution the Bolsheviks were a small minority party. They out-organized other Socialist/Communist parties like the Mencheviks and took control of Moscow. All of the trains of Russia’s limited rail system ran through Moscow, and there were no roads to speak of. Whomever controlled Moscow and the railroads controlled the country. “And the rest”, as they say, “is History”.

  2. Thanks Kinnison! That’s the perfect quote.

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