The Proud Duck

Thoughts on policy, history, faith, baseball when I get around to it, waterfowl, and life in general by a junior attorney who'd much rather have Jonah Goldberg's job. Or possibly Darin Erstad's.

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Monday, September 11, 2006
Right after the first eleventh of September, I penned a quasi-Coulterish rant urging that the United States issue a formal ultimatum to any country with any ties to any international anti-American terrorist group, declaring that the United States would treat all such groups and any nation that supported them as constructively comprising an anti-American alliance. Further, we would deem an attack by one to be constructively an attack by all, and hold each alliance member responsible. There would have been no silliness about including North Korea in this "axis of evil" (which was transparently an effort to suggest that there wasn't anything particularly Islamic about our present enemy). We should have required that each nation grouped as a member of this enemy alliance take immediate, concrete steps towards ending support for terrorist groups and cooperating with American counterterrorist efforts, as a condition of getting off the s--- list. The conditions would be severe indeed, to the point where we wouldn't really expect the more obstinate of the bunch to agree. That would be the point. The ultimatum would expire in a week, and would be followed by an immediate Congressional declaration of war. A real one, not one of the squishy "authorization to use military force" quasi-declarations. The attack on America on 9/11 was serious enough for us to have finally reached into our 1941 toolbox, and it's rather poor that we didn't.There should have been none of this democracy-building idealism (although I have to confess I was hopeful in the beginning that the Administration's strategy of setting up a model democracy in the Middle East might have been a viable strategy). Instead, since we obviously can't conquer and hold the entire Middle East, we should have done what we profitably could.In the old days, when a local despot got out of line, some great power or other would send over a few ironclads, send a landing party to seize the customs house, and run the country's trade for the occupier's benefit until the local pasha/nawab/caudillo got tired of living on dog food and made peace. This had the benefit of not getting too many of the occupiers killed (you could seize an economic center of gravity without making too big a footprint, thereby inspiring insurgent resistance and risking your supply lines), and of helping defray the occupation's costs. True, it didn't always work (see Cinco de Mayo), but Iraq's not looking so great, either. I doubt even Rumsfeld, knowing what we know now, would have gone in again.I think President Bush's administration made its greatest mistake in taking a halfway solution. Afghanistan was a no-brainer -- it was harboring al-Qaeda, and al-Qaeda dunnit, full stop. I think a majority of Americans would have supported the All-In Real Axis Of Evil Tournament option set forth above. Instead, the Administration, by going several bridges too few, went one bridge too far in Iraq. It went beyond the obvious, without adopting the truly global approach that would have allowed people to comprehend the global threat. As it was, people reasonably wondered why Iraq got unlucky, and not, say, Iran or Syria. The administration was left with the WMD argument -- which really did make Iraq look like a preventive war, as opposed to one campaign in a global responsive war on all terrorists and all their state sponsors.


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