By Barry Rubin
Last week on CNN, Wolf Blitzer asked Fareed Zakaria a question: Did Zakaria think the death of Nelson Mandela might make international statesmen turn pacifistic and more concerned with people’s welfare. Zakaria said in a polite way, of course not.
This exchange was extremely significant. Blitzer apparently thinks that the purpose of diplomacy is to avoid conflict. Zakaria knew that the world is run by power politics. I think that’s the view of post-Cold War naivety–that the post-Cold War conflict resolution model is dominant in the West (Blitzer), although he was clearly discussing wishful thinking–and yet, realpolitik, conquest, and armed force is dominant among people of Third-World origin or citizenship.
Another example last week was South Korea willing to go to war with China if necessary over a submerged rock on their sea border.
On a different level, another example comes to mind. I asked one of my American students who was studying intensive Arabic in an Arabic capital how it was going. His response:
“Fine, except when I had a problem.”
“What?” I asked.
“My roommate was a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood. He asked if I could come back later because he hadn’t finished torturing another student.” That was not a joke!
I think people have forgotten: before countries and great powers dealt with the medical systems and making foreigners instant citizens, they dealt with survival and identity. States dealt with stability, conquest, and defense.
Once upon a time, this behavior was taken for granted. England could fight war for territory against Holland or France. Nowadays, the purpose of Dutch foreign policy is to give out money to Sudan or Yemen.
Nowadays, no EU or North American powers play that way.
The settlement of European disputes, the Cold War, exhaustion, the decision that seeking territorial hegemony was not worthwhile or possible was generally good.
Unfortunately, not everywhere is like central Europe in this sense. In fact, there is–one might say–Dar al-Harb (region of war) and Dar al-Salaam (region of peace). Or to put it another way, there is a place where realpolitik still prevails and a place where it doesn’t.
And the Dar-al Harb must at every moment prove that it is unbiased, leaning over backward to be fair, blinding its eyes, ignoring massacres or violent (Islamist) ideologies, all while it is cutting off the head of a soldier in London, committing an assassination in Amsterdam, detonating a bomb at the Boston Marathon, or murdering several thousand people at the tallest building in the country (World Trade Center, and being rewarded by a building permit for a mosque).
But in a sense, that is appropriate, because these are respectively Dar al-Harb and a Dar al-Salaam.
What is Dar al-Harb? (I refer to the doctrine of Islamism, but this after all a legitimate one that must be justified if it is not enacted). It is a place where many methods of war, violence, and tyranny must be justified if not used. These states must be expanded and their religion spread further.
Of course, it can be put this way: Everything is fair between Christians and Jews; nothing is fair against Arabs who weren’t hostile to the West–which makes sense. But what makes no sense is Obama’s empowerment and support of hostile Islamist, Iranian, and Turkish states and terrorist groups.
In other words, because Islam and expansionist conflict–including aggressive realpolitik–is so totally legitimate, inter-group, inter-state, inter-ethnic conflict is legitimate, as in the Syrian civil war.
They are limited in promoting too much liberty. These governments operate under extreme restrictions. They cannot be seen to support Israel publicly; they cannot be seen to support Christians, Europe, or defending real democracy or certain economic systems. The Egyptian government has to be careful to not be seen supporting the Copts too much. They are restricted from doing things for their own prosperity, for their own defense.
Look at Turkey, converting a major historical church into a mosque—it is easier for the Turkish government to protect a mosque than a church. The first defense of freedom is outside the boundary.
Thus, both inside and outside, the system seems to be defined on both sides–Harb and Salaam–as:
“War is peace, freedom is slavery, and ignorance is strength.” –George Orwell, 1984
The less you know about Islam, the better. Ignorance is strength.
War is peace, i.e., the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, now at least 80 (or 100) years old.
Freedom is slavery in Shari’a law, even though radical Islamism entails less freedom in certain ways. The fact that you are a slave, in certain ways, may mean you are free. Freedom may be defined as the absolute opposite of freedom in the West. This can be social or political.
Let me provide a political example.
When visiting Washington, Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, met with the President Obama. To his amazement, Karzai was told that Obama said the Taliban was not an enemy of the United States and Washington did not want to fight them.
Do you realize the significance of this?
- The Taliban was collaborator in the September 11 attacks! It could have warned about them and probably stopped them! In other words Obama wants to be friends with the September 11 terrorists! Tell me, did the Taliban apologize? The Taliban have also killed thousands of U.S. and other Western soldiers in the last decade. Did they apologize? Did the Taliban turn over terrorists voluntarily?
- But think of Karzai, too! He’s a Western client regime. That means the Taliban want to put his head on a pole in the fighting that will follow the U.S. withdrawal! They will torture him, if they can ever catch him.
But, he asked, if the Americans wanted to be friends with the Taliban, then why did they fight them so much?
Do you know how the U.S. responded to Karzai? That they would pressure him until Afghanistan made unilateral concessions to the Taliban! You know who said that? The absolutely ridiculous Secretary of “Defense” Chuck Hagel. (Guess what? He was known to be soft on Iran and nasty against Israel, which is probably why he was appointed.)
Note this is the same policy for Iran, Turkey, and Lebanon (the pro-American oppositions), and almost for Egypt (Obama-Kerry wanted to support Muslim Brotherhood government, but they backed down after the Brotherhood government was overthrown by a military coup).
These people use real bullets.
So one must understand:
- Islamists feel non-Islamists have no rights.
- All Western states are open ground for subversion and terrorism, including against moderate Muslims.
- Islamist-ruled states will not measure up to any deal with Western states, especially one with compromises.
- The weaker the Western states act, the weaker the Islamists think Westerners to be.
But we should be grateful! After all, Kerry must work hard for his undeserved fame and wealth! Surely you must remember articles about Dean Rusk, Henry Kissinger, and Zbigniew Brzezinki and how hard they worked!
Here’s who we should really be grateful to:
Shane Patton, Danny Dietz, Michael P. Murphy–three SEALs who were killed–and Marcus Luttrell–who survived–after a June 28, 2005, operation in Afghanistan to capture Ahmad Shahd of the Taliban, with whom Obama wants to be friends.
As a “reward,” and to assist with his rehabilitation, the surviving SEAL Luttrell received a yellow Labrador puppy. He named the dog ‘DASY,’ representing his name and those of the three fallen SEALs–Danny Dietz, Matthew “Axe” Axelson, Southern boy (Marcus), and Michael “Yankee” Murphy.
In April 2009, the dog was killed by four men, who Luttrell chased “through four counties” until they were apprehended by the police. “Upon arrest, the suspects verbally threatened Luttrell’s life and taunted him.” In March 2012, “Alfonso Hernandez was sentenced to two years in a state jail….Michael John Edmonds was sentenced to five years’ probation and fined $1,000.”
“At the sentencing, Luttrell testified that he was ‘still pretty upset’ about the killing of DASY and that he felt both defendants should have gotten the maximum sentence.”
Now, what was Kerry rewarded with after his bragging, including anti-patriotism, like throwing his medals over a wall?
$3.2 billion, estimated to make him the 30th most wealthy person in the country, and the third richest if he were elected U.S. president.
But wait! About 30% of Kerry’s wealth came from a Republican (from his wife Teresa Heinz)! And he did nothing to earn all these riches. He was just born with a silver spoon in his mouth!
Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest book, Israel: An Introduction, has just been published by Yale University Press. Other recent books include The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). The website of the GLORIA Center and of his blog, Rubin Reports. His original articles are published at PJMedia.