A blogger emerges from the dark depths! Covered in slime and silt, thus he spake!
Yeah, I’m back. The war brought me here, even though I’ve been planning a return for a while. Work, as they say, has had me busy.
I have a friend from France, who has his own blog. He’s been writing about the war a lot, and I agree with many points that he makes.
What bothers me about this war is that this is simply a second Vietnam.
Bear with me here. Vietnam was a second salvo against Communism. I capitilize Communism to differentiate it from communism, which is a philosophy wrapped in a form of governance and is not a thing in and of itself. Communism (with a capital C) is a thing, a thing that the US sought to end.
The first attack against Communism was the Korean War, which ended badly. Vietnam was a second struggle against the proliferation of Communism in the Pacific, a major part of what we refer to as The Cold War. The real enemy was the USSR, but we couldn’t very well attack them without a major shitstorm. Instead, we tried to stop them from getting any bigger, and by taking out their little sattelites and the people who agreed with them.
Communists weren’t directly opposed to the US, but it was inevitable that the US and the Soviets would have a problem with the other. The two forms of governance and economics are practically opposites, and opposites like to fight each other.
Afghanistan was the first battle in another Cold War. Iraq is merely the logical continuation of it. It will probably spread into either Iran or Libya or something in the next few years; mark my words on this. The US will continue to fight for things like freedom and democracy, but that’s not why we’re actually there.
Just as Soviet Russia was the enemy we never fought in the First Cold War, we have a different enemy we’ll never fight in this Second Cold War. The enemy this time is Saudi Arabia, and the issue this time is Muslim extremism.
Saudi Arabia is the seat of Muslim power. It has Mecca and Medina between its borders, cities of such grave importance to Islam that travelling between them is a requirement of every Muslim. Saudi Arabia has an awful lot of oil, which means it has an awful lot of money. It’s very powerful and very tough, and invading it outright would cause a shitstorm. 19 of the hijackers on 9/11 were from Saudi Arabia. Osama bin Laden is from Saudi Arabia. It only makes sense that Saudi Arabia is the actual enemy against the US, even though its impotent government claims otherwise.
Now, there hasn’t been a single Muslim leader since the Mongols tied the Caliph in a leather bag and trampled him to paste with their horses. No single leader is very hard for our modern system of politics to deal with, much as it has been hard for lots of other big governments/militaries/empires. The Romans found that out in a big way, with the Germans. They couldn’t just take the capital of Germany and tie up all the loose ends; Germany had no center, and had no central binding principal, except that they pretty much hated the Romans. This hate was enough so that Rome never got a foothold in Germany, and was much of the reason why we don’t speak a Romance language.
Similarly, there’s no single Muslim we can go kill and end all of this trouble. The US doesn’t know what to do in situations like this, so it does the kind of thing it does know how to do: bomb the hell out of somebody.
In this case, it’s Iraq we’re bombing. We’re doing it there because Saddam’s an easy target, and one we have a sort of precedent for attacking. When this little war is over, we’ll have a better foothold in the area, and pet government that will probably do what we say. That’ll be two countries in the middle east that we essentially control (“behave, or we’ll take away all this aid money!”), Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s two more countries arrayed against the Saudis who, if you remember, are the real enemy.
Just as it was with the Soviets, the Muslims and America aren’t opposed to each other for any palpable reason. It’s just inevitable that the pervasive American culture would offend somebody and Islam is a rather proactive religion with a government-like system of rules and regulations. Our culture and the Muslim culture are fighting because they’re practically opposites, and opposites like to fight.
How will it end? I can give credit to the Bush administration for recognizing that the best way to stop the extremists from attacking us is to stop giving them a reason to. The extremists think of the US as conversely a puppet and puppetteer of Israel, and the US doesn’t seem to care about anybody else in the middle east. By invading hostile countries that are also Muslim, we can make a big show of how generous we are to Muslim countries, since we always rebuild the folks we invade. The US seems to think that if we give the Muslims a helping hand, then they’ll stop biting it. It might actually work.
But the First Cold War didn’t end that way. Communism and Capitalism are still diametrically opposed, and there are still communist countries out there who don’t like us very much. The reason we’re not still fighting that First Cold War is because we’ve reached a safe little equilibrium with the remaining Communist countries. We saw how the USSR collapsed under the weight of economic hardship and the infusion of American culture, and we’re either confident that it will happen again, or can legitimately ignore the others because they’re really not so bad after all. China, for example, is Communist, but it’s not a threat. The US is just waiting for Castro to die before it decides what to do with it. North Korea has passed from Dangerous Commies to Dangerous Crazy. Vietnam seems to be following the lead of the USSR, what with economic troubles and all.
But what’s going to happen with Islam? I think we’ll see a very similar phenomenon as we saw with the First Cold War. We’ll eventually reach an equilibrium with the Muslim states, and the cultural differences will take a back seat to mutual economic benefit. The terrorist bombings probably won’t end ever, if only because there are always going to be extremists on the fringes of every movement.
I’m confident that the West and Islam will discover that the Other Guy really isn’t that bad, and that they have something to offer the other. It’s not that the West hates Islam, or that the West loves Judaism at the expense of Islam, it’s just that we sort of like the people who like us. And hopefully Islam will discover that the globalization and pervasive American culture are as inevitable as global warming, and maybe stop worrying so much about it.
I don’t know. It sounds good.