Of “Moderates” and Radicals
By Ted Belman
“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists”
So said Pres Bush after 9/11. He went on to identify N. Korea, Iran and Iraq, the “axis of evil” and to declare the “war on terror”. The last thing he wanted to do was to identify the enemy. N. Korea was included in the list for fear that someone might think, G-d forbid, that Moslems were the enemy or that Islam was the enemy just as Communists and Communism were during the Cold War.
It’s not that he didn’t know who the enemy was. After all, 15 of the 19 highjackers were Saudis who were inspired by Saudi supported Wahabbism. Its not that he viewed the use of terror as the enemy because the US had created al Qaeda to use terror to defeat the Russians in Afghanistan. It is not that this was the first time that the US was attacked by Arabs or Muslims starting with the Islamic revolution in Iran and the hostage taking of US diplomats.
And don’t forget the US coddled Arafat and his terrorists and demanded Israel let them back into the territories and restrained Israel thereafter..
Angelo Codeville, a professor of international relations at Boston University, wondered and wrote a startling article in the Fall of ’02, Post Mortem to a Phony War. If you missed this article, don’t miss it now. It’s a classic.
Without debating why Bush invaded Iraq rather than Iran or whether he invaded because of WMDs or because he wanted to transform the ME, what we do know for sure was that the price of oil tripled making huge profits for oil countries and oil companies, the US military industrial complex did land office business and Halliburton didn’t do shabbily either from their no-bid contracts.
Little noticed was that the Roadmap, with its recital of the Saudi Peace Plan, was announced days later. The linkage was undeniable. I wrote about this in Perfecting the Unifying Theory.
In the lead up to the Iraq invasion Bush quickly learned who was not “with us”. This group included France, Russia and Turkey. He was later to learn that this group included Iran, Syria and Saudi Arabia, all of whom fully supported the “insurgencies”. It sure is lonely at the top.
Last year US casualties got so high that she began looking for an exit strategy with little talk about a victory strategy. The Iraq Study Group was formed and published its report a year ago. The Washington Post advised that,
“the Panel said the United States should launch a new round of Middle East diplomacy, including a revived effort to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, aimed at building an international consensus for stabilizing Iraq.
As part of this initiative, the group urged the Bush administration to break with its policy of not having high-level dialogues with Iran and Syria, though members of the commission held out little hope that the two countries, longtime rivals of the United States, would be interested in joining the effort.”
Why was it necessary to restart the peace process in order to build a “consensus for stabilizing Iraq”. Why not have a peace process in Iraq? This either suggests that the reason for the insurgency was to force the US to start the peace process, or that everyone saw no need to help the US in Iraq unless they got Israel as a quid pro quo for their help. In other words the ISG Report recommended Israel as the sacrificial lamb to appease the monster and extricate the US.
Although Bush publicly opposed the Report and opted for the “surge” instead, the Report was the beginning of the efforts to form a coalition of “moderates” and to bring about Annapolis.
This coalition was ostensibly to stabilize Iraq but was really to contain Iran. Thus, the moderates v the radicals as the US saw it and needed it. But the Arabs saw it differently. Islam requires the expulsion of the big Satan, USA, and the little Satan, Israel, from the ME. All the countries in the ME, whether they be Arab or Iranian, “moderate” or radical or ally or foe, demonize and vilify the US and Israel. The ISG Report recommended feeding Israel to the alligator in the hope it would be satisfied or at worst, that the US would be eaten last.
Too bad they didn’t bother to read the poll which Reason Magazine reported on a year ago under the title Islamic Radicals and Moderates Not All That Different
Foreign Policy is reporting a poll of 9000 Muslims in 9 countries that finds that distinguishing moderates from radicals is not going to be easy. The poll identified moderates and radicals using a 5 point scale in which participants were asked if the 9/11 atrocities were justified or not. Moderates scored 1 to 2 points and radicals 4 to 5 points. The poll found that 92 percent of radicals and 91 percent of moderates said that religion was really important in their lives. Also, moderates were slightly more likely to have attended religious services in the past week. In addition, radicals were more highly educated and richer than moderates. Radicals were more hopeful about the future. Both admire the West for its technology (top response), but most surprisingly, both equally esteemed the West for its liberty (second most frequent response). What do they think the West should do to improve relations? Both moderates and radicals first choice was respect Islam. However, radicals next choice was for the West to avoid imposing its policies and beliefs, while moderates yearned for economic development and jobs.
How moderate can the moderates be if they think Islam is worthy of respect?
The US began to paint Iran as a threat to the US, Israel and the Arabs in aid of building such a coalition. It also began to promote Abbas and Fatah as moderates, despite considerable evidence to the contrary, in order to elicit their support in fighting Hamas and it began to openly support the Siniori government in Lebanon to resist Hezbollah and Syria. All to no avail.
Saudi Arabia had plans of its own. It was not worried about the “radicals” because it is a radical itself. It arranged to reconcile the radical, Hamas, with the “moderate” Fatah in defiance of US policy. It forced the US to invite a radical, Syria, to Annapolis and ceded Lebanon to Syrian influence. To cap it off, the Saudi King Abdullah walked hand in hand with Ahmedinejad for all to see. Poor Tzipi Livni, no Arab would shake her hand. Actions speak louder than words.
The US saw this all coming and made a strategic decision to engage the arch radical, Iran. And so it released the NIE report as the beginning of Iran’s transformation from radical to moderate. Now everyone is a moderate except Israel who is considered by the world, as the radical.
Israel, the only true moderate, doesn’t have a friend in the world and must face nuclear Iran alone and from Auschwitz borders.