"Waiting For Yamamoto" Watch
The explanation for this post's header is here. Here's Daniel Pipes today, apparently all Raptured-up in contemplation of the next big "wake-up call":
Looking ahead, nothing but an atrocity of terrible proportions will wake liberals and make "united we stand" once again a meaningful slogan.Pipes hasn't always catered to the lowest common denominator. Compare today's "analysis" to the following, which he wrote for the WSJ on April 11, 1991:
...there are worse prospects than Saddam Husayn staying in power. Here are two: an American occupation of Iraq or the dissolution of that country. U.S. government assistance to the anti-Saddam forces could over-commit Americans in Iraq. What begins with humanitarian and military aid might end up as something much larger. Provisioning blankets leads to repairing electricity grids and roads; shooting down aircraft ends up with the guaranteeing of international borders. The inexorable logic of power would eventually induce Americans to topple Saddam. Before anyone realizes what happened, U.S. forces would be occupying Iraq, with Schwartzkopf Pasha ruling from Baghdad.Citing "the terrible viciousness of the Middle East" as "the final reason not to get involved within Iraq," Pipes continues:
It sounds romantic, but watch out. Like the Israelis in southern Lebanon nine years ago, American troops would find themselves quickly hated, with Shi'is taking up suicide bombing, Kurds resuming their rebellion, and the Syrian and Iranian governments plotting new ways to sabotage American rule. Staying in place would become too painful, leaving too humiliating. Saddam in power may well be less dreadful than American occupation.
Alternatively, there is the danger of Iraq being dismembered. As Turkish president Turgut Ozal rightly observed, this would lead to "incalculable turmoil." The world economy needs a reasonably strong Iraq to balance Iran and assure the free flow of oil from the Persian Gulf. Were Iraqi power to disappear, Iran would likely become the regional hegemon, rationing oil according to its whims. Iraq's dissolution also raises the prospect of the Iranians imposing a fundamentalist Islamic regime on southern Iraq. Not only would this new state want to take Baghdad and reconstitute Iraq as a Shi'i-dominated country, but it might well revitalize the Islamic revolution in Tehran, leading to fresh outbreaks of Khomeini-style aggression.
More to the point, were the Shi'is or Kurds winning against Saddam, we would by now surely have witnessed scenes of Sunni Arabs being massacred. Do Americans wish to be party to such barbarism? There are many ghastly events in the Middle East and the United States lacks both the means and the will to fix them. The Middle East is politically a sick place; outsiders would do well to keep a prudent moral distance.Prescient to say the least, particularly for something written over fifteen years ago. But at this point, it does little more than relegate Pipes to that sad subsection of the commentariat whose insight and reputation peaked sometime in the previous millennium.
At the same time, Americans need to feel some humility. Other than direct military force, our means (financial, diplomatic) are modest; and our will is even more limited. Iraq is a sick country with desperate problems, very few of them of our making. Given the realities of Iraq-its predominantly Muslim culture in particular-we cannot remake or unmake Iraq. There is an inhumanity to Middle East politics that we can neither contain nor stop.