Wednesday, August 28, 2013

My Caliphate for a Horse

Years of Iraq blogging is relevant again. Max Boot in Commentary magazine's blog on the USA's options in Syria --

A few days of attacks with cruise missiles is a pinprick strike reminiscent of Bill Clinton’s attacks on al-Qaeda and Iraq in 1998. What did those strikes achieve? Precisely nothing beyond blowing up a poor pharmaceutical plant in Sudan wrongly suspected of manufacturing, ironically, chemical weapons. Actually, worse than nothing: those strikes, which Osama bin Laden survived easily, convinced him that the U.S. was a “weak horse” that could be defied with impunity.

The horse is back! Osama bin Laden delivered his famous weak horse/strong horse quote not after Sudan 1998 but in Afghanistan in 2001 after 9/11 and with the NATO operation against him and the Taliban underway. It was the obsession with "strength", channeled from Bernard Lewis to Dick Cheney to George Bush which led to the view that radical Islam could only be quelled with a massive military initiative.

Now we're again hearing this logic in the claim that there's no point in responding to the chemical weapons attack unless it's of the strong horse variety.

It might be imputing too much deviousness to wonder if conservatives are only playing up the all-or-nothing option not because they actually want all, but because they want nothing. Al Qaeda versus Hezbollah with Iran and Russia on a drip-feed of support to a hated government in a prolonged war probably looks like a good outcome in some quarters.

Shame about those Syrian civilians.