Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Time For A Truce?

Thanks to Dhimmi Watch, which points out an OpEd article in Lebanon's Daily Star, by the hand of Mark LeVine, associate professor of modern Middle Eastern history, culture and Islamic studies at UC.

The government paper supports John Kerry, who promised the Arab world 'Dramatic change' if he's elected President in November. LeVine jumps on this, and offers a suggestion.

A Truce.

It is time for the United States to declare a truce with the Muslim world, and radical Islam in particular.

This may sound like a naive, even defeatist statement in the context of the 9-11 Commission Report's reminder that the United States remains very much at war with "Islamist terrorism" and the ideas behind it. Yet a truce (Arabic hudna) rather than an increasingly dangerous "clash of civilizations" is the only way to avoid a long, ultimately catastrophic conflict.
But here's the kicker:
And it's up to Europe to be the good broker.
Wow. Rather than giving a real alternative strategy here, he simply states that to avoid a long conflict with our enemies, we should just bow before them, and all will be good again. That's not a solution, that's surrender. His reasoning for it goes like this:
Indeed, there is no chance for a halt in the "war on terror", or any fundamental change in US foreign policy as long as George W Bush is president. Even if John Kerry wins the presidential election this November, the possibility that he might initiate such a transformation is slim. However, there is one difference - at least rhetorically - between the two possible presidencies: Kerry has made a point of saying that he would "listen" to European allies and strive to build a common approach to combating terrorism.

European leaders face the threat of an increasingly bloody conflict with Muslim extremists thanks to the continent's imperial past in the region and, more important today, their perceived support for US policies in Israel/Palestine, Afghanistan, and Iraq. They would be wise to suggest that president Kerry call a truce so that the United States, the European Union, and more broadly the "West" can have the time collectively and publicly to explore the root causes of the violence against them that emanates from the Muslim world - something the 9-11 Commission should have, but did not, do. At least there's a chance Kerry might listen, especially if the war in Iraq continues to spiral out of America's control.
He does point out correctly that the Europeans, if given half a chance, would give anything to just be left alone, without any guarantees for future safety of her continent. Remember, its history is rife with examples of appeasing a strengthening enemy, blindly hoping that it will all go away if we just give them what they want. Chamberlain, and recently Zapatero in Spain, are good examples. And the fact that Osama Bin Laden has offered Europe a truce only underscores this. Though they did not take him up on it the last time, I believe this had more to do with the fact that with President Bush in the White House, there would be nothing to gain from it. With a President Kerry covering their cowardice with a new doctrine, Europe's momentary steadfastiness won't last long.

His truce offer itself is a riot. Not only does it include a complete kneefall before Islamists everywhere, it also only seems to carry obligations for the US and Europe. LeVine asks nothing from our enemies, except to maybe (though he does not mention this) please stop killing us. It also leaves Israel alone in the world, a small price, like Czechoslovakia once was, for peace in our time.
From the US and European side, a meaningful hudna with Islam would include (but not be limited to) the following steps:

First, just as most every mainstream Muslim personality has condemned Muslim extremism, the next US president must be prodded by his European counterparts to take the important psychological step of admitting US responsibility for the harm decades of support for dictatorship, corruption and war have caused ordinary Muslims, especially in the Middle East.

Second, the US, the EU and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization should halt all offensive military actions in the Muslim world and outline a serious plan for the removal of troops from Muslim countries, including Afghanistan and Iraq. (These could be replaced, where necessary, by robust United Nations peacekeeping forces or UN-assisted transitional administrations.) The hunt for Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, and related terror networks would then be transformed from a war of vengeance into what it always should have been: a vigorous international effort led by the US, the UN and, where relevant, European and other governments to apprehend, prosecute and punish people and groups involved in the September 11, 2001, assaults and similar attacks.

Third, all military and diplomatic agreements and aid to Middle Eastern countries that aren't democratic or don't respect the rights of the peoples under their control should be suspended. Yes, this means for Israel as well as Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and other "allies" and "partners". This is crucial to stopping the regional arms race and cycle of violence that make peace and democratic reform impossible.

Finally, the hundreds of billions of dollars that would have been devoted to the "war on terror" should be redirected toward the kind of infrastructural, educational and social projects the 9-11 Commission Report argues are key to winning the "war on terror".
It contains two poignant contradictions, both related to Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. In his first point he states that going after Bin Laden in Afganistan would be acceptable under this truce, but in the same point he also states that all Western troops would have to be removed from Muslim lands. So how would we go after Bin Laden then? By serving him with a soebpena?

Secondly, he states that the West would need to sever all ties with any repressive or undemocratic Middle Eastern country (which means all, save maybe a future Iraq and Afghanistan, although a troop pullout will have both countries run either by Iran or the Taliban within no time). But with whom do we sign the truce then? The Islamists themselves who also oppose these regimes? Who, under point one, are fair game to go after?

It's capitulation. It freaks me out to think that LeVine actually teaches this crap.