19 November 2009

afghan discussed

getting somewhere, slowly and ponderously

I presume somebody viewing that will know which way I am going to lean. Several of the specific ideas laying out are things I've said for a while now. It is also probably one of the stronger, less platitudinous oppositions against the relative "passivity" my angle looks like it proposes. I do not agree with his idea of what basic security should look like (me taking my shoes off is not helping the plane be safer, sorry), but I do agree with what international security looks like. For basic security you enhance or create it by being better at preventing reasons for attack or dangers in the first place, then worry at the margins to prevent major and obvious incidents using actual security and intelligence information.

Frum's two principle objections to the international force are significant. It's sort of like the problem with financial regulation or Congressional legislation. That is that the crooks are to be the ones enforcing the law. I do not see how a force using Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, as examples, to prevent terrorism internationally is extremely likely to succeed and possess a great deal of legitimacy. It's also difficult to effectively "insulate" America or the West against Islamic radicals. My contention in response there would be that promising perfect security to the American people in a world where one person can decide to act with hostility and successfully carry out acts independently to kill or maim thousands of innocent people anywhere they wish (including American citizens of a non-Islamic variety like McVeigh) is unreasonable and shouldn't be the basis or goal of our policies. Your best hope in policy is to try to create a very small population of McVeighs and Bin Ladens. (Bacevich's disdain for Frum's idiotic ideas on his Vietnam tangent is well-earned. He served there. As is the disdain for the "freedom doctrine" as Bush's attempt to come up with a cogent overarching strategy based on our abilities.)

It's also amusing to see Iran identified as the one shining beacon of hope in the Middle East. Something that I pointed out about two years ago and which the events over the last 6 months have only emboldened a sense of progress going on there well beyond our misguided attempts to enforce upon two of its neighbouring countries (three if you add in Georgia and four if you add in Pakistan). The most exciting Islamic nations in the world in terms of reform or the possibility of modernization of reforms seem to me to be Indonesia, Iran, and Turkey. None of them are all that fond of our international policies, for a variety of reasons. I don't think this is a coincidence.
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