Thursday, November 30, 2006

A real life neo-con

I attended a background briefing yesterday by a senior US administration figure, it was Chatham House rule, so I can't say exactly who or quote anything directly that s/he said, but even still it was an enlightening experience. There has been much discussion over recent months, and particularly since the mid-terms, about the end of neo-conservatism. Some of the thinkers outside of the administration, have done their mea culpa and moved on - Francis Fukuyama being the most obvious. Within the administration some have been fired, other's like Douglas "the f**king stupidest guy on the face of the earth"* Feith have resigned and moved on to greener pastures, and others are, well, running the World Bank. With the reemergence on the scene of many of Bush Snr.'s compadres, you hear phrases like "the adults being put back in charge of the shop" being chucked around a lot.

But, if yesterday's speaker was anything to go by there are still neo-cons kicking around in some of the most senior jobs in Washington. I turned to a colleague after the presentation and asked "so do you think s/he is mad or lying?" Out of the two options I'm not sure which is worse. The speaker seemed both rational and very intelligent, which made the words s/he produced so difficult to process. Of course what the speaker said was no worse, and indeed a lot better, than what you can read on dozens and dozens of blogs who all think they are fighting the war against Islamo-fascism-fundamentalism-Wahhabist-Qutbist-Salafist-Shiia-Sunni-and-Cher-evilness (OK -I threw in Cher for crimes against music, it's a long story involving a former Nigerian flatmate and sleep deprivation), but none of those blogger are in the very upper echelons of the most powerful government on earth. We're in a war on terrorism don't you know? They want to found a global Caliphate! In fact - oh the horror! the horror! - the Shura Council of the Mujahideen have already founded a global Caliphate (and also this being the modern world, a blog. If you want to read the blog, google it, it's hate speech basically and pretty tedious hate speech at that, so I'm not going to link it) - the only problem is that the global Caliphate so far extends to the bits of al-Anbar province which the USAF can't pulverize at will (i.e. not much). The speaker kept reminding us that you could read all the plans for global domination on the internet. You can read a lot of stuff of the internet mate. I doesn't make it true. I bet the Chinese army is quaking in its boots. And let's politely skip over the whole issue of why the Shura Council of the Mujahideen is able to sit sipping tea in Fallujah whilst they plot global domination (and update their blog)... but just in case you haven't worked it out yet I recommend Thomas Ricks' Fiasco, which I am currently about 190 pages in to.

All-in-all, the speaker clearly SOOooo wanted the Soviet Union back. When the bad guys had thousands of nuclear warheads just like our side did, you could really get everyone together by worrying about an armoured blitzkrieg attack heading for the Fulda Gap. The speaker was worried that no one seems to be taking the GWOT seriously anymore - and you wonder why.

Completely unrepentant, still completely out of touch with reality and still in charge. What a scary combination.

*The delightfully plain-speaking former CENTCOM commander, General Tommy Franks.

1 comment:

KGS said...

Hi Toby,

I can appreciate your dose of cynicism when it comes to the "cottage industry of conservative internet bloggers" ect., that touch on present day issues, concerning for example, the war on Islamist extremism. An earlier post of yours handles the Jawa report pretty convincingly concerning Somalia.

That said, I do find it troubling when the(what appears to be) seriousness of Islamist world wide goals are being downplayed/poo pooed with a Chicken Little version of "oh my the sky is falling" mentality.

The heart and soul of this modern day struggle (of Islamist supremecy) lies within the Muslim world, and the West is reacting in response. That the Islamist message is proving to be a very hard doctrine to refute by the most modernist of Islamic teachers, should be of grave concern to any of us who live in a pluralistic democracy.

As you already know, the Neo-Cons thesis is two fold, denying safe havens to the Islamists (political coercion/military action) while combating it locally/internationally (through better, cohesive law enforcement).

With Islamists increasingly infiltrating traditional Muslim societies (even within the West), posing risks to Imams that do not share their version of jihad, being branded an "opastate" is becoming more and more difficult to overcome. Where the battle will be ultimately won, will be inside Islam itself, with the modernists hopefully (eventually) getting the upper hand.

I am gravely concerned about the possibility of even a small portion of the world's 1.2 billion Muslims being turned on to jihad, not by anything the west does or doesn't do, but by the Islamist message that Islam (the 7th century version) is the answer to all their problems. Using Islam's Prophet as the supreme example of how one should act is proving to difficult for the modernists as well as the tradionalists to effectively confront.

It would seem that the sky is indeed falling. KGS