Tuesday, July 22, 2003

Does this mean I am a neoconservative?

This article by former CIA director James Woolsey on just how America got into this war against fundamentalise Islam, and why and how we have to fight it, is quite interesting. I think he is pretty much spot on on the causes and the nature of the enemy, and certainly America's willigness to suck up to unpleasant people in order to get control of the oil, and unwillingness to stand up and fight back when attacked has been massively counterproductive. Whether the solutions can ever be quite as neat as he hopes is something I am sceptical about. (Certainly though, the "pragmatic" strategy of the oil industry and state department must be considered discredited at this point, and certainly we are in this war for the long haul). On the other hand, he is right to be contemptuous of the " is culturally unsuited to democracy and freedom" argument, which is quite frankly an argument of tyrants, and countered by the many examples he gives of culturally quite different places actually becoming democracies. (He is right about the example of Taiwan being a very interesting and quite inspiring one). And I think the best point he makes in the whole argument is that we won the Cold War by winning the hearts and minds of the people of the communist world. People such as Andrei Sakharov and Vaclav Havel were, in the end, convinced that we were on their side, and ultimately we were. American foreign policy in the Middle East, by propping dubious regimes in return for their oil, has done the precise opposite. The exception is probably in Iran, which is perhaps where much of Latin America was in 1995. The home grown solution has been seen to not work, and the people are desperate for something else. The trouble is that the Arab world seems stuck around the position of Latin America in 1980, with a decade of ghastliness to come. I'd like to hope this can be avoided, but I really doubt it.

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