Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Three Questions

The current outbreak of bipartisan murderousness in Israel, Lebanon and Palestine is still filling all the news. The ins and outs of who is killing who most often and most horribly - and who is helping them to do it - are occupying the supporters of both sides with minute details...and as Kevin Drum has pointed out, those who don't know the minute details are in grave danger if they venture to sail midway between Scyllia and Charbodis. Which leaves only fanatics to debate the details and store up grievances for the next generational outbreak of warlust in the region. That's a pity.

However, there are three broad themes emerging from the current conflict that will have a lasting and knock-on effect and which should be discussable by any and all. They apply to American foreign policy, yes...but also to everyone else's.

  • What will be the worldwide effect on the widely held rightwing principles of the One Per Cent and Pre-emptive Doctrines? Are they to be understood as the sole preserves of America and those it "green lights", universally applicable, or should they be done away with entirely? Is there an alternative foreign policy paradigm that could emphasise winning by peacemaking instead of warmaking?

    Food For Thought: The NY Times - An American Foreign Policy That Both Realists and Idealists Should Fall in Love With, One Percent Madness, Newshog,US warns Turkey against Iraq incursion, Iran Says Would Back Turkish Anti-PKK Operation in Northern Iraq.

  • Will the current conflict in the area strengthen or be fatally weaken the influence of a neoconservative movement already damaged by the failure of it's promises for Iraq and Afghanistan? Is opinion of America abroad at all relevant and if so does neoconservatism help or hinder? Is neoconservatism part of the problem or part of the solution?

    Food for Thought: George Will, Cato-At-Liberty, The Washington Post.

  • Most controversial of all - simply because it gets perilously close to the fanatics' love of their own detailed narratives - what can be termed the Debate over Moral Equivalence or the Problem of Proportionality of Response. It is an article of faith among many that overwhelming military force is just as valid and valuable a response in fighting terror as it induibitably is in fighting another State's regular armed forces. However, given the fact that terror groups deliberately fight "assymetrically" - that is, using their relatively small ability to apply force in assymetric ways so as to create large impacts, involving innocent civilians wherever possible and avoiding totally the textbook pitched battle - is that actually the case? If it isn't, what are the alternatives?

    Food for Thought: The NY Times, Poliblogger, Outside the Beltway, Haaretz, The Guardian, William S. Lind.

    Today, I just want to pose those questions, articulate those themes. I've imbedded links to articles which explore some aspects of them to give you food for thought. In th next few days, I will try to come up with a coherent post or posts on what I think the answers are. In the meantime, I invite you all to contribute links, thoughts or complete answers yourselves. Write a comment or trackback a post.
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