Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Scum Also Rises

In the sometimes fevered exhortations of those opposed to the Iraq war you will sometimes detect an apparent nostagia for the "stability" of the Hussein regime however brutally oppressive it was. Even those who don't buy the moonbat Michael Moore version wherein kite-flying children joyously frolicked in a paradise presided over by kindly uncle Saddam readily condemn the U.S. invasion on the grounds that it has unleashed a huge wave of sectarian violence that would not have occurred under hisself's benificent reign.

An obvious comparison is post-war Yugoslavia where homicidally fractious ethnicities were viciously play-doughed into a monolithic polity by the methods of a modern police state goaded by Tito's will. When the cork came out of the bottle with the crumbling of the Soviet hegemony long suppressed antipathies almost instantly fractured the shaky assemblage and soon the phrase "ethnic cleansing" had bulled it's way into the Oxford English Dictionary. Art is long, life is short, and ethnic hatred is in memory yet green. 50 years was apparently not nearly enough time for antipathetic ethnicities to reach a solid enough modus vivendi to avoid conflict when the repressive lid come off. So they went at it in a clangingly hammer and tong manner until that ever reviled but ever available guarantor of European stability, the United States, surgically removed some of the more aggressive tumors.

In Iraq the lid seems off of the Sunni/Shia divide suppressed by Saddam for 4 decades, at least internally. Suppressed being a rather benign description for the methods of a regime so spectacularly nasty it would have given Uncle Joe himself pause. The slaughter of civilians in Iraq started as a nasty terrorist public relations campaign to convince the U.S. public that our military should get the hell out and let the task of re-Baathification continue unimpeded but it lately seems to have devolved into a plain old-fashioned sectarian revenge cycle---Northern Ireland on the Tigris---although the body count in Bagdad far exceeds the damage wrought by the grim bully-boys of the IRA and UDL and as eager as the lads may have been to make quit of a few Prots/Papists they weren't the least bit keen on having C4 draped about their actual persons at the time of detonation.

I'm beginning to think that as painful as it is for tender western sensibilities and as hard on the innocent as it may be that this whole business is something that will simply have to run its course, even unto civil war, which never has anything the least bit civilized about it. The opposing sides now see U.S forces not so much as occupiers but merely a bunch of extremely well-armed obstacles getting in the way of slaughtering the apostates the next block over. Helpful as always the Iranians are cynically egging on the grim festivities in the hope of increasing American political damage but they better have a damn firm grip to hold onto the tails of two tigers at once.

It is not mere cliche to say that in Iraq that the Shia and Sunni are going medieval on each other for these antipathies are at least that ancient. Maybe it is hubris that we think we might be able to short-circuit this old divide and paper over the fault lines long enough for some kind of accommodation to take place. Even if we can it's liable to take a long gory while. After all Christianity arrived at its current tolerance of secular authority only after having messily waded through oceans of blood spilled in sectarian warfare and inquisitional mayhem. Islam, the more aggressive versions at any rate, is quite a ways from having its intolerant canines pulled in likewise Enlightenment fashion.

The threat of Islamic sectarian violence has never lurked far beneath the surface but rather has simmered and seethed and wound itself into the uppermost fabric of everyday life for centuries. Perhaps a real reckoning is at hand. And maybe not. Perhaps cooler moderate heads will prevail. Maybe Islam will vault its way into the wider world of the secular 21st century and be gentled thereby. Maybe I'll go buy a Powerball ticket. The odds of success seem better.

Apart from the inevitable toll of human misery that such a sectarian clash would entail the wild card is that one or more of the players in this intramural squabble will soon have nuclear weapons with which to make their points. Maybe that's the best reason for a U.S presence in the region---to keep some cards on the table, to keep the moderating boron rods from being pulled all the way out of the reactor metaphorically and literally, to be the actual mechanism by which the region might "give peace a chance", or if nothing else to at least keep the focus of violence away from these shores. I realize that it's a hell of a lot to ask of the young men of our military but they are defending not just American soil but the specific American Idea and the general western liberal lifestyle as well. Not that timorous continentals are showing much gratitude, the swine.

Much to-do is currently being made of the trope that the war in Iraq has increased terrorism. I view this not as an unfortunate consequence but as something closer to a desirable policy objective. When one boils a potful of meaty bones the idea is that the heat will cause the crud and grease contained in the mess to rise to the top where it may be skimmed away leaving only the pure l'essence du carnivore. The more heat applied in the middle-east perhaps the sooner the illiberal Islamist dross will rise to be skimmed away. If this rising includes reifying Islamist terrorism across the globe then the sooner the pathetic mask of victimization and opposition to American "imperialism" will drop away to reveal the real threat which is the fervent (and pathetically ignorant) wish for the imposition of Islamic rule throughout the world. Of course this agenda is hardly a secret to anyone paying the least bit of attention to what Islamists are saying out loud but the current trouble is getting enough people to actually believe that they are deadly serious about it. Rampant Bush Derangement Syndrome has closed the ears of much of the left to the extent they apparently find themselves unable to take Islamists' loudly ululated vocalizations at face value. If our multi-cultural inclusive behaviorally tolerant "progressives" listened a little harder they might hear and appreciate that what Islamists despise most about permissive freewheeling western societies---is them.


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