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War with Iraq: Why the Bush Doctrine will prevail--and fail...

by Greg Swann

We watched 'Moscow on the Hudson' last night. Not a fantastic film, although the children spawned as a consequence of the bathtub scene--who are by now old enough to vote--have cause to give it five stars. Writer/director Paul Mazursky is deeply in love with New York, and that makes the film a treat. And the Independence Day scene, immigrants from all over the world helping each other to recite the Declaration of Independence, always gets me in the throat.

It put me in mind of 'The War for Independence at the Hotel Port-au-Prince,' a very New Yorky story I wrote a long time ago. Then a piece of email from Ken Hooper regarding my remarks yesterday about the war with Iraq reminded me why. He said:

If it were possible to beat Arabs peacefully, Israel would surely have figured out the technique by now. They have every chance to and every reason to, and lots, lots, lots of experience. It does not seem to work very well.
I replied:
Israel has nothing like the might, aside from the nukes the U.S. won't let them use, to convince Islam to restrain itself. Yet since they were turned back at Vienna in 1683, Islam has done nothing but talk about taking Europe. The Department of Defense analyst is correct: They deny. But they are a Warrior culture, which means their denial works both ways: Either they are invincible or you are. Gang-bangers are harmless when they're staring at their shoes.
There's a lot packed in there, a lot I've been meaning to talk about, but this extract from the story illustrates the principle:
Reinforcements. Through a process of communication I don't fully understand, that pocket of Herald Square was suddenly flooded with Asians. Electronics dealers, still clutching the cassette tapes they were stocking. Street peddlers carrying those baseball bats that are always on display but are never for sale. Shoppers with bags from Macy's and Toys 'R' Us. Men, women, children, all come to the rescue.

The 200 or so millingly enveloping [Hotel Port-au-]Princely were surrounded. Trapped between an advancing line and a blocked retreat. The more muscular of the rescuers elbowed their way forward, like blood cells surging forward to attack fleeing germs. I heard marching orders in what sounded like several different tongues.

"Hold it!" called one of the stringy Princely males. "Hold it!"

The Asians stopped advancing. They didn't stop looking mean.

"Now, we ain't got no cause to fight!" the Stringy Prince continued. "No cause at all..."

"[Umph!] them!" yelled a sweaty, flabby matron. "They take everything and don't leave any for us!"

"Yeah!" called out one of the Rocket Launchers. "And they get all the good grades in school!"

The temper of the Princely was building, but I noted that most of the men were trying to calm things down. The Asians had managed to organize themselves fairly well; the shimmering image of a command structure was emerging in the tone of their rapid conversation.

Some of the more imposing Asian males elbowed all the way through the loose line of Princely to the besieged family. There they turned and served as an escort for the women and younger children. They emerged as a convoy, with a firm line of angry muscle to cure the Princely of bad ideas.

The Princely just stared; the males inspected their shoes.

A few weeks ago I wrote about Cain and Abel, and there is much, much more to be written. (If there are book acquisition editors reading this, I can do it as fact or fiction, fascinating either way.) This is what I wrote:
Abel was a nomad, a shepherd following his flocks. Cain was a farmer, fixed to a plot of land. Abel was a traditionalist, doing what all his (ahem) predecessors had done before him. Cain was an innovator, doing things never done before. Abel roamed the deserts. Cain was bound to the markets of the city. Abel's wealth consisted of tangible chattels. Cain's wealth was speculative, a thing of hopes and promises. Abel was a warrior, defending his own moveable estate by combat and vengeance. Cain was a merchant, depending for his defense on specialists, with his defense often being effected by means of compensation and reconciliation.

Abel made a sacrifice of a lamb, thus establishing to God that he was a true Semite. Cain made a sacrifice of grain, demonstrating to God that he had been Hellenized. Forget the murder. The 'bad guy,' from the storyteller's point of view, always does bad things. The point of the story of Cain and Abel is this:

Abel was from Jerusalem or Mecca. Cain was from Athens.

Abel was the fixed, the unquestioning, the unchanging--and thus was favored by the fixed, unquestionable, unchangeable doctrine. Cain was the fluid, the inquisitive, the innovative--the horrifyingly Greek--and thus his offering of the fruits of agriculture, of urbanization, of task-specialization, of commerce, of speculation, of peaceful dispute resolution--his offering of all the fruits of reason--was spurned by God.

From [novelist David] Brin's perspective, Abel is a Romantic, a champion of tradition, of hierarchy, of vengeance. Cain is Enlightened, the advocate of reason, of democracy, of peace. From my own broader view, Abel is the East and Cain is the West.

This story is a rich anthropological mine, but the important point here is that Abel's culture, which is Arabia's culture, is a Warrior culture. Knowledge is received, not discovered. Rectitude is traditional and formalized, not reasoned. Justice is vertical, effected by tribute and vengeance, not by a horizontal weighing and measuring. Wealth is seized or surrendered, not earned. The Warrior culture is older than Abel, but also newer than the Stringy Princes at the Hotel Port-au-Prince.

The warriors of a Warrior culture will fight to the death so long as they believe--however irrationally--that they have a chance to prevail. But as soon as they lose that belief--again rationally or irrationally--they fade. They inspect their shoes. They pretend to themselves and portray in their behavior that they had never intended to fight at all. Israel faces daily attacks because she seems so small, so easily defeated. Vienna has nothing to worry about.

And this is why the Bush Doctrine--what I am contending is the real Bush Doctrine--will work. I said:

The Bush Doctrine, which will never be enunciated except by explosion, is this: "We will hurt you a lot worse than you can ever hurt us. We don't need to use our police to catch your terrorists, because you are going to catch them yourselves, to avoid being the sequel to this made-for-TV war."
This will prevail precisely because Warrior cultures are irrational. President George Bush has been planning the 'War on Terror' since September 11, 2002. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has been planning for war with Iraq since the day of his confirmation, if not ten years before. But Islam has been actively planning this war on the West for more than fifty years. How long will it take for them to fade? How long is the round-trip satellite propagation delay for a televised rout of Iraq? If this war is effected according to the plan I foresee for it, our victory in Iraq will amend Islamic behavior far more effectively than did the defeat at Vienna.

As I discussed, the effect on China and North Korea will be similar, but for different reasons. Islamic states may not actively round up their resident terrorists--in which case the Bush Doctrine will replace them with more temperate regimes. What they will do, regime-changed or not, is redirect their attention away from the West. They may invent elaborate rationales to explain their forbearance to fight. But they will cease to fight.

And yet again, to acknowledge that this is what is planned and what is likely to happen is not to endorse or applaud it. The Bush Doctrine--perhaps we should call it 'The Cain Doctrine,' to distinguish it from the nineteen lines of disinformation emitted daily by the Bush Administration--will prevail in the short term. But our battle with Islam--and with the East as such--is not to be fought in the short term.

If, as I argued at the start of all this, the regime-changed countries are changed to Rotarian Kleptocracies, the United States will have done nothing long-term to root out the 'root causes' of terrorism. Our enemy is not Islam or China or the entrenchedly enstenched French. Our enemy is Abel's anti-Hellenism--irrationalism, anegoism, anti-individualism, anti-capitalism. Whether they know it or not, these are the things immigrants are escaping when they come to America, and their contraries--reason, egoism, individualism and capitalism--are the ideas United States must export. Whatever the West spreads in the wake of this war, if it is not unashamedly The West, we will have left the Warrior cultures with the means--in fifty years or five hundred--to renew their attack.

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