FrontPageMagazine.com |November 23, 2006
We’re told it’sthe Realists versus the Neo-Cons, and the Realists are winning.
On Monday, less than two full weeks after Democrats won the Congresson a platform of “phased withdrawal” from Iraq, Iraqileaders bowed their heads in submission, announcing that they willhold direct talks with Iran and Syria in Tehran this weekend.
Right on cue, the Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group leaked on Tuesdayits recommendation that the United States negotiate directly withSyria and Iran, to convince them to reduce their assistance to theterrorists in Iraq.
Also on Tuesday, the Syrians and the Iranians (and their agents inLebanon) assassinated yet another pro-Western political leader,Lebanon’s ministry of industry, Pierre Gemayel.
Pierre Gemayel, the 34-year old scion of one of Lebanon’s mostprominent Maronite Christian families, had joined forces with theanti-Syrian alliance led by Saad Hariri, son of the assassinatedformer prime minister. His uncle, Bashir Gemayel, was assassinated bythe Syrians in August 1982, just weeks after he was elected Lebanon’spresident in an earlier élan of Lebanese independence. Hisfather, Amin, was elected president to replace him.
To the Realist school of American foreign policy, such events are thesad necessities of life. We can’t keep murderers and thugs fromkilling each other. But through cautious diplomacy and the judicioususe of force, we can keep them from killing us.
Nobody, in either school, believes this sequence of events is merecoincidence. Neo-Conssuch as Michael Ledeenview these developments as signs of U.S. weakness and drift; afailure to pursue the terrorists who declared war on us in 1979, whenIranian “students” (including Iran’s currentpresident, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad), seized the U.S. embassy in Tehranand took 54 diplomats and all of America hostage for 444 days.
To the Realists, whose current champions are former National Securityadvisors Brent Scowcroft and Zbigniew Brzezinski, we never shouldhave ventured into Iraq to depose the regime of Saddam Hussein. AsScowcroft hectored Condoleeza Rice in a semi-public forum 3 yearsago, “at least with Saddam in power,we’vehad fifty years of peace.”
Besides the arithmetic exaggeration (Saddam only assumed full powerin Iraq in 1979), Scowcroft’s argument is not unlike what weare hearing today from the Baker-Hamiltoncommission. Let’snegotiate with Syria and Iran. After all, these regimes respectpower. They know we can do them tremendous harm. So we have leveragethat we can and should use to achieve our goals. We don’t needto over-reach by seeking to overthrow them.
America’s goal, in the eyes of the Realists, is to get Syriaand Iran to moderate their support for the insurgents, so we canprevent a few attacks today and tomorrow. Let’s decrease thelevel of violence, so the U.S. can withdraw troops from Iraq withoutdestabilizing the country.
In exchange for their help in achieving a very temporary goal (whichis certainly in their power, since they are backing the insurgents),the United States must abandon all support to pro-democracy forces inSyria and Iran and provide security guaranties to both regimes. That’sthe deal that is currently on the table.
We get political cover for a troop withdrawal, and they tell theirterrorist proxies to lay low for a time and half a time (if we’relucky). All we really get is a fig leaf. But smiling as we put it onis called Realism.
Neo-cons view these events quite differently. They remember thatthese very same Realists called on the Iraqi people to rise upagainst Saddam Hussein after the first Gulf War in March 1991, andthen we withdrew, allowing Saddam to slaughter his opponents by thetens of thousands.
Neo-cons understand that Iraqi president Jalal Talabani is not bowinghis head and slouching toward Tehran out of any desire to conclude apact with Iran’s Islamofascist leaders. He is going therebecause he knows we are about to abandon his country once again.
But Neo-cons also argue that we have never seriously tried to achievethe policy goals the President has so eloquently laid out in speechafter speech, where he has spoken of his “freedom agenda”and of breaking fifty years of stability that was based on U.S.support for regional dictators.
We have failed to carry out that agenda in Iraq, byallowing an ill-chosen “Viceroy” to transform liberationinto occupation through his monumental arrogance.
We have failed to support freedom-fighters in Iran, bowing topro-regime lobbyists in the United States and to the siren-songs ofregime envoys, who claim their willingness to cooperate if only wewould treat them with respect;
We have never even tried to help the pro-democracy forces inSyria, while abandoning the Lebanese to Hezbollah militiamen andSyrian thugs.
The Realists argue, we don’t have time to wait for the seeds offreedom to sprout. Indeed, it may be that they are being sown onrocky ground and will never grow, at least not in our lifetime.
On the contrary, we don’t have the luxury of accommodatingIslamo-fascist regimes that are hell-bent on acquiring nuclearweapons, and have no intention of abandoning that quest just becausewe kowtow before them.
The Realists are leading us into very dangerous territory. Where haveJames Baker and Lee Hamilton taken their cues when it comes torecommending direct talks with Iran? From Iranian officials andIranian regime surrogates, among others.
Baker himself had a three-hour lunch in New York recently with Iran’sambassador to the United Nations, while special envoy Frank Wisnerhas reportedly been meeting with Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei’snational Security advisor, Ali Larijani, in Stockholm and otherplaces to discuss the terms of America’s surrender.
For 27 years, the United States has imposed various forms ofpunishment on the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran, in a vainhope that pain would induce them to change their behavior. Clearly,it hasn’t worked, because the pain has been too slight.
So now the Realists are telling us that we should abandon those toolsand simply ask politely, and hope for better results.
This is realistic? Even a flaming left-wing Hollywood screenwritercould go to town with that plot. That is precisely what NevilleChamberlain did in Munich when he negotiated with a very reasonableAdolf Hitler in 1938, and returned home to Britain proclaiming “Peacein our time!”
“An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile,” WinstonChurchill said famously, “hoping it will eat him last.”
Neo-cons got a boost from an unsuspected quarter earlier this week:Saudi ambassador to Washington, and long-time head of Saudiintelligence, Prince Turki bin Faisel bin Abdel-Aziz. Envisaging afuture for Iraq of open civil war, massive ethnic cleansing, and themilitary involvement of Iraq’s neighbors, hetoldthe Washington Post: “SinceAmerica came into Iraq uninvited, it should not leave Iraq uninvited.”
The Democrats won Congress on a program of unilateral surrender. Andthey are about to reap the spoils as we prepare the terms of oursubmission to the Islamofascists in Iran and to the thugs inSyria.
Unfortunately, the rest of us are going to pay the price of theirfolly – and so will countless thousands of freedom-lovingIraqis, Iranians, and Lebanese, who so foolishly believed in us andour commitment to freedom.
We have seen the first victims over these past few days. Many moreare about to fall.
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