Sunday's New York Times contains a front-page story about
the arrest of immigrants who got on the phone the morning of 9-11
to express their joy at the attacks. I don't know whether the government
will obtain useful information from them, but the fact that there
were apparently quite a few Middle Easterners here making such calls
helps clarify what ought to be America's long term aims, after bin
Laden is brought to justice.
does the fact that, in order to keep informed, I've been compelled
to read many articles about Wahhabis
and Shiites and Sunnis, and sought to develop informed opinions
about the internal politics of the Pashtuns and the prospect that
Islam might some day experience its own version of the Protestant
game to make the effort, and believe that wise policies in the next
months and years will require that a lot of Americans become more
informed than they are.
in truth, I'd rather spend the time deepening my knowledge of my
own traditions, which is woefully deficient.
how is this for a war aim? Create a world in which Americans can
have (if they so choose) as little to do with Islam as they did
in, say, 1950. Or 1900.
would require an American military disengagement from the Gulf and
indeed from the entire Mid East region. Some of our great friends
the Saudi princes might be cut off from their lavish allowances
and might even have to work for a living; the Iranians would wish
us back; all the parties there could fight over who got to sell
us the oil. Can't predict what would happen to Hosni
Mubarak, but it would become more and more difficult for the
Egyptian intelligentsia to blame the United States for everything.
There would be no American troops in the what bin Laden calls the
"land of the two mosques." Israel could decide whether
to make peace with its neighbors or continue to dig a hole for itself
as an isolated pariah state.
from the Muslim world would be stopped cold: it's simply too difficult
to distinguish normal folks from people who, for whatever reason,
take joy in our suffering or actually are trying to kill us.
could be legislated easily enough by enacting restrictions on immigrants
originating in countries with a terrorism problem, or where there
exists a certain threshold of hostility to the United States.
after thirty or forty years, something changes in the dynamic between
Islam and the West, we could reconsider these policies.
of the great blessings bestowed on the United States is its opportunity
for strategic isolation. Protected by two oceans, and bordering
two relatively peaceful states, it really can afford to pursue the
policies recommended by the Founding Fathers: no entangling alliances,
serve as a beacon of liberty, but generally mind its own business.
proposal is not very different in spirit to the one increasingly
bruited about in Israel the separation or "build a fence"
concept, recommended by several pro-Israeli columnists in this country.
The difference, and what an important one it is, is that we are
not occupying any Arab land and don't desire to. Our fences are
already constructed by favorable geography.
a strategy would probably require building deeper relationships
with Canada and Mexico, and perhaps even oil suppliers like Venezuela.
That doesn't sound too difficult. If we wanted continued immigration
(I favor some, though a good deal less) there are plenty of places
to choose them from.
after all is entirely a choice for Americans to make. During the
past generation, this country has sought (without any consultation
with the American people) to define itself both as "the world's
first universal nation" and as a benevolent hegemon, intruding militarily
in foreign squabbles all over the world. Together those two notions,
and the policies which flow from them, have brought us to the current,
extremely unfavorable juncture.
the fever in the Muslim world will soon pass, as it seems already
to have in Iran; perhaps it will endure for centuries. Either way,
it need not be a life and death matter for us. Returning to the
condition where the internal politics of the Islamic world are an
issue of little concern the real status quo ante
should be our goal.
recognize there is unfairness in my proposal. I have heard frequently
both from American diplomats who have served in the Arab world and
personally from Middle Easterners that, beneath much of the hostile
rhetoric we hear, the United States really is a beacon of democracy
and modernity to a great many Arabs; that to sever our ties to them
would be an unwarranted blow; that Americans and Arabs have a lot
to teach and learn from each other.
have no good answer to such objections. They do, at present, seem
dwarfed by the many layers of frustration, misunderstanding, and
sheer hatred now passing back and forth between the Middle Eastern
countries and my own, a hatred which can perhaps only be diminished
after an extensive period of not having too much to do with one
printable version of this article
As a committed
cold warrior during the 1980ís, Scott McConnell wrote extensively
for Commentary and other neoconservative publications. Throughout
much of the 1990ís he worked as a columnist, chief editorial writer,
and finally editorial page editor at the New York Post. Most
recently, he served as senior policy advisor to Pat Buchananís 2000
campaign , and writes regularly for NY Press/Taki's Top Drawer.
columns on Antiwar.com
Strategic Withdrawal Option
Open Letter to Arab Readers
Push for A Wider War
Bushes and the Palestinians: Act 2
Struggle Over War Aims
They Hate Us
Many Arabs Hate America
is Still Right
Real Plan for the Mideast
Just Mideast Peace
Liberalism on the March