In a characteristically obtuse, barely coherent and typically self-serving and –centered op-ed published Saturday, former Pentagon policy chief, Douglas Feith calls on Obama to build on Feith’s chairmanship of the U.S.-India Defense Policy Group (DPG) to “intensify strategic cooperation with India” by initiating “a proper strategy to defeat our (common) terrorist enemies.”
Hard-line neo-cons have long seen India as a critical ally in the ongoing “clash of civilizations” which they and Islamist extremists have tried so hard to stoke. What really struck me about Feith’s article, however, was his implicit argument against territorial compromise between India and Pakistan (sound familiar?):
“The more we learned about jihadist ideology – that of al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba and others – the less likely it appeared that India could free itself of terrorist attacks simply through territorial compromise with Pakistan over Kashmir. that a territorial compromise on Kashmir between India and Pakistan would not serve. Jihadist leaders declare that the aim of their holy war is not to alter specific policies of their enemies, but rather to establish a universal Muslim state.”
Now I agree with Feith that the most radical of the groups, including those named by him, do indeed have grander ambitions. But the question is whether they would gain as much support and as many recruits from the Pakistani population – and hence constitute the kind of threat they pose now — if a territorial compromise, mutually agreed by both countries, were in place? Feith and others of his ilk – who oppose all territorial compromise between Israel and its neighbors – ritually ignore or reject the notion that radical Islamists might find it more difficult to enlist the support of fellow Muslims if the latter’s very concrete (in this case, territorial) grievances, were actually addressed.
In another op-ed published Monday, neo-imperialist neo-con Max Boot argues in favor of stronger international action against pirates in Somalia and terrorists in Pakistan, a generally defensible – if questionable in some of its details (use Blackwater and other mercenaries to protect shipping) – position. But there was one paragraph that really jumped out at me:
“…Pakistan was not entirely peaceful when it was under British rule. Nor was Somalia under Italian and British sovereignty. But they were considerably better off than they are today – not only from the standpoint of Western countries but also from the standpoint of their own citizens.”
How does Boot know that these countries were better off “from the standpoint of their own citizens” when they were under European rule? So many neo-cons, in spite of their professed devotion to democracy and Wilsonianism (remember self-determination?), hold fast to the imperial values – and the deep racism that were embedded in them, be it white man’s burden or mission civilasatrice),of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, failing to recognize that the dominant struggle of the second half of the 20th century was not East vs. West, but rather North vs. South as a result of which the latter, to varying degrees of success, achieved decolonization despite heavy resistance from the dominant Western powers. From a western standpoint, that may not have been a good thing both for the West and for the “natives,” but what evidence is there to suggest that the natives want to reverse history and will greet their former oppressors with flowers and sweets?
Of course, Boot’s reasoning is very similar to that of the liberal interventionists with whom neo-cons once again hope to make common cause.