Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Richard Clarke: The Wrong Debate on Terrorism

Richard Clarke's 4/25 op-Ed peice in the The New York Times highlights many of the short comings of the Bush Administration's anti-terror policy. It is good reading and poses questions that reflect a fine sensibility of the limits and inherent dangers of using armed force as a response to every security challenge.

Clarke stresses that what we are facing is really a civil war within the Islamic civilization; modern secularism vs. traditional totalism. The most disturbing observation Clarke makes is that many of Bush's policies, especially the invasion of Iraq, have strengthened the hand of the traditionalists in the struggle. Many of us recognize that Bush's policies in the Middle East are counter-productive to the goal of a peaceful region. Most recently, his seemingly incomprehensible endorsement of Sharon's 'peace plan' seems designed to further alienate our remaining Arab allies.

But what if people's reasonable assumption that Bush is simply incompetent or misguided is completely wrong? The people who make up the Bush Administration are a lot of negative things, but stupid isn't one of them. What if Bush's policies are having exactly the effect they are intended to have? That is the truly scary thought of the day.

Incompetence may be a comforting illusion. The reality may be that Bush is pushing the Middle East toward war and the Islamic culture toward radical fundamentalism as a concious policy choice.

To what purpose? Why, the one foretold in the Bible, of course: the end of the world. If Bush thinks himself appointed by God to lead the Nation, is it any buggier for him to think he is leading the nation through the End Times? Is it appreciably more insane for Bush to think that his mission as God's appointed leader is to bring the Appocalypse and the Rapture, than for him to think that God appointed him President with no particular mission in mind? God acts in mysterious ways, but religious radicals never think he acts without a purpose; and they always think they know what it is.

The Bush Administration is clearly fostering strife, war, unrest, and radicalism in the Middle East by its policies. Those who believe in the literal truth of the Bible believe that the End Times will play out in a time of strife in the Middle East when Israel is re-established. What more reasonable way to hasten the coming of the Christian Eschaton that to stir up trouble in the region by starting wars and empowering radicals? What better way to bring prophecy to fruition than to back the Israeli 'peace plan' that will re-establish the 'historical' boundaries of Israel by granting the West Bank to Israel and radicalizing the Arab world in the process? Is there any provocation available that might make a war and a nuclear exchange between Israel and Muslim powers, such as Pakistan or Iran, more likely?

Of course, I could be entirely wrong. The Bush Administration may be just a gaggle of incompetents. But if it looks like a duck, sounds like a duck, and walks like a duck, it probably isn't an elephant. It's likely a duck. ::dramatic pause::

A Doomsday Duck.

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