Edward Luttwak and Peace Through War

The Muslim Brotherhood, founded in the late 20’s in Egypt, has been a source - intellectual and spiritual - of Islamic jihadism for a couple of generations now. In December of 2013, it seems that the CIA opened a back door channel to al Qaeda through the Brotherhood. This was done in order to get American troops out of Afghanistan with as few additional casualties as possible. In other words: we’re leaving so please don’t shoot or bomb us.

The thing is, sometimes you have to attempt these sorts of negotiations with very bad people in theatres of war. War being the defining concept. But we a reject war as something that is sometimes, if not often, inevitable nowadays. It is the great sea change in our international political order, starting in 1945 after the second of the two great wars. And it is still very much with us. War is an evil aberration that must be avoided at all costs.

But what are those costs of avoiding war? Edward Luttwak was born in Romania to a Jewish family in 1942, when the Iron Guard was in it's final days. A dangerous time for many, and certainly for a Jewish infant. He was raised in Italy and educated in England and America. In other words, Edward Luttak is a refugee. Remade as an Anglo-European with strong ties to America. And you may end up hating Edward Luttwak.

Why? Luttwak believes in giving war a chance. That war is a natural part of human history and is a method of achieving peace. Archaic, crazed old male, war-mongering fool. Right?

Maybe not. Our current obsession with negotiating our way out of any conflict and building a nation - without really considering what a nation is or what any nation we wish to build might be - has meant that we have frozen countless conflicts, rather than letting war resolve them. Two examples:

Yes, the Palestinians. Palestine ceased to exist for all practical purposes since the 1948 Palestine War. But of course, its right to exist is a deeply held belief with not just Palestinians but many around the world. Here's what Luttwak says:

You have the great-grandchildren of people still living in refugee camps, still eating out of the trough of the UN Work and Relief Agency (UNWRA), instead of becoming Syrians or Jordanians, or emigrating to New Zealand.

In other words, a decisive outcome in a military conflict allows for peace with victors and vanquished, and the slow but sustainable rebuilding of homes and lives.Without a decisive outcome the conflict is frozen in time. The other example?

North Korea. The Korean War was never even officially called a war, and without a clear cut victory, you have had for over half a century a divided peninsula and people. With the North Korean regime one of the world's most violent and repressive, and a constant threat to stability in East Asia and around the Pacific.

This brings up nuclear weapons - which North Korea has - and the Soviet Union, which was North Korea's main ally for decades. And that leads us to Syria.

When America has no clear ally - aside from perhaps the Kurds - in Syria, how do you intervene militarily to stop the slaughter? Is Syria the latest Bosnia? Is Aleppo Srebrenica? Perhaps, but in Bosnia, a recently collapsed Soviet Union was not much of a factor. That has changed completely in Syria, with Putin gladly inserting a newly aggressive Russian military into the conflict, in order to support a historical ally.

By placing nation building as a process over war as a process, America has been unable to do either well in the Middle East. As brave and capable and well-equipped as the men and women of the military are, without a longer-term political plan that lasts more than one or two electoral cycles and often far less, their world-class firepower goes to waste. And there is no longer term plan because the dominant view in Western academic and security circles believes that you can build nations with the right technology and some deft coalition building.

It hasn't worked. Should we listen to people like Luttwak? And accept that war - in places like the Middle East - still is a fundamental way of resolving political conflicts? And use America's formidable military strength with that perspective in mind? Luttwak himself states that America should step back and let Russia own the Syrian conflict. Does that make you hate him?

Some day the Middle East will live in relative harmony, perhaps under a suffocating bureaucracy, like the EU. That day, however, is still a long way away. And our fumbling attempts at nation building may have delayed that day by even more.

Posted by Keeley at October 13, 2016 2:20 PM
Comments
Comment #408679

Keely, I tried in vain to post a replay but WB eats my post. Put it in all 3 columns and same thing. Is anybody else having trouble getting a post thru WB?

Posted by: roy ellis at October 13, 2016 11:24 PM
Comment #408689

http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/09/saudi-arabia-terrorism-funding-214241

Ok, giving it another try to get this comment thru the system.

Keely, thank you for a good post, no sex, body fluids and the like. That’s a good thing.

But, first, I must remind readers about the secret service guy that says he helped the WH steward clean up the bed and put towels in the washer following some of Bill’s young and flashy days. Said it was a frequent thing and was roundly discussed, observed by the SS.

Now, to your post. I think we all agree the ME is a complicated part of the world. I think we can all agree that it has been made way more complicated than it was say, 20 years ago.

Plight of the ME is exacerbated in that thru the centuries these Muslim majority countries have been impacted by the clerics teaching and instructing the masses on basically every facet of life. Some countries way more moderating than others but some of the more powerful, Saudi and Iran had a major impact on the entire ME. With the financial support of Iran and Saudi Arabia many of the more radical clerics teaching strict adherence to whatever it is they believe, have gained near complete control of much of the ME, half of Africa and a quarter of Asia.

What we now have is basically tribal warfare with the worst of the worst winning or at perhaps matching the forces trying to keep a lid on things. The history of the ME has been that the Muslim countries will fight any intervening non=Muslim force to the death. Recall the Russians seeking a warm water port thru Afghanistan. Years, blood and money all for naught.

Beyond that, when there are no intervening forces the tribes fight among themselves. The two larger tribes, the Shite and Sunni have done the most damage primarily due to their financial backing.

Westerner’s have a hard time reconciling with the atrocities that have been, and still are being carried out by one faction or the other. The factions want more than anything to pull the West into the fray so as to embolden their tribal fighting spirit to ‘win against the infidels’. To date we have satisfied their wish beyond their wildest dream. The US alone has spent $5T, lost countless lives and have young men who have suffered terrible war wounds.

And, where has that gotten us? We are way behind square one from where we started some 20 years ago. And, AND, we are way behind where we were at the end of the Bush admin in 08. The Obama/Clinton admin has doubled the national debt to $20T and look where we are?

The Obama legacy is that there were no big wars, no US troops ‘on the ground’ no war casualties getting off the ships, and so on = = =

Meanwhile, the Russians forcefully took over their old seaport in the Crimea and a third or more Ukraine, and old Soviet state. The Russians have now sealed the deal on their warm water naval port in Syria, threatening the US if they make any real effort to change the political posture in Syria. The Russians are buzzing our ships and planes , putting missile batteries in the Urals, working with China on a missile defense in support of China and the South Sea, and NK. Iran rebels firing missiles at a US Navy ship and fomenting the situation in the ME. IMO, the dumbest thing this admin has done is invite the Russians to make war together in the ME.

Trump says we should knock out ISIS and take the oil. That may take out ISIS and gain some clout for western negotiators but I don’t see that as a long term solution. Obama just gave Iran some $1.7B and they can use that to finance the tribes for what, a hundred years or so. They can give a believer say, $5M to get into the US and try to carry of some terrorist attack.

Here is a possible action. We need to stop treating the ME problem with fringe solutions. We need to man up and call a spade a spade. The elephant in the room is Saudi’s and Iran. Put sanctions on both. Develop a strong US energy export program that would keep oil cheap which would impact Iran and Saudi’s. Have them understand that so long as the ME remains unsettled the sanctions will get worse.

For the debate, what would China, Russia and Iran do in response to such a bold program? I believe the Saudi’s would play ball. The Iranians would double down and try to destroy us all. China? A wild card here.

Posted by: roy ellis at October 14, 2016 6:48 AM
Comment #408690

Trying to get any text thru the system.

Posted by: roy ellis at October 14, 2016 6:50 AM
Comment #408717

Keely, I’m going to cut the post into small pieces and send from bottom to top.

Here is a possible action. We need to stop treating the ME problem with fringe solutions. We need to man up and call a spade a spade. The elephant in the room is Saudi’s and Iran. Put sanctions on both. Develop a strong US energy export program that would keep oil cheap which would impact Iran and Saudi’s. Have them understand that so long as the ME remains unsettled the sanctions will get worse.

For the debate, what would China, Russia and Iran do in response to such a bold program? I believe the Saudi’s would play ball. The Iranians would double down and try to kill us all. China? A wild card here.

Posted by: roy ellis at October 15, 2016 11:25 AM
Comment #408718

I’ll wait awhile before I send another.

The Obama legacy is that there were no big wars, no US troops ‘on the ground’ no war casualties getting off the ships, and so on = = =

Meanwhile, the Russians forcefully took over their old seaport in the Crimea and a third or more Ukraine, and old Soviet state. The Russians have now sealed the deal on their warm water naval port in Syria, threatening the US if they make any real effort to change the political posture in Syria. The Russians are buzzing our ships and planes , putting missile batteries in the Urals, working with China on a missile defense in support of China and the South Sea, and NK. Iran rebels firing missiles at a US Navy ship and fomenting the situation in the ME. IMO, the dumbest thing this admin has done is invite the Russians to make war together in the ME.

Trump says we should knock out ISIS and take the oil. That may take out ISIS and gain some clout for western negotiators but I don’t see that as a long term solution. Obama just gave Iran some $1.7B and they can use that to finance the tribes for what, a hundred years or so. They can give a believer say, $5M to get into the US and try to carry of some terrorist attack.

Posted by: roy ellis at October 15, 2016 11:27 AM
Comment #408719

What we now have is basically tribal warfare with the worst of the worst winning or at perhaps matching the forces trying to keep a lid on things. The history of the ME has been that the Muslim countries will fight any intervening non=Muslim force to the death. Recall the Russians seeking a warm water port thru Afghanistan. Years, blood and money all for naught.

Beyond that, when there are no intervening forces the tribes fight among themselves. The two larger tribes, the Shite and Sunni have done the most damage primarily due to their financial backing.

Westerner’s have a hard time reconciling with the atrocities that have been, and still are being carried out by one faction or the other. The factions want more than anything to pull the West into the fray so as to embolden their tribal fighting spirit to ‘win against the infidels’. To date we have satisfied their wish beyond their wildest dream. The US alone has spent $5T, lost countless lives and have young men who have suffered terrible war wounds.

And, where has that gotten us? We are way behind square one from where we started some 20 years ago. And, AND, we are way behind where we were at the end of the Bush admin in 08. The Obama/Clinton admin has doubled the national debt to $20T and look where we are?

Posted by: roy ellis at October 15, 2016 12:54 PM
Comment #408722

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Middle_East

A turning point in the history of the Middle East came when oil was discovered, first in Persia in 1908 and later in Saudi Arabia (in 1938) and the other Persian Gulf states, and also in Libya and Algeria. A Western dependence on Middle Eastern oil and the decline of British influence led to a growing American interest in the region.

The struggle between the Arabs and the Jews in Palestine culminated in the 1947 United Nations plan to partition Palestine. Later in the midst of Cold War tensions, the Arabic-speaking countries of Western Asia and Northern Africa saw the rise of pan-Arabism. The departure of the European powers from direct control of the region, the establishment of Israel, and the increasing importance of the oil industry, marked the creation of the modern Middle East.
Posted by: Weary Willie at October 15, 2016 3:13 PM
Comment #408723

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Middle_East#Modern_Middle_East

A Western dependence on Middle Eastern oil and the decline of British influence led to a growing American interest in the region. Initially, the Western oil companies established a predominance over oil production and extraction. However, indigenous movements towards nationalizing oil assets, oil sharing and the advent of OPEC ensured a shift in the balance of power towards the Arab oil producing nations.[20] Oil wealth also had the effect of stultifying whatever movement towards economic, political or social reform might have emerged in the Arab world under the influence of the Kemalist revolution in Turkey.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Middle_East#Defeat_and_partition_of_the_Ottoman_Empire_.281918.E2.80.9322.29

When the Ottoman Empire was defeated by an Arab uprising and British Empire forces after the Sinai and Palestine Campaign in 1918, the Arab population was rewarded with what many Islamic activists of more recent times have described as an Anglo-French betrayal. British and French governments concluded a secret treaty (the Sykes–Picot Agreement) to partition the Middle East between them and, additionally, the British, via the Balfour Declaration promised the international Zionist movement their support in re-creating the historic Jewish homeland in Palestine.
Posted by: Weary Willie at October 15, 2016 3:57 PM
Comment #408728

Last part, Keely.

first, I must remind readers about the secret service guy that says he helped the WH steward clean up the bed and put towels in the washer following some of Bill’s young and flashy days. Said it was a frequent thing and was roundly discussed, observed by the SS.

Now, to your post. I think we all agree the ME is a complicated part of the world. I think we can all agree that it has been made way more complicated than it was say, 20 years ago.

Plight of the ME is exacerbated in that thru the centuries these Muslim majority countries have been impacted by the clerics teaching and instructing the masses on basically every facet of life. Some countries way more moderating than others but some of the more powerful, Saudi and Iran had a major impact on the entire ME. With the financial support of Iran and Saudi Arabia many of the more radical clerics teaching strict adherence to whatever it is they believe, have gained near complete control of much of the ME, half of Africa and a quarter of Asia.

Posted by: roy ellis at October 15, 2016 5:08 PM
Comment #408729

Right WW, and the thing with the Shaw in Iran wasn’t handled well either.

So, now the ME is in flames, A Russian carrier and two Iranian ships headed to the area and John Kerry and Putin are going to solve this thing.

What should be the course of action in the ME, WW?

Posted by: roy ellis at October 15, 2016 5:20 PM
Comment #408731

Whoever takes the lead in negotiating a peace in the ME should be a mediator, not a dictator.

Historically, Israel belongs right where it’s at, but should be at the same status as every other player in the area. I think they all should get together and redraw the lines that the West drew in the 1900’s.

I’ve got a feeling the line drawers of the 19th and 20th centuries thought the same way we think today, i.e. bigger is better, control from the top. However, the tribal attitude, such as in Afghanistan is very decentralizing. The line drawers of today will have to find a middle ground in a tribal/state agreement. Tribes have this much space inside this larger state area and the state has little power in the tribal area. They all agree to stay in their own space. Yes, Walls if necessary!

First, they’ll have to identify all the legitimate tribes. Second, they will have to redraw the maps to accommodate all the legitimate tribes. Third, determine if any of the tribes want to share their space.

However they’re going to do it, it has to be done by the people in the area, not the west. If we get the short end of the stick, well, we can find another stick. The only reason the Middle East has any influence in the west is because of the oil.

I wonder how hard it would be to disassemble an oil field and return the area to it’s original environment?


Posted by: Weary Willie at October 15, 2016 7:22 PM
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