July 18, 2006

Will Misfires

Over at The Corner this morning, John Podhoretz announced:

George Will Goes Nuclear

This may prove to be the most discussed op-ed of the year.

Actually, it isn't even the most discussed post of the day from Washington Post columnists, with Richard Cohen's "curl up and die" op-ed targeting Israel taking that dishonor.

Still, I read Will's column in the New York Post as J-Pod urged, and even after a re-reading, I wasn't duly impressed with any of this:

Speaking on ABC's "This Week," Rice called it "short-sighted" to judge the success of the administration's transformational ambitions by a "snapshot" of progress "some couple of years" into the transformation. She seems to consider today's turmoil preferable to the Middle East's "false stability" of the last 60 years, during which U.S. policy "turned a blind eye to the absence of democratic forces."

There is, however, a sense in which that argument creates a blind eye: It makes instability, no matter how pandemic or lethal, necessarily a sign of progress. Violence is vindication: Hamas and Hezbollah have, Rice says, "determined that it is time now to try and arrest the move toward moderate democratic forces in the Middle East."

But there also is democratic movement toward extremism. America's intervention was supposed to democratize Iraq which, by benign infection, would transform the region. Early on in the Iraq occupation, Rice argued that democratic institutions do not just spring from a hospitable political culture, they also can help create such a culture. Perhaps.

But elections have transformed Hamas into the government of the Palestinian territories, and elections have turned Hezbollah into a significant faction in Lebanon's parliament, from which it operates as a state within the state. And as a possible harbinger of future horrors, last year's elections gave the Muslim Brotherhood 19 percent of the seats in Egypt's parliament.

For a region cycling through periods of high intensity, short-duration wars, and low intensity, long duration slugfests, is the "false stability" Will speaks of worth maintaining? I suggest not, and I think that the turmoil would exist, triggered by Hamas and Hezbollah and the regimes in Syria and Iran that back them, whether or not we ever invaded Iraq at all in 2003.

Certainly, America wasn't invading any Arab or Persian nations in the 1948 War for Israeli Independence, The Six Day War, the Yom Kippur War, or any of the other conflicts Israel has been engaged in during it's nearly 60 year modern history, and so Will's argument seems to fall short of the facts.

Will makes the false argument that instability is not required for progress in the region, an absurd position in science and politics. Whether we are discussing physical materials or a region in political stasis, a catalyst is needed to create change, and as that change occurred instability is a certainly. There is only stability in the inert and the dead, and quite frankly, I don't see Israel as willing to be either.

Yes, democracy can have bad results. People can elect bad leaders as easily as bad leaders can seize power on their own, but that does not invalidate the concept democracy, and in fact reinforced the importance of the vote. People can choose to make bad decisions and they must learn to live with the consequences of that decision. Hopefully, the Palestinians will learn that lesson over time, as will the Lebanese that helped Hezbollah into power, only to undo the progress of the past 15 years in less than a week.

Wil'ls column brings us nothing new, nothing astute, and rehashes arguments I've seen better written elsewhere by writers with far less renown.

Perhaps Will has attempted to go nuclear, but like a North Korean missile, he has fallen apart shortly after launch.

Posted by Confederate Yankee at July 18, 2006 04:43 PM | TrackBack

What is false stability anyways but a revisionist snapshot of history? Every time period between periods of violence could be considered that. Seems like automatic justification to say, "Look! Those 60 years wasn't worth it!" I dare say the people living in that region those 60 years would prefer false stability over open violence any day of the week. Any bets on how long the next "false stability" after this current transformation lasts?

Posted by: matt a at July 19, 2006 07:52 AM