Tuesday, July 25, 2006

"They'll Like Us When We Win"

It's normally not in FITS' purview to comment on issues of international import. We pretty much adhere to Tip O'Neill's legendary "All Politics is Local" maxim and try to stick to what we know ... or at least what we think we know.

But recent events in the Middle East have forced us - and many of you - to briefly shift our focus, even if the underlying modus operandi is more about cheap oil for our gas-guzzling SUV's than it is about the humanitarian pipe dream of "peace in the Middle East."

We were underwhelmed, to say the least, by the local Democratic take on the issue by blog newcomer Elizabeth McHugh - which basically consisted of an eighth-grade social studies rehashing of recent American foreign policy in the region, a bunch of rhetorical questions (conveniently left unanswered) and a "war is not the answer" conclusion that was noteworthy only because it reminded us of the fact that Marvin Gaye was indeed one hell of a singer, and we've missed his vocal stylings immensely since his untimely death.

Anyway, in case you didn't recognize it right off the bat, the picture above is what was left of the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut, Lebanon after Palestinean terrorists blew it up with a truck bomb on October 23, 1983 - killing 241 Americans and forcing a U.S. withdrawal from the region a few months later.

Well last week, American soldiers were back in Lebanon for the first time in over two decades, evacuating embassy personnel and other essential-type folks as a brutal Israeli-Hezbollah conflict continued to escalate - threatening lives, regional stability, international relations, gas prices, liberal sensibilities, you name it.

Which leads us to the two fundamental questions Ms. McHugh and millions of others have been asking for decades - What the hell is going on in the Middle East? And what is the role of the big, bad (yes they think we're very bad over there) USA?

Simply put, nobody's got a clue.

Some say the problems in the region stem from America's blind support of Israel and the collapse of Cold War alliances, others say it's a rise in militant, Islamic fundamentalism. Still others say it's all about oil - who owns it, who sells it and how much they can make off of it.

There are nation-versus-nation spats, religion-versus-religion spats, tribe-versus-tribe spats and dictator-versus-dictator spats. When you get right down to it, it's a lot like watching The Bold and the Beautiful or Beverly Hills 90210, except it's set outside in a hot desert, chicks don't usually get starring roles and all the guys have beards, funny-looking hats, seemingly limitless stockpiles of conventional and non-conventional weaponry and itching inferiority complexes.

And here's how it plays out ...

As soon as one Middle Eastern nation attacks another (which happens often), there's retaliation, which leads to the gradual escalation of even deadlier violence and awful pictures of starving, naked kids on the streets, or bleeding, dying kids in hospitals, or (for contrast) semi-clothed kids carrying AK-47 assault rifles.

Once these pictures get beamed back over to our network and cable newscasts, they're neatly packaged and mainlined into American living rooms, followed by not-so-subtle reminders that "Oh yeah, when these people start shooting each other, your gas prices go up."


All of a sudden, bleeding heart liberals (who love kids) and die-hard conservatives (who hate high gas prices) are united in purpose, if not motivation, and before long the air is filled with the sound of the five most dangerous words in American foreign policy:

"We've got to do something."

Of course, let's be honest, that's the one-tenth of Americans who qualify as informed. The rest of the country is scratching its collective head and saying, "Who cares if these people shoot each other?"

But like Mighty Mouse, we're off to "save the day" again, with Secretary of State Condi Rice shuttling back and forth between all the various and sundry warring factions, ironically condemning the "shuttle diplomacy" that was practiced for decades by Warren Christopher and other former U.S. negotiators, all of whom failed to get to the bottom of the rabbit hole.

Let's face it people, the Middle East is like a Rubik's Cube. And America and the rest of the world are like one of those geometrically-challenged people who, no matter how hard they try, will never be able to solve a Rubik's cube - without peeling off and replacing the stickers, that is.

Oddly enough, perhaps the best policy wisdom we've heard yet on Middle Eastern diplomacy (other than just bombing the whole subcontinent back to the Paleolithic Era, which probably wouldn't go over too well at the U.N.), came from, of all places, an episode of The West Wing.

Seldom regarded as a bastion of geopolitical wisdom, the show nonetheless featured a provocative debate once between communications director Toby Ziegler and his ex-wife, a sitting U.S. Congresswoman, over some tough, anti-fundamentalist language Ziegler wanted to include in a Presidential speech addressing escalating Mideast tensions.

Ziegler wanted his stern words of warning to stay, but his ex-wife, adopting a more conciliatory approach to the crisis, wanted the language taken out.

In defending his rhetoric, Ziegler dismissed its potentially adverse repercussions with one, brilliant sentence:

"They'll like us when we win," he said.

Well right now, we're not winning. And until we've got a real plan - not this Oprah Diplomacy of flying around and talking to everyone involved about their "feelings" - we should, quite frankly, keep our people the hell out of there.


Blogger Laurin Manning said...

Her name is Rep. Andy Wyatt. :)

3:39 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Today you are right on the MoNy!


3:51 PM

Blogger faithinsound said...


We thought you were still on Season II? Now for bonus points - what were her and Toby's twins named?

Here's a hint - think Mark Twain for the boy and Titanic for the girl.

Seriously, though, LPM, you're not going to dive into the Middle East peacemaking process with us? We'd love to hear your thoughts!

4:08 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Will: It continues to amaze that some one writing as you do so very well indeed is the moron you so clearly are and will remain. Toodles!

4:10 PM

Anonymous tricked out civic said...

Huck and Molly. Molly was named after Molly O'Connor, the secret service agent killed at the night club during Zoey Barlett's kidnapping.

4:41 PM

Blogger Laurin Manning said...

I'm all the way through Season 5! And the twins are named Huck and Molly. Huck for Andy's father (or maybe it was grandfather?) and Molly for the agent who was shot down trying to protect Zoey when she was whisked away.

Nice historical reference on the Unsinkable Molly Brown, but of course you know that the quickest way to get me to guess that name is to reference my #1 idol!

5:03 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


Are you supposed to be some intelligent observer of the politics of Middle East diplomacy? Because right now you sound like the typical ignorant American (bomb them to the Paleowhatever ere) that is too sptuid to grasp what's really happening.

This post is typical Will Folks - shoot, aim, ready.

6:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a natural order of things. The strong rule the weak…it has been that way since the beginning f time and it remains that way now.

Wherever you find continual strife, war and mayhem you will find the natural order has been replaced with some system …usually enforced by arrogantly well meaning outsiders.

Do I like this element of the human condition…no. But it is what it is…and the sooner the parties involved solve their own problems by whatever means they choose…the better off we will be.


8:02 PM

Blogger Bill Smith said...

Everybody knows its true: the West Wing sucked.

It was like The State of primetime drama.

Anyway, aside from referring to that damn show...great post, Will.

8:20 PM

Blogger Earl Capps said...

The first thing we do is minimize our need for oil. Most nations we buy oil from are far from stable democratic nations under the rule of law. This would reduce our need to care about that region.

The second thing is to get our friends in Israel to bend a little with regard to their neighbors. When they've taken a moderate approach, such as with Egypt and the Sinai, it's worked well.

Overall, the West would be wise to put this region at a safe distance.

Years ago, it was proposed that the West do just that, but to serve the rest of the world notice that the single use of a WMD against a neighboring nation would result in a massive nuclear strike against the offending nation by the West.

That would allow them to stew in what are essentially tribal conflicts without those conflicts reaching the point at which they would threaten to spread outside the region.

Maybe we need to let them eat each other until they either wipe each other out, or realize, like the Europeans did after WWII, that coexistence is far better than continuing centuries of shifting alliances and cut-throat warfare.

8:23 PM

Anonymous west_rhino said...

Eighth grade socialist studies diatribe is understandable in a field of dumbed down sheep. The news media hasn't one honest editor that will allow the reporting of Tehran's stirring the pot and having Hezbollah start the current crisis with Israel to divert attention from their production of a bomb.

It worked for Bill Clinton to divert attention from DNA contributions to the Oral office carpet to have an asprin factory in the Sudan blown up and a bunch of empty tents in Afghanistan shreaded by several million dollars worth of Tomahawk cruise missiles.

9:04 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"They'll like us when we win," he said.

In order to win you have to fight to win at 100% kick-butt mode.

WAR is a lot like SEX; neither one should be applied halfway. The results would always be less than either participant deserve.

Jenerette/4-kids/Persian Gulf War Veteran

9:26 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

West Rhino,
The media's been talking about Tehran being involved in this since before it began.

AND, if the press had not reported about Bill's BJ, no one would have ever known about it, and the Republicans would never have had a chance to impeach him.

4:11 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Earl said...

The second thing is to get our friends in Israel to bend a little with regard to their neighbors.


What have you been freakin smoking? Are you the one responsible for planting all that dope in North Columbia, come on you can tell FITS nobody will find out...DAF

4:51 PM

Blogger Earl Capps said...

Anon, if you think they've always treated the Palestinians as equal citizens on their territory, you'd be sadly mistaken.

That has had a lot to do with the current attitudes of the Palestinians towards them.

As to what I'm smoking and growing ... only South Carolina ...

7:54 PM

Anonymous west_rhino said...

Anon, the media has begrugingly dribbled out Tehran's connection, given that the back channels of the web and talk radio are talking about it.

Missing are the why for Tehran and the willingness of the press to keep a focus on the civilian human shield Hezbolah has adopted as a cannon fodder shield and the "massive" carnage.

I'd remind you, the left side of the press still was forced to come forward with the Monica and Paula Jones stories before they were scooped... profits before loyalty and possibly doing damage control by breaking the story first

9:54 PM


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