The Long View 2003-03-06: Four Fronts

John made something of an off-hand comment at the end of this entry about the build-up to the Iraq War,

There are plausible reasons to oppose the war, but I do not see them in the anti-war movement. I see only the glinting monocle of Baron Evola.

I think there is something to this. There is a segment of the Right in the United States that has been emboldened by the debacle in Iraq, and it is precisely the segment of the Right that has links to Evola.

Four Fronts
The reports that the Iraq war will start with a bombardment on March 13 or 14 seem reasonable. It would begin with what sounds like "precision saturation-bombing," if that is not a contradiction in terms, followed by a ground invasion on March 17. The war is supposed to be over by the second week in April. Yesterday's dueling press-conferences between Secretary Powell and Inspector Blix suggest that the diplomatic process has come to an end. Dr. Blix has decided to accept Iraq's dribble of concessions as "disarmament." Secretary Powell claims to have yet more intelligence that the Iraqi government is engaged in a pattern of evasion.
Make no mistake: the inspections are working. Their function is to preserve the Baathist regime until the pressure of events forces America's attention elsewhere. Given the climatic constraints on a campaign, the inspection process is within a few days of accomplishing just that. It is inconceivable that an invasion could be delayed until next Fall. If the Iraqi government survives the Spring, the states of the region will conclude, correctly, that America cannot act without an approval that the UN is structurally unable to give. They will then sue for the favor of Saddam's government, on what terms they can.
This is one of the reasons why the British proposal to set a hard deadline for the end of March is unlikely to win much favor in Washington. It would simply bring the start of a war closer to the end of the campaign season, while the diplomatic situation continues to deteriorate. It is also unlikely to win much favor at the UN, simply because it is a hard deadline.
 
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We should never lose sight of the interconnectedness of the events of these days. It is reasonably clear that the North Koreans began to act up precisely because the attention of the US was on the other side of Asia. One of the reasons we should want to examine the files of the Baathist government is to discover whether the timing was opportunistic or a matter of actual collusion. We now have at least the appearance of a crisis in northeast Asia, with violations of air space being answered by a reinforcement of bombers. Still, there is something rather artificial about the whole business. The condition of the North Korean regime was no more critical after talks with the US broke off last year than before. There is no particular reason why they have to open a nuclear assembly-line now (unless perhaps they anticipate a burgeoning market in the Middle East if the US backs off from Iraq).
The North Korean government is not crazy. They are misunderstood, because diplomacy is not in their cultural repertoire. What they are trying to do is cement tribute relationships with their neighbors. Like the Iraqis, their longer term goal is to survive until the attention of the United States is elsewhere. Then they can reunite the peninsula through force and subversion. They cannot do that now, though. It seems likely to me that, in the event of an Iraqi war, you will be hearing quite a lot about Korea at the same time. However, they won't start their own war now.
A minor aside: A special Anachronism Award should go to Senator Carl Levin, who recently came out against deploying the prototype antimissile system for the West Coast. The argument for years has been that the threat of a North Korean ICBM was too hypothetical to build a defense against. Well, it's no longer hypothetical. Senator Levin still opposes deployment, however, on the grounds that deploying an unproven system would introduce "uncertainties." That's perfectly true. With the system activated, Seattle might not be nuked if the government in Pyongyang waxes spiteful.
 
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The Islamist terrorist networks have the mirror image of America's problem. If they do not make their presence felt outside the West Bank in short order, they will lose credibility. This will particularly be the case if they fail to provide a diversion from a war in Iraq. The fact is, though, that the war against terrorism per se has gone better than anyone might have hoped. It also seems to be the case that the campaigns against the state bases of terror, in Afghanistan and Iraq so far, have rather contributed to these efforts than distracted from them.
Still, as has been the case since 911, there are rumors of impending attacks. One says there will be a Taliban offensive into Afghanistan from Pakistan in the event of a war with Iraq. Others continue to talk about attacks in the US, particularly using shoulder-launched missiles against aircraft. In any case, the terrorists will be under pressure to do something, even if a lack of preparation reduces the chance of success. Karl-Heinz Stockhausen was quite correct: Islamist terrorism is essentially theater.
 
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Finally, this brings us to the Communist-Fascist-Islamist alliance that uses the anti-war movement as its front. They seem to be working on the same assumptions about the timing of a war that I have outlined here. If they are to be believed, they will go from protest to civil disorder once the bombardment starts. The war will probably not last long enough for these efforts to have much of an effect, but there could be disruptions of government functions, particularly through "denial of service" attacks.
There are plausible reasons to oppose the war, but I do not see them in the anti-war movement. I see only the glinting monocle of Baron Evola.
 
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There are other things that might happen, but these will do to get on with. This should be a busy month.
Copyright © 2003 by John J. Reilly

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