One of the sillier accusations against President Bush’s policies and actions regarding the Middle East has been that they have been “destabilizing” matters.
To which I respond with a hearty “well, duh.”
“Stability” is the watchword of many people. They don’t want matters upset. They think the situation may be bad, but it could be worse, and they think that the status quo is at least tolerable.
I reject that argument.
Let’s look at what is considered the “stable” situation these people want to preserve:
The entire Muslim/Arab world ruled by dictators of various sorts — theocrats, autocrats, and out-and-out tyrants.
A steady, constant level of terrorist attacks and slaughter of civilians in Israel and around the world.
The world’s oil supply (the lifeblood of modern civilization) vulnerable to threats and disruptions.
Large portions of the revenues from said oil supply going to fund these terrorist attacks, while an even larger portion props up said dictators.
Yeah, President Bush has certainly destabilized that situation. I’d like to think (for the sake of my nation and the world) that he has a grand scheme going on, a vision of how he wants it to be coupled with a workable plan to reach it, but even if he simply decided to toss the whole thing into a blender and hit puree’, the odds are halfway decent that the end product will be better.
Right now, we’re still in the blender, but let’s look at how things stand now vs. how they were in 2000:
1) Afghanistan is no longer ruled by brutal, 9th-century theocrats.
2) Al Qaeda is on the run, its leadership beyond decimated.
3) Saddam Hussein is no longer providing material support for terrorism around the world.
4) Jewish settlers (alias “hostages”) are no longer in the Gaza Strip.
5) Hamas and Hezbollah are no longer carrying out low-level attacks and building their forces for a major battle with Israel, but instead finding themselves fighting for their very survival, with very few avenues for retreat.
6) Libya has renounced and surrendered its WMD program.
7) Iran, used to comfortably denouncing and threatening America from afar, finds itself quietly surrounded by the US military — major ground forces east and west, and a sizable naval presence to the south.
8) Syria finds its puppet in Lebanon cutting its strings on one side, while watching America utterly destroy their former ally Iraq to the other — and working on rebuilding Iraq into a nation that will be our friend, not theirs.
I hadn’t realized just how many people — and what kind of people — had a great deal invested in preserving the status quo until I saw this story, where Saudi Arabia did the unthinkable — they passed on an opportunity to condemn and blame Israel.
Why would they do this? The reasonable answer is that the current situation does not suit their interests. And the Saudi’s interests are in preserving the status quo. They like having a low level of terrorism against Israel. Israel’s continued existence is a good thing for the Saudis; it gives their crazies something to rally against, to denounce, to fight against. If they didn’t have this external factor, those same nutcases might decide to do away with the “oil ticks” who run the nation as a family business (hell, they even named their nation after their House name) and have a little revolution.
And Saudi Arabia is not unique; it just serves as a convenient example in this case.
It reminds me of the Cold War. For decades, we were all hostages to MAD, the obscene notion of a “balance of terror,” and listened to so many say that while the ongoing situation with the Soviet Union was terrifying, it was a known danger, while lord knows what perils might threaten us if they were to fall. That held true for years, until Ronald Reagan decided that if one is in a war (even a cold one), one might as well try to win it — and ended up liberating all Europe from Communist tyranny.
Thomas Jefferson once famously said “”a little rebellion now and then is a good thing.” He was speaking in relation to America, but that same notion holds true for the Middle East. The “stability” that so many held as sacrosanct was sustainable, but ultimately inhumane and unconscionable. It needed destabilizing, and needs even more.
I don’t know if what emerges from these shakeups will be better than the prior situation. But I know it’ll be hard-pressed to be worse. And personally speaking, I have always found it worse to regret the things I did not do than the things I did. I would rather be damned for trying and failing, than condemned for standing by silently.