Deterrence And Bush Doctrine Juan Cole

Deterrence and the Bush Doctrine

Juan Cole

Whatever Ikle’s (and Lowry’s) point of view represents, it is some fringe

in the Republican Party but certainly not the stance of George W. Bush.

Bush has been meticulous since September 11 in addressing and wooing

Muslim audiences and emphasizing that Muslims are not the enemy, terrorism

is. All the major spokesmen of the Bush administration have pronounced

themselves very pleased with Saudi Arabia’s help since September 11, and

there is no hint that Bush himself would ever think of the frankly insane

idea of menacing the holy cities.

Right from September 20, Bush told Congress, “The terrorists practice a

fringe form of Islamic extremism that has been rejected by Muslim scholars

and the vast majority of Muslim clerics — a fringe movement that perverts

the peaceful teachings of Islam.” He has repeated this formula over and

over again, to the point where he has been criticized by anti-Muslim

zealots for engaging in Muslim theology.

The culprit seeking nuclear weaponry is Iraq and possibly al-Qaida itself,

not Saudia. Bush gets along with CP Abdullah just fine from all accounts,

with help from George H.W. Bush (senior).

It is not true that Bush no longer needs the Muslims since the Taliban

fell so easily. The war on terror is a global effort of

counter-insurgency, and it can no more be won without Muslim help than the

British could have defeated the Communists in Malaysia without the help of

Muslim villagers. Bush knows this very well.

Nor is it true that nothing positive links the US with Saudia in the wake

of oil nationalization. Refining operations are often still cooperative

in some ways; owning the oil isn’t everything. And, the Saudis clearly

often employ their ability to virtually set the price of oil in ways that

benefit the U.S., as they did after September 11 when they refused to seek

new OPEC quotas in the face of falling oil prices. None of this is lost

on any American administration, regardless of what the spear bearers write

in op ed pieces.

What al-Qaida is hoping for is precisely that attacks like that of

September 11 will goad the United States into doing something extremely

foolish that will decisively alienate the entire Muslim world.

Al-Qaida’s constituent parts have been trying assiduously for a decade or

two decades to overthrow the Algerian and Egyptian governments and to push

Israel back. They dream of uniting the entire Middle East, adding the

talents and population of Egypt to the oil money of the Gulf, creating a

new superpower under a revived caliphate. They got nowhere, and blame this

failure in large part on the United States’ strong backing for these

states. September 11 was aimed at making it more costly for the U.S. to

support the status quo in the region, at pushing it out, and if that

failed, at making it lash out at Islam in a way that would, as the

marxists used to say, clarify the contradictions. This would create a

vast anti-American backlash throughout the Muslim world, crippling the

pro-American states and making them ripe for overthrow by the jihadis.

Ikle and Lowry in talking the way they did about nuking Mecca might as

well have just enlisted in al-Qaida and had done with it.


Juan Cole

U of Michigan

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