Deterrence and the Bush Doctrine
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.
U of Michigan