Fast and Rough

Spreading the Fire,” by Dan, tdaxp, 1 February 2005,

The Big Bang spreads . . . the rough way,” by Thomas Barnett, Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog, 7 October 2005,

Is noted grand strategist Dr. TPM Barnett ripping me off again?

Compare, yesterday’s blog post over at his blog:

It’s not just Saudi Arabia where the locally-derived jihadists are returning home for the weekend and blowing up a police station or two.

Yes, Jordan’s Abdullah and Egypt’s Mubarek warned of this as an outflow of the Iraq takedown, and it worried them, because maybe they’d finally have to deal with all the angry young men in their respective systems.

Good thing or bad? Bad in content, of course, but very good in terms of speeding the killing. We can do this nice and slow, or we can do this fast and rough, as Tina Turner used to growl onstage before singing “Proud Mary.”

Al Qaeda has been quite open about its strategy of stretching the Americans thin. But rather than stretching us out, this development incentivizes the locals to deal with this long-held hatreds and grudges, like the massive chip on Musab al Zarqawi over how Jordan’s treated him in the past.

In the end, what will have to change for all this violence in the Middle East to stop is not our withdrawal, but political reform in the region. Keeping this fight suppressed, or having it exported to our shores like it was on 9/11 is certainly a safer route for the local authoritarian regimes. Then again, I think 9/11 put us past caring about those regimes’ stability like we used to.

Bush basically runs a race with Osama: who can destabilize the region’s regimes first? Both sides want change, but only one wants to replace the current autocracies with a religious dictatorship. What Bush wants solves the problem. What Osama wants merely extends it.

Bush may suck at execution, but his strategic instincts are sound. He’s not looking to leave these problems to the next generation, and yet, unless his execution gets better, that’s exactly what he’ll end up doing.

And me, back in February

George Bush is a very brave man.

He talks of spreading the fire of freedom. He has destroyed the status quo ante bellum. But so are the Salafists.

It is ironic that so much of the Bush agenda for the Greater Middle East is coterminus with Osama bin Laden

Bush has removed the army from Saudi Arabia, pressed for rapid trade normalization with Iraq, and is seeing Ariel Sharon withdraw from the Gaza and parts of the West Bank.

While bin Laden and Bush have radically different views of “freedom,” they both agree that the decrepit Arab states do not provide it. So it is no suprise that Bush is not the only one spreading the fire

In Iraq the Salafists and Ba’athis view each other as useful idiots. In the rest of the Greater Middle East, the Salafists and the Americans both wish transformation
. This is the nature of the Global War on Terrorism.

Of course, he writes a lot better than me…

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