Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Why Not War?

Doubtless, Spengler was trying to be provocative. He could not have meant it when he made the case for an Israeli military attack on Iran.

Then again, maybe he meant it.

In his most recent Asia Times column, Spengler, aka David Goldman has dared to apply some contrarian thinking to the Middle East.

Our leading authorities in foreign policy are convinced that an Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities would be a bad thing because it would destabilize the region.

When you see that much unanimity, it is worth the trouble, if only as an intellectual exercise, to look more closely at the other side of the argument.

Spengler notes that the Obama administration has signaled its willingness to live with a nuclear Iran. The foreign policy gurus who are terrified of “instability” must believe that Iran can be deterred or contained.

But, what if it can’t?

Speaking of stability, does the Middle East look like an island of stability? Does it look like stability will soon break out in that region?

Spengler outlines the price of “stability:”

Absent an Israeli strike, America faces:

  A nuclear-armed Iran;
  Iraq's continued drift towards alliance with Iran;
  An overtly hostile regime in Egypt, where the Muslim Brotherhood government will lean on jihadist elements to divert attention from the country's economic collapse;
  An Egyptian war with Libya for oil and with Sudan for water;
  A radical Sunni regime controlling most of Syria, facing off an Iran-allied Alawistan ensconced in the coastal mountains;
  A de facto or de jure Muslim Brotherhood takeover of the Kingdom of Jordan;
  A campaign of subversion against the Saudi monarchy by Iran through Shi'ites in Eastern Province and by the Muslim Brotherhood internally;
  A weakened and perhaps imploding Turkey struggling with its Kurdish population and the emergence of Syrian Kurds as a wild card;
  A Taliban-dominated Afghanistan; and
  Radicalized Islamic regimes in Libya and Tunisia. 

Our foreign policy establishment is dreaming of a democratic Middle East. One doubts that recent events, from the failure of the Arab Spring to the continuing civil war in Syria have disabused them of their dream.

Spengler is less optimistic:

In the long view of things, there is not much cause for optimism about the Muslim world. It contains two kinds of countries: those that can't feed their children, like Egypt, and those that have stopped having children, like Iran, Turkey, Algeria and Tunisia. Muslim nations seem to pass directly from infancy to senescence without stopping at adulthood, from the pre-modern directly to the post-modern, as I wrote in my book Why Civilizations Die (and Why Islam is Dying, Too).

Turks have just 1.5 children per family, like the infecund Europeans, while Turkish Kurds have four or five children. That makes the redrawing of the map of Turkey inevitable sooner or later. In a generation, Iran will have an inverted population pyramid like the aging industrial countries, but without the wealth to support it. 

There is no reason to expect most of the Muslim countries to go quietly into irreversible decline. All-out regional war is the likely outcome sooner or later. We might as well get on with it. 

Right or wrong, his opinion deserves serious attention. It is rarely a good idea to embrace the consensus view just because you want to feel like you belong to the in-crowd.


Dennis said...

I suspect that the only way this ends is for one side or the other to win a total war against the other. One would hope that the side that wins would not seek a genocide of the other.
I do not think that anyone would believe that would be some country other than Israel for they would be far less likely to seek that genocide which others have already stated as their goal.

Soviet of Washington said...

Stuart, you might peruse Spengler's review of Angelo Codevilla's thoughts to William Tecumseh Sherman for similar earlier thoughts.