The Daily Sandwich

"We have to learn the lesson that intellectual honesty is fundamental for everything we cherish." -Sir Karl Popper

Location: Boston, Massachusetts, United States


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

The Age of 'The Enemy of My Enemy'

That could be a big theme for Republicans over the next two years. First there's the presidential reace, with each of the presidential hopefuls having some issue (real or imaginary) that makes them mighty unappealing to a key voting bloc:

McCain: Too liberal? Adulterer?
Giuliani: Adulterer? Too liberal? And Catholic-- evangelicals hate that.
Gingrich: Serial adulterer? Ethically challenged? The man behind the failed revolution?
Romney: Mormon. Evangelicals hate that.

But there have already been hand-wringing articles from the right on the importance of holding you nose, and pulling that lever for the nominee, because it isn't so much about voting for the neo-fascist, as voting against the moderate Democrat. Oops-- I meant crypto-Stalinist pinko commie gay-loving obscenity-peddling Hollywood Democrat.

Then there's Iran, where we're already seeing a disturbing repeat of the Iraq "debate." You expect Fox News to run unsourced, unsubstantiated stories that agree with Bush's latest talking points-- and war is no exception. But guess which well-known paper is taking another trip to the well after admitting they completely botched their Iraq reporting? Yes, it's the New York Times. Again. (The LAT and WaPo seem to be doing all right for the moment.)

The problem with the belligerence toward Iran (aside from it being another of Fearless Leader's 'brilliant ideas') is that it doesn't make much sense unless you accept that 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend' as Iran's entire rationale-- even if the enemy and the enemy of the enemy are both Iran's enemies. Which they are. Saddam Hussein was a Sunni. Sunnis are a minority in Iraq. The Sunnis figure their best chance to retain power-- or maybe jut avoid becoming a persecuted minority-- is to get America to leave, then fight their way back to an authoritarian state. So they're killing Americans. Iran may appreciate that fact, but Iran is a Shia-controlled state. And while they have an interest in seeing Americans and Sunnis blow each other to bits, they also want to see the Shia majority take power, whether by 'coalition government' or force. So while they might want to supply arms to Iraqi Shiites, it would be for use against Sunnis in the event of a complete civil war. But the problem is that all of these 'unnamed US officials' and 'anonymous sources' (even to the reporters(!) in some cases) are claiming that Shiites are the ones killing Americans. Which, as Juan Cole has noted, isn't the case.

So there you have it-- the GOP using "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" to make the case for their two biggest concerns of the day. The ironic part of it is that it's an Arabic proverb. And no one seems to have pointed out that they accused Democrats of the same thing with voting for Kerry in 2004.

The unironic part of it is that when it comes to war, the GOP can take this rationalization (arming Osama bin Laden against the Soviets) or leave it (toppling Iran's sworn enemy, Saddam Hussein). At least those both worked out so beautifully.