The Mideastwire Blog

Excerpts from the Arab and Iranian Media & Analysis of US Policy in the Region

Michael Young on Discarding the Resistance Axis Hoax

Michael Young has a very important piece that illustrates why the general discourse from those who desire a climactic confrontation with the Assad Regime is sometimes so dangerous.

Interestingly, I met with the MPs that Young was referring to… and he may be paraphrasing my comments to them. Not certain, but I don’t think they met with Alastair.

In any case, I was shocked by the conservative MP who barely listened to the warning and analysis I offered and then proceeded to lay out an 18th century roadmap for installing Assad as “a king of the allawite mountains or something.” No joke.

He was actually convinced that this kind of a contorted scheme could be moved on and settle the situation in the West’s favor, with little fallout. His Labour colleague listened and understood that they had been hearing the ahmad chalabi tune of a cakewalk over the past days…whereas the reality will be quite different as matters come to a head.

Here is what Young wrote:

“This past week several British parliamentarians were in Beirut to learn more about the situation in Lebanon and Syria. They met with politicians, academics and journalists, and an argument they took home with them was particularly intriguing. It pertains to what has become known in the West as the “resistance axis.”

As a parliamentarian put it to me, they had heard from one of those with whom they chatted not to underestimate the solidarity between members of the “resistance axis” – mainly Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Hamas – and the intensity of the ideological principles uniting them. With Syrian President Bashar Assad facing an existential threat to his rule, his fellow “resisters” would ride forcefully to his aid.

So, what did I think of this view?”

— Instead of answering this challenge, however, Young goes on to talk about how the resistance axis is full of crap.

That may be so, of course. The core problem, however, is how he elides any discussion about the balance of power predicated around this axis and its opposite(s) – and how this balance is interacting with ideology, chance and perception.

But moreover – how this dialectic is producing an incredibly dangerous, violent road ahead.

I had suggested the willingness of the resistance axis to go to the mat over assad – and that they possess formidable abilities to do just this…. and that recognizing this, together with the West’s likely inability to intervene,  should affect and change how policymakers proceed in the coming period. Young basically gets that part right.

(More on this tomorrow in an op-ed.)

But Young does not address the main point which is morally and strategically vital: what will the direct confrontation/challenge with the Resistance Axis mean and what will it cost in lives, money, interests and values?

Instead he goes on to attack Alastair Crooke, suggesting Crooke is making big bucks off of his dialogue facilitations and he has a stake in keeping the resistance axis ruse going as a result. But nothing else is heard.

[I dont get it – is alastair blinded by money or by ideology a la the stockholm syndrome? or both? Young’s cartoonish version of Alastair is of course mainly just charachter assassination, which is too bad. Young also can never seem to see how those who engage with Resistance Axis actors and who understand them as nuanced, contradictory actors – as opposed to Young’s illiberal reading of them within the good/evil Bush paradigm, which failed – are not trying to make big bucks but are instead, for the most part, trying to show the West how a peaceful path out of confrontation and violence is not only possible but morally and strategically beneficial.]

A truly liberal mind should appreciate this approach.

Still – back to the main event where it is indeed helpful to see how those who have long savored a confrontation with Assad – which many others will have to fight (and are fighting) rather than us pundits – are content to merely change the subject rather than address a major aporia which threatens the whole structure of their position.

What if pushing the resistance axis over its redlines results in catastrophe? Will the destruction be worth it? Who gets to determine whether it is worth it or not and who bears the cost of this approach?

And most importantly – are there no other alternative approaches? Young today admits the Russian intransigence and says that it is pushing Assad towards more violence. OK, lets say you are right…. NOW WHAT? Where do you go, deeper in? Is that responsible? Is that in the promotion of liberty? Whose liberty will it ensure and who will die?

We now know that the Iraq War, which Young supported, and its cheerleaders were terribly wrong – thankfully there is a general consensus on this in the US and elsewhere in the world, especially the developing world.

Should this not give more of us pause now when the same ideas are being trotted out and the same hard questions are being studiously, and illiberally, avoided?


Written by nickbiddlenoe

February 2, 2012 at 4:55 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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