Wow. Josh Marshall just gave a link to the blog of Giuliani's new Senior Middle East Advisor, Martin Kramer, and let me tell you, not only is this guy a total wacko, but he might be the biggest dork I've ever read; and I read science fiction!
If you want to suffer and groan, read this dorky, dorky speech he gave entitled Know Thy Enemy or an Approximation Thereof at some Israeli conference in January. He makes the classic mistake of lumping all anti-Israel and anti-American Muslim groups together and treats them as one enemy intent on taking over the world. But as if that blunder wasn't bad enough, he does so in the first person, speaking as a non-existent composite of all these groups. Yikes, what a dork.
Oddly enough, he uses Sun Tzu's "Know thy enemy" quote as the overall theme of his dorky narrative, yet seems to have missed the strategic importance of dividing your enemies, rather than lumping them all together into one big bad enemy which must be defeated all at once.
Somehow, he even has it that the Shiite/Sunni feud is bad news for us, writing:
Now you may enjoy a brief respite from us, because Sunnis and Shia are regrettably at each other's throats. Your diplomats whisper to you that this is an opportunity. Don't rejoice. If Sunnis and Shia can demonize and massacre one another—fellow Muslims who profess the same faith, speak the same language, share the same culture—what does this portend for you? The Sunni-Shia strife is a warning to you: our visions, our history don't ever go away, they always come back.
Did I mention what a big dork he is? Do you think anyone at the conference thought this was really cool, or were they all groaning as much as I was just reading it? This guy seems like that nerdy high school sophomore who thinks he's taking it to the next level when he employs overt narrative devices into his speech on the environment by pretending to be a tree. I can't believe this guy didn't get booed.
And what does he mean "brief respite"? They separated almost fourteen hundred years ago! And while his imaginary Muslim extremist seems to regret their fighting, I think the actual fighters just regret that they haven't done more to kill the other side. It's almost as if Kramer imagines this is some sort of ruse; like Captain Kirk and Spock pretending to fight until they can attack the guards and disarm them. But then again, these guys assume anything that isn't exactly what they expect to be a trick. But if they want to believe something, there are no bounds to their gullibility. Just ask Curveball.
And as far as the message we should take from this, I just think it means we shouldn't start fights with Muslims unless we're willing to keep going for a long, long time. And that would suggest that we probably shouldn't have invaded Iraq or try to invade Iran. But he seems to take a different message; that they're stubborn monsters who can't be dealt with and must be destroyed. Somehow, I suspect that he has more in common with these people than he realizes.
But as I said, I suspect that Kramer doesn't even believe this feud to be real. And I say that based upon the first post of his I read entitled The Shiite Banana. He starts by mentioning Ehud Barak's warning to Condi Rice to not neglect the "Shiite banana" which is an all-Shiite swath of territory stretching from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, all the way to Hezbollah in Lebanon. This is compared to King Abdullah of Jordan's reference of the "Shiite crescent".
As Kramer says:
From the beginning, the "Shiite crescent" resonated among the Bush-bashers, since it had this overtone: you invaded Iraq, and now look what you've done?
Naturally, Kramer cannot possibly answer back to that rightly accusatory question, so he resorts to labeling such people as "Bush bashers" and moves on. Because as we all know, these people loved fighting preemptive wars with hints of racism until Bush came along. Then it was all doves and peace protests after that. If only they had put Cheney in charge instead...
He then moves on to citing the Bush Admin's phrase to describe this threat: The Caliphate, which he says refers to Al Qaeda's plan for global domination. Now, this guy's the middle east expert, while I'm just some dude with a blog. So I imagine that he must know something about the middle east. And so I decided I better look it up, to make sure I hadn't gone crazy on this. And sure enough, I was right. Al Qaeda and the global Caliphate are Sunni things. And needless to say, the Shiite crescent is, that's right. Shiite. Not Sunni. In fact, one big reason the "Bush bashers" would bash Bush with the "Shiite crescent" phrase was because Bush turned Iraq from Sunni to Shiite; thus creating the Shiite crescent that we should now be worried about.
So...how on earth could these separate phrases be referencing the same thing? How else: Because Martin Kramer is a schmuck, that's how. He just wants us to see one big scary threat. Even when he actually talks about the "Shiite crescent" it's only in terms of Iran exerting influence, as if a stabilized Shiite presence in Iraq wouldn't some day be an equal threat. Or Syria. Or Hezbollah in Lebanon. No, the only threat is Iran.
As he says:
"The threat posed by Iran isn't that it's going to unleash a Shiite chain reaction, which is hard to do, but that it could set off a nuclear chain reaction, which may soon be within its power. "
All this guy sees is what he wants to see. It's obvious that he wants to invade Iran, so that means that the worries of the "Shiite crescent" just come down to us invading them and worrying about Al Qaeda. Sure, we overthrew a strongman in Iraq to install religious-led Shiites, and are planning to overthrow religious-led Shiites in Iran to install that Super-Pony Democracy that we all know is waiting...which will be a bunch of Shiites, many of whom follow their religious leaders. And in all this Al Qaeda is waiting in the wings, so they can swoop into Iran and create chaos for everyone, just as they did in Iraq; but whatever. Brown people are dying, and the rest is just details.
He ends his post with a few jokes about the "Shiite banana" which is all I think he really wanted to write about, but felt compelled to add a bunch of serious-sounding noise so he didn't look like he was just blogging about a few dumb jokes. But that's all this was really about. He had no real analysis to add regarding the problem Bush caused by allowing Shiites to gain so much territory, or what we should do about this threat. He just liked the name "Shiite banana" because it made him laugh. I'm sure any fifth grade nerds reading his blog got a few chuckles out of it too.
I'll give you one sample joke:
And if the Shiites are bananas, what are the Sunnis? (Given how varied they are, perhaps they're a fruit platter; Al Qaeda might be nuts.)
Keep your senior advisor job, dork.
The Weak Horse
I wanted to end by quoting this weird part at the end of the speech I cited at the beginning. Again, speaking as an imaginary Muslim extremist:
Let's set aside the Chinese general, and end with a quote from our own Bin Laden. "When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse." He's right. We sense, not that you're weak, but that you're weakening.
Say what? Did I miss something? I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that I somewhat agree with what Bin Laden's saying, in that people often do prefer a strong horse over a weak one. But that's not necessarily true, as some people inherently prefer the underdog. But how on earth does that translate into Bin Laden saying that we're weakening? Am I missing something? What the hell is he talking about? Because Bin Laden says that people like strong horses means that he thinks we're weakening? Huh?
And what does he think is weakening us? What else: The people who disagree with him. The "wise men" who have different ideas of how we should deal with Iraq, Iran, and other Muslim issues. Wow, what a surprise. You'd think a Muslim extremist might cite our decadent lifestyle, heathen beliefs, or perhaps our idiot president as the thing leading to our downfall. But no. His imaginary terrorist believes our intellectuals are the problem, with their "new diplomatic offensive" and their "alternative plan for Iraq." This guy is perfect for Giuliani.
And he then ends with this teaser:
Finally, you ask us about the place of Iran's nuclear program in our vision. It's an excellent question. Unfortunately for you, Martin Kramer's time is up. We return him to you—unharmed.
Unharmed?! Argh, can't these terrorist bastards get anything right?