Rough Triangles II
On learning that Hamas and Hizbollah are now fighting each other in Syria, Peter Ingemi writes:
This sets up the possibility that the greatest threats to Israel and the US will be clashing in Syria & Lebanon, in a long and bitter struggle and moreover as Iran doesn’t want to lose their clients and the Saudis and others want to bleed Iran this has the potential to become a mass killing ground for the most vile and despicable enemies the western world has faced.
And all of it happening without us, or Israel lifting a finger.
For a foe of radical Islam it’s practically a wet dream, we just have to sit back and let them slaughter each other and if one side starts to lose, we aid third parties to reenforce [Sic] them enough to keep the fight going until the cream of the jihadist crop finds themselves, shot, gassed or blown up.
And at this point where you contemplate the solution to so many problems that pesky Christian belief comes in. … That’s when you look at your glee at the death of your enemies and feel ashamed.
The Christianity angle isn’t basic to the Outside in analysis of rough triangles, but since it’s important to Ingemi, and Ingemi sees the pattern so clearly, we’ll do our best to remain sub-orgasmic about the situation (even if it escalates into a regional humanitarian calamity of apocalyptic scale). Gnon is considerably less demanding than Jesus in this regard, but it still tilts against indecorous exultation in mass slaughter. The view from the side-lines calls for detachment, and the side-lines are the center here.
In a rough triangle, the side-lines are decidedly the place to be. That should be obvious, and if judged by the serial anecdotes of blog commentary, it is indeed self-evident to the widely-disparaged ‘proles’ of the right — among whom “please let them kill each other” amounts to common wisdom. Adam Garfinkle, who doesn’t seem to approve, nevertheless provides a convincing political back-story to this state of mind. There’s a lack of “affinity”, a loss of media purchase (i.e. live video), and too many unhealed burns. Less than a quarter of Americans are buying what John McCain is selling (which shows that you can get almost a quarter of Americans to buy anything).
The Syrian quagmire models a rough triangle with such extraordinary exactness that it tempts us into Platonism. It could have been extracted, essentially unmodified, from the notebooks of Cardinal Richelieu. It’s not difficult to find these developments, as they unfold symmetrically in Syria and Iraq, provocatively weird. If a strategic genius had deliberately steered the ‘war on terror’ to this eventuality, his world-historic stature would have been guaranteed. It is worth recalling that when the Bush WoT went pear-shaped, John Derbyshire coined the phrase “to-hell-with-them hawks” to describe dissent from the right, in distinction from overseas state-building neoconservatism. To Hell they now go.
Improbable conspiracy aside, none of this was planned, and that’s where the most important lesson lies. The “to-hell-with-them hawks” had no strategy to send America’s enemies to hell, but only inchoate grumbles about the progressive welfarization of US military activity. For the harsh right, the message of the early 21st century was that American military power was no longer politically usable. It was time to clamber out of the sandbox, because the Cathedral had filled it with huggy dolls. Doing nothing was the only option left. (Fernandez, uncharacteristically, is embarrassingly slow to grasp this point.)
In the field of right-populist international relations thinking, therefore, there is already broad — if only partially articulate — support for the neoreactionary stance, explored most lucidly by Foseti, which might be characterized as de-activism. What we’re not on board for is the primary consideration.
Under Cathedralized conditions, suspension of the act can be the only way to let things happen. Just stop, and let ‘providence’ take over. Perhaps inaction will even simulate strategic genius. We’ve seen that it can.