I meant to blog Robin Wright's pessimistic Wash Post op-ed when it appeared on Sunday. The Sivits sentence reminded me of it again. I'm not sure I agree with her; at the very least, I hope that Adeed Dawisha is more correct in suggesting the "complete transparency" in dealing with Abu Ghraib may actually end up being beneficial to the occupation. But Wright's take is worth reading. An excerpt:
What I fear most is that frustration over Iraq and disgust with Abu Ghraib will give common cause and a rallying cry to far-flung Muslim societies. Until now, al Qaeda—with its global reach—has been the exception. Most Islamic groups have had local causes and operated at home or very nearby. And they've always been a distinct minority.
The worst-case scenario is that the Cold War of the 20th century is followed in the early 21st century by a very warm one, with no front lines, unpredictable offensives and a type of weaponry from which we're not yet sure how to protect ourselves. This time the majority could become involved, either by empathizing, sympathizing or actively participating in a cause they see as righting a wrong against them.
The unintended consequence of the Iraq experience could well produce a third generation of militants—a cadre that didn't fight against the Soviets in Afghanistan in the 1980s or train in bin Laden's camps in the 1990s—who will launch a conflict whose tactics, targets and goals will be even more amorphous. Their conflict will be more than an intensified or expanded war on terrorism. And, I fear, we'll be groping for a long time to figure out how to counter it—and how to get back to finishing that final chapter of the Modern Era.
Whole thing here.