Heightened Contradictions

Science, evolution, and politics explained.
Oct. 16 2001 3:00 AM

Heightened Contradictions

(Continued from Page 1)

It's a hard trade-off to get around: The more the post-war distribution of power is predetermined, the harder it is to motivate proxy forces to fight a war for you—especially when the post-war arrangements are designed expressly to limit the power of the proxy forces.

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Before this war started, I spent much time stressing the downside of military intervention. If you're wondering why a skeptic of war now sounds like a hawk, it's because the downside I stressed is the intensification of hatred in the Muslim world—which will have fallout years down the road, in the form of terrorism, even if regimes like Pakistan's survive for now. And since this inflammation is widening on a daily basis (it has now led to lethal riots and brisk Osama Bin Laden T-shirt sales in Nigeria), the worst kind of war, it seems to me, is the kind we're fighting: one prosecuted at a casual pace. But I could be wrong. God knows the geopolitical situation is more complicated than I had realized in the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11. And I don't think I'm the only one who underestimated its complexities.