In a remarkable week, nothing was more remarkable than the following announcement (reported, but not sufficiently, by the American media) from the government of Saudi Arabia:
"Viewing with deep concern the bloody, painful events currently taking place in Palestine and Lebanon, the Kingdom [of Saudi Arabia] would like to clearly announce that a difference should be drawn between legitimate resistance and uncalculated adventures carried out by elements inside [Lebanon] and those behind them [i.e. Iran and Syria] without consultation with the legitimate authority in their state and without consultation or coordination with Arab countries, thus creating a gravely dangerous situation exposing all Arab countries and their achievement to destruction with those countries having no say."
Of course the statement ended with the routine commitment "to protect the Arab Nation from Israeli oppression and transgression."
But for Saudi Arabia to condemn Muslim attacks on Israel -- and in the middle of an Israeli/Muslim war no less -- is profound evidence of how much the world is changing in the face of rising Islamist radicalism in general and expanding Iranian hegemonic objectives in particular.
Even before the current war, experts have noted some envy and competition between Sunni Al Qaeda and Shia Hezbollah, while other experts have noted that Sunni and Shia terrorists sometimes work together against common Western targets. But most Western experts -- along with the rest of us -- are at a deep analytical disadvantage in understanding the subtler elements of Sunni/Shia interaction -- and their significance for American national security.
For example, we have a high interest in marshalling Sunni Saudi, Egyptian, Jordanian and Gulf states' fear and hostility toward Shia Iranian expansionist policy. At the same time, how does that effect our effort to stand up a largely Shia government in Iraq?
Shrewdly parsing and exploiting the dichotomies of Shia/Sunni, Arab/Persian, national and tribal loyalties is almost certainly a precondition to formulating and executing a successful strategy for war against worldwide radical Islamist military and cultural aggression. We have not yet come into possession of such shrewdness. But that we are in such a struggle should not be a matter of doubt by sentient people.
And yet, listening to and participating in war debate this last week, I am struck by how few politicians, pundits and journalists even now accept the proposition that the West (and India, Africa and Asia) is facing such a remorseless threat.
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.