Skip to comments.Godfather's Advice to Israel
Posted on 12/05/2001 11:00:28 AM PST by Defiant
The Godfather to Israel: Hold Back
It is common knowledge, to the dismay of our women, that we men learn most of our life lessons from the Godfather saga. (Those that are not found in the Godfather may be derived from Star Wars.) One such lesson is that sometimes, patiently withholding retaliation in the face of a small injury is necessary in order to advance a larger goal or strategy. Call it the Rosato Principle.
For those that dont remember, the Rosato Brothers were horning in on the territory of Michael Corleones underling, Frankie Pentangeli. Pentangeli complained to the Don, The Rosato brothers. They're takin' hostages. And, Mike, they spit right in my face . But Michael is doing deals with their ally, Hyman Roth. That's why I don't want 'em touched, he explains to Frankie. I want you to be fair with them.
Michael later concludes that Hyman Roth is behind the failed attempt on Michaels life at the Tahoe compound. He confides in Frankie, who asks what he can do to help. Settle these troubles with the Rosato brothers, Michael responds. Frankie has trouble understanding; his initial inclination is to go after the Rosatos and Roth guns a-blazin. But Mikes too smart for that. He learned from his father that you keep your friends close, but your enemies closer. He knows that the bigger problem isnt the Rosato Brothers, or even that Hyman Roth is trying to kill him. The Big Problem that threatens the entire Family is: Who is the traitor within the family? To find the answer, all other interests are secondary.
So it is with the escalating conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, and its relationship to the broader war against Islamic terrorism. Prior to September 11, the U.S. sought peace between our good friend Israel and the Rosatos, er, the Palestinians, so that we could continue to enjoy influence and trade within the greater Arab and Middle Eastern world. Peace, it was hoped, would permit continuation of the all-important oil trade, and promote stability in the region.
Regimes in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf sheikdoms, and Pakistan, are governed by elites believed to be more sympathetic to the west and U.S. interests than the mass of their citizens. Even Turkey, the model of secularism in the Islamic world, has in recent years seen the growth of a significant movement towards fundamentalism. The biggest hot-button issue for the extreme elements in these countries, the kind that brings them out into the streets and threatens the delicate balance, is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Achieving a relative calm on the West Bank was therefore deemed vital to U.S. interests in the entire region, and had been pursued on that basis.
September 11 changed the priorities. Yes, calm between Israel and the PA is still important. But not because U.S. trade interests are threatened (although they are) and not because so-called moderate Arab regimes are in jeopardy (they still are). Those interests pale in comparison to our Big Problem: the need to eliminate aggressive, well-financed, and ruthless Islamist movements before they acquire weapons of mass destruction and the means to deliver them to U.S. cities.
Suddenly, on September 11, the U.S. came face to face with the reality, previously hypothesized but not taken seriously, that entire cities, buildings, streets and millions of people, could be obliterated in an instant by an unthinking, uncaring and irrational foe that actually wants to die, and in their perverted hatred, wants to take us with them.
The foe revealed its face in the smoke billowing out of the World Trade Center, and then smugly looked into the video cameras from their mountain hideouts and told the world that more was coming. The foe, however, made a fatal error in commencing this war too soon, before they do have the ability to make and deliver a blow that threatens an entire city, instead of merely a few buildings in a city.
For that, we can thank them posthumously, after this war is over, and the terrorists have been obliterated. For now, the task is clear: destroy them wherever they can be found, first in their headquarters in the country they have hijacked, then in all the states that harbor, advise, feed, supply or otherwise support them. It is a task that must be undertaken deliberately, and with the understanding that it may take years, if not decades, before we can declare victory and feel safe again.
And, finally, it is a task that will be immeasurably complicated in the event that general conflict erupts between the Israelis and the Palestinians. Jordan and Syria might be drawn in, willingly or not. Lebanon could become a battleground. Iraq might start lobbing missiles into Jerusalem, precipitating responses that further widen the war. The Gulf States would become restive indeed. Iran might even join in.
And suddenly, what appeared to be a clean, precise operation in Afghanistan, followed by similar actions in Iraq, Sudan and Somalia, becomes a regional conflict that stretches U.S. military resources and diverts them from targets of our choosing at times of our choosing. Osama undoubtedly had something similar in mind when he launched this war. We should not play by his script.
Ariel Sharons initial response to the spate of terror attacks was to go in to the West Bank guns a-blazin. Declaring war, announcing an end to Arafat, and sending in the troops, all are gratifying tit-for-tat in the face of bombs that have killed dozens. Blasting Arafats office and helicopter sends a nice message, one that hopefully was received. However, the U.S. needs to remind Sharon that the U.S.-led war takes primacy at this point, that American victory in this war is even more necessary to Israels survival than to ours, given its compact size and smaller population, not to mention proximity to the opponents.
This war is about millions, not dozens. Actions, or in this case, reactions, that impede the global war on terrorist organizations, such as those that threaten to open another trouble spot and unleash pent-up Arab emotions regionally, must be avoided, however gratifying, and even justified those reactions may be.
Another day having passed, Arafat is begging for another chance, and Sharon is pulling back from the brink. After having beaten bin Laden, after having deposed Saddam, after having flushed terrorist organizations out of Sudan, Somalia, Syria, Libya and Lebanon, after hateful madrassas are closed from Algeria to Indonesia, then we can return to the issue of Mr. Arafat. Hell undoubtedly be more accommodating than he was at Camp David, and the Israelis will certainly be freer to make him see things their way.
All thanks to the Rosato Principle.
Everything We Need to Know We Learned From "The Godfather"
As soon as he had recovered from his wounds and the death of Sonny, Vito Corleone called a meeting of the heads of the five families.
"How did things ever go so far?" he asked. "I don't know. But we are reasonable men. Let us reason together.
"And let our children become pen pals."
As our "different kind of war" comes more and more to resemble -- as it invariably must in some ways -- the different kind of war that the United States has fought since World War II, many thinkers are pointing to the lessons taught by Carl von Clausewitz, Niccoló Machiavelli, and Sun Tzu. I submit that more appropriate answers to our current troubles may be found in the work of that great conflict strategist Mario Puzo.
The United States is not, of course, an organized crime family, but much philosophy survives the distinction. The strategic parallels are sound, right up to the son facing the results of his father's inaction. While Don Corleone did not go so far as to suggest that the children of the other dons write to each other -- that would have been, and is, ridiculous -- he did propose and agree to a peace that left the battle unwon.
(And even at that, he realized that the real villain was not the whoremonger Tattaglia but the smooth, sly Barzini.)
Already Vito Corleone had suffered an attempt on his life -- as has been the case with George H. W. Bush. There was been ineffective retribution -- Tattaglia's son was killed in the book; in real life, Bill Clinton ordered that some sand be excavated in Iraq when no one was around. The ineffective attempt at retribution in turn led to a huge loss -- in the book, the murder of Sonny; in the real world the things leading up to and including September 11.
The parallels continue, some of them amusing -- there can be no one alive who more resembles Luca Brasi in appearance and comportment than Postmaster General John E. Potter -- but most of them not. Like Clemenza, Israel is an actual friend; like Tessio, Pakistan is not. One imagines Pakistani boss Pervez Musharraf saying, as he's led away, "Colin, can you get me off the hook? For old time's sake?" (though it could turn out that the Pakistani president more resembles Cuba's Battista -- an uncomfortable partner driven out by his own internal problems.)
And we have certainly gone to the mattresses. We may not be discussing the way to make a good red sauce for a whole bunch of guys, but we're stocking up -- the trendy among us wearing our Cipro bottles like jewelry, the more sensible doing the kinds of things that smart people in Florida do during hurricane season. We're expecting a cruel and bitter war fought in some measure on our own turf. We expect to become accustomed to events that at any other time would be stunning. And we shall remain on this footing for so long as we merely exchange slaps with our enemies; until the son comes into his own.
It is with some pleasure that one can imagine the scene in which Colin Powell is told that with the moves we're planning, he's out: "I never thought you were a bad Secretary of State. Bill Clinton was a bad president, may his legacy rest in peace. But you're not a wartime Secretary of State."
And I imagine George W. Bush renouncing "the evil one" as elsewhere in the world Saddam's palaces collapse under heavy bombing, as Israeli tanks roll, as the Saudi royal family is turned away by immigration officials when they try to flee to the U.S., as the theocrats in Teheran are put swinging by an angry mob, yes, as Yasser Arafat looks up from the massage table and takes one in the eye. (The image of George W. himself returning from the men's room and personally sending Osama and Saddam to their eternal torments is delightful but just a little unrealistic, I suppose.)
It would be good for us to get out of the imported oil business, having decided to tap the domestic stuff, and here, too, Puzo guides us; the Corleone family got out of the olive oil business to undertake western pursuits.
But brightest of all is the notion of a crisp and clear January night where, before a national television audience, addressing a joint session of Congress, with all but one cabinet member present as well as the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, a beaming President Bush pauses just a moment and smiles in that way that we have come to learn is not a smirk, and then speaks:
"My fellow Americans, I am here to report that the Union is secure. Today I have solved all family business."
Would you please, please tell me how, in the Cuban bar, Michael knew that his brother was the traitor?
I have no one else to ask.
God bless The FreeRepublic
Unfortunately, almost no one has truly benefited from the attack - except the future benefits likely for the oil companies and the drug traffickers.
Don't read too much into an old saying. Sometimes people and nations blunder.
Agreed. It's shame they can't just redo it from scratch before everybody dies. I & II are simply brilliant
Springman: Thanks, you're on.
Defiant: I apologize for hijacking your thread for such trivialities.
Michael was, at his core, a good person who got caught up in evil. But did the best job that he was capable of in the role in which he found himself.
Something like a Greek tragedy, perhaps.
In the same manner, the Don stated as a fact that whoever came to Mike with a meeting after his death would be a traitor setting him up. I have often thought that this belief was a little extreme; it could very easily have been a legitimate meeting that was being set up by a loyal ally. But whoever made the approach was deserving of great scrutiny, that is for sure.
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