Lately, I've been seeing some apologies and excuses by former Iraq war supporters. They have essentially seen a small light which illuminates the purported folly of this American exercise. They say that we are rather like Tyrannosaurus. Our moral brain is no match for our might, and the reactions to the destruction we've unleashed is proof that we don't know, and cannot know how to do well for the region.
This argument has the benefit of being logical. But it ignores the fact that Tyrannosaurs need to eat, and that removing the largest carnivores from the ecology eventually results in deforestation. America's military might has evolved in the context of global security, not independent of it. We could not be who we are if the world didn't allow us to be. By 'the world', I do not mean European political opinion, I mean the great combinations of circumstances that have given rise to American global power. We have succeeded where the Soviets have failed. More importantly than the fact that we are the Superpower, we have been smart and moral about our use of that power and we continue to be.
I am convinced that whatever political adjustment takes place in our foreign policy over the next several years that the place our military will occupy in its mission will continue to be righteous. That is because the substance of the mission we continue in the world is really beyond the politics of Washington. That is unfortunate because it means the American public is really not deeply engaged in debates of military matters, rather a bunch of squabbling over 'war' and 'peace' have divided the electorate. People with no deeper agenda than bashing have split up the territory for debate into an irrelevant fracas.
The difficulty with turning away from violence and not meeting it head on for the long term is that one become ignorant of its ways and means. To become ignorant of the ways and means of violence is to require, as time goes by, a greater and greater Leviathan.
While many are ready to admit that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere, those same many are all to often comfortable in letting such injustice fester until it grows more than merely meddlesome. And we look back after a brutal crackdown asking what must we do to never allow this to happen again.
I think somewhere we have lost an ethos in punditry of a manly sport. I look back to boxing in the old days as exemplary on how Americans saw that conflict as deterministic of a better man. Now today, we suggest that a verbal lashing is appropriate for all manner of faux pas. Has Ann Coulter gotten out of line? Then we'll poleaxe her, verbally. Did some basketball player say the wrong thing? We'll berate him into oblivion. And so we are prepared to deal dirty adjectives into a world of rhetorical hurt and thus make ourselves safe against evil. And because we have lost touch with the very idea of noble violence, of physical exertion in conflict as a matter of character and virtue, we equate all violence with evil.
The implication of this is that we endure a class of opinion makers who cannot distinguish between valorous combat and perfidy. To the pansy pundit, the nerve of a suicide bomber is equal to that of the American soldier. According to their logic, anyone crazy enough to kill is just a tool, and who's to say whether their orders on one side or another are just?
What I have learned in appreciating Barnett's grand strategy is the extent to which the neoconservative political impulse was confounded by a lack of military preparedness. I have come to accept that this lack of preparation was inevitable - that the Pentagon was much to large a bureaucracy to change on a dime - even over the course of the years of the Bush presidency. It makes Bush's pre-emption even that more gutsy and Rumsfeld's job even that more impossible. And yet through all of that, 'Mission Accomplished' was correct. The major state on state war was won decisevly. What we have still yet to win is the Peace and we have certainly strained the military to its design limits for peacekeeping and nationbuilding. It is not the force it needed to be and will not be for some time. However, it is learning the lessons required so that it will be that force in the years to come.
In order to understand our triumph and our failure, you must understand the context of victory in Iraq. There are two victories to be established. In Desert Storm, we employed what Barnett calls the Leviathan Force. You can call it the Powell Doctrine, or Shock and Awe. It's the same thing. It is the big footprint joint and overwhelming forces. Thousands of air sorties, decapitation of enemy command and control, destruction of enemy air forces and armor and reduction of the capacity of the enemy to fight anything other than guerilla war. The Leviathan Force of the US bombs the enemy's ability to make war back to the Stone Age. The Pentagon knows how to do this, and in Iraq we have done it twice.
What we do not know how to do is settle Stone Age disputes. When guerilla wars run hot, America
What the pansy pundits have to recognize is that in order for America to win the peace we have to turn half of our military into a kind of armed Peace Corps. But that is just
I've been contintually amazed at how little opponents of the war have done anything to report the situation on the ground from the perspective of NGOs like the Red Cross. I've always respected the integrity of pacifists