Thursday, November 09, 2006

Nations Not Ready For War Should Not Engage In It

Andrew C. McCarthy re Rumsfeld and Bush:

Worse, the president has been equally elusive in describing “victory.” The suppression of militant Islam has been conflated with the democratization of cultural Islam — as if one were unattainable without the other. In fact, they are different objectives, not nearly as intertwined as the administration rhetorically insists without persuasively showing.

None of that is a Donald Rumsfeld problem.

Of course, that’s not how the history will be written. Conventional wisdom holds that the bumbling in Iraq simply must be military bumbling. After all, the world’s lone superpower seemingly cannot get it done against a rag-tag assemblage of ousted Baathists, sectarian militias and jihadists — all willful, all determined to kill us and each other … not necessarily in that order. Surely the fault must lie with the Pentagon. Rumsfeld had to go.

Reality, as usual, is more complicated. President Bush didn’t simply tell his Defense Secretary to go win a war. The instructions were to win while simultaneously creating a novus ordo seclorum for the Muslim world. Imagine FDR ordering Eisenhower to begin the Marshall Plan right after Yalta instead of after the enemy was defeated — and oh, by the way, Ike, to the extent remaking Europe may interfere with quelling those pesky Nazis, tell the war-fighters to stand down while the diplomats “dialogue” our way to victory.

Those were Rumsfeld’s marching orders.

And that apart from another basic disconnect. Anything but the shortest military engagement is certain to fail if it does not enjoy public support. The American people are all for deploying our military to rout jihadists and their enablers. They do not, however, favor endangering their sons and daughters for a “hearts and minds” experiment of uncertain utility in a faraway land.

Most Americans don’t care whether Iraq is democratic. They want it to be stable and favorably disposed toward the nation that has sacrificed so much blood and treasure to free its people from tyranny. They want it to be inhospitable to al Qaeda, and a partner — rather than a growing obstacle — in the real war on terror. The war consumed with undermining jihadist facilitators like Iran and Syria, not with remaking the world.

The president says, over and over again, that American national security is dependent on the spread of democracy throughout the world. A mantra, however, is not a truth. This particular article of faith is just a theory — and one subject to much dispute given the skill with which jihadists have exploited democratic societies. Regardless of who’s right, though, Americans were certain to have limited patience for a mission that appears more about building another nation than securing our own. And that limit is overtaxed when our forces’ heroism seems squandered on a regime growing more hostile, and a people who seem ungrateful and hell-bent on slaughtering one another.

Yes. Job number one is the guaranteed destruction of all Jihadis and their backers. When no sane Muslim would even think of attacking us, then we can help them rebuild the rubble. That's the way the world has always worked. That's how Brittania, Gaul, Germany, and Japan were pacified. I don't think the rules have changed for millenia.

On the plus side, we've tried being good cop. Which was the right thing to do. And I think it's pretty clear that we're not going to try it again. So enjoy a breather for awhile as we all regroup for Round Two. That's what I intend to do. Until then, I'm not going to live in fear of the start of the next phase. It will be obvious when it arrives...

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