Friday, August 11, 2006

Imagining Victory

He's spot on here. The only thing I would have added: it is obvious now that Bush is, in retrospect, a victim of his own success. His vigor in prosecuting the war thus far has prevented any attacks on the US homeland. The fact is that it will take "The Big One" to awaken us to the task at hand: Total War. This is not an open option for Bush in today's political climate. (see "The Brink of Madness", posted Sunday, August 6th.)...T

Yesterday I wrote on the need for us to confront our greatest fears. I said that we had to “imagine a mushroom cloud over Tel Aviv, imagine a mushroom cloud over New York” and figure out how to stop them. A commenter ridiculed this exercise in negativity, and then asked if I had imagined what victory on the Global War on Terror would look like.

Unfortunately, I have, and it’s neither pretty nor comforting.

THE FIRST STEP TO victory on the global war terror will be dropping that stupid name “global war on terror.” This is the first war in our history where we’ve declined to even identify who we’re fighting. In the Civil War, the Union didn’t pause to label the Rebs and in World War II we willingly called out the Axis Powers.

But in this war, we resolutely refuse to identify who we’re fighting. Most of the readers of this site know that we’re fighting the followers of radical Islam; they want so badly to spread their own perverse philosophy that they want and need us dead. Most people who have seriously intellectually engaged with the current struggle know this. I don’t think it’s the tiresome braying of CAIR that’s triggered our reticence. I think it’s our own highly refined reluctance to offend that shackles us.

At some point on the road to victory, we’ll figure out how many people there are that we’re actually fighting. They may be numerous and number many multiples more than the members of groups like Al Qaeda and Hezbollah.

When the neo-cons (like me) said that we would be greeted with garlands of roses in Iraq, we meant it. We couldn’t imagine anyone preferring an 8th century theocracy to freedom and liberty. But subsequent events in Iraq and Palestine have had to give any thinking person pause. The people of Palestine democratically opted for a government that promises non-stop war with a much more powerful enemy. Where the people of Iraq stand remains opaque.

We comfort ourselves with the notion that the Iranian government is wildly unpopular with its people and soon they will rise up. The evidence for this remains flimsy; the evidence for the animus that many people of the region have for America and American institutions remains all too clear.

SO HOW WILL THE WAR END? With lots of dead Jihadists. Just like World War II ended with lots of dead Nazis and imperialist troops of Japan. There were so many dead, the rest lost their will to fight on. Only when they realize their destruction is imminent (and accomplished to a great degree) will there be peace.

Until the Jihadists realize they can’t win, they will continue to fight. Every instance of Western weakness succors them. Every U.N. resolution, European cry for diplomacy and academic case for moral equivalency feeds their notion that their victory is inevitable.

Getting to victory will be an ugly thing. Our weapons will kill innocents, just as they did in Nagasaki and Dresden. And we will suffer our own losses. It’s becoming increasingly apparent that America will have to suffer a grievous loss before unshackling its own might. And our first grievous loss will not be our last. Like any global conflagration, this one will be full of horrors, horrors that most refuse to contemplate.

SO WHAT’S THE ALTERNATIVE? Graham Allison, Joe Nye and other Kennedy School types will tell you that we can talk Radical Islamists out of this whole crazy Jihad thing with just some judicious use of our “soft power.” We can win hearts and minds, they argue, if we just try a little tenderness.

Their argument, however, betrays a spectacular ignorance regarding Jihad philosophy . There’s nothing new going on here, nothing that’s not 14 centuries old. The only difference is that a trillion dollars in petro-dollars has given the forces of Jihad power and reach that even the Prophet never imagined. To think we can jawbone our way out of this is dangerously wishful thinking.

It’s an ugly situation. It’s a miserable reality. But denying it or creating elegant professorial sophistries won’t make it vanish.

We can win and we will win, but doing so will be neither painless, bloodless or easy.
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