Thursday, October 25, 2007

A Long Time Till the Big Parade

Norman Podhoretz thinks America is fighting World War IV. Martin Kramer, who together with Podhoretz is a foreign-policy adviser to presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani, thinks that part is the good news. The bad news, Kramer claims, is that this one might be worse than any of the last three.

The 20th-century world wars were preceded by another species of global conflict. For more than a millennium after the rise of Islam in the 7th century, Christendom and Islam were locked in almost constant warfare. Today's war, unlike the last three world wars, is being fought largely across the very same divide of religion and civilization that separated European Christendom and Islam. Their ebb and flow extended over centuries. It is a point our enemies emphasize. “This war is fundamentally religious,” bin Laden has said. “The people of the East are Muslims. They sympathize with Muslims against the people of the West, who are the Crusaders.” That is what bin Laden needs this war to be, if he is to fight it on his terms. ...

For the Bush Doctrine to survive Bush, it will have to incorporate all we have learned since he formulated it. Much of it comes down to this: the Middle East is not Europe, Iraq is not Germany, and Afghanistan is not Japan. (They are not Vietnam either.) The road to hell is paved with bad analogies, which are no substitute for lived experience and specific knowledge. According to the Greek poet Archilochus, “the fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing.” The hedgehogs have taken the Bush Doctrine as far as they can. Now it is the turn of the foxes.


Blogger Alexis said...

World War IV? And I thought we were already fighting World War V!

Seriously, every war is long until it is won and every war is short after it is over. Our secret to victory is that we seek victory. In contrast, our enemy would rather fight without winning than win without fighting. To him, fighting us is in and of itself his perverse form of victory, whereas the rational mind seeks victory by any means necessary.

According to some people, any fight against al-Qaeda anywhere will be more expenditure than if we didn't fight them at all. And we will necessarily be accused of "fighting against Islam" by the simple virtue of defending ourselves against unprovoked attack. During WWII, there were those who would have preferred to see the SS march down Pennsylvania Avenue than spend "wasteful" amounts of money on defeating the Axis; thankfully, the entreaties of defeatists were not heeded.

Cults of personality exemplified by 20th century totalitarianism are merely partially modernized versions of oriental despotism. With al-Qaeda, we are seeing oriental despotism in a more distilled form. They fight so their grandchildren will fight us, whereas we fight so our grandchildren won't need to fight them.

10/25/2007 05:33:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

One of Kramer's observations is that America is too focused on Iraq to notice that the theater of operations may be about to expand. Recently Stratfor reported that Iran has hired Imad Mugniyah to attack US interests throughout the region.

10/25/2007 05:34:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I’ve come to the conclusion that the war in Iraq is largely about keeping the US military industrial complex fed with new multi billion dollar contracts.

Whatever has been said about Iraq has to be taken as subterfuge. Iraq is not about democratizing and freeing the Middle East from Imperialism/Islam. Otherwise, for one, the policy towards the Turks and the Kurds would look a whole lot different. Iraq is not about oil, because only complete idiots would trust the Iraqi Iranians not to nationalize the oil. And I don’t consider the Americans complete idiots. Certainly, it’s not about al-Qaeda. Because for that job, you don’t need to spend half a trillion dollars on air bases and other nonsense. A ten million dollar baksheesh budget for informants would do the job just fine. So, by process of elimination, we’re left with only one logical conclusion: Iraq is all about spending hundreds of billions of dollars on US defence contracts.

10/25/2007 06:20:00 PM  
Blogger xduff said...


If the theater of kinetic and other operations is limited more by our present capabilities than by our recognition of threats, should we complain when our leaders act so as not to acknowledge it openly? Especially when the economic tail upon which all such operations depend itself presently depends upon voters' consumerisum and international investment? Especially when our enemies know our limits well enough, without our leaders' emphasis? I don't think so, and so I think that Kramer's challenge to our leaders for an inadequately-informed apprehension of the threats that we face is a cheap shot.

We can imagine the President joking privately, "True enough, it may not have been a religion of peace when we started this thing, but it sure will be a religion of peace when we finish it." Texas nuance.

Wishful thinking it may be, but we can also wish that Dr. Kramer would know honest misunderestimating when he see's it. Or perhaps Dr. Kramer knows what is happening and can be forgiven his cheap shot because he takes it to demonstrate that his candidate gets it, without the candidate having to acknowledge our limits.

With warm thanks for your work here,


10/27/2007 08:44:00 AM  

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