Saturday, August 21, 2010

War Ends With a Yawn

Am I the only who noticed that the Iraq War ended... and nobody cares?

At the end of the European war in May 1945 there were millions cheering in the streets, here and abroad. Ditto when the Japanese surrendered in August. The relief was palpable, worldwide and visible on every street, in every newspaper, on every radio station.

Today, the last of the combat troops pull out of Iraq and there are a few thousand quiet celebrations in the homes of soldiers and a bar here and there that sees some fist bumping.

This is more evidence of my thesis that one major reason the war against the jihadists is being waged so lackluster is the American people are not engaged. Apart from the military families and their friends, it's felt as if it's happening to someone else, as if it were another country fighting the war.

And so it will continue until and unless something wakes up the overwhelming majority of Americans to the very real danger from Islamist-inspired jihad.

I won't be holding my breath on that one.


mike said...

perhaps because it was the wrong war in the first place. The wrong country to be more exact.

Jeff Perren said...

I don't see the relevance. Do you think that if the U.S. had - as it should have - attacked Iran instead the American people would have behaved differently during the war or now?

madmax said...


It was the wrong approach to war that is the reason for the lack of concern among the citizenry. This nation building, democracy-spreading approach is built on a fundamentally flawed philosophical premise. That premise is that American security must depend on the transformation of hostile populations (in this case Islamic populations) into stable political governments. Robert Tracincki has been cheerleading this approach for a decade now; foolishly so. I think the rational assessment is that, in today's context, such a war strategy is altruistic by definition. As you know, altruism will never motivate anyone. That is why no one in America cares. They don't see it as relevant to their interests if people in Afghanistan have a stable government or not.

You should read some of the better Conservative writers on this issue. I'm thinking of Diana West and the other non-NeoCon Conservatives. And stop reading Tracinsky! That man has produced a long stream of garbage for half a decade now and totally destroyed the reputation and the credibility of a once fine Objectivist periodical - 'The Intellectual Activist'. What is needed is a non-nation building approach to war and foreign policy; what I would call an egoistic war posture. Americans would have responded to that. They did not care for "Operation Iraqi Freedom" or "The Forward Strategy of Freedom"; not even non-Leftists could get emotionally involved with that. Could you imagine when the Romans were fighting Hannibal if they had called their war effort "Operation Carthaginian Freedom!" Of course not. The Romans were sane compared to both Leftists and NeoConservatives (who are really still Leftists but just watered down).

Anyway, that's my attempt to shake you out of the Tracinski lets-never-give-up-on-the-sinking-ship-of-nation-building school of foreign policy. You have a strong mind. I think if it is freed from the democracy spreading paradigm, it could produce some good foreign policy commentary. As it is now, you come across as a garden variety NeoCon on the subject of war (and only that, the rest of your commentary represents good Rand-influenced thought).

All of this is said respectfully. Seriously, read Diana West's blog and get a sense of the arguments against trying to nation build in the Islamic world. They won't work. Why? One word. Islam.

madmax said...
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madmax said...
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madmax said...
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Jeff Perren said...


As always, thanks for your comments.

A couple of minor corrections, but please read to the end.


I haven't read Tracinski for over a year, but I acknowledge there are certain overlaps in our views. Mine, however, are not motivated by any interest in "nation building" except for the sort that took place in Japan post-WWII.

In particular, I don't see the key to success in Iraq, Afghanistan, et al as dependent on a "stable government," but as one that is no longer a direct threat (ala Iran) or a supporter of jihadists (Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, et al.)

And, I agree that, so long as we allow - post-combat operations - Islam to remain a state-sanctioned religion we can't expect those countries to be America-friendly or even non-hostile.

My view is based on a much simpler, maybe simple-minded approach: attacking Iraq was a mistake but once we start major combat operations it's never in the interests of Americans for our military to be seen as losing. That only makes the long-term situation worse.

It took a decade for America to recover from defeat in Vietnam. We're still paying the price for Mogadishu, Lebanon, and most especially Tehran where that occured.

Frankly, I'm not entirely satisified with my own position on the issue and I admit I don't have a fully worked out view on foreign policy. I have been reading some of Diana West's essays on the subject on the issue and intend to read more.

Still, I think the charge of "neocon" or even "neocon friendly" is an overstatement. I'm more in the Jacksonian tradition than the Wilsonian. My views are much closer to Dr. Lewis' than you may be giving me credit for.

I'll leave the topic for now with a question for you: if you don't transform the government (which may or may not require transofrming the society) of the enemy in some fundamental way, how do you avoid having to rinse and repeat every few years?

Anyway, I'll give more thought to your comments. Thanks for your frankness and good will.