December 12th, 2006

The definition of “success” in war: Part II (colonialism and occupation)

[Part I can be found here.]

Shelby Steele, a supporter of the war in Iraq, discusses the semantic and conceptual problem we face when we have no clear definition of victory:

Without a description of victory, a war has no goal.

Historically victory in foreign war has always meant hegemony: You win, you take over. We not only occupied Germany and Japan militarily after World War II, we also–and without a whit of self doubt–imposed our democratic way of life on them. We took our victory as a moral mandate as well as a military achievement, and felt commanded to morally transform these defeated societies by the terms of our democracy. In this effort we brooked no resistance whatsoever and we achieved great success.

But today, as Nancy Pelosi recently put it, “You can define victory any way you want.” And war, she said, was only “a situation to be resolved.” If this sort of glibness makes the current war seem a directionless postmodern adventure, it is only because those who call us to war have themselves left the definition of victory wide open.

Steele thinks–and I agree–that it’s not just the Iraq War that’s lacked a definition of victory. As Richard Fernandez writes at his blog Belmont Club, we seem to have a problem with the general concept of a war–except for limited, targeted “operations” such as the first Gulf War.

Any proposed solution to the current conflict with Islamic totalitarianism that fails to take into account its worldwide scope, relentless nature, and willingness to fight very dirty, is going to be a half-baked effort. In order to mount a “successful” campaign with an effective plan, we not only need creativity and intelligence, we need commitment, focus, and an understanding that this will be a long hard fight.

In the beginning of the so-called “War on Terror,” Bush’s rhetoric did indicate a long, hard fight. But I don’t think he prepared the American people for what the Iraq War would entail. Whether this was because he was afraid they wouldn’t go along if he described it, or whether he himself (and his advisors) were unaware of how very long and difficult it would be, I don’t know. Probably it was some combination of the two; not a good thing.

But at this point we know it will be very long and very hard. I’m pretty sure Bush and all his advisors know that by now, as well. An asymmetrical war against those who will use terror not only with relative impunity but with joy, who believe themselves divinely inspired, and who number in the millions and are spread throughout the world, and who have an interest in foiling us in Iraq–by definition, that’s going to be a long hard slog.

But besides the inherent difficulties in defining “success” against a shadowy, non-state entity, Steele thinks Americans have other difficulties in understanding–or, perhaps, accepting would be a better word–what victory in Iraq would look like. Steele thinks the problem stems from our modern-day ambivalence over our superpower status, which makes us want (in this postmodern, anticolonial world) to deny the responsibilities that go with it–duties that hark back to that dread word, imperialism.

Steele thinks that reluctance to accept responsibility is the reason we lack the will to impose the sort of occupation I discussed here. At the end of WWII, America had virtually no such guilt about the occupation of Japan and Germany. This ambivalence/guilt is mainly a post-WWII (and, specifically, post-60s and post-Vietnam) phenomenon.

Steele doesn’t mention any psychological reasons for this rejection of responsibility (although, for the boomer generation, I would posit them), but rather, philosophical ones:

Today our antiwar movement is essentially an argument with this fate, a rejection of superpower responsibility.

And this fear of responsibility is what makes us ambivalent toward the idea of victory. Because victory is hegemonic, it mimics colonialism. A complete American victory in Iraq would put that nation–at least for a time–entirely under American power and sovereignty. We would in fact “own” the society as a colony.

He is correct; an occupation does mimic colonialism. But, although related, it isn’t quite the same. We did not “own” post-WWII Japan or West Germany as traditional colonies, for example, although we did exercise a great deal of control over them and took responsibility for them.

Traditionally, colonies existed not only as spoils of war, nor as objects of occupation for reforming their governments into functioning democracies protective of human rights and therefore unlikely to aggressively threaten us again (the motives for our occupations of Japan and Germany), nor even as ways to expand a certain culture and way of life (although they were often that, too). Colonies were also ordinarily taken over in order to exploit their natural resources to the good of the imperialist power: in other words, to plunder.

This accusation of motivations of plunder–of an “unjust” motive for the Iraq War–has been at the heart of the belief system (or at least the rhetoric, sincere or not) of the antiwar movement. It’s at the base of the “no blood for oil” cries, for example.

To those making the charges, there’s no real need to prove we actually are exploiting or appropriating the oil; the accusation stands as symbolic of what colonial powers always do. If the accuser accepts that the US is an imperialist colonialist power, then ipso facto our motivation must be this sort of economic exploitation, which would be both morally wrong and a throwback to the age of colonialism and subjugation of the third world for our (historically, more often Europe’s) own purposes.

The causes of the Iraq War have been disputed, and for many they are a confusing and troubling aspect of the war itself. In contrast to Afghanistan, which was known to harbor al Qaeda and therefore was directly implicated in the 9/11 attack on the US, the stated rationales for going to war with Iraq were legalistic, defensive, and moral.

The legalistic and defensive reasons for the war were Iraq’s multiple violations of the terms that ended the Gulf War, including Saddam’s spotty “cooperation” with weapons inspections. And these reasons were, in turn, part a defense of–of all things–the power of the UN to put teeth into its resolutions.

As such, the current war was actually a continuation of the 1991 Gulf War after a more than decades-long pause. The UN resolutions that were violated included ones concerning WMDs, part of the armistice for that Gulf War, as well. Saddam’s noncompliance had been winked at many times, but in light of 9/11 it was considered far more important than before to make sure Saddam did not have nuclear weapons that he could put into the hands of terrorists or use on his neighbors. This was the directly self-defensive part of the rationale for the war (and, by the way, Bush’s speech on the subject said that we did not have to wait till this threat was “imminent” in order to act).

Then, of course, there were the stated humanitarian goals of the war. We wanted to liberate the people of Iraq from an oppressor, Saddam. This was not the only reason to go to war, of course, but it was definitely part of it. And even this part got us into trouble–paradoxically, because it’s the most morally “pure” part of our motivation. One way it got us into trouble was that–to those who think the US is an evil imperialist power–it was considered just a screen for the “real,” selfish motivation for the war: colonialism. Another reason is that with the toppling of Saddam went the responsibility for establishing a functioning government in a country that had been ruled by tyranny and terror for many decades. It was predictable that there would be a jockeying for power among factions, and that it wouldn’t be pretty, and that the occupation would require a firm hand and would take a long time, although I don’t recall this ever being explicitly stated prior to the war. I believe it should have been emphasized.

To have been emphasized, of course, it would have to have been acknowledged and known. I’m not sure that was the case; if it was not, that would have been a huge failing on the part of the planners of this war.

Transforming Iraq into a nonchaotic state has proven very difficult. But in my opinion, one of the reasons it’s been so very hard is that we were ambivalent in our dedication to that goal from the start. We tried to implement it with half-measures that smacked of PC correctness–the best example being the hands-off policy towards al Sadr when his support was still relatively small.

Without an acceptance of the fact that we are an occupation force in Iraq, and all that entails, there’s no way the country can be prevented from sliding into chaos, or from falling under the domination of neighbors who are up to no good. That knowledge, I believe, is what’s behind the current calls to increase the number of our forces there, if only temporarily. Because, make no mistake about it: if we’re reluctant to “occupy” because of the resemblance of occupation to colonialism, our enemies entertain no such moral quandaries.

As with the USSR during the Cold War, Iran would like expand its power and influence in the region. But Iran is only one of the faces of our enemy. There are others (al Qaeda, or Syria, for example). They resemble each other in ignoring the niceties we pay so much attention to. For the most part, they couldn’t care less about human rights–or human life, for that matter. And of course, being third-world countries, they are somehow exempt from those nefarious charges of colonialism and imperialism–even though they nakedly and boldly lust for those things (and in some cases, already practice them) themselves.

So, what would victory in the “War on Terror” (better phrase: the war against Islamic totalitarianism) look like? Would we at least know it if we saw it? Would it be a decrease in the number of terrorist attacks, or just in our perception of their likelihood? That would certainly be part of such a victory.

Would it have to include a relatively well-functioning and prosperous Middle East? Try as I might, it’s hard to see how the first goal (decrease in the risk of terrorist attacks on us) could be effected without the second, because the hatred and jihadism in that part of the world is fueled by its dysfunctional governments and societies, which are legion. In the modern world, we cannot effectively wall ourselves off from this threat; we must do something about its wellsprings.

That was the real basis for the “moral” argument for starting the Iraq War. Those who were against that war and who argued that, since there were so many other tyrants in the world, why not depose them as well if we were going to go after Saddam, were trying to make the point that there was some self-interest behind our altruistic words about tyrants. And indeed, there was.

But that doesn’t invalidate them. Sometimes things are both morally right and in our best interests. And both things are true of reforming the Middle East.

But what a task! How much of this could–or should–be under our control? And how best to go about it (that’s what the arguments regarding Iran are all about: talks, vs. clandestine operations to support anti-government groups, vs. military action, limited or otherwise)?

Even if reform of the area is something we could effect, at least theoretically, how much are we willing to spend in money, time, and blood, to achieve it? We’ve never answered these questions, but the answers depend in good part on how high we evaluate the risk of doing nothing.

We need a government that is not afraid to use the “s” word–success–and is willing to define it, and able to describe to the American people just what it will take to achieve it.

37 Responses to “The definition of “success” in war: Part II (colonialism and occupation)”

  1. somewhat-hopeful Says:

    Neo,

    Spot on, Sister! I simply cannot get my mind around the defeatist mentality that seems to be force fed to us. I cannot understand why it is so important to some to actively undermine our President. It seems that some just seem to feel power by being “Anti”.

    I must be some kind of freak to want to WIN. Just think, all those basketball games I played in could have been avoided if only I had not wanted to WIN.

    But, just let us get attacked again and the threat from facist Islam will become real again and all those defeatists will be screaming at the rest of us to do something…to save them. They will not for one moment recognize that they are the reason that we WILL BE attacked again.

    I think we are trying to measure sucess in Iraq by too large a measuring stick. We have won militarily already. We are winning against the terrorists. I can tell because the Iraq economy is growing, there are new businesses forming, there are girls going to school, there are women who can now express themselves, there is a police force. These are all sucesses that are won each day, person by person. They are personal sucesses that all add up to one big sucess that is actively ignored by our media.

    The blog, Iraq the Model, has shown me that not all Iraqi’s want us to lose. Most want us to win so that they win too.

  2. gcotharn Says:

    We’ve already succeeded:
    1) We’ve removed the problematic dictator.
    2) We’ve infected the region with democracy.

    How effective will our infusion of democracy be?
    If the Iraq Army becomes an effective force, and if disbursing oil revenues to the people steadies the economy, then democracy will look very good to the peoples of the ME, and OIF will have a chance to rank as a huge and historic success.

    History contains many examples where events which seemed like crisis were actually momentary aberrations, because larger factors had already decided the various conflicts, and were simply taking time to play out. It takes time to build an effective military force. The Coalition military has been doing that hard work. Their efforts will show in due time. It takes time to rebuild infrastructure for Iraq’s oil industry. The Coalition has been doing that hard work. Their efforts will show in due time.

    I suspect we are on the cusp of achieving something great – if we do not lose our nerve. The difficulties, and the messiness, are indicators of the magnitude of the accomplishment we are shooting for. Easiness, and orderliness, would indicate an accomplishment of lesser magnitude, and of lesser importance.

  3. Matthew M Says:

    Thank you for another very well written essay that helped me analyze the ambivelence I felt watching Saddam’s statue get pulled down and the disappointment I felt watching the Coalition Provisional Authority do nothing inspiring.

    I kept hoping for a Rumsfeld doctrine that stated the Bill of Rights would apply to all non-combatants in territory controlled by the US. Obviously, implementing such a policy would have been a practical nightmare, but it would have set high expectations for the new Iraqi government.

    Bush has been at his best when he acted like a cowboy (in the good sense — moral clarity, straight shooting, perseverence). The Bush Doctrine came from that approach. Unfortunately, something stops him from consistently living up to it so he is stuck with an Iraqi mess when he should be applying the Bush doctrine to Iran.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    “Unfortunately, something stops him from consistently living up to it so he is stuck with an Iraqi mess when he should be applying the Bush doctrine to Iran.”

    Could that be an uncompromising Left and power-hungry Democrat party that puts its own interests above that of the country?

    Remember, these are the folks who, when the President described the difficulty of overhauling Social Security in his SOTU speech, stood and cheered their own obstructionism. Does anyone seriously believe that they would consider action against Syria or Iran IN ANY WAY?

    Much of what’s gone wrong in Iraq can (IMO) be directly attributed to a) an MSM that consistently misrepresents both events in Iraq and the administration’s policies; b) a worldwide leftist movement that opposes anything American; c) an obstructionist Democrat party intent on ensuring a Bush failure in every undertaking; and d) mistakes made by the administration in not employing a no-holds-barred occupation mentality from the get-go in Iraq.

  5. james Says:

    I was in Kosovo in 1999 and got out in 2001 before sept 11. I thought to myself that Bush was going to get us into some stupid occupation that was similar to Kosovo. When I see the video of Iraq it looks exactly the same as Kosovo. Same type of streets, same annoying kids, same mosque, same old check points, same cordon and search. I’m so glad I got out and never have to deal with that again. I was a private in the 101st airborne with the 327th infantry division. So I had the worst of the worst in a combat zone and I’m sure glad to not be in Iraq doing the same old stuff they were doing in Kosovo.

  6. gcotharn Says:

    Addendum:
    President Bush’ public recognition of Islamic Fascism, along with his rallying of great efforts to meet that threat, represents a kind of victory. Here’s what I mean: suppose we in the U.S. are unwilling/unable to achieve a large-scale victory (large-scale infusion of democracy) in Iraq. It is better to know that now, rather than have it revealed in 2020, when the threat is larger. Had we continued to ignore the fascist threat; had we continued to not rally great efforts to oppose it; we might easily have toddled along for another 2 decades, operating under the illusion that we were willing/able to infuse democracy when we needed to. If we fail – now, its better to know that – now, rather than in 2020. Better not to waste 15 years laboring under false assumptions. Against this fascist threat, making the largest efforts which are politically possible constitutes a type of victory. It moves us forward, in one way or the other.

    Lastly:
    It’s little commented upon, but our intelligence efforts have to have been immensely aided by OIF. Before taking direct military action, our intelligence services were operating blindly – as if in dense fog. That fog has to have thinned. I hope, against hope, OIF has allowed our intelligence services to establish operational effectiveness which justifies the blood spilt by our brave men and women in combat. That should have occurred – in spades. Only my lack of confidence in U.S. intelligence services leaves me in doubt.

  7. Ymarsakar Says:

    Smith thinks the problem stems from our modern-day ambivalence over our superpower status, which makes us want (in this postmodern, anticolonial world) to deny the responsibilities that go with it–duties that hark back to that dread word, imperialism.

    Another person that seemed to have been looking at my notes, as well as the secret game plan of the infamous neocons.

    To those making the charges, there’s no real need to prove we actually are exploiting or appropriating the oil; the accusation stands as symbolic of what colonial powers always do.

    This is based upon the Leftist doctrine that wealth is finite. That only a limited amount of elite folks have the skill and ability to manage wealth, and “redistribute it”. This is opposite the capitalistic belief that wealth can be generated in unlimited quantities, for everyone’s benefit. The Left does not so much argue that there should NOT be an elite class of rich power brokers at the top, rather what the Left argues is that it is they who are worthy of being in power and at the top, not the competition.

    We cannot ignore the situation, or leave and pretend it will go away. It will not.

    You may not be interested in war, but for cert war is interested in you.

    There is also this I found at Sala’s site. A good look back at why the planning for the Iraq War, Neo, was so flawed and incomplete.

    Sec Rumsfield vs State, Bush decides the winner

    GC, the Military Intelligence community is still competent, and they have acquired much information about AL Qaeda and how terrorist networks work and their contacts. Even if the CIA and the NSA have leaks galore, you can count on the military to remain loyal. Perhaps in the end, the only part of the government that will be loyal to the Constitution is the military. An ironic twist of fate.

  8. SERENDIP Says:

    Most excellent. Bravo.

  9. unknown blogger Says:

    Much of what’s gone wrong in Iraq can (IMO) be directly attributed to a) an MSM that consistently misrepresents both events in Iraq and the administration’s policies; b) a worldwide leftist movement that opposes anything American; c) an obstructionist Democrat party intent on ensuring a Bush failure in every undertaking; and d) mistakes made by the administration in not employing a no-holds-barred occupation mentality from the get-go in Iraq.

    Except for “d” this is complete magical thinking.

    Name any single concrete way that the “MSM”, the “worldwide leftist movement” or the Democrats have contributed to anything that has gone wrong in Iraq.

  10. DaveindeSwamp Says:

    UB.. the single concrete thing the Communists and their handmaidens in the press was living down to Goebbel’s admonishment .

    And for the E-2 from the 101st. Well, tell everyone what one remains and E-2 for 3 years.

    Lastly, for the “No blood for oil” crowd, look up these two places, Ploesti,Romainia and Balikpapan,Borneo . Tell us about the price of oil and exactly how important it truly is .

  11. Ymarsakar Says:

    The media gives terrorists a limelight, in order for the terrorists to justify themselves. Wherever the media goes, the car bombs and the killings go. Wherever the media shines their light, violence will occur. You don’t hear much about the car bombs and sectarian killing in Afghanistan, because the media isn’t in Kabul most of the time.

  12. Steve Says:

    It’s worth keeping in mind that both Japan and Germany had democratic institutions, a free press, and a secular government long before the US showed up. In the case of Japan, it went back some decades, in the case of Germany, in many parts of the country, it went back centuries.

    The occupiation of Germany and Japan was less a case of “imposing” democracy as it was in forcibly demilitarizing both countries, and permanently removing from influence the military castes of both countries.

    The case in Iraq is totally different, which is why this is another analogy that doesn’t fly.

  13. Kurt Says:

    I’ve been a supporter of the war from the beginning, and yet, I think you’ve overstated the case of the unknowns about the costs involved with this war from the beginning. Before the war, one of the arguments against it was simply that we had an insufficient plan for what would happen after Saddam was toppled. The congressional resolution authorizing military action (which you can find here–http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2002/10/20021002-2.html) makes it clear that the stated motivations for the war included the goal of creating a democratic Iraq. The trouble was that arguments saying that we needed a better plan for the post-Saddam period were counter-balanced against arguments that too much delay in making the Saddam regime accountable for its misdeeds only bought that regime more time and would make the war that much worse.

    But I also believe that even if we’d had a more fully-developed plan, things might have turned out no better than they have–it’s one of the realities of any war (and of life in general): the best-laid plans oft go awry. The more serious problem, in my mind, is an opposition party and a media who second-guess everything about this war, who were declaring the war a quagmire after the first week when Saddam hadn’t been deposed yet, and who seem more motivated by the aim of making the war an albatross for an administration they have always hated than with doing what they can to contribute to this effort’s success.

  14. TmjUtah Says:

    Bravo, Neo.

    I agree with Kurt’s sentiments here:

    I’ve been a supporter of the war from the beginning, and yet, I think you’ve overstated the case of the unknowns about the costs involved with this war from the beginning. Before the war, one of the arguments against it was simply that we had an insufficient plan for what would happen after Saddam was toppled.

    Iraq is a front in a larger war. Creating a democratic Iraq, whole cloth as in something that a majority of Americans would instantly recognize, is simply not going to happen as long as the prime movers of Islamic fascism are in business.

    The same is true for the Long War.

    Whether or not Iraq becomes a functioning democracy in X number of years is secondary to what remains to be done if we are serious about ending Islamic fascism. State support makes possible the exporting of murder to worldwide targets. Decapitating the states that are behind that industry is the first logical step that must be taken but won’t happen until some pivotal event, or confluence of events, occurs to make what’s left of the West act in earnest.

    We don’t have enough troops or contractors or money to WalMart every shithole like Afghanistan or Iraq. I believe that Democratization as a plan was the bravest, most liberal foreign policy initiative put forth by any U.S. president since the Marshall Plan. But Democratization relied on unity of effort and a willingness to name the enemy… neither of which has been very much in evidence.

    But we’ve got more than enough offensive capability to totally destroy any number of nations’ ability to function as a nation state. We can project force on a point anywhere on the planet. And the nature of our most lethal, overt adversaries – Iran, the Royal’s Wahabbist cancer in KSA, the Assad regime – dictatorships all – means that cutting the head off means an opportunity for different leadership to rise up.

    I reject the Powell Doctrine where Arab/muslim countries that host Islamist terror are concerned. By attacking them, we aren’t breaking anything that wasn’t already lethally broken already, at least where the possibility that we could ever peacefully coexist with them is concerned.

    Decapitate the regimes. Maintain training and readiness to deal with the opportunists (China and Russia) who will surely seek leverage in the disarray to follow.

    We can always offer help to genuine reform movements. We do charity better than anyone. But the people that want to kill us… we must take them at their word sooner rather than later and take the fight to them first. They celebrate every pointless murder as victory. Let us return some very pointed killing and show them what debt their martyrs are incurring.

    There is too much money in the hands of too many barbarians chasing way, way too many flavors of lethal weapons around the world. It is only time that waits to be filled before those who aren’t interested in war find out how tr

  15. TmjUtah Says:

    (cont.)

    There is too much money in the hands of too many barbarians chasing way, way too many flavors of lethal weapons around the world. It is only time that waits to be filled before those who aren’t interested in war find out how true it is that war is, indeed, interested in them.

    Disclaimer: I believe that the western Left and legacy media killed Democratization out of fear that its success would favor George Bush, and by extension the United States. I also believe that history’s judgement will come pretty close to acknowledging it, too.

  16. Winston Says:

    Help Needed

    Thnx

  17. Mark Poling Says:

    “So I had the worst of the worst in a combat zone and I’m sure glad to not be in Iraq doing the same old stuff they were doing in Kosovo.”

    (Emphasis added.)

    Don’t you mean “we”?

    Watch the Freudian slips when trolling a therapist’s blog….

  18. grackle Says:

    So I had the worst of the worst in a combat zone and I’m sure glad to not be in Iraq doing the same old stuff they were doing in Kosovo.

    The commentor might feel otherwise if the commentor had ever been in Iraq instead of extrapolating from an obviously sour Kosovo experience. Why? Because judging from their re-enlistment rate those who are actually doing the fighting in Iraq seem to feel that Iraq is a worthwhile endeavor.

    To be there engaged in the actual situation instead of sucking propaganda from non-existent “police captain” stringers is apparently to be convinced of the war’s worth – and to be in Iraq and tapped into the internet, witnessing as an American soldier the anti-war slant and outright lies of the MSM, must be to realize that the MSM is not your friend but rather another enemy to be suffered.

    A generation of young people now soldering in Iraq have been treated to the spectacle of the twisting of “news” by the MSM into raw anti-war propaganda and hopefully will thereby have their eyes opened to the MSM’s many other distortions. Little by little the MSM’s credibility melts away.

     

  19. grackle Says:

    Creating a democratic Iraq, whole cloth as in something that a majority of Americans would instantly recognize, is simply not going to happen as long as the prime movers of Islamic fascism are in business.

    Wise words. I’ll put it a little stronger: Any kind of good outcome in Iraq and Afghanistan will not be possible until Iran and Syria have their activities in those countries stopped. We have seen for 50 years in Israel that terrorist states are perfectly willing to continue their terrorism indefinitely. It costs them very little, there is no end of terror recruits(they start the terror training in the first grade in Palestine) and they are secure in the belief that they will be subject to NO effective reprisals from the US or Israel. They know that all they have to do is a few IEDs, do some sniping and strap a few bomb-vests on a few suicidal idiots and they will win eventually.

     

  20. Loyal Achates Says:

    Curiously enough, while to my knowledge no Islamic party has ever consciously identified itself with fascist ideology (though some of them are certainly repressive enough), there are quite openly Christian and Jewish Fascist parties operating in the Middle East. All of them are American allies, however.

  21. stumbley Says:

    “no Islamic party has ever consciously identified itself with fascist ideology”

    No need to. It’s already in the Q’uran.

  22. meade Says:

    Shelby Steele

  23. troutsky Says:

    Neo presents a number of questions in an attempt to interrogate the nuanced aspects of hegemony and all she gets in response are the same old cowboys.She is finally making a serious attempt to understand but no one else here recognizes any dilemna..

    The problem you pose,neo, of not having a consensus around crucial questions such as what does victory look like, are we willing to occupy long term,is this a viable global strategy?,etc,is that there is no national discourse, no space for articulation within our own “democracy”, so that the unity needed to undertake such a huge ,transformative project,( or reject it outright) can never be achieved. It is foolish to think this conversation depends on the supposed allegiance or treachery of the press,or punditocracy,or imaginary Left.This crucial debate never happened after Viet Nam, it never happened after Beirut or Tehran.It’s not happening now.I don’t think it is an accident ,but thats my politics and understanding of hegemony.

  24. stumbley Says:

    “imaginary Left”????

    Surely you jest.

  25. TomTom Says:

    Great post, Neo-neocon. and I second Troutsky’s comment about our lack of national will. My macro view is that the rising tide of Islamism (terrorist AND peaceful) is facilitated by the ebbing of Western values. Indeed, the ebbing tide may be charged with encouraging and facilitating the Islamic surge. (These are hardly original thoughts!)

    That the “Ebbers” run academia, the MSM,the feminist and civil rights groups, and the no-longer Loyal Opposition (the Democratic Party) means we cannot unite to the national will required over time to sufficiently resist the Islamist foe. The greatest failing of George W is his inability to emulate Roosevelt, Chuchill and Reagan as great communicators and mobilizers of public opinion.

    We are painfully priviledged to witness a massive shift in the culture of mankind, with the descent of a black night that shall succeed in enduring in a way the Thousand Year Reich could only dream of.

  26. Gray Says:

    //no Islamic party has ever consciously identified itself with fascist ideology//

    Other than, y’know, the guys we were fighting: The Ba’ath party.

    Founded by Michel Aflaq in 1947 in Syria. It was a pan-Arab National Socialist party with stated Fascist goals.

  27. Loyal Achates Says:

    But it was explicitly a secular non-Islamic party.

  28. neo-neocon Says:

    I changed the error in the author’s name: it was Shelby Steele who wrote the quoted article, not Shelby Smith.

  29. grackle Says:

    But it[the Ba’ath Party] was explicitly a secular non-Islamic party.

    Sure, it was “non-Islamic.” That’s why 99% of the membership was Islamic. Yeah, right.
     

  30. Sergey Says:

    For me colonialism and imperialism are not nefarious words, they are tools of progress and modernization that have not exhausted yet their positive role. There were no democratic traditions in India before British colonial rule, there was not even India herself, only dosen of medieval absolutist principalities. Persia in no way is culturally backward in comparizon to India and had the same problems with Muslim occupation and ruthless suppression by it of her ancient idigenious culture, so 30-40 years of Western colonial rule can make her as prosperous and democratic as India now.
    Arabs are another story, they have genetically ingrained psychology of nomadic conquerors and robbers, so the only possible solution is to fence them, as Palestinians, and impose strict technological embargo to deny them any access to modern weaponry.
    I believe that this combination of liberation and democratization of Kurds and Persians with apartheid of Arabs and Pushtuns is the best long-term goal in GWOT.

  31. gcotharn Says:

    Troutsky raises the issue of political will. If Iraq does not succeed as we hope, it WILL BE b/c America was not unified behind making the necessary effort. I believe such a failure – caused by waging war with partial effort – would be clarifying for the electorate. In future, when the fascist threat rises against us in greater strength, I believe the American electorate will be more prepared to support decisive, large-scale action.

    Troutsky, and many leftists, complain that America ought not have undertaken OIF w/o greater national consensus, and greater national support. A couple of points:
    1) We are a republic, not a democracy, exactly in anticipation of situations such as this.
    2) OIF is a moral effort, both for self-defense reasons, and for humanitarian reasons. While it is immoral to waste lives in a losing effort, OIF has already accomplished great things for us, and for the world, as enumerated above. Therefore, whether or not popular support existed for achieving large scale democratic victory, I believe Pres. Bush made the correct moral call in launching OIF. Even if larger scope victory is not achieved, events have vindicated his decision.
    3) As stated above, I believe OIF has prepared(has steeled) the American electorate for circumstances which may arise in the near future. As warfare goes on(and the WOT WILL go on), things which used to horrify us begin to horrify us less. We begin to accept the necessity of certain violences, of certain deprivations, of certain sacrifices. This current conflict may be a training ground for the American public.

    Finally, the complaint that we didn’t have a large enough pre-invasion conversation is sometimes a mere complaint that the conversation didn’t stop Pres. Bush from launching OIF. I remember much pre-invasion conversation. Maybe a different politician could’ve rallied more public support to his side. Pres. Bush did rally as much public support as he believed he was able to, then he acted. I appreciate him for that.

  32. Gray Says:

    //But it was explicitly a secular non-Islamic party.//

    Just like the NSDAP was explicitly a secular non-Christian party: Gott mitt Uns!

    That in itself is symptomatic of fascism.

    OF COURSE it says it is ‘secular and non-Islamic’!

    It’s a group of Islamic Arabs pledging allegiance to a National Socialist State above all else–that IS fascism!

  33. Steve Says:

    Arabs are another story, they have genetically ingrained psychology of nomadic conquerors and robbers, so the only possible solution is to fence them, as Palestinians, and impose strict technological embargo to deny them any access to modern weaponry.

    I guess that would be one hell of a zoo. Free admission?

  34. Ymarsakar Says:

    I never heard an alternative in 2003, that I could use to compare to the so called “insufficient war plan”. In point of fact, the only criticisms I heard was something about not enough troops, and that was it. That was IT. They said nothing about the looting, except “more troops”. They said nothing about the IEDs and the unarmored cars and the terrorists except, “more troops”. Compared to that, I am supposed to join up on this “alternative plan” that didn’t exist except in some General’s madly ambitious brain?

  35. Ymarsakar Says:

    This is the real zoo by the way.

    Operation Doubles

  36. tiddles Says:

    It’s a group of Islamic Arabs pledging allegiance to a National Socialist State above all else–that IS fascism!
    Gray | 12.13.06 – 3:36 pm | #

    No, they were secular arabs who embraced a social democratic pan arab vision. That is clearly NOT fascism nor sectarian islamist.

    And, even radical islamism a la Salafists is not akin to fascism.

    If you are going to throw labels as derogatory grenades, at least get your terminology correct.

  37. Ymarsakar Says:

    social democratic

    SDP all the way, pave the way for another tyrant.

    Social democracy “is” a derogatory term, dontcha know.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.
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