The Long View 2005-06-21: Goodness & Victory

Maybe John lived in the alternative history of S. M. Stirling's Conquistador, where the US fought in the MIddle East and won a durable victory.


Goodness & Victory

 

Even the Spengler at Asia Times reads opinion polls and forms the opinions they are designed to create, or so we must surmise from his latest column, Why is good dumb?:

No Western leader has tried harder to be good, but looked dumber, than America's...President George W Bush, over whom evil is about to triumph. ...[George Bush personally is not stupid, since] every insider account of the Bush White House portrays the president as a crafty operator, very much in control. Besides, now we know that the president earned better grades at Yale than his Democrat challenger, John Kerry...[However, the president has declined to do the smart thing.] A simple punitive expedition against Saddam Hussein, followed by side-deals with the Kurds and Shi'ites to secure oil supplies, would have served Washington's "imperial" requirements, had that been the objective. Bush actually believes he is building democracy in the Muslim world.

...What makes the US uniquely good is that it is uniquely Christian. I do not mean that Christianity is a unique fount of goodness - far from it - but rather that Christianity proposes a universalized form of good. ...As the only nation with no ethnicity, America is the most Christian, and indeed the last Christian nation in the industrial world as a practical matter...Good people cannot as a rule understand wicked people. They do not wish to be wicked, and cannot understand why anyone else would wish to do so....To embrace death is the extreme of evil [which is the essence of Islamism].

But Scripture tells us otherwise:

John 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness; and the darkness grasped it not.

And if you don't like the Bible straight, The Lord of the Rings repeatedly makes much the same point: e.g. The Fellowship, Book II, Chapter 6, page 366:

In this high place you may see the two powers that are opposed one to another; and ever they strive in thought, but whereas the light perceives the very heart of the darkness, its own secret has not been discovered. Not yet.

To put the matter less metaphysically: even before 911, there were scholars and public officials in the West who were trying to understand Islamofascism, though they often poorly informed about what actual Islamofascist groups were doing. The Islamofascists themselves, however, even when they had studied in the West, rarely had a clue about the motives and capacities of liberal societies. The ideologies they embraced made the West, the real West, invisible and incomprehensible.

This is an important moment in the course of the war, partly because of what is happening on the ground, but also because of the "lose the war now" campaign among the Bush Administration's political opponents. In the past few weeks we have seen two fraudulent media campaigns, coordinated with increasingly irresponsible statements by members of Congress.

One campaign, involving the so-called "Downing Street Memos," argues that the Bush Administration in early 2002 had made the political decision to go to war and was falsifying intelligence to that end. It makes this argument against the text of the memos. The other campaign, made up out of whole cloth, branded the Administration with "Koran abuse." That hoax re-injected into political discourse the concept of sacrilege, a development which we may be sure will torment the hoax's perpetrators in years to come. There is, of course, public weariness with American and Iraqi casualties, a subjective sentiment that is easily transformed by the magic of modern polling into the statement that the public objectively believes the war to be unjustified.

We might compare the current situation to April of last year, when the Coalition lost control of Falluja and Kufa simultaneously, and there was speculation about planning for a "fighting withdrawal." At the time, I wrote:

George Bush and his Administration have their faults, but lack of resolve is not among them. They have a virtue: they won't try to compromise with people who can't be trusted to keep an agreement. Those are the essentials.

The ability to see who cannot be negotiated with is in fact one of the marks of goodness; the corrupt always believe that those with whom they deal are as malleable as themselves.

Something else that I also wrote at that time does need further comment now:

It will be seen, presently, that the opponents of the Coalition and of the nascent Iraqi government have done their worst, and their worst is no great shakes.

Actually, the worst the enemy can do is pretty bad, though not in the way we might have feared. There is an insurgency in Iraq, but the daily carnage we read of is only peripherally related to it. The Islamofascists aren't really running an insurgency: they are running a campaign to sicken the Iraqis into political catatonia.

We were wrong to dismiss the term, "the War on Terrorism," as a piece of rhetoric that needed to be rephrased in a more sophisticated manner. We are in fact fighting against a tactic. If the Suicide Jihad fails in Iraq, it will fail everywhere. If it succeeds in Iraq, then it will be tried everywhere, and often succeed. It would certainly be used by confident Islamists, now with secure bases in countries the US would be too demoralized to invade, in spectacular 911-style attacks in the West.

Does this mean that, for the indefinite future, there will be reports every morning that another restaurant has been bombed, or another queue of pensioners has been murdered? No: and neither is the new conventional wisdom true that the Coalition is going to have to keep about the same level of troops in Iraq for years to come. When peace comes, it will come suddenly. Consider this story: Marines See Signs Iraq Rebels Are Battling Foreign Fighters

"There is a rift," said [a UN official], who requested anonymity, citing the sensitivity of the talks he had held. "I'm certain that the nationalist Iraqi part of the insurgency is very much fed up with the Jihadists grabbing the headlines and carrying out the sort of violence that they don't want against innocent civilians."

The nationalist insurgent groups, "are giving a lot of signals implying that there should be a settlement with the Americans," while the Jihadists have a purely ideological agenda, he added.

Possibly the only thing that could lose the war at this point would be a date certain for a withdrawal.

Copyright © 2005 by John J. Reilly

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