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Until in God’s Good Time, the New World Steps Forward

John Buckholz e-mails some comments on the state of our fight:

The chances of our speaking Arabic, or being forced to, are nil.

This war was justified, but never necessary. And if we wanted to win, we should have treated it as a war, and not a management training exercse, for the first year. War means breaking eggs. And we shouldn’t have been afraid to inflict and incur serious damage (the early battle for Haditha notwithstanding).

The “stomach for war” is an irrelevant concept. Reasonable people (I like to think) are war-weary because they have no confidence in the prosecutors. There is, whether you continue to argue in favor of continuing the slog in the desert, a major credibility gap. There is also war-weariness because of the unavoidable sense that the U.S. has concentrated all energy on this war while ignoring the lowest hanging fruit on many occasions.

If you want a sense of a war during which the world’s survival was actually at stake, take this [Winston Churchill address]. You’ve probably heard this, but it may also be that our “stomach for war” would be enhanced if we were treated to rhetoric like this.

A final point. You present withdrawal in Iraq as an outcome that would embolden terrorists. There is some merit to the school of thought that a retreat would lend credence to the notion that one can “wait out” America. But if terrorists want to be emboldened by this, it is very, very short-sighted: we have the power to liquify the desert many, many, many times over. They do not.

And Mr. Buckholz attaches the below audio recording of Sir Wiston Churchill, which I hope you will listen to profitably.

Two points, in haste, in reply to the e-mail. The first is that the chances of our speaking Arabic are nil, yes. But not terribly more distant are they than were our chances of speaking German in the thick of World War II. Both then and now, one had to game out the war rather far in order to forsee the day when that last shoe might drop, but the day was visible in both instances. It is visible now not because of the enemy’s military might — that is why we could see that day in the 1940s — but because of the enemy’s social, cultural, viral might, which might may well exceed that of the Axis powers, because it can appear to be quite benign.

The second point is that we cannot liquify the desert, because a political consensus in favor of detonating a strategic nuclear weapon over a live target is unattainable. Islamists are not ignorant of this weakness of ours.


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