The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Monday, November 20, 2006

See ya

The American public has spoken, and as a consequence, it appears that politicians on the left (and to a lesser extent, on the right) are clamoring for a “phased redeployment in Iraq.”

Politicians are skilled in the creation of euphemisms—“phased redeployment” is a classic example. It masks the reality that we’re bone weary of a difficult war in a difficult place, dealing with difficult people, for goals that are difficult for our President to enunciate.

The result—we’re ready to leave. The longer term result—we’ll turn our backs on the few Iraqi’s who truly did want freedom, allowing the many Islamist and secular thugs in Iraq to murder the innocent and ultimately, take over the country. It also gives a major propaganda victory to Islamofascists and strengthens the hand of Iran and Syria.

Now, all of that may be okay, but it would seem reasonable that we tell it like it is—“we’re leaving, we won’t shed any more blood or gold for your god-forsaken country, you had your chance but didn’t seize it in a timely manner, you’re on your own, see ya.”

But then, “phased redeployment” sounds a lot better on the evening news.

I’m not trying to debate whether or not we’re leaving. It’s a done deal. The only question is how long it will take and how much damage it will cause.

There is one more question, and it's a big one—do we have the will—the fortitude—to fight the enemy we face. I’m beginning to believe that we don’t and that is truly frightening.

Some will argue that “fight” is exactly the wrong word—that negotiation, coupled with major changes in our actions is all that is necessary to mitigate the threat … and oh, the threat is hyped anyway.

Victor Davis Hanson comments on this when he writes:
In short, while the Islamists get bolder and crazier, we become more timid and all too rational, quibbling over this terrorist's affinities and that militia's particular grievances--in hopes of cutting some magical deal with an imaginary moderate imam or nonexistent reasonable militia chief or Middle East dictator.

Well beyond us now is any overarching Churchillian vision of our enemies. We lack the practical understanding of an FDR that all of these Islamists loathe us far more than they despise each other. Their infighting, after all, is like the transitory bickering of thieves over the division of loot that always pales before their shared hatred of the targeted bank owner.

So we are at a crossroads of all places in Iraq. The war there has metamorphosized from a successful effort to remove a mass-murdering dictator into the frontlines of the entire struggle between Islamic radicalism and Western liberality. If we withdraw before the elected government stabilizes, the consequences won't just be the loss of the perceptions of power, but perhaps the loss of real power. What follows won't be the impression that we are weak, but the fact that we are--as we convince ourselves we cannot win against such horrific enemies, and so should never again try.

That stumble will send a shudder throughout the so-called West that will be felt worldwide. It will insidiously show that the premodern world proved the master of the postmodern, as al Qaeda's Alfred Rosenberg, the pudgy Dr. Zawahiri, boasted all along--whose followers will not be happy with a successful defense when they think they can go back on an even more successful offense.
In the end, the Islamicists' best way to blow up the world's Starbucks or to turn off freewheeling American television is ultimately with a whimper, not a bang. They need not plant a hundred thousand bombs across the Westernized globe, but simply to cauterize its very spinal cord in the United States--the willingness of the American public, as in the past, to confront only the latest challenge to their freedom and all the ripples from it.

In a few years we’ll look back at this time and be better able to judge the wisdom of “phased redeployment.” The question then will be whether our effort to remove young Americans from harm’s way inadvertently placed many, many more young Americans directly in the path of a deadly, on-rushing horde.