The Gloom of the Hawks
This excellent piece is by my long-time opponent on marriage issues, Stanley Kurtz. But I find myself in grim agreement with him on the war:
If you are willing to kill yourself — if you are willing even to impoverish, immiserate, and let die much of your country, you can accomplish a great deal. Hezbollah’s gains in its war with Israel stem from its ability to define success as mere survival, even as the country around it is destroyed. This is no mere clever public-relations spin, but the reflection of a profound reality: the growing independence of terrorist organizations from states, and the willingness of Islamist terrorists to sacrifice all in pursuit of fundamentally non-material goals. With military success (accurately) framed as the near-complete destruction of terrorist forces, decisive military victory is virtually defined out of existence.
Kurtz is way too soft on the Administration for making our problems much worse with their botched Iraq invasion. He cites "our inability to pacify Iraq." It was, in fact, a decision not to pacify Iraq, made by Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bush — overruling all good military advice. But that's the past. The future is grim. Until the Arab Muslim world lets go of its refusal to embrace modernity and its rigid, honor-bound defense of the most extreme version of Islam, we will have to fight a long grueling war, in which I fear some nuclear or WMD exchange is inevitable. We will lose many many more civilians. Kurtz goes on:
[T]he entire Western world now stands in a position roughly analogous to that of Israel: locked in an essentially permanent struggle with a foe it is impossible either to placate, or to entirely destroy — a foe who demands our own destruction, and whose problems are so deep they would not be solved even by victory.
We can leave Iraq, as the Israelis left Lebanon. But we'll likely be back, there or somewhere else, before long. Some say our army should wait among the Kurds, striking selectively in the rest of Iraq, only when al Qaeda returns. That's a plan. Yet its likely to end up where Israel is in Lebanon, especially if al Qaeda starts kidnapping American soldiers with cross-border raids into the "Kurdish entity."
Meanwhile, short of a preemptive war, Iran is bound to get the bomb.
And that's when it gets truly scary.