A reader writes:
In some ways, I share a very similar world view to many neocons. I do believe that we're faced with a "Clash of Civilizations" which will last for generations. However, I have a very different view about the battlefield, the enemy, and the way in which this war is going to be fought.
As cliched as it might sound, this war is going to boil down to a battle for "Hearts and Minds". We need to convince those young Jordanians living in Zarqa that they have can expect a better future engaging with the international system than trying to destroy it. We practice this philosophy as part of our counter-insurgency doctrines in hell holes like Iraq. But we don't apply the same lessons in a more proactive manner. The United States needs to relearn basic principles like foreign aid and trade liberalization are an investment in our long term security.
Democracy can not be imposed with the barrel of a rifle. If the US really wants to promote democracy we need to focus on building functioning societies. This is going to require sustained focus and investment on failing states across the globe. What would the world look like today if the US had been willing to invest real resources for "Nation Building" in Afghanistan after the Soviet withdrawal?
Here's the good news: the world has gotten a lot smarter regarding economic development models. The extremely wasteful and expensive top down development structures are being replaced with micro-lending programs and community initiatives.