The Therapy Sessions
Monday, April 12, 2004
Ready to change the channel...
Sure we can lose, and by far the most likely way for us to lose is for us to give up. In the last 30 years we are perceived to have done a lot of that, and our enemies have watched carefully. They know they have no hope of defeating us militarily but they don't think they have to.
The reason we were attacked in September of 2001 was because bin Laden believed we'd fold and surrender. He more or less expected America to respond the way the Spanish did after 3/11. Our enemies now understand that it won't be that easy, but they still hold out hope that eventually we'll lose our nerve.
As brilliant as I think bloggers like Steven Den Beste are, I think they have a weakness. To be fair, it is a weakness that cannot be corrected, because it means looking at Americans and seeing inside their souls. No one can do that.
Den Beste is analytically brilliant, and his perception that there is Jacksonian core of the American electorate is dead on, but there is something that cannot be anticipated: the fickleness of the American people. This is the attention deficit society, all too eager to change the channel.
Den Beste knows this about Americans, too. And he knows that there is no predicting when Americans will just give up and turn their attention elsewhere. Especially if they feel (wrongly) that they can get away with it.
From the news, it sounds almost like some politicians are contemplating a losing "Iraqization" of the conflict there, as a quick way of getting our troops home.
And I really hope I am wrong. I never wished to be as wrong about something as I hope to be about this.
I find myself given to doubts. Will my country be able to steel itself for the task ahead? If we succeed in Iraq, we have a chance. We will have put ourselves on the side of democracy, and the Arab world might - in the series of revolutions toward which it is headed - might just blow our way, to the side of representational democracy.
But if we fail, Islamic theocracy will seem to be the only option that the Arab world has left to replace its decrepit governments.
Will my country be stared down by a second rate mullah how doesn't even have the support of a tenth of the populace of Iraq? Will we retreat before the brutality of the thugs of Fallujah? Or will we destroy them, achieve the democracy Iraqis want and help them build something better - something that just might stand as a beacon to the reast of the Arab world?
I don't know.
My country is trying to fight war on the cheap. Low costs, low casualties.
But our enemies are not fighting that way. They would - if neccessary - launch human wave attacks - losing a hundreds for every dead American.
They see this as THAT IMPORTANT. We see it as an optional war - something that most Americans hope we win as long as it doesn't have any real cost.
I fear now that we will lose in Iraq, if only because of a loss of will.
But I don't fear the ignomity of defeat.
I fear the consequences of that defeat. It will embloden the Muslim fundamentalists everywhere, and it will encourage them to bring the battle here.
It will not end in Iraq. A chaotic, civil war-torn Iraq would just be the beginning for them.
I fear that if we leave Iraq by our own choice, we will soon be fighting again in Arab territory. We will come back furious, the horrible anger of a country trying to right a wrong.
In that dark future, we won't be at all concerned about civilian casualities.
We will be trying to cause them.