Sunday, March 23, 2003

No Register… Stay the Course

The Des Moines Register, before the start of hostilities in Iraq, had an editorial stance that seemed to have been lifted from the half-baked, juvenile sloganeering on the signs carried at recent “peace” protests. This stance demonstrates a shallowness of understanding of and a fundamental lack of perspective on recent (and not-so-recent) history that leads to an amazingly immature worldview.

Last week, things at the Register seemed to change. Presumably in an effort to not completely alienate their Midwestern, essentially patriotic readership, the editorial board gave lip service to unity and support of the war effort. However, today’s editorial reveals their true intent. The Register may have lost its struggle to prevent the war in Iraq, however it has not given up the fight to press the U.S. to toe the “multilateral” line and submit to the “authority” of UN.

When the Soviet empire collapsed, leaving America as the only superpower, it was reasonable to hope the world would enter an extended era of prosperity and peace. How naive that hope seems now.

How was it in any way “reasonable” to assume this? What in God’s name led the editorial board to believe that with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the resulting power vacuum that ensued would lead to extended prosperity and peace? This is not reason. This is childish wishful thinking.

The train of thought that leads to this storybook worldview goes like this: Now that the world is safe under the guiding hand of the UN, we can take all of that money we put into defending the free world and “invest” it in social programs. Everybody will play nice. Nobody will be jealous of our successes. Ain’t gonna study war no mo.

Have these people not studied world history at all? Do they really believe that human nature has changed so much since the founding of the UN and the collapse of the Soviet Union? This is what happens with lack of critical thinking meets too many Peter, Paul and Mary albums.

The United States is engaged in its second war within a dozen years, not counting lesser projections of military power in places such as Somalia, Bosnia and Afghanistan. There might be several more to come.

“Projections of military power”… makes it seem as if we’re going in, killing innocents and sacking the place. Yeah, we’re just a bunch of high tech Vikings. Like in Somalia – nothing to gain, purely a humanitarian effort. Like in Bosnia – a move against genocide… a job that the peace weenies at the EU should have dealt with but, alas did not have the backbone nor the wherewithal. Afghanistan – do I really have to explain this one…?

If U.S. foreign-policy doctrine remains unchanged, expect a series of small wars stretching many years into the future.

Yep… and your point is…? The world is not the utopian village you claim it to be. There are bad guys out there. They killed 3,000 or our people less than 2 years ago. I know… we should just be good boys and girls, take it and ruminate about “why they hate us”. But we’re not going to. We are going to proactively deal with the people and nations that threaten our United States and its citizens.

That's a future America should try to avoid. When the current hostilities end, the doctrine that led to them must be revisited.

Avoidance is how we go to this pretty pass. Our future course of action will be decided by the result in Iraq. I can’t help but think that Register Editorial folks WANT the war in Iraq to be a protracted mess. That would prove them correct and hopefully put a damper on American hegemony.

The attack on Iraq implemented the "Bush doctrine." Articulated by the president last year in a speech at West Point, the doctrine holds that deterrence is no longer a valid way to protect the United States from attack. The threat of massive retaliation might have prevented nuclear war with the Soviet Union, but it won't work on rogue states or on terrorists who might surreptitiously acquire weapons of mass destruction, the doctrine holds.

Bush called for a proactive fight against terrorists, including the use of pre-emptive wars. International law allows a nation facing an "imminent threat" to attack pre-emptively in self defense. The Bush doctrine goes much further. It asserts the right to attack anyone with the mere capability of harming the United States.

That’s just ridiculous. It this were true, we would be going after Russia, France, Pakistan, India and the rest of the nuclear club. It isn’t capability alone. It’s capability, track record and intent. We need to make it clear that, if your country has all three, you will not be safe. We WILL deal with you.

Hence the war in Iraq to overthrow a regime that did not pose a threat to the United States but someday might have.

And, here it is… all of the faux-patriotic, unifying posturing is set aside and we get the true message. The Register is, regardless of its outcome, against the war. Blatant violations of 18 UNSC resolutions by a barbaric dictatorship just isn’t enough to justify action.

After Iraq, the next logical target will be North Korea. Then there are Syria, Libya, Sudan, Iran . . .

Hopefully, after this lesson in Iraq, our other adversaries will see the wisdom in not threatening our national security. “Don’t Tread on Me” is the message here. If we do this right, we will minimize the number of “brush fire” wars that we will need to fight over the next decades. But, fight them we will. And win them we will.

When President Bush campaigned for office, he said he wanted the United States to be humble in its relations with other nations. He opposed American involvement in nation-building and shunned the role of world peacekeeper. That all changed after 9/11, if not before. Driven by neoconservative strategists in the administration, American policy moved from humble to arrogant, from noninterference to active intercession.

Yes, 9/11 did change everything. But we should have seen it coming. We were complacent and drowsy. From 1979, when our embassy in Tehran was sacked we did essentially nothing to counter Fundamentalist Islam. The ultimate result of this inaction was 9/11.

The dreaded neoconservatives that the Register is warning us about have thought this out and have proposed a measured, rational approach to what is happening in the world. What is YOUR strategy, Register Editorial Board? If it involves reliance upon the authority of the UN Security Council, count us out. I wonder if the editors have read this, this, or this? Read these documents, give a reasoned critique and counter proposal. Fat chance…

The United States began pulling out of international agreements and let it be known there is no interest in any new cooperative arrangements. It became acceptable to casually insult longtime friends.

Oh yeah, Kyoto again. You and Hans Blix should have a love fest on this one. The international court in The Hague…? There is NO WAY that we are going to defer the Constitution of the United States to an international tribunal of European bureaucrats. Longtime friends…? France? Christ, have you no perspective on Franco US relations over the past 40 years? If you have, you certainly count on your readership’s ignorance to foist this nonsense. Oh… I’m sorry… I forgot. This is nearly ALWAYS implicit in the Register’s editorials. Okay, we can continue now…

America would go it alone and would not hesitate to use its military. To maintain preeminence, the United States would not allow any potential rival power to emerge.

No… the United States would not allow any violent adversary to emerge. Rivals are okay, provided that compete within the bounds of reason and precedence to advance their well being and agendas. However, use the sword against us or support those who do and we will have none of it.

Read closely, the Bush doctrine is breathtaking. It calls for no less than imposing America's will throughout the world. As desirable as that might be, the application of the doctrine will result in serial warfare. Each regime that becomes a potential threat must be confronted militarily. It would be the dawn of the American Empire - of American world domination.

What inflammatory crap. We are NOT an imperial nation. You can say imperialism, imperialism, and imperialism over and over and over again. It will not make it true. Please, move to Europe now… preferably France. You’ll be happier there.

We are not trying to “impose America’s will throughout the world”… we are ensuring that we break the will of those dedicated to ending our way of life. We are best defenders of The Enlightenment the world has right now.

Empires aren't what they're cracked up to be. They bring no benefits except military security, and that's dubious in an age of suicide bombers. They impose huge costs, including heavy taxes to support a large military establishment. Over time, the burden of empire saps the economy and erodes liberties in a nation that's perpetually in a state of war.

We’ve been in an open, armed conflict for 4 days and we’ve moved directly to an empire in a state of perpetual war. Please, please people… .

There is another option. The post-Cold War vision of the United States leading the world into an era of peace and progress is still attainable. It would require America to remain unchallenged in military power, but to use that power judiciously. It would call for leadership exercised primarily through economic and moral example in close association with others who share the values of freedom and individual rights.

Carrot, carrot, carrot… and not a stick to be seen. Military power means nothing if you do not have the will to use it. Yes, it must be wielded with restraint and conscience. But when the time comes, as it has now, it must be used. If the liberation of Iraq is not an example of power judiciously applied, what is? Will it take ballistic missiles launched from a nation state bound for the continental United States to provide enough provocation?

And, by the way, we HAVE close associations with others who share the values of freedom and individual rights. They are: Great Britain, Australia, the rest of the “Anglosphere” and, to some extent to 40 or so countries that support our action in Iraq. But I forgot, if you’re not acting with the consent of France, Germany and Belgium, (not to mention Russia and China… remember them, our old and dear friends…) you’re acting unilaterally.

We WILL provide a positive example. We WILL help the Iraqi people rebuild their country. We WILL hand them back their oil resources so that they can sell it back to us and use the profits to build a vibrant economy for their people.

This is NOT imperialism. Neither is it altruism. It is enlightened self-interest backed by judicious use of power in the hands of a nation with a sense if itself and its basic decency. If we stay this course we will help change the world for the better.

Let us finish the job in Iraq, then consider whether it will be the first of many similar wars to come or the last war of empire.

War of empire… enough said. We get it.

The United States is not a band of imperialist thugs who take what we want. Most of your readers know this. You, in turn know your readers and this is why you have waffled and became a bit hawkish in your editorial position in the last week. But, you’re on track again. Good to have you back Register.


Post a Comment

<< Home