March 16, 2006

In the Latest NRODT....

Rich Lowry sounds awfully adult:
[Y]ou can already hear people thinking “never again.” Not just never again fight a war for democracy in the Middle East, but never again fight an insurgency.

This replicates almost exactly the reaction to Vietnam. The post-Vietnam Powell doctrine — calling for simple political objectives and the mustering of overwhelming force before launching a war — was meant to keep the U.S. from getting embroiled in another Vietnam-like insurgency. Who wouldn’t prefer to avoid that? But this is where “to hell with them” hawks suffer from their own naivety. Wars rarely line up with your preferences. The first Gulf War met the specifications of the Powell doctrine. No subsequent American war has, from Somalia, to Bosnia and Kosovo, through the current conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq...Insurgencies can be beaten, and it can be worth it to fight against them. To say “never again” is to give our enemies a road map to deterring us by threatening guerrilla war. It would limit unnecessarily our options in the world. Not all insurgencies look like Iraq. We defeated one by proxy in El Salvador during the Cold War. We are more than holding our own against one in Afghanistan right now.

First, the contention that Islam is a religion of peace. Even if this seems a polite fiction, it is an important one. Influential Muslims believe it to be true, and it is crucial that they prevail in the Muslim struggle for self-definition. Rather than scorning them, we should be doing what we can to support the likes of King Abdullah of Jordan, who has launched an anti-terror initiative, and Iraq’s Ayatollah Sistani, who has been consistent in condemning terrorism. Whatever the theological niceties of Islam, religious cultures take on different colorations across time....We should want to do all we reasonably can to create the conditions in which the positive elements within Islam flower.

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