As the Presidential debates wallow their sorry way through a sea of inanities, leaving in their wake 600 million glazed eyes, a novel thought occurs: what if some mad cur introduced a real question into one of them? At the very least, it would be fun to watch the puppets’ strings snap (each party has a single candidate who is not a Punchinello, Ron Paul for the Republicans and Dennis Kucinich for the Democrats). I have just such a question at hand, one that happens to be central to the future of our republic: How, dear sir or madam, do you propose, if elected President, to avoid a long war?
Wouldn’t it be fun to watch Senator McNasty and Lady MacBeth, the Great Chicago Vacuum and the Little Brooklyn Duce wrestle with that?
Make no mistake, the Washington Establishment intends our future will be defined by a long war, with all that entails. Commentator/Cunctator Fabius Maximus wrote on July 24, 2007,
The flood of information and commentary available today can obscure events of the greatest significance. We see that today, as America takes another step toward the long war. Without thought or reflection, without debate by our elected officials, without our consent.
Fabius cites as evidence the opening lines of the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review:
The United States is a nation engaged in what will be a long war. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001, our Nation has fought a global war against violent extremists who use terrorism as their weapon of choice, and who seek to destroy our free way of life.
As usual in Washington, the names are changed to protect the guilty. Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland wrote on October 21,
Pentagon leaders have, in fact, shifted to talking of “an era of persistent conflict” rather than “the long war,” a phrase that implied a military-dominated struggle with distinct battlefields and a clearly defined end. Today that sounds downright optimistic.
“Persistent conflict”…is “the new normal,” General George Casey, the Army’s chief of staff, told the House Armed Services Committee last month. The Army must remake itself with that in mind, he added.
What’ s wrong with this picture? Sun Tzu said it succinctly: “There is no instance of a nation benefiting from prolonged warfare.” Acceptance by any Presidential candidate of a “long war” or “persistent conflict” is an admission of grand strategic imbecility. Which, just possibly, ought not be the highest qualification for public office, all appearances notwithstanding.
Our first, recently concluded long war should serve as a caution. Philip Bobbit said,
The “Long War” is a term for the conflict that began in 1914 with the First World War and concluded in 1990 with the end of the Cold War. The Long War embraces the First World War, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the Second World War, the Korean War, the War in Vietnam and the Cold War.
In 1914, America was a republic with a small federal government, a self-reliant citizenry, growing industry, an expanding middle class, an uplifting culture and exemplary morals. By 1990 and the end of that long war, we had become a tawdry and increasingly resented world empire with a vast, endlessly intrusive federal government, a population of willingly manipulated consumers, shrinking industry, a vanishing middle class, a debauched culture and morals that would shame a self-respecting stoat.
Where will another long war leave us? We need not speculate at random. The Newspeak “Patriot Act,” a plunging dollar, $2 trillion for one lost war and the devil knows how much for a second, a flood of Third World immigrants and cultural Marxism rampant in the highest places all point to the answer. What’s left of America won’t be worth a bucket of warm spit, or however you say that in Spanish.
A long war, or “persistent conflict,” is not inevitable. It is ours only if we choose it. There are alternatives. A defensive, rather than an offensive, grand strategy is one. Closing our borders and minding our own goddam business is another. Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sudan, wherever can stew in their own heathen juice.
So how about it, all you would-be Presidents: what do you intend to do to keep America out of an inevitably disastrous long war? If you cannot answer that question, you shouldn’t be running for dogcatcher of Dogpatch.
William Lind is an analyst based in Washington, DC.