Day By Day

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Winning in Iraq

Wretchard has a nice post over at the Belmont Club in which he notes, among other things, that American political elites, especially in academia and the State Department, suffer from a profound misunderstanding of the nature of war and diplomacy.

Winning in war, he writes, is achieved by winning, not by negotiation. The collapse of al Qaeda has come about in part because of the excesses of the Islamists, which repelled people throughout the Arab world, but even more by the repeated demonstrations of American military superiority and competence. Al Qaeda has experienced, over the past few years,

defeat on every battlefield on which they have been found. And as important as the material losses to them have been, far more serious has been the loss to their prestige. They have gone from godlike warriors who can topple skyscrapers in Manhattan to helpless bugs who are effortlessly incinerated despite their incantation.
Just a few years ago young men in Iraq wanted to grow up to be Jihadis. Now they want to be like American troops.

And then he grasps the nut of his argument.

There are those who think negotiations are a substitute for winning, rather than their complement. When J. Peter Scoblic, writing in the LA Times argues that "negotiating isn't appeasement", urges US officials to go cap in hand to Teheran and has even written a book to prove it entitled How a Half Century of Conservatism Has Undermined America's Security, he neglects this essential correlation. He claims the fact that Reagan negotiated with Gorbachev is implicit proof that real men negotiate with the enemy while wusses like Bush don't. But that is to see negotiations in isolation from the battlefield. He neglects to mention that timing is everything. Negotiations are useful when they are used to complement success or effect a mutually improved solution to a crisis. Negotiations are not useful merely as instruments of surrender or vanity platforms for the self-flagellant. Timing is everything. Wainrights negotiations with Japan after the Fall of Bataan are not the same as the one Wainright attended on the deck of the USS Missouri.
And that is a profound observation. Once it was commonplace, but today it is largely dismissed by America's political elites. Diplomacy is a complement, not an alternative, to military power and successful negotiation depends in the end on military potency, either perceived or real.

We are winning in Iraq and the psychological consequences of victory are everywhere to be seen, except in the halls of academia and western halls of government where some members of the Western elite want to wear a keffiyeh at precisely the time when young Muslim men in Baghdad are saving to buy Wiley-X's.

Read it here.

Now is the time for negotiations -- ones that build upon, rather than deny our magnificent effort in Iraq and Afghanistan where American forces have deposed two of the most oppressive regimes in the world and liberated more than fifty million people. Nancy Pelosi's recent statements indicate that she is beginning to understand what is happening. [here] But this is the political season, and the defeatists are ascendant in the Democratic Party. Her coming to terms with reality is unlikely to be widely noticed and President Bush will continue to be handicapped by the perception that the fall elections might undo everything that we have accomplished.

Is it possible for Democrats to act responsibly? Pelosi, and occasionally Hillary!, have shown at least some glimmer of connection to the real world. I am patiently waiting for that nice young Senator from Cook County to take the first steps in that direction. In the meantime I am rooting for Hillary! and voting for Big Mac.