Sunday, September 26


Sisyphus Shrugged points us to a Newsweek take on the upcoming foreign policy presidential debate:

An alternative interpretation would hold that we are not in a classic war with a powerful and identifiable country. Rather, this new war is really much more like the cold war. It has a military dimension, to be sure, but in large part it's a political, economic and social struggle for hearts and minds. In such a conflict, as in the cold war, the question of where and how military force is used is crucial. Its battlefield successes always have to be balanced against political effects. An understanding of culture and nationalism becomes key because the goal is more complex than simple military victory. It is creating like-minded societies. Thus, if you are not sophisticated in your application of power, you can find yourself in a situation like Vietnam where you win every battle but lose the war.

One can argue that this is precisely the situation in Iraq, where America could easily crush the insurgency but at a political price that would make victory utterly counterproductive. And beyond Iraq and Afghanistan, of course, the conflict becomes even more complex and less military. In Iran and North Korea, the military option is more bluster than fact. And how does one defuse militant extremism in, say, Indonesia, Morocco and Egypt? By working with those governments to find terrorists, and with those societies to help modernize them. And if this is the bulk of the task going forward, does it really resemble a war?


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