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  • Quote of the Day

    Posted by Michael Hiteshew on October 2nd, 2004 (All posts by )

    …devolution of power to common man – is the right cure for the maladies of Afghanistan and the broader Islamic world despite all the whining that we hear from the sophisticated internationalists.

    ~A Dogwasher

     

    34 Responses to “Quote of the Day”

    1. Fritz Meyer Says:

      Michael call me naive, but I think that is a beautiful statement. Individualism frightens the elite because they think the world revolves around them.

    2. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Democratic republicanism is probably the most complex and sophisticated form of government on the planet. And it works precisely because it takes empowered individuals to make it function.

      I don’t think there’s anything naive about it. I think you’ve got it exactly right.

    3. Fritz Meyer Says:

      Dogwasher acknowledges Cicero, to paraphrase, A man that truly believes in the freedom of man, will generally see the truth. Yes Michael, democratic republicanism allows for efficient and effective human development. Here is a contrary opinion to Dogwasher, Senator, I will say this. I think that politically, historically, the one thing that people try to do, that society is structured on as a whole, is an attempt to satisfy their felt needs, and you can satisfy those needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name it is democratic; in others it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship. As long as those needs are satisfied, that structure will exist. Dogwasher’s hopes may be dashed if John Kerry’s 1971 testimony is any indication.

    4. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Fritz, I agree that SOME well connected members can satisfy their needs regardless of political structure. In fact, some of the more totalitarian structures excell at that very thing. I doubt there’s a single thing Kim Jung Il finds himself wanting for.

      I believe, and I think history bears me out on this, that it takes a free society to adequately satisfy the material, emotional, artistic and political needs and wants of the majority of its members. I don’t see anything else that even comes close.

    5. Ginny Says:

      Okay, sorry, I didn’t get the right paragraph.

      Therefore, I think it is ridiculous to assume we have to play this power game based on total warfare. I think there will be guerilla wars and I think we must have a capability to fight those. And we may have to fight them somewhere based on legitimate threats and that is what I would say to this question of world peace. I think it is bogus, totally artificial. There is no threat. The Communists are not about to take over our McDonald hamburger stands. (Laughter)

      Senator, I will say this. I think that politically, historically, the one thing that people try to do, that society is structured on as a whole, is an attempt to satisfy their felt needs, and you can satisfy those needs with almost any kind of political structure, giving it one name or the other. In this name it is democratic; in other it is communism; in others it is benevolent dictatorship. As long as those needs are satisfied, that structure will exist.

      But when you start to neglect those needs, people will start to demand a new structure, and that, to me, is the only threat that this country faces now, because we are not responding to the needs and we are not responding to them because we work on these old cold-war precepts and because we have not woken up to realizing what is happening in the United States of America.

      I’m not, of course, sure of the definition of “felt needs.”

    6. Fritz Meyer Says:

      Ginny, Dogwasher’s enlightenment was exciting to read. It is an important beginning for the expansion of Liberty. His recognition of personal empowerment for the many vs the repression by an elite is an important point. I used Kerry’s “felt needs” (food, water, sex) because that attitude has prevailed to provide those needs for stability in order to empower the elite. Sophisticated internationalists, as he called them, that look down on people and don’t believe that they are able to be free, are enablers of repression. I of course would include Kerry in that group of internationalists.

    7. A Dogwasher Says:

      Folks – there is a lot of Kerry-bashing that I haven’t quite figured how it started from discussion of Afghanistan. I am not a supporter of Kerry; in fact I do want Bush to win and will vote for him. However, should Kerry win, he will have NO choice but to follow Bush’s policies towards the Middle East. I think the US political structure is fashioned in such a way that whoever takes over the executive branch will have no choice but to take the interest of the nation as a whole into consideration. As for domestic politics, let me assure you that eight years of Clinton did not destroy America either. This country is resilient enough to withstand a lot of stupidity and the Republican Congress will flex its muscles should Kerry move to the Left. In fact, in terms of checking the growth of government, divided power may even be good for the country.

    8. Fritz Meyer Says:

      Dogwasher, you spoke of human Liberty, Kerry speaks of whinny internationalism. It is not bashing Kerry, but promoting Liberty. Democracy is very fragile, you want it for Afghanistan, don’t arm the internationalists!

    9. Val Says:

      I wonder if all this talk about liberty, reform and democratization of twenty-plus Middle Eastern satrapies cum tribalism isn’t just the latest Great Idea that will solve all our problems at the same time. Not for nothing it sounds like we’re back in Woodrow Wilson’s 1917, making the war safe for democracy, the war to end all wars and terrorism begone, and it makes allies of neocons and liberals, a red light if I ever saw one. All the big and nice talk looks to me too much like rationalization of a basic need for the silver bullet against human nature, perfect for our lazy times.

      It would be great if we could ask about liberty, consensual government and elections to those Algerians in 1992 who were afraid of the FIS getting into power and to those who thought the FIS should have gotten into power. Were they thinking about liberty? Give me a break. They knew they wanted liberation from need, from want, from suffering. And the historical truth is that those needs most of the time have resulted in tyrants using their own liberty to suppress that of others.

      The more I hear about this, the more I think Hannah Arendt was right.

      I could (and hope to) be wrong. This may be the real end of history, with Bush as the blind agent of globalization fighting the last war against the last stasist society, but I don’t like Hegel.

    10. Ginny Says:

      A Dogwasher is right in his emphasis and I believe in his optimism. I was the one who became the most partisan. His rebuke is appropriate. Given the season, it is my reflexive and perhaps not attractive reaction. And my head agrees with his optimism: we survived messy elections from Adams on; we held an election in the Civil War in 864 and survived the spring of 1865. And our general (I think sensible assumption) is that any other country can do what we did. (Though of course relatively trouble-free borders have helped us Ė a geography that few other countries are lucky enough to have.) Democracy may well be a hardy plant.

      Iíd like to point out, however, that Kerry speaks for people that we have often found donít value the hardiness of that plant. Nor do they look at Afghanistan and Iraq with optimism. That was precisely the point Meyer was making until I blurred it by (purposely broadening, accidently throwing in a red herring) taking too much from that old speech. And they donít value the hardiness of that plant for some of the same reasoning Val uses Ė that it is a belief that material needs drive people harder than their need for liberty.

      No, this isnít going to be the end of history Ė I donít assume that this will make utopias on this earth. And I donít assume that the world will ever become completely ďconnected.Ē These are not systems that are meant to produce utopias, they are meant to be ever process, not ever finished. Do we see America as Utopia? Do we see England as Utopia? But we see life here and there as better than under the Taliban, under Saddam Hussein. And it is better because, of liberty. It is also better because, as A Dogwasher observes, we can survive Kerry. The house has good bones and the minor alterations that work will stay and the ones that donít, wonít.

    11. Rumrunner Says:

      If the common man has not fought for his own freedom, but simply has it handed to him, he will auction it off for immediate comforts and needs. The common man must understand what freedom means, and be willing to sacrifice for it.

      In Russia, large numbers of “shares” of former state enterprises were distributed to the common people, but shortly thereafter, almost all “shares” ended up in the hands of the new oligarchy (remarkably similar to the old oligarchy).

      Democracy is not freedom. Almost always in the third world democracy is “one man, one vote, one time.” The common man generally seems overeager to dispense with his freedom in favor of promises from the coming oligarchy or dictator.

    12. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      I wonder if all this talk about liberty, reform and democratization of twenty-plus Middle Eastern satrapies cum tribalism isn’t just the latest Great Idea that will solve all our problems at the same time. Not for nothing it sounds like we’re back in Woodrow Wilson’s 1917

      Val, I think you’re on to something in suggesting that it’s easy to get carried away with the vision thing and start concieving of some sort armed global march, overthrowing one dictator after another in a crusade of democracy or something.

      However, I think you’re being unduly pessimistic. I think there’s nothing wrong or immoral about promoting democracy as general principal. More specifically, to bring the discussion back to Afghanistan, there was universal, post 9/11 agreement that the Taliban needed to be overthrown and the world – including the majority of Afghanis – needed rescuing from their violent, fundamentalist extremism. On Iraq, reasonable people disagree. I’m in the camp that believes a reckoning with Saddam was inevitable.

      The more I hear about this, the more I think Hannah Arendt was right.

      I’ll assume you’re not comparing the USA to the Third Reich and the WOT to Nazi imperialism, but are simply refering to the ‘banality of evil’ and the ubiquitousness of evil actors like terrorists. If so, that evil will always exist is certainly true. That doesn’t mean we should give up on the human race. The members of the developed democracies certainly experience much less evil than those under repressive tyrannies. Evil thrives and grows in situations of both anarchy and absolute power.

    13. Fritz Meyer Says:

      Colin Powell in February of 2003 made the following statement to the UN Security Council: While we may be one of the youngest countries on the face of the planet…. we are the oldest democracy assembled here, around this table. Whinny internationalists that were assembled around that table, were, 60 years prior to that statement, under the boot of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. Why do we insult Afghan and Iraqi people as incapable of self governance?

    14. A Dogwasher Says:

      I a bit surprised by the pessimism of some Libertarians on this page. For those ignorant (please do not take this as a negative criticism) of history, absolutism that we are seeing now in the Islamic world is an import from the West (copied first from fascist Germany and then Soviet Russia). Yes, Islamic world was never democratic as we see democracy being practiced in late 20th/early 21st century America. But the power of caliphs/monarchs in Islamic world throughout history until the 20th century was always checked by the ulema (religious scholars), tribal councils, and non-state institutions (commerce was well and alive in Dar-l-Islam until the advent of nation-states and totaltarian exercise of power).

      As for Afghanistan, let me remind you that starting mid-50s the country was coming together as a nation and for almost a decade starting 1964 there was a constitutional monarchy with a very lively parliament that was criticising the abuse of power by the executive branch on a daily basis. Press was more or less free and it is the same actors who after almost 30 years are back in business in Kabul. All of this was home-grown and I seriously doubt any of the writers of the constitution (I happen to know that main figure of that period) were familiar with writings of John Locke. All of this progress came to an end with a Leftist/pro-Soviet coup after President Nixon had declared Afghanistan in non-Western camp while putting authoritarian Pakistan and Iran in Western camp (yes, I am aware of the importance of stopping Soviet Russia at the time). Also, you may be surprised to find out that the constitutional monarchy, minus the monarch, is again the supreme law of the land in Afghanistan. Yes, there are flaws in the constitution (such as making a certain branch of Sunni Islam the official religion of the country) but in a Burkian tradition we should look forward towards evolution, rather than revolution, of a social structure. This evolutionary process is already underway in the country and some of the dogwashers who have returned are asking loudly the same rights for the common wo(man) and minorities that people have been fighting for throughout the US history.

      All of this, friends, is only possible if the American voter does NOT lose heart by asking for early withdrawl of American military from the country. The rewards for American patience will be enormous should America decide to put military power behind her values rather her narrow materialistic interests such as defending the corrupt House of Saud whom we no longer need as a check against what was then the bigger evil of Soviet expansionism.

    15. Ginny Says:

      Thanks for your insight (and civility) Dog Washer both here and on your other comments. We need what you offer – thought and experience. You demonstrate how much we need a real “marketplace” with a variety of experiences.

    16. Val Says:

      Val, I think you’re on to something in suggesting that it’s easy to get carried away with the vision thing and start conceiving of some sort armed global march

      It may not look like it but it’s worse than that, Michael. Democratization of the Middle East has now become the accepted wisdom and the “right thing to do,” as Bill Clinton would say it. And those of you who agree with this unprecedented (both in size and purpose) social engineering adventure believe that your only duty is to show us the end of the road, Nirvana, while assuming that we realists are the ones who should explain why it won’t work. It is clear to me, however, that it should be the other way around. You are the ones who should explain why you’re abandoning history to adopt this latest Great Idea. Please keep the noble goal to yourself and tell me about the means and the particular process according to which you pretend to reach those anti-human nature, anti-historical goals, including (but not limited to) the long-winded, parallel occupations of several ME countries, the hard choices regarding an overstretched voluntary army versus the many requirements of those occupations, the sacrifices asked of an American people who is supposed to believe in secular miracles, etc.

      Promoting democracy (a lŗ Reagan) and ousting the Taliban is fine with me but the former is an after the fact convenience that is still pretty much in the balance, while the latter was necessary as a means to destroy the Al-Qaeda sanctuary. Apart from giving sanctuary to Al-Qaeda, the Taliban wasn’t our enemy. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iran, Syria and thousands of mosques and madrassas are still supporting/churning out terrorists in the thousands every day. Yeah, a good priority list.

      The book by Arendt that I am thinking of is not The Origins of Totalitarism but On Revolution, where she shows very clearly that the uniqueness of the American revolution in bringing liberty is that it could only do so because of the relative homogeneity of its social base, the openness of its economy and its English origins. Even a relatively developed society like France at the time would fail in bringing that same liberty because the sanscoulottes were so poor, ignorant and backward they only wanted liberation, and their leaders could only give them economic “solutions” from the Assembly floor. This is what she called “trying to solve the economic problem by political means,” the cause of the failure of practically every revolution up to now. Building democracy takes a lot more that we think.

    17. rumrunner Says:

      Why do elections in the third world usually turn into “one man, one vote, one time?”

      Democracy should not be the goal. A free, educated, informed, and self-determining populace should be the goal, for each country. A dictatorship could not survive in the face of such a citizenry. Democracy is only a side effect of having such a population.

      The perverseness of Islam lies in its misogyny, and the tendency of Islamic clerics to try to enforce antiquated Sharia law on the people. Sharia keeps the society in the Stone Age. Misogyny keeps half the population ignorant and powerless. No society can succeed in the modern world dragging along the built-in backwardness of Islam.

    18. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      …tell me about the means and the particular process according to which you pretend to reach those anti-human nature, anti-historical goals, including (but not limited to) the long-winded, parallel occupations of several ME countries,

      Whoa! Hold yer horses there partner.

      First, we’re occupying one M/E country. I’m not aware of plans to occupy more.

      Second, I’m surprised to see you put up the old ‘You’re fixing THIS problem but what about THAT problem!’ straw man.

      Third, no one here has discussed Nirvana except you. The West is not Nirvana and never will be. It’s only better than most places. I’m fascinated with your ‘It’s impossible, so give up now.’ condescension regarding the possiblity of achieving representive government in the M/E. From my point of view, the situation in Afghanistan is already orders of magnitude better than it’s been in at least 25 years. This is cause for defeatism? Because it’s less than perfect and won’t be an Asian Switzerland for at least 100 years? So what. They’re on the right path. That’s far preferable to being on the wrong path.

      Finally, I’m not of school that believes freedom and democracy can only succeed in the USA. I do agree, however, that it takes of host of conditions for it to properly succeed, including: freedom, education and strong, independent civic institutions; all of which take generations to build.

    19. A Dogwasher Says:

      Placing the blame on Islam misses the point (and you are hearing this from a Muslim who is incredibly cynical of all religions). The supposedly return to a “mythical” past by Muslims is a reaction since 1970’s against totaltarian secularism that Muslims had imported from the West. That is “modernization” in Western image yielded no benefits to the general populace but a few tyrants and their class became filthy rich. In this “return” to the glorious past Muslims seem to be blind to the fact that Prophet Muhammed was a progressive for his day and age: he specifically declared that God’s wish is that women should not have the same status as goats and camels as was the practice of Arabs in 7th century but as half of men in the court of law. The way I see it, Muslims – and Arabs in particular – have started worshipping the same false idols (and human worship, including blind following of the Prophet himself, is particularly forbidden in Islam) that Muhammed broke when he entered Kaaba in Mecca.

      A good book on some the issues discussed here is “What Went Wrong” by Bernard Lewis (Princeton Prof of Islamic studies). And I can tell you that all apologists for political Islam (mainly those in Prof. Lewis’ field, including many at the U of C) hate the man but I think he has captured the pulse of Islamic world better than anyone else. Another good source is Amir Taheri (former Iranian journalist) whose articles appear frequently in Wall Street Journal’s editorial page and his archives can be accessed at http://www.benadorassociates.com/.

    20. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      Dogwasher, Thanks for clue-in on Lewis. I’m aware of him but haven’t read him.

      I’ve been reading Amir Taheri for about a year now at Benador. He’s got fascinating insights and comments.

      Drop me an email. I have a question for you.

    21. Jonathan Says:

      Thanks, Dogwasher. What you write makes sense. Blaming Islam as a whole for jihadi fascism is like blaming Christianity as a whole for the Inquisition.

    22. Mitch Says:

      Rumrunner, there’s a bit you missed, and it’s important. Democracy is not an answer (let alone THE answer) but a method. It’s a feedback loop. It doesn’t guarantee that the government will make the right decision. Instead, it is a way of making sure that mistakes are recognized and corrected promptly. That’s really its only advantage.

      Women’s rights and other human rights issues are more related to personal liberty than to democracy. The majority supported the Hutu militias, the Serb snipers, and the Hitler regime. If 3 vote in favor of robbing and murdering a fourth, that may well be the rule of the majority, but the majority must be constrained. The link between democracy and human rights is the rule of law based on equality.

    23. Ginny Says:

      Mitch is right – it is process. It is never concluded and never perfect and never Utopia. But that is its strength – its flexible. And when something is screwed up, well its flexible enough to change.

      Whenever I get impatient with the British, I remember that they gave us the rule of law and calm down. Yes, it helps to have been a British colony. But ask yourself what percentage of Americans in 1900 (and again in 2000) were born in the United States? And what percentage, especially in 1900, were born in countries that were not only not democratic but in which the immigrants to America had had no voice at all. And they didn’t know English. Within a generation they were functioning, major parts of a representative democracy. Sure, it takes a while. And democracy requires responsibiity and is helped if the populace has a certain level of literacy. And sure we screw it up; I’m sure others will too. But is it really that much “against human nature”?

    24. Fritz Meyer Says:

      Democracy is simply, (Mitch I agree), a method of debate replacing violence. More importantly, democracy that denies the rule of a simple majority (republican constitutional democracy), creates the environment for the expansion of transparent institutions, the acceptance of rule of law, and the encouragement of tolerant behavior. I will upset many Ayan Rand followers, but unfettered capitalism leads to concentration of power and the destruction of innovation. Free-enterprise anti-trust (Nash’s gaming theory) is very much like republican democracy. Like de Tocqueville recognized as a danger to democracy, those that have the power to impose a tax, yet are able to avoid it. Lewis is great reading, but another read relating to the same subject matter of human behavior is De Soto. For Islam, I recommend Irshad Manji’s “The Trouble with Islam”.

    25. Ken Says:

      Human beings can be trusted to run their own affairs much more than they can be trusted to run other people’s affairs. Democracy’s strength and it’s weakness is that it allows the people’s desires to influence the laws under which they, and everyone else, live. Now their desire with respect to their own interests ought to be respected by the government, and democracy is a nifty tool to make that happen more often than usual. However, when people have a desire relating to other people’s affairs, then democracy is unfortunately a good way for those desires to happen as well. Thus, you see people voting themselves other people’s money, and people voting to regulate other people’s affairs for the voters’ own perceived moral edification, but you also see a distinct lack of totalitarian-style persecution in functioning democracies, at least against significant groups of people that get to vote.

      Getting the upside without the downside is still an unsolved problem. Maybe with more democracies in the world, someone will come up with a better answer than we’ve seen so far.

    26. Val Says:

      Sorry if I got OTT yesterday, Michael. Still, I haven’t read anything regarding my challenge: everybody writes on how wonderful democracy is and how it changes people for the better, but nothing about how the new and revolutionary process is supposed to work nor how this way of handling enemies is better than the old fashioned one of killing them by the ton as General Curtis LeMay understood it: “Iíll tell you what war is about: youíve got to kill people, and when youíve killed enough, they stop fighting.”

    27. Michael Hiteshew Says:

      nothing about how the new and revolutionary process is supposed to work nor how this way of handling enemies is better than the old fashioned one of killing them by the ton as General Curtis LeMay understood it…

      My father agrees with you. He made the same point to me recently. From his (and apparently your) point of view, precision weapons allow too many enemies to survive, leaving them to fight another day. He thinks we should bomb Fallujah to a smoking heap of rubble and body parts.

      It’s hard to say. You might be right. On the other hand, look at the Soviet experience in Afghanistan. Didn’t get them anywhere. Grozny, in Chechnya, looks like the remains of city from WWII. Are they any closer victory there? I honestly don’t know.

    28. Val Says:

      Michael, I am glad at least your father agrees with me. When I say old fashioned I am thinking of many centuries of war seen as a means to seek revenge, of payback or of righting a wrong, a way of solving problems that go beyond diplomacy. I don’t see how that could be changed. My opinion is that we should invade rogue countries, destroy their regimes and their institutions, hang their satraps and then leave the country. I know those countries may end up in the hands of extremists, but that can also happen in the present situation in Iraq, minus the fear and respect toward us they would have if we really let them have it.

      The Soviet and Russian wars in Afghanistan and Chechnya were and are wars of conquest and occupation, a very different situation.

    29. A Dogwasher Says:

      Val – are you suggesting that the US forces should have nuked Afghanistan? Are you aware that what happened on 9/11 in America had been taking place in Afghanistan on daily basis after the Soviet occupation destroyed an established and SECURE state in the country and opened the door for the rejectees of the Arab world? The writing was on the wall but Clinton/Bush I administrations failed to see it coming. Too busy high-fiving the end-of-history and putting social issues ahead of national security at Federal level?

      You seem to have forgotten that the enemy is not a STRONG state, supported by an educated and productive nation like Japan/Germany, that you can wipe out but a parasitic organization that takes advantage of FAILED states.

      Shoot without aiming and ask questions later! I don’t think professional soldier like LeMay were, to put it politely, this naive. He didn’t send B-29s to bomb the Chinese and the Koreans! I am also quite sure that neither McArthur nor Truman thought like you. They saw war as a necessary evil to stop bigger and senseless bloodshed. You seem to advocate killing the victims.

    30. Val Says:

      A Dogwasher, I’m sorry if that’s your reading of my short comments. I suggest you read the real thing on my blog. I don’t suggest nuking anyone nor killing the victims, in fact this is typical of the nation builders: try the most sensitive and least damaging way; since it probably won’t work and will result in a quagmire, then go to the other extreme and nuke everybody.

      What I say is that instead of nation building we should be waging war as it has always been done. It’s sad that innocents will be killed but that is part of war. What I (and Angelo Codevilla) had proposed is: Define the enemy (a hint, it’s not terrorism); Invade Iraq, kill the regime and its institutions, get out; Invade Syria, invade Iran and so on as needed. This has several advantages: first of all those have been our enemies for a long time; the US can easily do that; the American people will support that unflinchingly; we’d reimplant fear and respect for us in the whole region (instead of hate of and contempt for us as it is now), as hegemons have done for centuries, etc. The current way of war is not working since we can’t invade, pacify and reform several countries at the same time and expect all of them to behave while we do it. And that’s assuming that reforming is possible, which I doubt.

    31. A Dogwasher Says:

      Val – I don’t know how you can “identify” the enemy. As I mentioned, you are dealing with a parasitic organization that recognizes no national boundaries. In their version of Islam, the concept of nation-state is explicitly against Allah’s will. Hitting and THEN leaving actually opens the door for Islamists (yes, you would be surprised but they do provide some public goods like basic security and health care!) to take advantage of the chaos. We already saw that happen in Afghanistan AFTER the Soviet withdrawal.

    32. Val Says:

      A Dogwasher, I can’t explain how I see the war in a short comment or two. I support President Bush I have criticized the conduct of the war since the beginning, so please read what I have written here and especially here. I also suggest you read Angelo Codevilla’s main critique here. I would be willing to discuss the issue for as long as you wish.

    33. A Dogwasher Says:

      Val – A little bit of Icarus flying over the Aegean Sea?

      I read some of your stuff and happen to agree with a lot of what you say. I will be voting for Bush as well, and have supported both wars (although I was disappointed when the Marines were pulled prematurly from Fallujah last spring). However, what I do not understand is that you seem to be advocating military marches against militaries that can only suppress their own people. OK, assuming that the American public/Congress will go with it (which they WON’T as the framers of the Constitution rightly made the launching of a war extremely difficult politically) — in 3 weeks Saddam was wiped out; let’s say it takes 10 days to totally demolish Syrian military and perhaps 3 months to melt all the armor in the Iranian military. Do you realize that you will be doing the bidding of the Islamists by NOT occupying these countries if you break them? As 9/11 showed, we do not live in the 19th century (let alone the days of Xenphon that some of your material fondly quote) surrounded by two huge oceans. Furthermore, military marches without clearly defined political goals will also turn America against itself … ~40% of the US population was even opposed to the Iraq war at its inception, where the political goal was clearly defined.

    34. Val Says:

      A Dogwasher, this will be my last comment; I insist this (otherwise practical) forum is not convenient for discussions. If you want to continue, please email me and we’ll take it from there.

      Ever since 9/11 I have given a lot of thought to this issue and humbly believe that both Codevilla and myself have coherent theories which you could well disagree with but that you should address in toto. Otherwise, if you just take one of my explanations, tie it to the end of the current situation created by the nation-building enterprise and then criticize it within the accepted wisdom of extending democracy and nation building, of course it won’t work. And it won’t work because it wasn’t meant as a patch with which to repair the original strategy and/or the resulting policy the U.S. government is following but to criticize the whole enterprise. For example, what you say about Congress not supporting my idea of more wars after Iraq is probably true, but this situation is exactly the result of our military being bogged down in Iraq by trying nation building! I believe the American people would have supported a different strategy and Congress would have been forced to go along.

      One of Codevilla’s lines that come to mind regarding your criticism that my ideas would facilitate Islamism getting into power is this: “Though we cannot determine who will rule, we surely can determine who will neither rule nor live.” I agree with him in that we have no business telling other people how they should be ruled. Unless we’re committed (as we used to) to put puppet “democratic” governments in power, nation building in the region does exactly what you suggest by giving an upfront chance to the better-organized, smarter and more ruthless Islamists political organizations. Ask any Algerian and he will tell you.

      I suggest you read Codevilla’s latest article here.