As my recent criticism of Ace... highlighted, there's a common idea, almost exclusively promoted among right-wing pundits, that more force is necessarily more effective force....
But the global war on terror is a wildly asymmetrical conflict that's only going to grow more frustrating and complex as the ubiquitization of destructive technology erases the easy lines of malicious nation states, and consequently mutes the effect of the kind of total warfare that historically pushes political solutions. As a result, much of the bluster about ditching Queensbury rules and going "Dubya Dubya Too" on our "enemies" as an evident solution to the conflict is simply that: bluster.
Sad but true. Too many on the right equate bluster with strength, and think the first person to yell "nuke'em all" wins the argument. However, the so-called War on Terrorism will not be won with simplistic "bluster".
Kevin concludes his post noting general areas of agreement between himself and bill. He writes:
If we can manage to agree on the idea that the fight against militant jihadism is, essentially, the biggest counterinsurgency effort ever, it's a good start. It means that when we think about using force, we think about it not in terms of whether it's "justified," or whether it will kill enough people (it won't), but in terms of whether it advances our long-term goal of ratcheting down the number of people who support large-scale terrorism.Speaking of "ratcheting down the number" of terrorist-supporters, Bret Stephens makes several important points in his WSJ column titled "Israel is Losing This War". Here's one in particular:
Harder to understand is a military and political strategy that mistakenly assumes that Israel can take its time against Hezbollah. It cannot. Israel does not... have 130,000 troops at risk in Iraq of an uprising by Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Army. It should be immensely worrying to Israel's leaders that Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani is calling for an immediate cease-fire.
As we are sending more troops to Baghdad (now teeming with sectarian death squads), it's not encouraging to hear these sorts of comments from Iraqi leaders:
1. "These horrible massacres carried out by the Israeli aggression, like what happened at Qana, incite in us a spirit of solidarity... It's time for this nation to stand up and stop this aggression." -- Vice President Abdul Mahdi
2. "The government formed after the fall of the regime hasn't been able to do anything, just make many promises. And people are fed up with the promises," said Sheik Bashir al Najafi, one of the top four Shiite [ayatollahs] and one of several who suggested there could be a revolt. "One day we will not be able to stop a popular revolution."
3. "The Marjaiyyah [grand ayatollahs] will support the government as long as the government serves the people," Abdul-Aziz al Hakim, the leader of the United Iraqi Alliance, the largest Shiite political bloc, said in an interview with McClatchy Newspapers. "This was a warning."
4. "Islamic nations will not forgive the entities that hinder a cease-fire," Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said, in a clear reference to the United States.
"It is not possible to stand helpless in front of this Israeli aggression on Lebanon," he added. "If an immediate cease-fire in this Israeli aggression is not imposed, dire consequences will befall the region."
5. "We, the unified Iraqi people, will stand with the Lebanese people to end the ominous trio of the United States, Israel and Britain, which is terrorizing Iraq, Lebanon, Afghanistan and other occupied nations. We do not want U.S. enterprises in the Middle East."-- cleric Moktada al-Sadr
Even some newly-converted "reality-based Republicans are starting to get a bit testy about the direction things are going. The NYT reports
Under a new security plan for Baghdad that President Bush and Prime Minister Maliki announced last week in Washington, the tours of 4,000 American soldiers who had been due to return home were extended last week. Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, warned Monday during a visit to Baghdad that domestic support for assigning American troops to police the capital might be short-lived. "Americans are not going to be very patient about having American forces essentially being police officers and maintaining order between indigenous Iraqi groups," he said.
In the coming months and years, when I hear reality-based conservatives make these sorts of complaints about Iraq, I'm not sure I'll be able to restrain myself from sarcastically regurgitating Bush/NeoCon war arguments. For example:
Representative Cole, tell your impatient constituents that freedom isn't free. Iraq is the central front in the war on terror, and it's better that our troops fight the freedom-hating enemy over there than fight them over here. The world is better off now that Saddam is out of power, and it's cynical to think that Iraqis are somehow incapable of handling God's gift of democracy and freedom, which will soon spread throughout the Middle East.