Posted on | March 27, 2011 | 13 Comments
Steyn’s NRO article “The Art of Inconclusive War“, subtitled “Why is it that the United States no longer wins wars?” is another fine outing, but ultimately dances around the issue of the lack of victory in war, as evidenced by actual peace.
Bottom line up front: homo bureaucratus is here to manage problems, not solve them. Once you grasp that the whole war question is now merely a variation on the theme of the Iron Law of Bureaucracy, mystification can then give way to frustration. Verily, the power, policy, and process are far more important than any actual outcome. The intent justifies the means, and any negative ends are the fault of the Demonized Conservative of the Day (DCD).
Steyn’s article begins by laughing at Kinetic Military Action’s blatant contradiction of everything Candidate Obama said about foreign entanglements. The 2008 campaign was a virtuoso sunshine-up-your-backside performance, which can only be topped by the same rubes insisting on getting fooled again to the tune of the Who. I have faith in Mitt Romney’s capacity to bring such a debacle to pass.
After considering some of our NATO allies, Steyn floats the question:
. . .let us consider why it is that the United States no longer wins wars. Okay, it doesn’t exactly lose (most of) them, but nor does it have much to show for a now 60-year-old pattern of inconclusive outcomes. American forces have been fighting and dying in Afghanistan for a decade: Doesn’t that seem like a long time for a non-colonial power to be spending hacking its way through the worthless terrain of a Third World dump? If the object is to kill terrorists, might there not be some slicker way of doing it? And, if the object is something else entirely, mightn’t it be nice to know what it is?
Mark, your insistence on some kind of rationale here is touching, even quaint. In the case of Afghanistan, we’re flipping the COIN. A lot of coin. Afghanistan is The Ultimate Shovel Ready Project. I say that neutrally. The American policy is to dump a pile of blood and treasure here buffing up the infrastructure, while showing the Afghan forces how to handle the kinetic side of things. ATAMO*, and Afghanistan is a modern, stable country. Sorry if faith-based foreign policy leaves you underwhelmed. Recall it took Moses two generations in the Sinai to get anywhere with the Israelites.
Here comes the tell:
I am by temperament and upbringing an old-school imperialist: There are arguments to be made for being on the other side of the world for decades on end if you’re claiming it as sovereign territory and rebuilding it in your image, as the British did in India, Belize, Mauritius, the Solomon Islands, you name it. Likewise, there are arguments to be made for saying sorry, we’re a constitutional republic, we don’t do empire. But there’s not a lot to be said for forswearing imperialism and even modest cultural assertiveness, and still spending ten years getting shot up in Afghanistan helping to create, bankroll, and protect a so-called justice system that puts a man on death row for converting to Christianity.
Oh, you medieval Crusader, you! This pre-Cold War analysis neglects the fact that the National Security Act of 1947 was really the Team America, World Police Act. The US, prior to the Cold War, never maintained a substantial navy or army. Yet here we sit, two decades after perestroika, a solution in search of a problem. If we don’t like the policies of the current administration, the proper venue is the ballot box. Nothing short of trimming the ambitions of the national security strategy will amount to much.
Steyn applies his old-school thinking to Libya and comes up confused. The headache only comes if you’re operating under the assumption that the policy should make sense beyond the next opinion poll. By pointing his waffle maker at Tripoli, BHO has made up 10 points on the Rasmussen WTF Index. See how that line moved? That’s a BFD in the race for re-election.
Steyn appears to be on an appropriately cynical course as he concludes:
The United States is responsible for 43 percent of the planet’s military spending. So how come it doesn’t feel like that? It’s not merely that “our military is being volunteered by others,” but that Washington has been happy to volunteer it as the de facto expeditionary force for the “international community.” Sometimes U.S. troops sail under U.N. colors, sometimes NATO’s, and now in Libya even the Arab League’s. Either way, it makes little difference: America provides most of the money, men, and materiel. All that changes is the transnational figleaf.
Remember that all that money was borrowed. As the US government devolves into a full-on ponzi scheme, the Shiny New World Government (courtesy of King George) will pay the US to flex where needed, and ensure that the remaining independence of the countries in the world is reduced.
We’ll get there. More little spats will occur, and the US’s political independence, like its energy independence, will be eroded, and her sovereignty punted upstream to faceless, soulless, unelected, cosmopolitan twerps.
“A Republic, if you can keep it?” Sorry, Benjamin.
(Wow, this is a dark post. I should go review that McDonnell video for a pick-me-up.)
Update: Linked at Maggie’s Notebook.
*And Then A Miracle Occurs