Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Re: Retreat is not an option
Written by: Beck

Brian Micklethwait over at European Libertarian blog Samizdata has an excellent point to make which dovetails nicely into Captain Dave's earlier post about how American resolve in Iraq must not waver. He also throws in a dig at Woodrow Wilson--always a good sign.

Essentially, he likens anti-American sentiment abroad to children in a classroom "testing" a new teacher. Will the tough-talking teacher crater as soon as destructive elements within the classroom start exerting pressure, or will he stand firm, establishing once and for all that HE and not THEY are going to set the tone? Likewise, after 9/11, America started talking tough for the first time since the Cold War. Everyone was duly impressed when we invaded Afghanistan and ousted the Taliban it faster than you can say Rambo III. Somehow, though, that was "easy." The real test was Iraq. Saddam continued to defy us, virtually laughing in our faces at continued threats of "heightened inspection regimes," and resolutions before the UN Security Council. Then we surprised pretty much everyone, invaded, and conquered Iraq before the French could even figure out who to surrender to.

Now comes the real test.
A policy of American isolation may not be perfect, but it makes sense. (This is the equivalent of simply not being a "teacher" at all, or trying to become one and then giving up in despair.) A policy of turning the world, or at least certain clearly defined parts of it, into something like an American empire, with clear rules, backed by overwhelming force and the willingness to use it in certainly quite clearly defined circumstances, also makes sense. (This is like being a firm but fair teacher, who sets boundaries, and sticks to them.) What does not make sense is a cloudy, (President Woodrow) Wilsonian dream of universal niceness, unsupported by serious power as soon as such vapidities are seriously challenged...

Since 9/11, America has strode back onto the world stage, chucking all kinds of Big Words around. America is going to hunt down terrorism not just in America itself and at the borders of America, but everywhere. America is not just going to sit tight and wait for the explosions; it is going to get out there and hunt the bastards down, and topple any or all despotisms that now back terrorism and will not back down and turn them into something far nicer and far less likely to churn out terrorists. Personally, I can entirely see the rationality of this new foreign policy, and I think I support it, provided it is pursued consistently and until it has worked. But, do they mean it? What are the Americans really made of?

Now that the President Bush version of the USA is facing (I would say) its most serious test since 9/11, in the form of an insurgent challenge in Iraq clearly timed to coincide with the forthcoming Presidential election, we are about to find out. Will Bush himself blink? Will the Democrats offer a cut-and-run alternative to the American voters, and if they do, will the American voters grab it or spurn it?

We are, I think, about to find out. And if it turns out that America does not have the stomach for the fight it now faces to impose its new foreign policy on the world, the sooner the rest of us find out, the better.
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