INCITE
Incite -- (v) 1: give an incentive; 2: provoke or stir up; "incite a riot"; 3: urge on; cause to act
Monday, May 17, 2004

 
Opportunity Lost
Written by: Answerman

Captain Dave criticized me last week for claiming that our failures in Iraq have at all negatively impacted the broader war against Radical Islam. But as Helprin explains, and as I discussed at length below in my "Dr. Wolfowitz..." post, the lack of proper strategic focus HAS been harmful to our long-term foreign policy, at least in terms of key opportunities missed:

From the beginning, the scale of the war was based on the fundamental strategic misconception that the primary objective was Iraq rather than the imagination of the Arab World, which, if sufficiently stunned, would tip itself back into the heretofore easily induced fatalism that makes it hesitate to war against the West. After the true shock and awe of a campaign of massive surplus, as in the Gulf War, no regime would have risked its survival by failing to go after the terrorists within its purview. But a campaign of bare sufficiency, that had trouble punching through even ragtag irregulars, taught the Arabs that we could be effectively opposed.

The instant reason for war with Iraq was violation of the 1991 ceasefire. The longer-term strategic reason was the effect on the Arab mind to which Helprin alludes, not some sort of crusade for democracy. Our choice of the crusade for democracy has cost us, or at least made more difficult, our opportunity to "shock and awe" the Arab mind in a convincing fashion. It's not necessarily a fatal setback (although combined with the domestic constraints it has created in US politics, it might well become one), but it's a setback nonetheless. And one that needs to be admitted, learned from, and corrected. Fat chance.

In the meantime, I still haven't heard Captain Dave even attempt to refute the fact that the administration's failures in Iraq have done some sort of harm (I suppose the extent of which can be debated) to the broader war effort.


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