A Bit of Perspective on the Crisis in Iraq

by Loren Bliss

While I freely acknowledge the strategic necessity for invading Iraq and have never doubted our ability to prevail in Iraq militarily, even before the invasion I was troubled by the fact our post-World-War-II history of attempts to manage the non-military aspects of foreign policy is one of chronic failure – failures typically caused by a ruinous combination of ignorance, arrogance, misguided optimism and a neurotic craving to be loved rather than feared and respected. It makes no difference which party is in power; Republicans and Democrats are equally inept -- think not only Cuba, Vietnam and Southeast Asia in general but most especially Iran and China and Eastern Europe.

More to the point, examination of every one of these foreign-policy debacles demonstrates conclusively that – whatever the other causative factors may have been – each of the disasters were ultimately manifestations of a basic flaw in U.S. society itself: an aggressive, sometimes vicious anti-intellectuality expressed in an appalling ignorance of history, geography and foreign language that was endemic to the United States even when its public education system was controlled by militantly patriotic conservatives in the years immediately after World War II. It is an ignorance as crippling as nationwide illiteracy – a mind-withering, liberty-eroding ignorance that has radically worsened with the capture of public education by the hate-America, down-with-Western-Civilization cult of the post-Marxist, feminist-dominated Left.

Hence I was profoundly skeptical about the non-military aspects of the Iraq operation from the very beginning – all the more so because the apparent (and sometimes strident) anti-intellectuality of the Bush Administration was a veritable microcosm of the selfsame factors historically responsible for all the other post-World-War-II U.S. foreign policy failures. My awareness of the thoroughly disheartening results of a Brookings Institution study of 33 U.S. foreign policy crises between 1946 and 1976 merely intensified my skepticism: this study, cited by Walter C. Clemens Jr. in America and the World, 1898-2025, found that in the "short-run some three-fourths of the outcomes were favorable, but that, three years after the initial show of force, the success rate dropped to less than one-half. Beyond the initial success, American policy failed to achieve goals in nearly two-thirds of the incidents."

Nevertheless, despite my skepticism, I had fervently hoped the Bush Administration would prove the exception to the rule, that it would not duplicate the abysmal foreign-affairs records set by its Democratic and Republican predecessors in all the years following the epic triumphs of reconstructing Germany and Japan. Thus, except to sometimes complain that I thought we were being far too gentle a conqueror in Iraq, I remained mostly silent about my doubts.

No more. While mass media is busy playing sophomoronic “gotcha” games in its ongoing vendetta against the Bush Administration, not one single columnist or commentator seems to have grasped the horrific significance of the past few days’ events. The obvious intelligence failure that left the U.S. and allied troops unprepared for the Iraqi uprisings, the uprisings themselves and the fact they are so widespread, the concurrent unraveling of the Iraqi provisional government – all of these are symptoms of an impending failure not merely of the Vietnam class but rather a region-wide disaster approaching the 1949 loss of China in magnitude and consequence.

In this context, to be silent -- or to reflexively support President Bush with stubbornly mindless, cheerleaderish denial of the overwhelming evidence of the administration's ruinous mistakes in Iraqi governance -- is merely to worsen the crisis. Indeed, what the administration needs most of all is criticism that is both outspokenly harsh but patriotically beyond question. Perhaps then the administration will adjust its policies accordingly, so that we may (once again) subdue terrorist Islam, just as Charles Martel did at Tours in 732 and John Sobieski did at Vienna in 1683. For if we fail -- if by our own folly we are driven from Iraq and from the Middle East -- the global caliphate will indeed become a reality, and humanity will face the darkest and longest dark age ever, perhaps one lasting for all the remainder of human time.

That said, let me add that I passionately support President Bush’s re-election. While I have major differences with the President on domestic policy (and many libertarian concerns rising from the coterie of authoritarian Christian fundamentalists with whom he surrounds himself), the fact remains that Kerry and his hate-America followers have already pledged they will, in effect, surrender the world to terrorist Islam – this by treating Islam’s 1300-year war against civilization as a mere crime problem. Bush's re-election is the only antidote to that awful prospect. But Bush’s re-election is doomed unless there are radical improvements in Iraqi governance.

posted by on April 12, 2004 01:24 PM