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  Greater Cost In Middle East : Winning Now or Later
by John Mark Reynolds [author, academic] 1/16/07

Great Britain faced great global dangers in the 1920’s and 1930’s. She decided the Empire could not afford to rearm and feared war more than anything else.

Yet war with a still weak, but re-arming Germany could not be avoided. Britain could fight sooner or later, but it would have to fight. London would be bombed eventually, the question was on whose terms and in what kind of war: offensive or defensive.

Britain’s intellectuals were convinced (beyond reason) of their own weakness, but Britain could have acted to head off worse conflict.

John Mark Reynolds

John Mark Reynolds is the founder and director of the Torrey Honors Institute, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, at Biola University. His personal website can be found at www.johnmarkreynolds.com and his blog can be found at www.johnmarkreynolds.info.
[go to Reynolds index]

Despite the cost, she had the national treasure and power to act preemptively and end the Nazi threat.

If Britain had acted preemptively, she could have ended at least many of the problems that led to the Second World War. She chose not to pay the smaller bill in the twenties for freedom and barely could pay the higher bill presented in the forties. In fact, it broke the British Empire to fight the Second World War.

The problem with preemption is that one can never be sure that one did the right thing . . . the problem with waiting is that it might be too late or the cost so staggering that it destroys the entire social order.

The United States faces such a moment in Iraq in the Global War on Terror. Founding a positive nation-state in Iraq is relatively expensive compared to the small brush-wars the US is used to fighting. Any serviceman lost is sad and we have lost thousands.

On the other hand, the nation has not had to call for volunteers and the economy has not had to be placed on war footing. The cost relative to a larger conflict, whether a Cold War or a shooting war like World War II, is small.

If it desired, the US could sustain the occupation of Iraq forever economically and militarily. Nobody desires this outcome, there is no political will for it, but the cost of Iraq must be weighed against the cost of failure or fighting a war like it later.

Of course, the threat of Islamic radicalism is not the same as the threat of a rising Nazi Germany. Iran, the House of Saud, and other non-governmental forces opposed to Western values do not have the conventional power, economic or military, that Germany had.

On the other hand, nuclear weapons, and the relative ease of getting them, means that a weaker rouge state and ideology can do much more damage than was the case in mid-twentieth century. One dirty bomb in LA could kill more folk than died in entire wars.

The similarity is that foes of the US in the Middle East aren’t going anywhere and unless confronted now will grow stronger demographically and socially.

Right now they are (relatively) unstable socially as they do not believe, in their heart of hearts, that they can win a confrontation with the Western powers.

Give them hope . . . and the War will drag on with more terror and future invasions that will cost even more lives.

There is good news. There exists no secondary power, like the Soviet Union of the 1920’s and 1930’s (just as blood thirsty as the Germans), to concern the United States. One free state in the Middle East that obviously is going no place would almost certainly transform the region in the long term.

Iran could not compete in terms of social attractiveness with a free Iraq. The Iraq economy already shows glimmers of what might be to come as it continues to grow. As Iran grows oil poor due to waste and mismanagement, her own people will be irked by the comparisons with a free Iraq. West Germany did not have to conquer East Germany to win the Cold War, after all.

The President understands that to leave Iraq now would not “end the war.” It would merely put it off to the next battle while strengthening our foes by making the US appear weak.

Can the battle be won? The President admits that he and his generals made mistakes. Now he believes there is a new strategy that can bring victory. It is important to recall that the Kurdish parts of Iraq are doing well, as are large chunks of the South. If control can be gained over the center, the War can still be won.

There are no viable alternatives to the American led government . . . and no indication that the ideology of the terrorists is attractive to the people of Iraq.

Most important the American troops on the ground are still undefeated.

Quitting a fight always bring short term relief . . . but does any American believe that if we flee Iraq as we fled Vietnam the result will not be the same? Millions will be butchered in ways that make the present problems look small. Our foes will be believe they have won a great victory and will gain the one thing they have liked: a reasonable hope for victory.

If the Armed Forces still think the fight is winnable, then we should back our President and give him the chance to win it.

Victory in this case is so wonderful . . . and defeat so unthinkable that he deserves the chance to try. CRO


copyright 2007 John Mark Reynolds



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