American Elephants

A Little Straight Talk Clears the Air by The Elephant's Child

The following is an excerpt from an essay in the Claremont Review of Books about wars and how they end. This excerpt refers to Lessons for a Long War by Thomas Donnelly and Fredrick Kagan of AEI.

Today the United States is engaged in a worldwide struggle with militant Islamist terrorists and insurgents—a true war and one that has already lasted decades.  Many Westerners would like to think that the stakes of this war are not vital; that it is all the result of some terrible misunderstanding; that the United States itself may be primarily to blame; and that in any case we can and should disengage ourselves at little cost. … But the jihadists understand the nature of this struggle better than we do.  All we have to do is listen to them, since they are happy to state their claim.  They say very clearly and with obvious conviction that they aim at the restoration of a trans-national Islamic caliphate; the overthrow of secular governments within the Arab world and beyond; the complete ejection of Western influence from the non-Western world; the restoration of Islamic rule in historically Muslim territories; the destruction of Israel; and the death of millions of Americans.  They declare not only that they are at war with the United States, but that this war can have no ending short of utter defeat for one side or the other.  And they pursue this war primarily through the deliberate killing of innocent civilians — a barbaric policy not adopted even by Nazi Germany.  One would think that the moral and geopolitical stakes could hardly be clearer.  Yet somehow respectable mainstream thinking in Western intellectual circles has come to the conclusion that this is a morally troubled and overhyped struggle.  Indeed, Barack Obama said as much when running for president.

I thought that was a strikingly true and correct statement by Colin Dueck who is an associate professor of public and international affairs at George Mason University. He is the author, most recently of Hard Line: The Republican Party and U.S. Foreign Policy since World War II.

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