Kerry, Hagel and Brennan are men of nuance. They know better than to try and win wars by winning them
The Least We Can Do
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The one thing that Hagel, Kerry and Brennan all have in common, besides being Washington insiders, is that they all agree that terrorism is basically a misunderstanding. All three fancy themselves men of the world who know more than the peasants back home because they have spent a few days being shepherded through high level meetings in Brussels, Riyadh and Beijing.
They have spent decades marinating in talking points and they know, for example, that terrorism is due to poverty and that Islamic terrorists aren’t really Muslim, they just try to convince us that they are to trick us into going to war with Islam. Most of all they know that we can’t beat the terrorists on the battlefield, all we can hope to do is wage a war for their hearts and minds, empowering moderates by resolving grievances until the extremists are discredited and peace reigns on earth.
Every word of it is nonsense, but national policy runs on nonsense. In the last four years the government has run massive deficits to save the economy, compelled everyone to buy health insurance to fix health care and flirted with minting a trillion dollar coin to cover its debts. A policy’s obvious ridiculousness only ranks it higher in the estimation of idiots insiders who confuse stupidity with out-of-the-box thinking.
Whether it’s domestic crime or the international rise of a terrorist movement, the left clings to its sociological security blanket explaining everything in terms of poverty and disenfranchisement. It doesn’t matter to the idiot left whether they are dealing with gangs in Oakland, Marxist terrorists in Nicaragua, drug dealers in Chicago, Communist guerrillas in Vietnam, race riots in New York or Muslim terrorists in Afghanistan; to them it’s all reducible to the same tired formula of Imperialism + Capitalism = Poverty and Resistance to be solved with day care centers and grievance commissions.
Leftists love moving to Chicago slums, Afghan caves or Latin American peasant villages, living with the natives, struggling with their toilets and finding deep spiritual meaning in their simple lives. And despite learning to speak their language, badly, and taking enough photos of them to populate a museum, they invariably leave without a clue about who the locals are and what makes them tick. But that’s because they assume that they already know what makes them tick. Oppression. And with that covered, they never bother to learn anything of more significance than a greeting and a goodbye.
The one indispensable word that the left uses to explain all the violence is “Misunderstood.” Criminals and terrorists aren’t bad… they’re misunderstood. We think that they’re threatening and they think that we’re threatening. We think that they’re attacking us, but they’re really just defending themselves. We think that they want to destroy us, but they just really want us to live up to our ideals.
According to John Kerry, the Viet Cong and the Sandinistas were both misunderstood. We thought that they were Communist terrorists, when really it was we who forced them to become terrorists and Communists. Since then Kerry has continued discovering other misunderstood people, including Saddam Hussein and Bashar Assad, and will go on discovering them on a freelance basis.
Liberal misunderstanders take a look at almost any atrocity, and sigh wearily and ask, with the patience of saints, “Don’t you understand that we made them do it?”
The Taliban didn’t want to go to war with us, but we made them do it because we refused to work with them to extradite Bin Laden. Bin Laden didn’t want to go to war with us, but we made him do it by defending Saudi Arabia from Saddam. Saddam Hussein didn’t want to invade Kuwait, we made him do it and then we made him pretend that he had WMDs because we made him afraid of us.
By the time the ball of twine is fully unwound, we discover that no one in history ever wanted to fight us, but we made them do it by refusing to do the right thing or by doing the wrong thing and thereby throwing the whole picture out of whack leaving them with no choice but to do what they did. And all of it was just blowback from looting the world of its oil and diamonds and turning it into markets for our products. And when we weren’t stealing diamonds and oil, then we were starting wars just so the military-industrial complex could bill the government for some more $145 screwdrivers.
The people who think this way aren’t just some smelly hippies sunning themselves at a protest rally; they’re the next Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and CIA Director of the United States.
John Brennan knows that you can’t beat terrorists on the battlefield. So does John Kerry. And so does Chuck Hagel. And two Johns and a Chuck can’t be wrong. Neither could Vyacheslav, as in Vyacheslav Molotov, Stalin’s Foreign Minister, who said, during the tenure of the Hitler-Stalin pact, that, “Everyone can see that an ideology cannot be destroyed by force…Thus it is not only senseless, it is criminal to wage such a war as a war for ‘the destruction of Hitlerism,’ under the false flag of a struggle for democracy.”
Hitlerism was destroyed by force and war. Islamism could be destroyed by force and war, or at the very least by not sending it billions of dollars, but our leaders are much too wise for such a policy. Instead they sign their own Hitler-Stalin pacts and then act surprised when ‘Hitler’ overruns their mission in Benghazi and kills everyone he can get his hands on.
Liberals face the same divide on foreign policy that they did on crime which splits them between the appeasers and the radicals. The radicals wanted to dismantle the police forces while the appeasers only wanted to neuter them and have them police the streets as gently as possible. Terrorism brings out the same policy instincts in them. The radicals ally with the terrorists, going off to visit them in Gaza and Pakistan, while the appeasers figure out how to fight them as little as possible.
Sending remote drones to kill terrorist leaders is the least we can do short of doing nothing at all
Sending remote drones to kill terrorist leaders is the least we can do short of doing nothing at all, which is why the radicals object to it. The difference between the radicals and the appeasers is that the radicals believe that we are 100 percent wrong… while the appeasers assume that we are only 60 to 70 percent wrong. That gives them a 30 or 40 percent worth of moral elbow room which they can use to arrest drug dealers and snipe at Al Qaeda leaders.
But what both radicals and appeasers have in common is that they don’t believe that fighting the war will actually accomplish anything. The appeasers fight it as a formality, for political reasons or as part of some grand chess game for isolating the “extremists”. They’re no more committed to it than Obama was to his Afghanistan surge. It’s always a ploy, a positioning maneuver that will discredit the enemy and force them to come to terms. War to them is just peace negotiations by other means. And when they realize that the peace negotiations aren’t happening, they give up on the war.
War to liberals is a strategy for gracefully conceding a losing argument. They don’t believe in the war itself, which they feel only happened as a result of a series of mistakes and violations by us. What they would like to do is wind it down at a peace conference where everyone admits they were wrong and shakes hands eager to move on with the business of opening gay bars in Kandahar. And if they can’t think of a way to win the peace, then they have no interest in winning the war.
The essence of the “Hearts and Minds” dogma is a denial that wars can be won in any sphere other than the social context. Wars on poverty can be won, but not wars on people. Once you begin fighting the Nazis, the Viet Cong or Al Qaeda… then you have already lost. Even if you win, the people are bound to rise up and then you’ll be stuck playing occupying imperialist. And that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when armies are neutered to lose battles while wining hearts and minds, getting stuck in the middle and losing both kinds of wars.
Our three new leading foreign policy figures who will be expected to advance American interests around the world are different, but they are basically the same. They have that blank distant look of dimwitted men who fancy themselves intelligent, They think that the talking points that they have borrowed from the Saudis explain everything and the war is a chess game that we can win if we just outmaneuver the misunderstood terrorist Islamist by aiding the misunderstood political Islamists proving once and for all that you don’t need to fight to take over a country, you can just run for office.
Stalin could not comprehend that German tanks were headed his way, no matter how many Soviet agents passed along the word. Liberals, whether they come from Massachusetts or Nebraska, are similarly unable to understand that the planes really are headed for them. They have gotten too bogged down in thinking of this as a war of ideas, of ideologies, where they are always more right than we are, to see that this war isn’t about us, it’s about them.
This isn’t a war of ideas, at least not the kind that we can play a part in. Islamic theological debates are as abstract and irrelevant to us as Communist debates over the finer points of Historical Materialism. It can be helpful to understand them if you’re making a detailed study of the enemy, but most wars really come down to a group expanding its power and territory through conquest. It can’t be won by making Al Qaeda look bad with some Saudi inspired “Hearts and Minds” campaign. It can only be won on the battlefield.
Kerry, Hagel and Brennan are men of nuance. They know better than to try and win wars by winning them. Instead they believe that we can only win by losing, triumphing through appeasement and securing a permanent peace by letting ourselves get kicked around while fighting with one hand tied behind our backs. They are not interested in what we can do to win, but in the least we can do to wait out the war until the inevitable force of progressivism finally reaches deep into Kandahar, Riyadh and Tehran bringing with it gay bars, mandatory abortion coverage and the brotherhood of all mankind.