Now, presently, I have been debating what I consider to be the false alternative of appeasement or seemingly perpetual war; over here. In case you can’t get over there and follow the fairly lengthy discussion, I’ll copy below something I’ve raised that I don’t think anyone thinks about enough. It essentially amounts to this: what if we "win;" what then? What does that even mean, seeing that we’re waging war against a noun? I’m responding to an objection that to leave will be a great victory for the Islamists. The comment follows.
By this standard, I really have a difficult time understanding how
we could ever leave. If, as they have stated in some of their more
"rational" moments, that they just want us off "their" soil and out of
"their" region, then they’ll be declaring victory whenever we leave. So
you can never leave.
I say the way to get the most out of it we can is actually to leave
completely and in a hurry, saying, in essence: "We’ve done all we can
do here. We ousted the old regime, installed a new one, and provided
you a path to enter the 21st Century. What you do with it is up to you,
but mind your own business and don’t make us come back here and press
the reset button yet again."
And we just leave and see what happens. I think this approach gives
both sides some face saving and sets the tone such that any further
Islamist aggression (esp. on US soil) is clearly seen for what it is.
Consider for a second you were calling the shots for AQ [al Qaeda]. What might
be a smart move? I’ll tell you what I’d do. I’d tone down activity
gradually and monitor the media for signs the US believes it’s
"winning." I’d gradually take it down to nothing; I’d be patient. As
soon as the US declares victory and leaves or begins to leave, I’d
simultaneously blow up 10 or 20 "martyrs" in shopping malls around the
US. Now how devastating would that be? And they could probably carry
that out rather easily, any time they want.
Again, actually preventing this from ever happening would require
complete global totalitarianism or nuking the whole region. We must
recognize that. It’s the same argument for why the drug war is
We need to leave druggies to themselves, and we need to leave
fanatics willing to blow themselves up to themselves and stop giving
them good (in their minds) reasons to attack.
Is that so hard to fathom? They are addicted, for now, to their
crazy ideology and they’re going to have to fix that on their own.
So returning for a moment to that OpinionJournal piece by Kimberly Kagan, consider if that were written about how "the tide is turning" in Bolivia, or wherever they’re importing drugs from now. How would you regard that whole list of "successes?" Wouldn’t you think a moment and probably conclude: we’ll, they’ve probably just moved somewhere else.
It’s not like growing dope or blowing one’s self up is all that capital intensive — less so in the latter.