Friday, December 22, 2006

The Fog of War

One of my goals with this blog was to write posts with some perspective. I have not written about the war yet. War is something that is extremely difficult to keep in perspective during its execution. Even hundreds of years later historians still debate the merits of strategies and events. I've read a couple of fascinating books this year about WW II and the Revolution. Malkins In Defense of Internment provides an alternate view of the thinking behind the internment of the Japanese in World War II that is not part of the conventional wisdom and Ketchums Victory at Yorktown is a mind blowing account of how far in despair we were during the Revolution. Few people today appreciate the extent of Washington's leadership in creating this country.

As a college student in the 1970's I was mildly anti-war. I cast my first vote for George McGovern - an anti-war candidate. As time has passed I have learned new facts about Vietnam that have changed my views of that war. Most significant was our victory during the Tet Offensive which was spun into a defeat by the biased reporting of Walter Cronkite.

So now we are in a war with a radical foe that is bent on attacking and conquering us. Many people think that if we simply pull out of Iraq the danger will pass. I wrote a post about Good and Evil that tried to highlight what I believe is a fundamental problem with Western thought - namely the belief that evil does not exist.

One of my favorite books used to be a collection of writings by the Sufi poet Rumi. It contains some tremendous spiritual insights. However, I believe today Muslim belief is dominated by Wahhabism that has taken Islam down a violent path.

While some believe that only a small percentage of Muslims believe in violent jihad (10% of 1.2 billion is still a lot of people), those that don't believe in violence are at the very least being intimidated into silence and acquiescence by the violent minority. And the problem is not only intransigent, it is generational as the young are being taught to hate.

So we are in the "fog of war" having swiftly conquered Afghanistan and Iraq only to be surprised by a high level of attacks due to a variety of fighters (disgruntled Sunnis, Al Qaeda, Iranian subterfuge, Shia vigilante groups). The President of Iran threatens the end of Israel nearly weekly and police in the west undermine plots constantly.

One perspective that I do have is that no mater our course in Iraq, this war will not end soon. I think at the present many in the West have become quite fearful of Islam. We dare not write the truth about fascist Islam or call it the evil that is now is.

So we may stagger along for many years or even decades living with the status-quo assuming some group does not set off a nuclear bomb in the interim. If freedom were able to take root in the Middle East (improbable but not impossible) we may avoid a great conflict. However, human history clearly shows that when evil is not confronted the worst of our fears come true. I pray that is not the case, but I too am caught in the fog of war and do not know the best course of action or the outcome. The enemy will surprise us and we will find out what kind of people we are again.

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