Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Courting History

God being unavailable – see atheist writers Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins on this – Americans naturally are anxious to bring History to their side. In the post-Hegelian world, History has been deified, has a voice and speaks to us.

“This, damn it all,” a blogger wrote following General David Petraeus’ report to Congress, “actually is Bush’s fault for going to war with Iraq in the first place when there was no legitimate reason to do so. That, I guarantee you, will be history’s judgment.”

These lines appeared in defense of Sen. Chris Dodd’s view of the Middle East and History. After General Petraeus’ appearance before congress, Dodd said in one of his press releases: “The fact that there are questions about General Petraeus’ report is not surprising given that it was brought to you by this White House. In contrast, independent report after report indicates that the whack-a-mole strategy has made this the bloodiest summer of the war. And by the General’s admission, the so-called surge has not achieved its goal of political progress. But even more fundamentally, debating the merits of a tactic when the strategy that underlies it is failed is nothing more than a distraction from the work that needs to be done to bring this war to a close.”

We want to be careful in our judgments concerning what history will say, because history has a way of introducing into the stream of time elements we could not have known when we make our predictions about it.

This is what can safely be said about the about the Middle East, and History’s shaping hand: That area of the world is roiling cauldron of competing interests. It is a safe prediction – though, of course, one never knows – that those who have been defeated in military engagements lose their bid to control the future. That is the way it has always been throughout history: Who wins the war wins the future. This means that the future of the Middle East, upon an American retreat, will be determined, as it has been in all wars, by the victors.

Germany, after World War II, lost control of its future. Some Americans, following the war, thought this was a good thing. Similarly, Japan, following the war, lost control of its future. The spoils of war generally do not go to the losers.

Someone should ask Sen. Dodd who he thinks the spoils of war will go to, upon an American military defeat in The Middle East; it is axiomatic, if we judge by history, that a withdrawal in a hot war is an admission of defeat.

There are two reasonable possibilities: After an American withdrawal, the fate of the entire Middle East will be determined by the jihadists, who have hijacked states to do their bidding; or, at some future date, America, perhaps allied with a cowardly and shaken Europe, will re-enter the Middle East militarily to win control of the future of that area of the world that has been justly called the “basin of Western civilization.” The decisions that are now being made – this is a prediction, always subject the vagaries of history – will determine one of those two courses.

Even Rolling Stone magazine – hardly a hotbed of Bushite miscalculation – thought that the attack against General Petraseus , by MoveOn.org and other anti-war fanatics, was disgraceful, and they had the courage to say so. Commenting on a MoveOn.org add, editor Tim Dickens wrote:


“’General Betray Us’?

“For God’s sake, it’s not even clever. A bad pun driving a despicable message.

“Listen: General Petraeus may well be carrying water for the Bush administration — I’ll reserve judgment until his microphone starts working. And let me be clear: He is every bit a target of legitimate criticism.

“But to impugn the patriotism of a man who is doing what the commander in chief has asked him to do — try to win the war in Iraq — is as despicable as Dick Cheney questioning the patriotism of those Americans who want us to redeploy from Iraq.

“MoveOn is practicing a mirror image of Sean Hannity politics. And it deserves all the criticism it is reaping this morning.”

The attack on General Petraeus, now joined by Dodd, who appears to be running as president of DailyKos and MoveOn.org, is political posturing at its worst. The General’s address to congress was not vetted by the White House. It was the same account Petraeus gave to the troops in the field he was asking to die for him, and generals, under those circumstances, do not lie.
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