Today’s Washington Post suggests that the reaction of some “antiwar liberals” to a recent leak from the National Intelligence Estimate may have been unjustified.In the Second World War, when someone talked about establishing a beachhead he meant, you know, establishing a beachhead. The soldiers at Omaha Beach weren't actually involved in a vast, ongoing metaphor, Steven Spielberg's best efforst aside. All the Anrew J. Coulsons of the world, who treat warfare as a branch of philately, something to be harumphed over in well-appointed studies in the dusty lambent light of yon Venetian-blinded windows, simply cannot conceive that whether "War on Terror" or "beachhead for freedom and democracy," you will never triumph in combat by establishing an enduring figure of speech. So put down the port and cigars, ye men of empire, defenders of the faith, and gather round, for IOZ shall tell a tale.
The U.S. was not safer in 1942–1945 than it had been in early 1941. We entered World War II because winning it would make America safer. In trying to win it, we suffered over a million casualties.
Part of the argument for toppling Saddam Hussein’s regime was that a beachhead for freedom and democracy in a Muslim Middle Eastern nation would, in the long term, weaken militant Islamism and promote peace. It was never suggested that the process of trying to create that beachhead would itself make anyone safer--no more than it was suggested that Americans would be safer during our participation in WW II.
Hence, it is fatuous to argue that a current rise in terrorist recruitment proves that toppling Saddam was a bad idea. Efforts to create a free and democratic Iraq are ongoing--the war is still in progress.
Whatever gobble and yabber you have heard from Colonel Fairway Wood in the locker room at the country club, it's a frightfully contemporary (by which we mean, of course, grotesquely stupid) idea that the societal impetus to war is to establish a future state of safety. Allies, I give you the Treaty of Versailles. America, I give you Uncle Joe Stalin, nuclear annihilation, Korea, Vietnam, Poppy Bush, Gulf War One. Wars fought to establish "safety" begin as "breathing room," peak at Lebensraum, and end in a bunker with cyanide pills to the dog and a bullet to the brain. Recall that the First World War was proposed, at one point, as the war to end all wars, and that, laddies, has become what you'd call a cruel and bloody joke. Victory over this or that proximate enemy begets some new enemy some day nigh.
You vicious jokers, you bloodthirsty cowards, you excusers of torture, you degraded mo'fuckin' bitches, you keep burning shit down and expecting peace to spring like a flower from the still-cooling slope of a volcano. To you I commend a line of Greene:
Her name was Phuong, which means "Phoenix." But nothing is fabulous anymore, and nothing rises from the ashes.Peace.