RK writes: Now you’re indulging in the utopian fantasy of peace . . . never in the known history of civilization has there been global “peace,” and it isn’t going to start now. The problem with bringing all the troops home now, or at any other time, is that there is no other country or coalition of countries independent of the US both able and willing to step up and enforce a “mitigation of violence.” To imagine that we can “win the peace” in some kind of more or less stable and permanent way is utopian indeed, and I see no evidence that anyone in the Bush administration thinks so. Indeed, the President has warned repeatedly that the war against Islamic fundamentalism will be a long one, that may last decades or generations.
All I said was that soldiers couldn’t win the postwar peace, mostly because a) the “war”, such as it is, isn’t even close to being over and b) there is no such thing as peace, only brief respites between wars. This email reveals a strange lack of reading comprehension and presumes an assumption that is in direct opposition to my actual postulates. I actually wrote: “Stationing troops in 144 of the 191 U.N. member states around the world has not brought peace. History proves that no utopian vision, however sweeping, will ever bring a permanent peace.” Bringing them home won’t bring permanent peace either, but it will prevent the corruption of our military into a global police force less effective than the LAPD in South Central.
But if the US withdraws from it, it is a virtual certainty that the Jihadi movement will dominate much of the world, parts of it quickly, parts of it more slowly . . . is that a risk we want to take? There is no cheap, simple, easy, definitive solution to this war with the Jihadis, just as there is no cheap, simple, easy, definitive solution to the never-ending battle between civility and barbarity. War, not peace, is the natural and definitive condition of mankind. Episodes of relative peace are, in the long view of things, the aberrations. In the present conflict, there are two options: (a) the US coalition ultimately restrains, defeats, or diminishes the Jihaid movement to the point that it is no longer a threat to global or regional stability, or (b) the US abandons the fight, and the Jihadis win.
How can one seriously consider the conquest of a secular state with loose and minor ties to the Jihadi movement a serious restraint on it when the primary advocates, philosophers and funders of the movement are being ignored, even hailed as allies. I submit that the US is still, even now, not engaged in this particular conflict and the nature of the postwar Iraqi occupation demonstrates that those who thought that Iraq and Afghanistan were the first step in it were incorrect to believe so.