|ISIS beheads 21 Egyptian Christians - February, 2015|
In 2006 commentator John Derbyshire wrote the following about the Iraq war:
[M]y attitude to the war is really just punitive, and Iraq was a target of opportunity. I am not a Wilsonian nation-builder. I don’t want to “bring democracy to Iraq.” I don’t, in fact, give a fig about the Iraqis. I am happy to leave barbarians alone to practice their unspeakable folkways, so long as they do not bother civilized peoples. When they do bother us, though, I want them smacked down with great ferocity. Saddam Hussein had been scoffing for years at the very concept of international order, in the belief that we would never pass from words to deeds. I wanted to see that belief confounded, and I am pleased that it has been. If the civilized world is never willing to back up its agreements, resolutions, and communiqués with force, then those fine documents are all worthless and civilization is impotent against its enemies. I am very glad to know that we have not yet reached that sorry pass.
So why am I eating crow? Because I think it was foolish of me to suppose that the administration would act with the punitive ruthlessness I hoped to see. The rubble-and-out approach was not one that this administration, or perhaps any administration in the present state of our culture, would be willing to pursue. The universalist dogmas that rule unchallenged in our media and educational institutions have fixed their grip on our foreign policy, too. When the Founders of our nation said “all men” they had in mind Christian Anglo-Saxon men. Our leaders, though, want to bring the whole world under the scope of those grand Lockeian principles. (emphasis added)The two greatest American war presidents** Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt had "unconditional surrender" war policies. This did not mean destruction of the enemy population but utter abandonment of the policies/beliefs which had instigated the wars. President Franklin Roosevelt explained:
"The elimination of German, Japanese and Italian war power means the unconditional surrender by Germany, Japan and Italy. This means a reasonable assurance of future world peace. It does not mean the destruction of the population of Germany, Italy or Japan, but it does mean the destruction of the philosophies in those countries which are based on conquest and the subjugation of other peoples.”Given the lack of victory in the American "limited war" strategy of the last 65 years (Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan), something other than modern American political/military tactics need to be tried, Truces and containment haven't worked (Korea). A prolonged war and withdrawing cost hundreds of thousands of lives including 58,000 American lives (Viet Nam, Cambodia, Laos). Nation building and/or stabilizing is not succeeding (Iraq and Afghanistan). Maybe it's time to use the smack "with great ferocity" and "rubble-and-out" approach of Derbyshire.
Send massive American force in (including troops) to crush ISIS and then withdraw. If they, or someone else rises again and kills Americans or threatens genocide, send massive American troops in and crush whoever does that and then withdraw.
President Obama's bomb strikes have not been much more useful than hand wringing and have cost a whole lot more. If we are to be shackled by a limited war strategy, why not try the smack and rubble approach?
*At the time I took Derbyshire to task for his assertion that the Founders thought "all men are created equal" referred only to "Christian Anglo-Saxon men". The idea that "all men" meant "Christian British men" was, you might say, "smacked down" long ago by Abraham Lincoln.
Unfortunately, I thought "nation building" was a workable strategy. I have changed my mind on that in part due to what the Founders wrote as well as the practical results in Iraq.
Benjamin Franklin on being asked what the outcome of the Constitutional Convention was, said: "A Republic, if you can keep it." A democratic republic is not easy to sustain. Read The Federalist Papers and Anti-Federalist Papers. You will see how often our Founding Fathers based their political theory of separation of powers and the protections of a bill of rights on the wrecks (and few successes) of previous republics.
Sarah Palin, in America by Heart, draws attention to some of the difficult requirements for keeping a democratic republic:
“The foundation of national morality must be laid in private families.” (by John Adams, p. 112,)
“Whatever may be conceded to the influence of refined education on minds of peculiar structure, reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.” (by George Washington, p. 194-195)
The import is that those who do not build a society where families effectively teach a self-imposed morality to their children and a culture which does not inculcate religious principles and character that causes men to out of fear of (or love for) God voluntarily restrict their passions and respect their neighbors' rights, will need harsh laws and/or tyranny to control the people.
**leaving out Reagan as no military force was used in his spectacular Cold War win