Wednesday, May 03, 2006

White Guilt and Minimalism in War

Shelby Steele wrote an excellent article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal entitled "White Guilt and the Western Past" (link is to free Opinion Journal site). His purpose is to explain why we are fighting "minimalist" wars. I think he is right on target:

For one thing, it is now unimaginable that we would use anything approaching the full measure of our military power (the nuclear option aside) in the wars we fight. And this seems only reasonable given the relative weakness of our Third World enemies in Vietnam and in the Middle East. But the fact is that we lost in Vietnam, and today, despite our vast power, we are only slogging along--if admirably--in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it.

This also:

They struggle, above all else, to dissociate themselves from the past sins they are stigmatized with... It's just that today the United States cannot go to war in the Third World simply to defeat a dangerous enemy.

And finally:

Today words like "power" and "victory" are so stigmatized with Western sin that, in many quarters, it is politically incorrect even to utter them. For the West, "might" can never be right. And victory, when won by the West against a Third World enemy, is always oppression. But, in reality, military victory is also the victory of one idea and the defeat of another. Only American victory in Iraq defeats the idea of Islamic extremism. But in today's atmosphere of Western contrition, it is impolitic to say so.

You really should read the whole thing, and I think he has something important to say about why we are having so much trouble winning these wars. We are damned if we do and damned if we don't, so let's do it.


At 11:30 AM, Blogger Publius said...

Sorry, you can’t do it, unless it is against a European country, Canada, or maybe Australia. If we were to nuke France, do you think anyone would complain? But, if we were to invade Iran or put the National Guard along the border with Mexico, there would be riots in the streets. Welcome to 21st Century America.


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