Good Company

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Saturday, September 17, 2005

Losing the GWOT? Uh--

While I don't share some of his political views, Thomas P. M. Barnett does raise some interesting points here:
I know, I know. We're "losing" the GWOT. We've "lost" Iraq. We've "lost" Afghanistan.

Except it's the Middle East that's in the turmoil of civil strife and political change.

Except we have been quite successful in nation-building in both Shiite Iraq and Kurdistan (two out of three is not only not bad, it's awfully good).

Except we're likely to be pulling troops out of both Iraq (as Iraqi forces continue to step up) and Afghanistan (NATO back-fill-still to be negotiated but looking okay) over the course of next year.

Rest assured this will all be described by some as "defeat," "failure," "retreat," and so on.

Except Saddam is gone.

Except the Taliban won't be coming back to power.

Except women are experiencing unprecedented freedom in Afghanistan.

Except Pakistan is moving toward peace and economic integration with India.

Except Saudi Arabia has a new king promising reform after the first local elections in seven decades.

Except Syria's army is out of Lebanon.

Except Israel is out of Gaza and getting out of the West Bank.

Except Egypt's new PM is radically reforming their economy.

Except Turkey is learning to live with Kurdistan.

Except the Iraqi Shiites have deferred from civil war with the Sunnis-for now.

Except moderate regimes in the region have never been more stable.

Except oil flows without interruption (which is good, given the constant demand pressure from rising Asia).

Except foreign direct investment into the region has roughly doubled from its pre-Iraq war levels.

Except Al Qaeda has managed no direct attacks against the homeland, being restricted to the geographic reach pattern of Middle East terrorists from the 1970s and 1980s (blow up stuff at home, reach into Europe).

Rest assured, this will all be judged by many as meaningless "incidentals."

Rest assured, we are told terrorist acts are up globally (Except that's primarily a function of counting all insurgency acts in Iraq as terrorism. Which is it? A war (when we're "losing")? An insurgency (when we're "playing on their terms")? Just terrorism (when Al Qaeda is described as "growing")? Whichever one makes you feel worst.)

All of America's wars have sucked in the present tense. Go back and read the accounts on any of them.

Also go back and read how our opponents in each fought more vociferously as time went on.

That was then, this is now.

History can be a funny thing, though.

Harry Truman was one pathetic loser in his time: totally a product of a corrupt political machine, failed businessman, squeaking by in his only election, managed only a "tie" in his one war, sacked America's "best" general, belittled from all sides for his lack of style and vision and intellect, got America trapped in a long Cold War with an obviously "superior" foe, certainly one of our weakest presidents . . .

That was then, this is now.
Well, I do like old Harry. And the points Dr. Barnett is making...

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