More on American Will to Win a War
To amplify Don’s previous post, read what Max Borders has to say in a column over at TCS. He labels it “Vietnam Syndrome” and echoes many of the points mentioned by both Preston and Frum. He also has some of his own ideas as to how to combat this creeping mindset.
First, the Administration needs constantly to remind Americans of the vision, not just the discreet goals. The war is no longer just about quelling the insurgency, if it ever was. The war has always been about transforming Iraq into an example of peace, prosperity and successful liberal institutions in a dangerous part of the world. No one believes Iraq can be an oasis. It is enough that the Iraqi people have a hand in their own destiny and that they are prepared to accept the transformative power of the rule of law. Such transformations may have short-term costs. But in the longer term, Iraq can be a catalyst for change that makes us all more secure.
Second, we the people need to think longer term. Our obsession with quick victories and homeward-bound troops should be tempered by the knowledge of what is at stake. Our all-volunteer forces are professional fighters who understand that they have been called to serve in real conflict. If we accept the neoconservative vision of the United States’ role in the world, we should be prepared for the possibility of other, future engagements as we project our power globally for the sake of a comprehensive liberal order. Minimally, we are in a strategic position in the Middle East. With troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the US is geographically poised to deal with Iran as an emerging nuclear threat. For that reason alone, we should not be so eager to pull out.
Finally, the media will have to understand that, while they can never be “objective,” they have a responsibility fairly to address many facets of an event. Criticism, debate and even dissent are healthy elements of a free society. But the media should be aware of its responsibility to provide the broadest range of relevant facts and perspectives so readers can shape more informed opinions. That means, when it comes to Iraq we need the bad news and the good. Instead of journalistic integrity we get a competition among spin doctors who selectively include or omit at will. We get Cindy Sheehan ad nauseum. We get Abu Ghraib and daily death tolls. And we get those who use their editorial powers to further their own agendas. To treat Vietnam Syndrome, this will have to change.