Byron King In his column at the Asia Times online, today, Spengler makes
some interesting parallels with fighting and winning the Cold War - in
strategy, operation and tactics. If you want intelligence - says
Spengler, in an article entitled 'How America can win the intelligence
war' - first you start a war. In other words, if you apply enough
pressure, you'll find out who the enemy is, what it wants, and how it
might be defeated.
But it seems to me that the war has already commenced, with the other
side taking the initiative while we were otherwise occupied. The fall of
the Shah (thanks to Jimmy Carter) gave radical Islam a state sponsor,
and a set of secure internal lines of communication for
intellectualizing and planning a war against the West.
Afghanistan gave radical Islam its boot camp and advanced infantry
training, in learning how to fight a militarily sophisticated foe.
The Internet has given radical Islam its day-to-day communications and
connections to the world at large. And Western complacency ("What, me,
worry?") has given radical Islam its fifth-column in every target set.
(For example, the 9/11 hijackers were hiding in plain sight, taking
flight lessons, marrying German girls and collecting welfare in
And when you are fighting a war, you have to decide what targets you
want to defend. Just what is it about "the West" that we want to hold up
to the world as being worth defending with our blood and treasure? Are
we defending "our way of life," in the immortal words of former
Secretary of State James Baker? Like the right to engage in soccer
hooliganism? Reality TV? Young girls wearing dog collars and lots of
skin piercings and tattoos? Roe vs. Wade: partial birth abortion?
Supermarket shelves filled with processed foods full of salt and high
fructose corn syrup? Two million people incarcerated in U.S. jails and
prisons at any give time, many for non-violent offenses? If that is what
we are defending, then let's surrender.
OK, so maybe the part about not fighting for the right to consume high
fructose corn syrup is a bit over the top. Are we defending our right
and ability to drive gas-guzzling SUVs? At $2.00 per gallon of gasoline,
and rising, we may just decide for reasons of pure economics that SUVs
are not all they are cracked up to be. Are we defending our right and
ability to gear the economy to the stock market and the housing market?
Ugh...what a depressing thought, to fight for the right to flip houses
in the Southern California real estate market. How about defending a
Western society in which vast portions of the social economy are nothing
but big welfare states? Whether it is "free" medical care in Canada and
Europe, or "free" medicines in the U.S., or the U.S. Social Security
Ponzi Fund, is this what we are fighting for? I mean, I am willing to
fight these al-Qaeda bastards, but I am not so enthusiastic about making
the world safe for a $2 trillion federal budget that is filled to
bursting with pork (no pun intended about the pork).
Historically, a period of warfare has been the time during which the
nation and its society were overhauled to some extent, maybe minor or
more likely major. Look at the before-after pictures of the U.S., with
respect to the Civil War, Spanish-American War, WWI, WWII and Vietnam.
These are different places, different value systems, different
economies, different cultures, different obligations to the world at
large, and different civilizations, in a sense. (For example, Charles
Lindburg's "America First" ideas seemed so smart in 1940, and so quaint
Whatever we do to confront radical Islam and battle al-Qaeda, the U.S.,
in all likelihood, will not be the "same" nation after the fight as it
was before it. We need to figure out what it is that we want to keep
safe from the tumult and shouting, what is worth preserving intact, and
not giving it to the breakers. And we ought to figure out what is not
worth defending about what we do as a society, so as not to waste
resources fighting for losers and losing causes.
Spengler says that "To win to its side the best men and women of the
Islamic world, the United States must make clear what it wants from
them." Yes, but first the U.S. needs to focus its thinking on what it
wants from itself.