Tuesday, October 26, 2004

The Perils of Delayed War

I love this guy! It's gratifying to find someone with a clear grasp of military history. I wonder if those who view history from the military side -- which borders on classic "great man" approaches -- avoid the toxic effects of trendier Marxist interpretations.

But I digress.
The West should be thankful that it has in US President George W Bush a warrior who shoots first and tells the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to ask questions later. Rarely in its long history has the West suffered by going to war too soon. On the contrary: among the wars of Western history, the bloodiest were those that started too late. Why should that be the case? The answer, I believe, is that keeping the peace requires prospective combatants to maintain the balance of power...Postponing war therefore creates equally matched opposing blocs who eventually will annihilate each other.

More than ever does this principle apply to the present race for nuclear weapons...

Whether or not Saddam Hussein actually intended or had the capacity to build nuclear weapons is of trifling weight in the strategic balance. Everyone is planning to build nuclear weapons. They involve 60-year-old technology no longer difficult to replicate. It hardly matters where one begins...It hardly matters which one you attack first, so long as you attack one of them.
After some interesting historical examples, he concludes:
That is why George W Bush has my moral support in the upcoming US presidential election. He may not fathom what he is doing, and he may have made a dog's breakfast of Iraq, but at least he is willing to go straight to war, no questions asked. That is precisely what the world needs.
Why is it what the world needs? Because in an article two years ago, this same author wrote with tremendous foresight:
Iraq's nuclear program is the 21st-century equivalent of Russia's railroads in 1914. The United States must prevent Saddam Hussein from building nuclear weapons now, or the cost of stopping him (and others in the future) will be incalculable. The trouble is that today's Arabs (and to a great extent other Islamic populations) are in the position of the Slavs of 1914. They are an endangered culture, and like many endangered cultures, the extremists among them will take desperate measures.

No more than in 1914 can the diplomats avert a tragedy. No more than in 1914 does any important participant desire a tragedy. The elite of Europe and America's East Coast somnambulistically re-enacts the first days of August 1914, wailing out warnings like a tragic chorus. The American administration believes it will bring democracy to the Mideast, and plows ahead like a tragic hero. The tragedy will proceed. Unlike 1914, of course, the two sides are not equally matched. America outweighs its prospective adversaries by an order of magnitude. Yet its potential adversaries are so numerous and so bereft of hope that the tragedy will not play itself out in four terrible years. It well may last for 40.
The author would prefer a short series of messy conventional wars now, versus a modern version of WW1 with nukes on both sides in the near future.

So would I.


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