Monday, November 22, 2004

Monday, November 22

I feel clear enough this morning, Bush, to make a prediction. And my prediction is this: that you will not win this war you have chosen to fight. You will not win it because we know from history that wars of this kind are no longer winnable.

I have been reading a great book called "The Unconquerable World" by Jonathan Schell. If you have the time I wish you'd read it, Bush--though I'm led to understand that you're not so keen on reading. But this book's author shows, persuasively, how the Clausewitz concept of the "ideal war"--great nations pitted in end-game conflict against great (or smaller) nations with the application of overwhelming force--was proven obsolete by the experience of the 20th century; its two great wars to end all wars led only to more wars: WWI to WWII, and WWII to the Cold War... Nothing was resolved by either of them.

And Schell argues further--as I understand him--that great nations are fated to lose the small wars because they bring with them the now empty concept of the great, winnable war as they embark on the small war; whilst the small war warriors bring with them first and foremost the political concept, their nationhood, their independence, their freedom from tyranny--even the tyranny of those who would save them from themselves. The American Revolutionaries did no less.

And the powerful idea of these small war warriors is more powerful than all the military power of the great nations that oppose them, whose governing idea is the practice of power through military means. Thus, over the past several decades, the success of the colonial wars against the great colonial powers. Thus Algeria against France, the Afghans against the Soviet Union, Viet Nam against America. And on and on…

So here we are, Bush, a great power in a little country, mindlessly repeating the mistakes of the past. Your general, last week, told you that the assault on Falluja had "broken the back of the insurgency." But those troublesome insurgents keep popping up with renewed strength in other cities. Their idea may not be a palatable one to you--nor even to me--but look at how powerful it is in the Arab world. Freedom from occupation for the Muslim world. Not freedom to be democratic in our American mold, Bush, but freedom to be Muslim in a Muslim world.

You will not win this war, Bush, because the war is unwinnable. As the old song has it, in its perhaps sentimental way: "When will they ever learn?" And the "they" is us. The nature of war has changed. We have not. We are the oak. Our "enemies" are the willow. They bend before the hurricane. They know the strength of weakness. We know only strength. And when the hurricane winds blow hard, it is the oak that falls.

My question to you is this: how many more must die before you come to understand that the only way you can win--as in Viet Nam, Bush; yes, as in Viet Nam--is by acknowledging the superior power of that hurricane over your strength?

Your Rumsfeld derided the weakness of those countries of "Old Europe." But this was a lesson those countries learned the hard way, even the "superpower" Soviet Union. They lost their empires, all of them, to forces far inferior to their own. Unless we prove capable of change, we will all too soon become "Old America" as the empire of our democracy-turned-oligarchy capitulates before the power of the ill-equipped, the under-armed, the impoverished, the weak… As your Jesus said, Bush: "The meek shall inherit the earth." And, "Those who live by the sword shall die by the sword."

I wish you'd think about it. That's my clarity, this morning. Have a good day.

No comments: