"Missing in all of these well-written essays is global context. Where do the Taliban get their money, ideology and support? Will it be as important were the infrastructure that supported it neutralized? What is the role of Pakistan? Of the Global Jihad? The nine essays are a little like monographs about taking Guadalcanal without describing why anyone should bother to expend blood and treasure in such a godforsaken place. It is possible that the context has been omitted not because the contributors to the New Republic special are stupid or ignorant; they certainly are not: but possibly because a consensus has silently emerged which regards the War on Terror in the same way as the Cold War. In some unspoken way that only professional pundits can unconsciously absorb it has by assent become regarded as a decades long campaign to outlast an enemy Who Shall Not Be Named. So strategy is assumed. Only tactics are important. If this interpretation is correct, maybe the stasis we observe is the result of being trapped within historical adolescence. In this metaphor Obama can aspire at best to be the Harry Truman and at worst the Jimmy Carter of the new Cold War. But he cannot even conceive of himself as being the new Ronald Reagan because the time for Ronald Reagans is not yet come.
Wednesday, July 28, 2010