Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Our Three Wars

David Tucker writes a sobering piece trying to tie together the three wars (Terror, Afghanistan, Iraq) we are in, or soon will be in, and says that it is not clear that we are winning the two we are currently in. Although a good piece, it is made difficult by the attempt to be comprehensive; in tying all three together (which is proper) he also attempts to differentiate between them by, for example, asserting that the Iraq war may be seen to be the "first counterproliferation war," which has its own problems. Plus, he insists that the strategy involved in the war on terror is imperfect: it is more important to get information about and from our enemies, than it is to kill them, and it is hard for the military mind to understand this. All this is OK, but then he gets utopian when he talks about what a total victory over terrorism would be:
"when the sons and nephews of those who lead al Qaeda have repudiated what their fathers and uncles did." Well, I am not opposed to trying this (and it succeeded, for example, in Germany, Hungary, and Poland; but not fully, arguably, in Japan) as long as we understand that it is both very long range and unlikely to be fully successful. In the meantime, there are pressing things that have to be done: getting information on who and where the bad guys are and preventing them from killing us. Then we can be setting up regimes that are freer and more human for the sake of the sons and nephews (and us). Over time, a long time, they might repudiate and disown their fathers. But there is no guarantee.

Discussions - 3 Comments

I think these three actions are more properly seen as three campaigns under the heading of a single war. They all tie to the accomplishment of a larger, ultimate goal, of defeating terror and terror-sponsoring states. I don’t think I can separate them as Tucker does.

I also think there is evidence each of these campaigns is returning success in accomplishing the broader goal. It will take time; GWB said it would. The question to ask is, "Is it worth it?"

Yep. It is.

Anyone who knows Peter Schramm knows that being associated by him with sobriety is not a compliment. I believe, therefore, that I should respond to this blog entry.
First, like all aggrieved writers, I will say that Schramm misrepresents what I have written. Second, I will note that the issue is not information or killing people. The issue is doing what will do us the most good. Getting information is always necessary for this; killing is not. Second, trying to think comprehensively and in the long-term about what we are doing does not need a defense. Schramm (“there are pressing things that have to be done”) appears to favor a partial, short-term perspective. Haste can make waste. The urgent can be the enemy of the important. Third, I never wrote nor is it true that winning over the next generation depends on “setting up regimes that are freer and more humane;” fortunately so, since that is beyond our power. If Schramm thinks not, he should cede authority over his life and property to the bureaucrats in Washington.

How are all of our wars related?
We are fighting a war in Afghanistan. And the simplistic half of it is probably related to the war on drugs.
I don’t think Iraq will be as bad as Afghanistan because the drug trade is not a permanent establishment in Iraq.
An interesting question would be the relation of drug proliferation to weapons proliferation, and how loyalty to tribes or other locuses of power are related to the proliferation of opiates. Each one of these tribes is potentially another Al-Queda, only with a lesser hate towards america and more interest in providing drugs to Europeans. The drug trade requires a certain amount of power, and the power that it requires attaches itself easily to the already existing tribes.
Now that the Taliban is no longer in power, al Qaeda no longer has the use of bases in Afghanistan. We see that the Taliban did a decent job regulating the growth of Opiates, using its monopoly so that it could concentrate power. Now it is a free for all, the tribal groups are all looking for a piece of the pie. Tribal loyalty remains as important as the loyalty of a coke grower in Columbia to his Cartel, only in this case you have even more attachment from custom and religion. Of course you see a greater loyalty to such tribes than the abstractly impossed central government. If the level of attacks conducted by Taliban and al Qaeda remnants on Americans, members of the international peacekeeping force, al, has increased in areas were they have the support of tribes in the areas of Afghanistan that border Pakistan, this is part of the old drug cartel, battling the new. Attacks that are increasing in the southern parts of Afghanistan, where the Taliban movement originated, are occuring largely because a vacumm has been created in the power that controlled drug trafic. The whole situation is bound to deteriorate, until the tribes agree to unite for the sake of an oligopoly of sorts on the drug market.
Iraq and Afghanistan are different because the former has vast oil deposits, and since this is a legal good it will attract the interest of a different sort of oligopoly, disposed more to diplomacy than the type of gerilla warfare which is necessary for the defense of a trafic in illicit goods. If you add in the war between Pakistan and India, you can see how various factions in the region attach themselves to other causes out of self-interest and necessity. The recrutement of idealistic warrior types, helps the power of the drug cartel/tribe, and helps various tribes find a common interest in a higher vision of "Islam". This was the genuis of Bin Laden, and while he was motivated more by an idealistic vision of Islam or an insatiable lust for power, he was able to play host to many different interests. Those who will unite the new drug cartel tribes will likewise do so by engaging in common interests of the factions of the region, and more than likely they will present a new vision. Each tribe is jokeying for power over the others, and the best way to do this is a combination of the opiate trade and ideology. The drug trade makes all the difference between Iraq and Afghanistan. Iraq can be sucessful but Afghanistan is going to be a failure, so long as we continue to lose that other war...the drug war.

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