Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The 'reluctant empire' and its 'long war'

Only one who knows the disastrous effects of a long war can realize the supreme importance of rapidity in bringing it to a close. -- Sun Tzu, The Art of War (6th Century BC)

Thomas E. Ricks, Washington Post: [General David] Petraeus helped lay the groundwork for a much more prolonged engagement in Iraq... The new strategy was in fact a road map for what military planners called 'the long war.'... How does this end? Probably the best answer came from Charlie Miller, who did the first draft of policy development and presidential reporting for Petraeus. 'I don't think it does end. There will be some US presence, and some relationship with the Iraqis, for decades... We're thinking in terms of Reconstruction after the Civil War.'

Jeff Huber: The generals' gambit, as Ricks explained it to David Gregory on Meet the Press, is 'they feel they have made huge sacrifices, that they have had friends die and sons bleed, and that they don't want to throw that all away on the -- you know, because some guy said on the campaign trail, 'We're going to get all these guys out.'' ... Obama can either accede to their goal, which is and always has been a permanent military occupation of Iraq, or be vilified as the wimp who betrayed the troops because of a campaign promise he made to get the peace pansy vote.

Cernig: CJCS Admiral Mullen advanced the theory that America is a reluctant empire, a hegemon only because its allies trust it and want it to rescue and protect them... just like ancient Rome... Note he doesn't deny America's empire exists -- just the obvious reasons for it. It's simply a retelling of the British Victorian 'White Man's Burden' fable for a New American Century.

Alan Bock: The United States may not be able to afford the empire it has built... It wouldn't be the end of the world if the American empire retreated and eventually was no more. Berlin, Paris, London, Vienna, Moscow, Tokyo, Istanbul, Beijing, Delhi, Rome, and dozens of other cities have their charms yet, even if they are no longer the centers of great empires. Washington would have more charms than it does now if it ceased to be the geopolitical center of the world and the Pentagon was converted to condos.
Image source here.