Afghanistan—another failed nation-building experiment that has cost America and its allies thousands of lives and trillions of dollars.
I was not opposed to the United States excursion into that god-forsaken country to wipe out al-Qaeda terrorists. But to stay for twenty years in order to prop up a democratic government in the name of Wilsonian idealism—absolutely not.
With the collapse of the Afghanistan government in August, it is my hope that Americans finally realize that liberal democracy is not, as historian Francis Fukuyama predicted after the fall of the Iron Curtain in 1992, “the final form of human government.”
I hope that we will learn that the late Charles Krauthammer’s belief, that Americans must “lead an unpopular world unashamedly laying down the rules of world order and being prepared to enforce them,” was mistaken.
I also hope that Americans grasp that President George W. Bush was ill-advised to include in his second inaugural these words: “…it is the policy of the United States to seek and support the growth of democratic movements and institutions in every nation and culture, with the ultimate goal of ending tyranny in our world.”
And it is my hope that the American people finally understand that the “One World” crowd who have dominated our foreign policy establishment for over 70 years, preaching “nation building,” have been living in an ideological fantasyland.
The know-it-all arrogance of globalist elites goes back to the 1960s when John F. Kennedy boasted that his administration hired managers who were the “best and the brightest.”
In his seminal book of that title, David Halberstam wrote, “If those years had any central theme, if there was anything that bound the [Kennedy] men, their followers and subordinates together, it was the belief that sheer intelligence and rationality could answer and solve anything.”
The one appointment that epitomized this approach to governing was that of Robert Strange McNamara, who served as Secretary of Defense from 1961-1968. It was in this job that McNamara became convinced that most any problem could be solved by using reason supported by statistics.
McNamara, Halberstam has written, was the perfect Kennedy man because he “symbolized the ideal that [the New Frontier] could manage and control events in an intelligent rational way. Taking on a guerilla war was like buying a sick foreign company; you brought your systems to it.”
Like many sanctimonious experts who led us into foreign engagements in the post-World War II era, McNamara knew better than anyone else in the room because he was the ultimate rationalist. It was this intellectual hubris that led him to believe that war was nothing more than an engineering problem that could be won by applying analytical formulas and using slide rulers.
Vietnam War (a/k/a “McNamara’s War”) was a military disaster because strategic decisions were made not by frontline battlefield commanders, but by number crunching “quants” in the Pentagon who used metrics to determine bombing sorties. McNamara’s rationalist “statistical strategy” methods did not lead to victory because the enemy was irrational, that is, the North Vietnamese and Vietcong were driven by ideological zeal and patriot fervor, not quantitative data.
After the Vietnam debacle, many “One World” proponents retreated to think tanks and academia. But in the post-9/11 era, they flocked to the Bush administration.
Their world view of Jihadist terrorism, historian David Martin Jones has noted in his excellent book, History’s Fools: The Pursuit of Idealism and the Revenge of Politics, is “a violent disruption on the path to the end of history as temporary interruptions, caused either by local psychopathology, or structural inequality.” And they hold on to their 1960s “ideological belief that reason, science and progress [will] ultimately prevail over outmoded custom and religious enthusiasm.”
This is wishful thinking. The globalists have been incapable of grasping that Jihadist Islamism is a “non-negotiable faith.”
They ignore what is clearly stated in an Islamist training manual: “Islamic governments have never and will never be established through peaceful solutions and cooperative councils. They are established as they always have been … by pen and gun … by word and bullet … by tongue and teeth.”
Ignoring these inconvenient facts led to our disastrous incursion into Iraq, the harmful interventions in Libya and Syria, and the failure in Afghanistan.
The idea of a liberal international order, Professor Jones observes, based on a “grand theory of a global interdependent society premised on secular values of equality and social justice that transcended left and right [and] prompted interventions … have proven disastrous.”
To avoid future calamities, Jones recommends that the foreign policy establishment adopt a prudential realism which “requires a mixture of expedience and dissimilation to maintain peace and stability.”
And they should heed the warning of Dr. Hans Morgenthau, the noted “realpolitik” international relations scholar: “To know that nations are subject to the moral law is one thing, but to pretend to know with certainty, as progressive enthusiasts for global justice do, what is good and evil in the relations among nations is quite another.”
George J. Marlin, a former executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, is the author of "The American Catholic Voter: Two Hundred Years of Political Impact," and "Christian Persecutions in the Middle East: A 21st Century Tragedy." Read George J. Marlin's Reports — More Here.
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