GWOT Comparisons?

The Global War on Terror. That title really only scratches the surface. Words on a page that people, in general, really are not putting into perspective. A lot has been said that the GWOT is all about oil, or it is all about religion, or all about forcing western culture on societies that have no interest in evolving into “good global citizens”. I disagree with all of these points. I do believe that they are corollary facets of the war but not primary reasons.

 

Having the luxury of not actively participating in the day to day battles of this long war, and having the opportunity to digest much of what others have reported, and opined I am taking a simplified, and perhaps extreme, stance. GWOT is about moral values, and a battle against evil. It is about leadership. Leading by example, and taking action that is required of us based on the values of our community.

 

It would take more time than I have to try and enumerate what I believe are the principles and values that best describe this country as a whole. Further there are scholars out there that have spent more time and effort in identifying and arguing those sets of values. Here are the top few in my list for today’s discussion:

 

  1. Freedom: This country was founded on the premise that all men are created equal, and have certain inalienable rights. This rights are not given to the individual by the government but should not be proscribed by the government.
  2. Justice and the Rule of Law: I believe that Hammurabi is credited with the first set of written laws, and enforcement of those. It is ironic that that took place in Babylon.
  3. The Sheepdog Concept: While this may not be a pervasive conscious concept, I believe that every citizen of the US recognizes, on a subconscious level at least, that society is made up of predators, protectors, and prey. Or, Wolves, Sheepdogs, and Sheep. At this point in global history, the role of the US is that of global sheepdog.

 

If you take a brief look at some of the major foreign policy turning points of the last 110 years or so you can see the evolution of the US from a young isolationist nation, to one that has become a world leader. Built on the concepts of freedom, liberty, and justice the United States has become the premier Sheepdog of the world.

 

  1. WWI: The US weighed in late in WWI with an expeditionary force that helped to dislodge the stalemate that the western front had become.
  2. WWII: In WWII we were again late to engage, even though the atrocities of Nazi Germany were beginning to be understood. In this case we were unable to actively engage in the battle until directly attacked. On a side note, I am a bit curious why the conspiracy theorist have not claimed that the attack on Pearl Harbor was engineered by FDR and Churchill.
  3. Korea: Perhaps I should not count this as this was a UN led effort. In this case, the US really began the demonstrating the evolution that had begun in WWII. A small country was being overrun by it’s stronger (communist) neighbor.
  4. Cold War: This was a pervasive, underlying commitment of this country and our citizens throughout a large part of my lifetime. A commitment to the protection of ourselves, and our global interests that served to spur and elevate our role within the world stage.
  5. Indochina: Some would question why I list this stage of our evolution. I think it is simple. In contrast to what this nation can achieve when it is united, and commited, this “conflict” showed us just how poorly we could perform when confronted by those that were more committed, and as a society we were fragmented. It also marks a divergence in this country’s moral attitudes that today have a large portion of society concerned about entitlements as opposed to working take advantages of the opportunities that life can present to them.
  6. Lybia, Grenada, Panama, Central America: After the lethargy that set in after our withdraw from Indochina, and our “recovery” from the domestic issues of Watergate, the Gas Crisis, and Iran. President Reagan embarked on a reestablishment of the United States on the global stage. Stepping up to the plate to support those countries and governments that had similar values to our own, and showing the world as a whole that overt or covert attacks against American interests would be met with the escalating and decisive strength. America still is a nation that will exercise her strength if necessary
  7. Kuwait: Another case where a nation acted outside of what is considered within the accepted global rule of law. By invading Kuwait, Iraq showed the world (again) that it would make it’s own rules and steal land, oil, and treasure wherever and however it chose. With the support of the United Nations, and a coalition of countries America liberated Kuwait and created an opportunity for Iraq to evolve into a country that could have a positive role on the world stage, if it chose to. Instead we saw attempts at genocide and ethnic cleansing, and the despotic behavior of a police state.
  8. Bosnia: Ethnic cleansing, civil war, and just plain lawlessness. With UN support America stepped in to combat the evilness at large in the region. However, the job of establishing the region as a viable global player was not completed, and today the region is still suffering and on the verge of another round of civil strife. In all this people have forgotten the Olympics that were held in Sarajevo not so long ago. That picturesque city was turned into a bombed out shell. The same can be said of Beruit.
  9. Afghanistan:
  10. Iraq:

 

Aside from the US involvement in each of these areas one of the common points is that American overt action seems to be triggered by activity, or actions that are deemed morally unacceptable. If this is indeed a trigger point for American military action or overt involvement, then as the American values change does our ability to act in this role diminish or just our willingness? If it does then how does that effect our society as a whole? Questions for another time I think.

 

Commonality:

 

WWII – America engaged to combat facism, and imperial aspirations of other nation states. The methods used by Germany and Japan involved things that as a whole Americans will not tolerate, genocide, slave labor, and the execution of one nation state’s will upon other nations.

 

Korea – See above, substitute North Korea and China for Japan and Germany.

 

Indochina – See above, substitute any of the players in the region as you like

 

I think that my point can be applied to all of the examples above, as well as others.

 

Bottom line here, GWOT is a war against evil. Not against Islam in general. Not against the Iraqi people. Not for economic gain. In the American psyche evil should be opposed at every turn. Evil may take the form of the rapist who attacks your neighbor, or it may take the form of a nation state moving against another for economic gain.

 

If a gang invades your home and locks you in the closet for a week while they live in, steal from, and trash your home how is that different from Al Qaida moving into your neighborhood and torturing or killing you or your family for smoking, or drinking, or not wearing the right clothes.

 

This is a war against evil.

 

If you do not believe that Al Qaeda is evil, then you need to get your eyes open, your nose open, and pull your entire head out of the dark and isolated place that it is in. Go take a look at this from Michael Yon as just one example.

 

If you do not believe that this will be a very long war that goes hot and cold for years you need to wake up. Start by looking at some the Oliver North’s testimony before congress in the 1980’s. You will find a number of references to “our buddy” Osama bin Laden.  I would also encourage you to read “Guests of the Ayatollah”.  This battle has been ongoing for much of our lifetime already.

 

If you do not believe in evil, or in the parallels that I have drawn here I offer you the recent Bagdad bombings where Al Qaeda’s choice for delivery were a pair of Down Syndrome children. Lex has also put the parallel together in this post

 

Still having a tough time with the concept? Take a look at this and this.

 

 

Going On A Tangent

I know that I have over-simplified the argument here. I know that there are times that I could look at historical American behavior and wonder where the moral values were that should have governed a specific action. There are always exceptions to generalities, and history can provide us with enough examples to make an argument in a number of different ways.

 

My overall point here is that American values can and will evolve. In turn, the actions of the United States on the global stage will be driven by those values. If you look at history, and you look at some of the behaviors and governing values of previous generations there are things that are worth battling to retain. The video from The Dean Martin Show that I posted yesterday, is just one of those examples of concisely stated values that some of the people that we hold in esteem operated by.

 

Think about it. What are the values that are important? What do you want to pass on to your children for values? How can you influence those around you to adopt similar values?

 

For me four things are clear:

 

  1. There is evil in this world. Sometimes that takes the form of nation states, sometimes smaller groups, sometimes individuals.
  2. Not everyone is tuned into point 1 above.
  3. I must protect the values of that I have been raised with by taking direct or indirect action as might be appropriate to the situation.
  4. I can perpetuate my values by instilling them in my children, and helping them to take the high road when those around them are on the low road.

 

As far as what my values are, they are complicated and lengthy but, I think I can boil it down to:

  • Loyalty
  • Integrity
  • Honor
  • Courage
  • Commitment

 

Talk amongst yourselves for a bit.

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