The strategy outlined in “Fighting the Long War” is a good one. There are, of course, other options. One is to flee and do nothing more than we have already done. Yet, as the presentation’s authors suggest, this would almost certainly lead to the ruin of America. Stopping action now will not clear away centuries of hate and rage, nor will it erase the religious and political goals of a long committed enemy. Those who are less patient and less willing to lose men to a war, might suggested a shorter war, brought about by greater use of force.
The military has been tied back and prevented from executing its full power in the Middle East. The United States could, if it wished, use its nuclear weapons against the enemy. Yet it does not. This may be a good thing. Using nuclear weapons would be unquestionably risky. Other countries which boast nuclear technologies might be tempted to retaliate, which could lead to the eventual destruction of American cities. It could also lead to chaos with unpredictable outcomes. Therefore, the best strategy seems to be to follow the long war approach of the presenters.
Perhaps the most important point made in the presentation, was that Americans need to understand the nature and necessity of a long war and that they need to be able to trust their leaders. The main objection to involvement in Iraq was not that Sadam Hussein did not need to be stopped – it was that President Bush went in with the wrong motives. Whether the president’s motives were benevolent or malevolent, much of the American public distrusted him and this hurt the war effort substantially.
Also of great import is the section on promoting the good points of peaceful Islam. Criticizing a person’s religion often triggers hostility. Those who have already been provoked by maltreatment by non-Muslims are much more likely to be converted violent extremism than those who have lived peacefully among their peers for many years. Promoting Islam’s peaceful movements, then, is a good counter-measure. Likewise, promoting assistance in rebuilding and democratizing Iraq is an excellent idea. Japan has certainly come a long way. It would be nice if Iraq could too.