It’s quiet and peaceful right now where I am sitting, but in the calm, there is a fact that is easily forgetten. We are at war, and I fear that I shall not live to see the end of this war. People are talking about what the US should do in the next year or two, but I believe that we are in the middle of a grand struggle whose length be measured in decades. The key to winning this war is economic. Put simply the world must be raised to US/European standards of living over the next century.
The situation in Iraq is merely a small part of the larger war, and the decision about what to do in Iraq needs to be made with a view toward the context within the wider war. However, merely viewing Iraq as part of a wider effort does not in itself mandate a given course of action. One problem with discourse on the Long War, is that stating that this is a Long War has been used by some to justify a “no retreat” policy and the idea of a tactical retreat in Iraq to be able to redeploy to other fronts in a Long War is an option that should be rationally considered.
One risk in a tactical retreat is the formation of a “back stab” legend. People forget how popular the wars in Iraq and Vietnam were they first started, and if the US pulls out of Iraq because it is no longer political supportable, people will soon forget how unpopular the war was. If you go five or ten years past the pullout, memories fade and it’s easy for a “back stab” legend to form saying how we almost won the war if not for the traitors that undermined us from within. A “back stab” legend would be disastrous for the wider conflict. The war will last for far longer than the pull out from Iraq and division and recrimination within the wider war will make it easier for us to lose.
And we could lose this war. Bin-Laden has a strategy that can extend for over a century, and in order to win this war, we must fight for our cause with as much passion, as much energy, and as much fanaticism as his supporters fight for theirs.