It is troubling how little capacity for self-examination we encounter in the conservative punditeska, the talking heads on Fox News and similar venues. After 4,500 dead, 33,000 wounded, and a trillion dollars, America is left with an Iraqi regime that openly supports the strategic objectives of Iran, America’s most dangerous adversary. As the Washington Post reported Oct. 8, “More than six months after the start of the Syrian uprising, Iraq is offering key moral and financial support to the country’s embattled president, undermining a central U.S. policy objective and raising fresh concerns that Iraq is drifting further into the orbit of an American arch rival — Iran.” And with the Obama administration’s reported readiness to cut and run by Dec. 31, it seems unlikely that Gen. Petraeus’ mercenary irregulars, the “Sunni Awakening,” will last very long. [As a matter of record: The American Enterprise Institute did not first propose the “surge,” the counterinsurgency plan that pacified Iraq, in 2006. It was first proposed by the Asia Times’ Marc Erikson in January 2004.]
Some of my conservative colleagues think me a renegade. The fact is that the conservative intellectual elite is sadly out of touch with the conservative base, and especially the evangelical Christians who comprise just over a quarter of American voters. During the past couple of weeks I have spent a good twenty hours on the air talking about my new book, How Civilizations Die (and why Islam Is Dying, Too), mostly on self-described Christian stations. And I’ve been talking to a lot of Orthodox Jews as well, my home audience.
Talking to religious conservatives is like breathing pure intellectual oxygen. They know that there is a basic difference between a nation committed to the biblical concept of individual sanctity, and one based on mere submission. They may or may not not know Thucydides, but they know the Bible, which is a far better source-book for statecraft. In short, the religious have a better education in political philosophy than their secular counterparts. They get the joke right off, while the secular types waste the declining days of their careers trying to defend the indefensible.