Reading David Warren this morning I was narcissistically reminded of my own screed regarding “the politics of the last five minutes,” which had its five minutes of blog fame (down from the pre-Internet fifteen) back in April. Against all odds, Warren is fighting hard to take the long view in this election where the news is dominated by whether Dick Cheney ever met John Edwards – and, if so, when and how.
Referencing Dr. George Friedman of Strafor, Warren examines why we are where we are. A familiar name appears:
In America’s Secret War, Dr. Friedman argues that the enemy grew out of the Cold War, an artefact of Jimmy Carter’s decision to use Saudi Arabian money and Pakistani expertise to create a guerrilla army that could harass the Soviets then occupying Afghanistan. “Al Qaeda”, the product, mastered the art of covert operation, and as the Soviets collapsed, began turning it against the West, biting the hand that fed them. Their large ambition is the creation of a new, pan-Muslim caliphate, however, and they attack Western targets as a means of advancing an Islamist revolution at home.
He thinks the Islamists are stumbling to victory:
On the one hand, the Americans remain under extraordinary international pressure to retreat; on the other, the appeal of the Islamist ideology is still growing, and finding its voice through such mass media as Arab satellite television.
He sees the election in the same terms I do:
If, for instance, a President Kerry were to take the Americans out of Iraq, mission unaccomplished as in Vietnam, we would see a storm-tide of Islamist triumphalism, and the belief would quickly spread through the Muslim world that an aggressive, Jihadist, politico-religious Islamism is the wave of the future.
The same, of course, would happen if a President Bush did that. But everything we know about the man suggests he wouldn’t.
It’s the macro view. The rest is just the politics of the last five minutes.