From the Times Online comes this commentary, which basically points out America's historical reluctance to exercise its military might until forced to do so:
But the critics, in their eagerness to denigrate the country they regard as irredeemably simplistic, miss its complexity. There is another history of American military intervention which points to rather different conclusions.
Americans have proved to be extremely reluctant warriors...
The author points out - quite rightly - that the US does not exercise its superpower status indiscriminately. (And the author does not go into great depth that the American public is equally historically impatient when the American military is engaged. Even World War II did not enjoy unquestioned, unending support from the American public.)
Interestingly, the author comes to the following, three-point test for American support for war:
History suggests that for the American public to continue its support for a protracted struggle, three conditions must be met. They must be convinced that their cause is a noble one. No country in the world is as animated by ideals as Americans. But idealism alone will not suffice. Even Americans won’t in the end fight for abstract principles, or for somebody else’s freedom.
The second condition is that a war must be seen as being conducted against a threat, immediate or emergent, against Americans.
Thirdly, Americans will back a lengthy war only if they believe their leaders have a clear strategy for winning. In the end it was not lack of faith in the cause in Vietnam that undermined support for the war among a majority of the US population. It was a steadily strengthening conviction that their leaders had given up believing the war could be won.
In his own way (and likely, unbeknownst to him), the author has found yet another litmus test between Red and Blue America:
- Red America will fight for noble causes and for idealism, and will sacrifice for someone else's freedom. Blue America does not support American military action for any cause, save the most egregious, and despises any action taken under the Stars and Stripes rather than the UN flag. (Consider Afghanistan: Red and Blue America supported the action, but Blue America - led by such disgraces as MoveOn.org - called for understanding and restraint. Consider also Iraq: for Blue America, the liberation of 40 million oppressed Iraqis was not inherently sufficient reason for ousting Saddam Hussein.)
- Red America understood the clear and present danger of the regimes of both the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, and supported the President's policy of hunting down terrorists and those who support or harbor them Further, Red America understands that the liberation of 50 million people in Afghanistan and Iraq is not merely a beneficial side-effect, but a significant strategy in changing the global terror climate. Blue America keeps clamoring about a lack of connection between Iraq and 9/11. (Ignoring or denying the obvious and proven connections between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida - as if such a link were even required, since no credible person will deny that Hussein supported and harbored terrorists, and continually violated not only the terms of his surrender in the first Gulf War, but also the several UN sanctions and resolutions passed since then.)
- Red America understands that war is violent, painful, and lengthy - especially the Global War on Terror (GWOT), which Red America understand will take not days, weeks, months, or years - but decades. Blue America was shouting, "Quagmire!" before the first boots were in the sand in Afgnanistan; "Quagmire!" in Iraq weeks after Coalition forces first entered Iraq (and, fittingly ironic, only days before Baghdad fell); and continue to try to turn our efforts in Iraq into another Vietnam - a comparison that finds no basis in reality, and which serves only to advance Blue America's true agenda: to undermine the American military in order to prove the ultimate illegitimacy of the action, and of the Commander in Chief who leads it.
Blue America will deny even the truth of this statement by the author:
Iraq today still meets criteria one and two. It remains a noble cause, in keeping with the highest American ideals — liberation of a people from a hideous tyranny. And it is a fight in defence of America’s interests. Establishing a democratic base in the Middle East remains the key to overturning the ideologies of fundamentalist hate that are the root causes of terrorism.
Red America understands these two fundamental truths about America's action in Iraq. Blue America has become so rabid in its anti-Bush rhetoric that it finds itself in the untenable position of arguing against these truths.
However, the author somewhat misses the mark with his conclusion:
It is fulfilling the third condition that may be hardest now. Americans wonder increasingly whether their political leadership has a clear idea of where the struggle in Iraq is headed. At times they wonder whether their leadership actually knows or understands what is going on. No one can set out a detailed path to victory against an insurgent enemy. But the Bush Administration needs to demonstrate a commitment to getting the job done. That means not only protestations of resolve, but actions to back it up; specifically more troops if needed. Otherwise the steady attrition of support will gather ominous momentum.
Only Blue America - led by the seditious partisanship of the American Mainstream Media - continually questions the "Plan" for Iraq, and GWOT. Red America knows beyond doubt that the Administration in general - and President Bush in particular - understands depth and breadth of global terrorism, and the devastating consequences of pursuing any course other than taking the fight to the terrorists in the heart of the breeding ground of international terrorism.
Let us not forget: a mere seven months ago, a record number of Americans voiced their opinion of Bush's grasp of GWOT - and overwhelmingly (and by both a record number of vote total and difference) indicated support for the President. Red America - and make no mistake, America has made a decided shift from blue to red in the past 10 years - stands in support of military action in Iraq, in support of America's overall effort to eradicate international terrorists and regimes that harbor them, and to defend America's borders from ever suffering another 9/11. Red America is in it for the long haul - and Red America has unending belief that America - and freedom - will prevail in the end.