With both houses of the US Congress set to maintain their challenge to President Bush’s conduct of the conflict in Iraq — and being accused in turn of ‘meddling in military strategy’ and of wanting to ‘set a date for surrender’ — America’s problems in its so-called ‘war on terror’ are deepening. In the gathering disorder, the recent visit to Damascus of Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House of Representatives, a visit carried out against the President’s wishes but with the approval of the region’s jihadists, served only to undercut the US administration’s hostile position on Syria. Last week’s humiliation of Britain at Iran’s hands, with service personnel apologising to their captors after being taken hostage and bishops this week thanking Tehran for its mercies, also compounded the difficulties faced by the US in seeking to check the growing ambitions of its foes.
But America’s problems are of a familiar kind in the history of great empires and nations. Misjudgment of the enemy, incompetent leadership, and divisions over policy caused similar turmoil in Britain in the late-18th century. At that time its war with the Americans was being lost, as the Americans are now losing the larger-scale struggle against the world-force of Islam.
On 22 March 1775, four weeks before the first shot had been fired in anger in what was to be an eight-year war between the rebellious colonists and the redcoats, the great Whig parliamentarian Edmund Burke stood up in the House of Commons and accused the Tory government of Lord North of being ‘grossly ignorant of America’. Declaring that ‘a great empire and little minds’ — the minds, say, of a Bush, a Rice, a Cheney — ‘go ill together’, he condemned the ‘woeful variety of schemes’, the ‘doing and undoing’, and the ‘shiftings and changings and jumblings of all kinds’ which characterised British policy towards the emerging United States.
He might have been talking of today’s White House, Pentagon and State Department, of the blunders of judgment and strategy in Iraq, and — more perilous — of America’s larger failures in the teeth of Islam’s advance. Like America now, Britain was a great economic and military power. It wanted to keep things as they were under its imperium, protect its markets, and hold on to its sources of wealth in the New World and elsewhere, just as corporate America must hold on at all costs to its resources in the Middle East and beyond. Yet, on the eve of the war with America, the British monarch George III and his ministry are regarded by historians as having been ‘insufficiently astute’ for their task, ‘ill-advised’ and ‘misinformed’.
Now it is the turn of Islam to assert itself, for the third time in history, across large swaths of the globe. It is a bitter truth that the worst of Islamists, many of whose purposes are ugly and craven, should be crowing loudest over America’s travails. In the 18th century, the American colonists had outgrown the Brits; today, it is clear that Mohammed is unlikely ever to go on his knees to the American mountain. And in these travails, George the Second of America has proved no wiser than George the Third of Britain.
“Soft despotism is a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville describing the state into which a country overrun by "a network of small complicated rules" might degrade. Soft despotism is different from despotism (also called 'hard despotism') in the sense that it is not obvious to the people."
Monday, April 23, 2007
No more Pax Americana -David Selbourne
This article in the Spectator stretches an analogy and comes to a conclusion that we will ultimately lose the war with Islam. Say it ain't so.