Robert Kaplan summarizes the real task before America in the coming years. It is not to find "an exit strategy from Iraq", as if there were somewhere on the planet it could hide from terrorism; nor is it simply to find Osama Bin Laden as some, ever anxious to reduce the current conflict to a law enforcement problem, would claim as a goal. It's task is to hold back the dark until a new global civilization can find its footing.The American military now has the most thankless task of any military in the history of warfare: to provide the security armature for an emerging global civilization that, the more it matures -- with its own mass media and governing structures -- the less credit and sympathy it will grant to the very troops who have risked and, indeed, given their lives for it.
Indian Country has been expanding in recent years because of the security vacuum created by the collapse of traditional dictatorships and the emergence of new democracies -- whose short-term institutional weaknesses provide whole new oxygen systems for terrorists. Iraq is but a microcosm of the earth in this regard. To wit, the upsurge of terrorism in the vast archipelago of Indonesia, the southern Philippines and parts of Malaysia is a direct result of the anarchy unleashed by the passing of military regimes. Likewise, though many do not realize it, a more liberalized Middle East will initially see greater rather than lesser opportunities for terrorists. As the British diplomatist Harold Nicolson understood, public opinion is not necessarily enlightened merely because it has been suppressed.
I want you to stop and think about this for a minute; the concept that we are living and suffering through the birth pangs of a new age in self-government. That we have been living with military dictatorships since the beginning of governance, and the struggle we are part of is the world growing up. In fact, the struggle is hundreds of years old, will likely continue for the foreseeable future, and to avoid helping in this difficult time can be related to killing a toddler because they cry and throw a temper tantrum.
Wow, have you grasped the scope of this one. We are just babies, struggling as we learn to walk and talk and think. Unfortunately, we are babies with laser guided missiles and landmines and bombs strapped to our willing chests.
This gives me hope for our race--that we can one day achieve a peaceful co-existence with each other. I don't think I'll be alive to see it come to fruition. And the chances of dying in this struggle are unfortunately much too large, but maybe my descendants will be able to live in that grown up world.