Justin du Coeur (jducoeur) wrote,
Justin du Coeur

The neo-cons sow the seeds of their own demise?

This article, in the latest Newsweek, set me thinking about political trends and mindset. And it occurs to me that it's one more way in which the neo-con movement may have seriously shot itself in the foot.

The article is about the way that Iraq has changed the military and the men in it. It's a profile of an Army captain, and how he's learned to navigate his way through his mission -- the compromises he's learned to make, the subtlety of the decisions, and the need to talk first and shoot only as a last resort. I can't say how typical it is, but it does seem like a plausible reaction to the situation.

The thing that most strikes me here is how utterly *un*-neocon it all is. I mean, the Bush administration has done its damnedest to turn the military into yet another ideological arm, just as it has with so many other branches of government, purging anybody who disagrees with their approach. But precisely because of the intellectual bankruptcy of the movement, they seem to be failing. The successful leaders in Iraq, from Petraeus on down, have had to adopt a very thoughtful and pragmatic approach to the war -- precisely the opposite of the "we aren't engaged in nation-building" overwhelming-force-always-wins ideology that Donald Rumsfeld started the war with.

Today's military leaders always influence or become tomorrow's political ones. The relationship is subtler in the US than in some places, but the ideological lessons we learn from each war tend to influence the thinking of the succeeding generation. And the principal lesson that seems to be coming out of this war is that Manichaean us-vs-them thinking is a fine way to totally foul things up -- you have to work with people and make hard compromises in order to succeed.

Frankly, that may be the best thing that comes out of this bloody mess. If we wind up with an up-and-coming generation of leaders that has been forced to learn better than the simple-minded divisiveness that they were raised on, it might bode a little better for years to come...
Tags: politics

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