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Letter to an Army friend


A letter from Washington, DC, to a friend in the US Army awaiting deployment to Iraq:

Not to be discouraging, but despite the one-sided casualty counts, it doesn't look like things are going entirely well. This was not a well-planned campaign, and our forces are significantly below the strength preferable for this sort of situation. The 3rd ID and 1st Marines are probably also quite worn down by now. I doubt these guys have gotten a lot of quality sleep in the last one and half weeks, and their machines are probably not in top shape, given the hard pace of the first week, the fighting, the sand, heat, etc.

The way it looks now, a lot will be riding on the reinforcements, i.e., you guys.

I can't say enough about how important is it to win this one, and as decisively as possible. As you know, I didn't think it was all that wise to go in the first place. But here we are. If we lose, we lose big. That's not just dumb pride talking, either. It can be a little difficult to grasp how much is riding on this now, since it's not as if enemy tanks will be rolling into our cities if we lose. But we may not recognize our country afterward. Increasingly, it won't be the place we grew up in anymore. And it will be a less American world, and a more Middle Eastern one -- less prosperous, less liberal, more militarized, more fearful, and more Saddam-friendly.

Just to illustrate the concept, let me paint for you a worst-case scenario. Saddam will go down as the Man Who Defied America, hero to millions of Arabs. With his stock on the rise, his neighbors will be inclined to accomodate him at our expense, concluding that their own people's mood makes appeasement safer than confrontation. Pro-Saddam regimes may come to power elsewhere in the Middle East -- certainly any new ones won't be pro-American. (You'd better believe that the King of Jordan is praying for your success.)

If Saddam can use his prestige to intimidate his neighbors ("cooperate or I'll persuade your people to overthrow you"), he may be able to push us out of the region, and drive oil production down and prices up. Our economy is not so vigorous at the moment, so just imagine what a giant surge of oil-driven inflation would do. The Fed would put on the squeeze, and you can kiss job creation goodbye for God knows how long. We might well find ourselves declining relative to rising powers like China and Europe. We'll probably tear ourselves to pieces again, like we did with Vietnam.

The Europeans, of course, will be looking for a new source of security and leadership, and I expect that means they'll look to themselves. They'll be less inclined to back us up in future disputes -- we won't be respected much, since we defied the international consensus against war and then lost. The British, having adhered to us so closely since the late 1950s, may decide to throw their hand in with continental Europe, removing the largest single impediment to federalization. That is not a terrible thing in itself, but it does mean we won't qualify any longer as World's Sole Superpower. We'll have less of a vote in everything that goes on -- in matters of war and peace, commerce, and international norms and values. America will no longer set the standard, and may withdraw just a little. That will leave a bigger opening for the outlaws and the crazies.

So there you have it -- the stakes, in the worst case, are an increasingly fractured world with a radicalized Middle East and an inward-looking America trying to lick its wounds and rebuild its economy. We'll have fewer friends, more enemies, and more bystanders indifferent to our fate as a nation and the concept it represents for the future of humanity. It'll be a very dangerous place, in which dictators and terrorists are respected and feared, and America is held in contempt. You can bet that there will be more countries with nuclear bombs, since they won't be able to depend on us to resolve their conflicts with their neighbors, and no one will trust us to protect them anymore. Who will control those weapons and keep them out of the wrong hands?

Even in this worst case scenario, our entrepreneurial spirit and underlying strength and pride as a nation will probably see us through. But they may need to see us through some very dark times indeed.

So go. Fight. Win.

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by Editor @ 08:27 AM CST [Link]


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Replies: 2 comments

To all servicemen and women:

Posted by mildred @ 04/07/2003 08:24 PM CST

Rest assured, the Coalition will fight and win. The people of Iraq will get their country back, and the region will be a little more peaceful as a result.

Posted by Fred @ 04/09/2003 06:06 PM CST

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