December 26, 2005

Meet the future...

From an interesting LAT piece, The future of America -- in Iraq, By Robert D. Kaplan:

IF YOU WANT to meet the future political leaders of the United States, go to Iraq. I am not referring to the generals, or even the colonels. I mean the junior officers and enlistees in their 20s and 30s. In the decades ahead, they will represent something uncommon in U.S. military history: war veterans with practical experience in democratic governance, learned under the most challenging of conditions....

....Throughout Iraq, young Army and Marine captains have become veritable mayors of micro-regions, meeting with local sheiks, setting up waste-removal programs to employ young men, dealing with complaints about cuts in electricity and so on. They have learned to arbitrate tribal politics, to speak articulately and to sit through endless speeches without losing patience...

....Regardless of whether you support or oppose the U.S. engagement in Iraq, you should be aware that that country has had a startling effect on a new generation of soldiers often from troubled backgrounds, whose infantry training has provided no framework for building democracy from scratch.

At a Thanksgiving evangelical service, one NCO told the young crowd to cheers: "The Pilgrims during the first winter in the New World suffered a 54% casualty rate from disease and cold. That's a casualty rate that would render any of our units combat ineffective. But did the Pilgrims sail back to England? Did they give up? No. This country isn't a quitter. It doesn't withdraw." ....

A leftish friend of mine recently said that returning veterans would soon be running for office as Democrats, and transforming the fortunes of the party. I think that's delusional, but let us imagine they do. Let's imagine that thousands of our troops come back from Iraq, and plunge into Democrat politics, and flourish there. Do you think they would be Democrats like the ones we are putting up with now?

No way. The very first thing they would toss on the ash-heap of history would be the reflexive America-hating leftism that is characteristic mental mush of "core Democrats" now. Those new guys are not going to feel little quivers of delight thinking of Hugo Chavez or Fidel Castro. Nor will they feel little shivers of distaste at the American flag or traditional Christianity or patriotism. Actually, it's not delusional to think that returning vets may transform the fortunes of the Democrat party, it's just delusional to think that the party, in it's present form, has any future. It's a walking corpse, and will continue to be until my fatuous generation is pushed into the wings.

Something more interesting to me is that the best way to master a subject is to teach it to someone else. That's what's happening with democracy and freedom in Iraq. Ordinary Americans, often unschooled but with gut knowledge of freedom, are teaching people how it works. And whether or not they are successful in teaching, it's a dead cert that they will understand the subject like never before. Silly people sometimes suggest that our getting involved with the world's problems will pollute and dilute American democracy, and cause us to crash and burn like empires of yore. Nonsense. Just the opposite.

Posted by John Weidner at December 26, 2005 11:32 AM
Weblog by John Weidner