Boston University professor Andrew J. Bacevich argues in the Washington Post that we should abandon the hot war in Iraq and Afghanistan. Instead, we should move to a cold war against our adversaries, beating them in the same we beat the Soviets, through an ideological victory. The problem is what he thinks the ideological issues are. From To Defeat Terrorism, U.S. Should Wage a Cold War:
Devising a new course requires accurately identifying the problem, which is not “terrorism” and, despite Washington’s current obsession with the place, is certainly not Afghanistan. The essential problem is a dispute about God’s relationship to politics. The proposition that the two occupy separate spheres finds particular favor among the democracies of the liberal, developed West. The proposition that God permeates politics finds particular favor in the Islamic world.
This conviction, which is almost entirely ignored in McChrystal’s report, defines the essence of the way they live in Iraq, Afghanistan and a host of other countries throughout the Middle East.
At its root, this is an argument about what it means to be modern. Power, no matter how imaginatively or ruthlessly wielded, cannot provide a solution. The opposing positions are irreconcilable.
People who assume that all religions are the same sometimes think all religions are equally good. What we are seeing today is the view that all religions are equally bad. In the last cold war we had capitalism vs. communism; democracy vs. totalitarianism. Those ideologies and the consequences of the ideas were highly specific. I might agree with Dr. Bacevich if we would face up to the specific political implications of Islamic jihadism and, perhaps even more importantly, if we Westerners would get in touch with our defining ideology. It’s got to be more than relativism vs. believing in truth; secularism vs. theism. (Why is that?)