WAR WILL CHANGE WORLD

Military analyst Ralph Peters believes we are seeing history unfold..

President Bush is not the most articulate of the world’s heads of state. Elitists who speak artfully, while failing to listen honestly, dismiss him. Yet while the intelligentsia clings to the past, our president has the vision to see that the old patterns of diplomacy have failed us, that the world’s health is too grave for yesterday’s quack medicines.

He will never write a scholarly tome on strategy that will win the applause of academics and diplomats. But our president is rewriting the strategy itself, in a manner so bold and vital that we have not yet begun to grasp its full import.

May it be so. The inability to articulate a vision often means that the vision is not yet fully formed. But the speech last night was quite articulate. Perhaps now that the moment has come, Bush has moved into that confident zone that he inhabited during the weeks after 9/11.

What shall we say to those who accuse us of violating “time-honored” and “proven” rules of international relations?

None of us would want to be operated upon by a surgeon using a medical text from the 19th century. And we cannot address the strategic cancers of the 21st century using antique diplomatic etiquette designed to protect the kings, czars and emperors of bygone Europe.

I do not suggest that our government has a detailed road map to the future. We are learning as we go, improvising and gradually shaping a new strategy to address new challenges. The pace of change is so rapid that we have not even developed the new vocabulary we need.

But Europe is the continent of words; our world is one of action. We are shaping tomorrow, while those who mock us cling to discredited yesterdays. Our instincts are good, our motives are sound and our standards of behavior are the highest in the history of nations. Who shall lead the way, if we do not?

This is an epochal war, one of those rare events that mark the end of one era and the beginning of another. Much attention has been paid to the new technologies we will bring to bear in this conflict. But our new convictions will leave the greater legacy.

I believe Peters is correct. He is a first rate analyst whose work I have read for years. While I think this piece is a bit too harsh on Europe’s history–I refuse to judge the past by today’s values and circumstances–he is correct that it is time for a sea change in international relations. My sincere hope is that the president will follow his vision to its logical conclusion.
(Source: RCP)

FILED UNDER: Iraq War
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.