To be fair, we have never done this effectively or with sustained vigor. America's World War II planning genius, Gen. Albert Wedemeyer, argued we didn't do it well in that war, either, and thus "lost the peace" (i.e., entered the Cold War).
We must do it now, and we must do it well. Winning war in the Age of the Internet means improving neighborhoods and individual lives.
In his speech, Blair eloquently assessed these strategic challenges. He said we face an "utterly reactionary," but in terms of methods a "terrifyingly modern," global movement "akin to revolutionary communism in its early and most militant phase."
Blair said our enemies have realized "two things: the power of terrorism to cause chaos, hinder and displace political progress, especially through suicide missions, and the reluctance of Western opinion to countenance long campaigns, especially when the account it receives is via a modern media driven by the impact of pictures."
But here's the strategic key. "The world is interdependent," Blair said. That means "problems interconnect. Poverty in Africa can't be solved simply by the presence of aid. It needs the absence of conflict."
Blair understands economic and political development programs must reinforce security and intelligence operations.
Every war is a series of mistakes -- bloody, expensive mistakes. Ultimately winning a war demands perseverance and creative adaptation. War winners understand this terrible paradox. It exists because the enemy always "has a vote." The enemy also has a motive will and the ability to adapt.
The Great 21st Century War for Modernity is no different. Bush and Blair understand the stakes and the strategic requirements. Churchill would approve.
Austin Bay is the author of three novels. His third novel, The Wrong Side of Brightness, was published by Putnam/Jove in June 2003. He has also co-authored four non-fiction books, to include A Quick and Dirty Guide to War: Third Edition (with James Dunnigan, Morrow, 1996).
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