Diana West

He could say that again, and, in a way, even about our own elections. With Senate Democrats pushing through that non-binding resolution opposing troop surge (mentioned above), it might well be argued that recent U.S. elections brought about "divisions" that have fractured the American identity. Debate is one thing, but, as Sen. Richard G. Lugar (Indiana Republican), who himself considers the troop surge "dubious," pointed out, "Official roll call votes carry a unique message." And, in this vote's case, that message goes straight to our enemies, who will hunker down to wait for a divided America to up and crumble. This is a disgraceful way for lawmakers to send troops off anywhere. It also reveals the blindness of Bush's political opponents, who see no mission of strategic value to the United States in Iraq. For example, if, as Al Qaeda claims, there are some 12,000 Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, it is obviously a mission of strategic value to the United States to eliminate them, and to do so with as little loss of American life as possible.

This would likely require U.S. air attacks, and such attacks would likely entail Iraqi civilian casualties. Just the thought of such casualties seems to render such a mission unthinkable to both Bush opponents and the Bush team, which now presides, for example, over a recurring battle for Baghdad's Haifa Street, where enemy fighters keep returning to fire at American and Iraqi troops from positions in high-rise buildings. Is it just me, or does anyone ever wonder why, if pacifying Baghdad is so darn vital, those buildings are still standing?

It is the great irony of our time that even as our stone-age enemies seek to inflict as many civilian casualties as possible, we in the postmodern West seek to inflict none. Which is extremely nice, but what is it they say about nice guys? And how nice, really, is it? Citizens of the 21st century, we pat ourselves on the back for an elevated morality even as we expect our brave volunteers to risk life and limb to protect both ourselves and, in effect, our enemies also. This does nothing but prolong the state of war and the suffering that goes with it, which is surely neither nice, nor morally uplifting. Maybe such a mindset is relatively new to the American identity, but the limbo of unresolved conflict it consigns us to promises to be with us for a long time.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).