Diana West

Question for Americans: How can we as a nation even consider using our military for another "surge" in Afghanistan when the "surge" in Iraq has left little more imprint on the sands of Mesopotamia than the receding tide?

This, to clarify, is not the antiwar Left writing. I am writing from a pro-military, anti-jihad point of view that has long seen futility in the U.S. nation-building strategy in Iraq, and now sees futility in the rerun in Afghanistan. Problem is, the same blind spot afflicts both strategies: the failure to understand that an infidel nation cannot fight for the soul of an Islamic nation. This, in essence, is what President Bush and now President Obama have ordered our troops to do.

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I don't suggest these missions are ever considered in such terms, which implicitly acknowledge intractable differences between Judeo-Christian-based Western cultures and Islamic cultures. Doing so, of course, is a taboo thing -- a grievous violation in the PC realm where decisions are made. But the omission helps answer my opening question. I seriously doubt Americans would approve of re-running the surge in Afghanistan if there were an honest reckoning of the religious, cultural and historical reasons why the surge failed to achieve its promised results in Iraq.

This is not to say the U.S. military failed. On the contrary, the U.S. military succeeded, as ordered, to bring a measure of security and aid to a carnage-maddened Islamic society. Given U.S.-won security, surge architects promised us, this same Islamic society was supposed to then respond by coming together in "national reconciliation." They were wrong. Not only did Iraqis fail to coalesce as a pro-American, anti-jihad bulwark in the Islamic world (the thoroughly delusional original objective), they have also failed to form a minimally functional nation-state. And the United States is now poised to do the same thing all over again in Afghanistan.

I write this as the volume of talk of an Afghanistan "surge" is getting louder, drowning out the quiet undercurrent of eye-opening reports now emerging on post-surge Iraq. Late last month, for example, the New York Times reported on a bluntly revealing memo written by Col. Timothy Reese, an adviser to the Iraqi military's Baghdad command. In it, Reese urgently argues that the United States has "reached the point of diminishing returns" in Iraq due, among many other things, to endemic corruption ("the stuff of legend"), laziness, weakness and culture of "political violence and intimidation."


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).