Thursday, November 4, 2004

The Clock is Ticking

Chester at Adventures With Chester explains how we are shaping the battlefield in Fallujah. An excerpt:

Folks, many of the psychological aspects of the battle are starting to become clear. Let's see what we end up with when we try to calculate the overall effect on the enemy that the following combination of military and political events will have:

1. Bush has won re-election in the US with a clear victory that is unchallenged. This shows unity in the American populace.

2. Four Arab-language media outlets have been forced from Fallujah by the insurgents for refusing to display stock footage of civilian casualties. This is a huge plus for us, especially when we learn that Iraqi journalists are being embedded with US forces. Remember how well embedding worked for us during the invasion? No reason it won't work again in swaying Iraqi public opinion. Note that the article states that Al-Jazeera declined to embed a reporter. If the battle goes well for the US, and Iraqis and other Arabs watch it go well on their TVs, but Al-Jazeera reports negatively, the US can publicize AJ's "no thanks" to being included to AJ's detriment. Another note: I bet the US has some very solid signals intelligence, or other human intelligence that many of the fighers in Fallujah are not Iraqi. Being able to show them on TV as the US assaults will be a huge plus for Allawi. I don't think he would take this risk if he didn't know for sure.

3. There is a British report that the Black Watch will be patrolling the outskirts of Fallujah. The article states that the Brits are based in Camp Dogwood. If that's the case, then the idea that they are patrolling the outskirts of Fallujah is spin, pure and simple. Camp Dogwood is a good 50 miles as the crow flies from Fallujah. The Brits are serving as a blocking force, and are going to be watching one of the high-speed avenues of approach running north-south from Baghdad to Iskandriyah (I can't find the name of this highway at the moment) to clean up any fleeing insurgents. I bet the US will leave them one avenue of escape. This is because:

a) it will definitely be very bloody if all the jihadi's have nowhere to go and fight to the finish in the city, b) if they flee, we can attrit them from the air very effectively (a highway is a relatively open battlespace), and c) the British, maybe coupled with US Army units, will be in a position to bat cleanup as the bad guys move toward them.

The analyses we've seen point to a commencement of battle within days if not hours.

The Current Civil War

There's a lot of buzz on talk shows and the internet about how Christian Evangelicals turned out in big numbers to swing the election for George Bush. Something like 25% of Ohio voters, for example, identified themselves as Evangelical Christians and they voted three to one for George Bush. Similar numbers prevailed throughout the country, and the Democrats are now commencing an extended season of self-examination to determine why so many of these people, especially in states which had been traditionally Democratic, have defected to George W. Bush.

The very fact that they have to ask the question, of course, reveals part of the problem. Democrats, at least liberal Democrats, which is almost all of them in the leadership, are tone deaf when it comes to religion and morality. They just don't get it. They can't understand why people who hold a Christian worldview, especially one which is theologically conservative, would feel alienated by the Democratic party. In an act of graciousness in the wake of victory Viewpoint offers them the following brief tutorial.

There is a second Civil War taking place in this country, not a war fought with guns but a war fought with ideas and the artillery of culture. Indeed, it is a culture war, a war that has riven this nation more deeply than anything since the first Civil War, and surprisingly, some people on both sides are just now coming to realize it. For at least three generations the secular left, the "progressives", concentrated in Hollywood, the academy, the television and music industries, and in the legislatures and judiciaries of government have been assiduously undermining and assaulting the traditional values that much of the rest of the country holds dear. The traditionalists, for their part, have complained about these attacks on their values but felt impotent to do much about them. The progressives controlled the levers of power and it just seemed to many, especially among the progressives, that their ultimate victory is inevitable. Maybe it is, but in this election the traditionalists finally felt they had an opportunity to stand against the tide, if only for a moment, and shout "enough."

Now the political organ of the progressives, the Democratic party, is stunned. They had fallen victim to an overweening confidence in their own inevitability, concocted in equal parts by their past success and their present ideological incestuousness. They are astonished that there are still so many people out there who can't see the obvious rightness of their cause and who were able to muster sufficient political energy to thwart them on their way to establishing a completely secular polity. What some Democrats are beginning to realize, as if awakening from a slumber, is that their party has sold its soul to the ideological far left and is in thrall today to the Michael Moores and Al Frankens of the world. It has become the party of rich and powerful men like John Kerry, John Edwards, Ted Kennedy and George Soros who patronize and pander to the working class but who have nothing in common with them. It is the party of academics and intellectuals who see the masses of people only as an abstract entity residing in remote frontiers that they themselves have only personally observed from an altitude of 35,000 feet. It is the party of those who hold in contempt the values and religion which that 25% of the voting public cherishes and which an even greater number respects. And now this party sits in wonderment at their repudiation by the heartland of this nation.

Concerned Democrats might do well to reflect on the fact that their party has had exactly two presidents in the last thirty years. One was an unabashed Evangelical, Jimmy Carter, and the other, Bill Clinton, at least made a pretense of being devout. John Kerry's awkward attempts to appear pious were transparently phony and, in any event, his high church style of piety did not much impress the Christian conservatives who turned out for Bush.

So the political post-mortems are concentrating quite a lot on the party itself and questions are being raised about how Democrats can regain some purchase among the people on the moral values issue. Pundits are asking why there can't be some unity between left and right on core values. The assumption seems to be that there must be common ground somewhere and that it's just a matter of finding it. What so many don't seem to understand is that there is no common ground. The relentless advances of secularism and our silly infatuation with "diversity" and "tolerance" have swept it away.

In our grandparents' day most people, whether they were Christian or not, accepted the moral authority of the Church and of the Bible. They may not have lived by it, but they somehow knew they should. There was a shared platform upon which to stand to discuss and debate moral issues and disagreements. That is much less the case today. Today the platform has been razed to the ground in the interest of "maximizing a diverse mosaic" of views and consequently we're like people adrift on rafts that have floated away from each other and are too far apart for us to join hands, to reconnect.

People on one raft base their values upon the Bible and/or Christian tradition, while the another raft is occupied by people who are, at the very least, skeptical of those as sources of moral authority. Many on that raft are openly hostile to the Christian worldview. Much, if not most, of the gulf between the red staters and the blue staters has resulted from this fundamentally disparate way of grounding moral truth. Since the two sides lack a common vision of what is ultimately right, their goals and means will rarely converge. Indeed, those who ground their values in God's revelation are seen by the secularists as superstitious fools whose benighted ideas deserve to be sent to the nearest landfill.

It is not that we simply disagree about the best way to get from A to Z . The two sides disagree about whether Z is where we should go at all. Traditionalists see marriage, for example, as a sacrament ordained by God. The left scoffs at this and views marriage as an oppressive, undesirable social structure evolved by ancient man and obsolete in today's world. Traditionalists believe that we should protect marriage from innovations and inroads, like easy divorce and gay marriage, which would eventually prove its undoing. The left sees any rules that would limit people from doing whatever they want to do as unjust and confining. There is no common ground here upon which a debate can be held. The only course is to resort to the exercise of power by one side over their antagonist and to secure for their values the force of law. The progressives have been doing this for fifty years, and the traditionalists have been fighting a rear-guard action against them, trying to preserve their way of life until they could amass sufficient political and judicial clout to undo some of the damage.

Lacking a common set of metaphysical assumptions upon which to base our moral judgments, both political parties have long ago given up trying to convince their opponents by argument and logical persuasion. They have realized, if only subliminally, that if we aren't starting from the same basic assumptions we'll never wind up at the same end point. Thus the parties find themselves engaged now in a mining operation, trying to extract votes from people who already agree with them, but who typically don't vote. The Republicans registered millions of people in this election over the age of 40 who were voting for the first time in their lives. But what neither party will be able to do with any significant success, in our opinion, is convert many voters. The politicos may fool the uninformed into believing that they're on the same side of the worldview divide as the people are, but, because there is so little common ground between the party elites and those whose worldview they disdain, they won't be successful in convincing those people to change their minds about what they believe. They will continue to just talk past each other. Better to spend one's resources on energizing those who already agree with you.

If this is true the prospects for national comity between red state/blue state folks are dim. The civil war will continue, perhaps in an increasingly uncivil fashion, and the gulf between the two groups will only widen as resentments are nourished and reinforced by new outrages. It is an interesting coincidence, perhaps, that the electoral strength of both sides lies pretty much along the same lines as the national division in 1860. Senator Kerry's blue states lie almost completely north of the Mason Dixon Line (Maryland and California are exceptions) and George Bush's electoral college strength lies predominantly south of it. Let's hope that this is indeed a coincidence and not a portent.