Wednesday, June 20, 2007

National Security & Self-Confidence in the American Enterprise

Over the course of the life of our nation, our military will go through many changes. It will be organized, equipped and trained in various ways depending on our role in the world, existing and potential threats, our goals and other factors. Mark at Zenpundit had a recent post linking to the introduction of Chet Richards' forthcoming book that looks like it will be a useful contribution to the ongoing discussion about how we should organize our military for 21st century realities. The Introduction is worth reading in whole, but I'm going to pull out one part. Richards says:

My model [for the book] is the famous “Long Telegram” written by a senior American diplomat, George Kennan, in 1946 from his vantage point in Moscow. In it, Kennan made the case that communism suffered from such incurable internal contradictions, that if we could just contain it long enough – not doing anything really stupid in the meantime – it would collapse of its own accord. And so it came to pass.

My advice on implementation, then, is conceptually the same as Kennan’s:

Finally we must have courage and self-confidence to cling to our own methods and conceptions of human society. After all, the greatest danger that can befall us in coping with this problem of Soviet communism is that we shall allow ourselves to become like those with whom we are coping. (Kennan, 1946).

One of the most serious problems we face today is that we DO NOT have the "courage and self-confidence to cling to our own methods and conceptions of human society."

As Robert Kaplan says in a recent article:

...the real threat to our national security may be our own lack of faith in ourselves, meaning not just faith in a God who has a special care for America, but faith in the American national enterprise itself, in whatever form.

Over the past 40 years or so, the "hey-hey, ho-ho, Western Civ has got to go" crowd have been waging a successful campaign to debunk, deconstruct, and delegitimize the "American national enterprise." We are suffering from an existential crisis of confidence as a nation. Al Qaeda et al. would not be as significant a threat to us if we had a strong faith and confidence in the "American national enterprise." Because of this lack of confidence, we are weak willed and easily manipulated by our adversary's media campaigns. Any effort to reorganize our national security institutions must address this issue. We must develop a forward-looking vision of America that is relevant to 21st century realities. A vision that can bring us together as a people and give us something to strive toward. A vision that can inspire people to take the initiative and act creatively in the interest of our country. A vision that will give immigrants and their children a reason to assimilate. A vision that will give Americans in general a feeling that they are a part of something special. If we can achieve this, then our nation will enjoy a security that comes from a great inner strength. If we can't then it doesn't matter how well we reorganize and equip our military. We won't have the will to defend ourselves because we won't believe that there is anything worth defending or even that America should have ever been founded. Our adversaries, having the "courage and self-confidence to cling to [their] own methods and conceptions of human society," will be able to hold on and achieve victory resulting from the internal weakness of a people who don't believe in their own country.

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