Democracies and War Weariness

A Built-in Dynamic: The coyotes like to play a computer game called "Civilization," which has as an interesting game concept. Each civilization can change its form of government, each of which has some disadvantages. "Democracy," for example, is the most economically efficient but it is plagued with something called "war weariness," which kicks in and sends its cities into disorder and dysfunction not long after the civilization goes to war. And "war weariness" kicks in more quickly and more aggressively when the civilization is the aggressor. It seems strange to the coyotes that computer game creators have a better handle on one of the underlying dynamics of a Democracy than all of the pundits, talk-show hosts, and partisans commenting on Cindy Sheehan and her supporters. In other words, it is built-in to a Democracy that there will be vocal opposition to any war--any war--if it produces casualties and goes on for some time. A year, for argument's sake. It is built in because Democracies have opposition parties and free media, whch both have a stake in highlighting and stirring up dissent over any war started or supported by the current administration. It's a given, and it doesn't matter which party is in power and which is the opposition party. There will always be Cindy Sheehans. Remember that the Vietnam War began in a Democratic administration. which eventually lost power because of it. This being the case, the coyotes point out that President Bush made a strategic mistake, politically speaking, by getting into a War in Iraq. He has not been able to make the case, as he could with much more success with Afganistan, that this is a defensive war. And casualties have been substantial. Therefore, war weariness has kicked in right on schedule. A Democratic country cannot wage the kind of aggressive war that the President is trying to wage, at least not easitly. This is what the post-Vietnam War military leaders, like General Colin Powell, well understood with their doctrine of overwhelming force. The coyotes hasten to point out that this does not mean that the U.S. was "morally" wrong to go to war, that it is an unjust war, or that there is no sense in which it is a defensive war--only that it was a political mistake. Nor does it mean that the U.S. should pull out, as war opponents suggest. But the President is in a pickle. The best he can do is stand by his decision and hope--hope--that the Iraqis have enough political success and the U.S./Iraqi military has enough military success to stabilize the country before he leaves office. The good news is that the dynamic of "war weariness" would not prevent us, the coyotes think, from waging the kind of clandestine, rather dirty, combination of police action and guerrilla warfare that needs to be waged against Islamic fundamentalists. Wile E.

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