Friday, July 19, 2013

Politics as "Political Warfare"

I am reading Angelo Codevilla's War: Ends and Means under the influence of my usual rubrics: Government is force; politics is division; system is domination.  And, of course, that politics is civil war by other means.

There's a chapter on Political Warfare, which is devoted to interstate conflict short of outright war.  It's a sorry tale because in the 20th century the US was so bad at it.  For instance, Saddam Hussein between 1991 and 2003.
Between 1992 and 2003 Iraq's Saddam Hussein reversed the military outcome of the Gulf War.  Politics was his "weapon of mass destruction."  With it he hampered the Americans' will to deal with him, destroying what respect the Americans had earned in the Arab world by their display of military force in 1991...

[H]e calibrated his challenges to a level high enough to embarrass the Americans, but just below what would make it necessary for them to come get him.
The problem for the United States foreign policy is that we really don't want to conquer the Middle East or Islam.  We just want them to join the game of international capitalism and start trading.  So we slap the students when they get too unruly in the classroom but we don't force them to kow-tow to our superior force.

But I am reading Codevilla's ideas on political warfare as they apply to US domestic politics.  He is discussing the message that a conquering side wants the combatants on the other side to hear "in deeds as well as words":
We are here to win.  We have totally devoted ourselves to winning.  We have what it takes and we know what we are doing.  You can count on our winning.  You and everybody else will depend on us for your lives and for your futures.  We have a well-deserved reputation for being kind to those who join us and for making those who stand in our way wish that they had never been born.  Moreover, if you think about it, our side deserves your adherence because we are the more in tune with the standards by which you live that are our opponents.  These people will soon be either cadavers or prisoners.  You have a rare and fleeting chance to show you belong on our side and not theirs.  Don't miss it!
Now you know what Michelle Obama meant when she told a rally at UCLA what Barack Obama would mean to the students:
He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed. 
Now the question that faces Republicans after the end of the Obama era is precisely how to infect the body politic with this sort of conquering, you'd-better-join-the-winning-side message.

It was easy for Democrats in 2008 because the mainstream media had spent eight years telling Americans that Bush was a stupid fool that was leading America to disaster.  And low and behold in 2008 the economy did tip into disaster on Bush's watch.  It didn't matter that the proximate reason was the epic failure of Democrats to push "affordable housing" by using Fannie and Freddie to push mortgages at people that had no business borrowing money.

As I keep saying, Obama could have followed a moderate course and implemented a few goodies on the health care front with a bipartisan majority, and could have focused like a laser on turning the economy around.  With that kind of agenda he could have established a Democratic majority to last for a generation.

But instead he has pushed everything on the liberal wish list from stimulus to national health care and has crippled the economy.  So it is going to be possible by 2016 to argue to the American people -- without the help of the mainstream media -- that things just can't go on like this any more.  That Republicans have a plan to fix the economy, and that people should come aboard because the Democrats that promised them so much really don't care about them.  Democrats only care about their divisive liberal whack-job interest groups and they don't care about ordinary Americans like you and me.

Americans aren't really ideological.  They don't really get capitalism, but they don't really get the threat that big government programs represent to them and their families either.  Why not have a program for health care?  For childhood education?  What could be the harm in a program that puts a little money in my pocket?

So the only way to do the right thing is for the American people to see with their own eyes what a mess liberalism makes of everything.  Ronald Reagan helped the American people wee that a generation ago.  Now it's time for another presidential candidate to make the same appeal.

It's not hard.  Government is force.  Politics is division.  System is domination.  The more you have the worse it gets.

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