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imperialism & war | legacies

A War the West Cannot Win

PRESIDENT FRANCOIS Hollande's response to Friday's vicious terrorist attacks in France, now attributed to the Islamic State, was immediate and uncompromising. "We are going to lead a war which will be pitiless," he vowed.
Whether France itself possesses the will or the capacity to undertake such a war is another matter.
Here's a link to Andrew Bacewich's article published on Nov 14, 2015,

 link to www.bostonglobe.com

Rather than assuming an offensive posture, the West should revert to a defensive one. Instead of attempting to impose its will on the Greater Middle East, it should erect barriers to protect itself from the violence emanating from that quarter. Such barriers will necessarily be imperfect, but they will produce greater security at a more affordable cost than is gained by engaging in futile, open-ended armed conflicts. Rather than vainly attempting to police or control, this revised strategy should seek to contain.

Such an approach posits that, confronted with the responsibility to do so, the peoples of the Greater Middle East will prove better equipped to solve their problems than are policy makers back in Washington, London, or Paris. It rejects as presumptuous any claim that the West can untangle problems of vast historical and religious complexity to which Western folly contributed. It rests on this core principle: Do no (further) harm.

Hollande views the tragedy that has befallen Paris as a summons to yet more war. The rest of us would do well to see it as a moment to reexamine the assumptions that have enmeshed the West in a war that it cannot win and should not perpetuate.

Andrew J. Bacevich is a professor emeritus at Boston University. His new book "America's War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History'' will appear in April 2016.

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