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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

The Illusion of Disengagement

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My friend John Hinderaker has posted a somewhat startling piece at Powerline: “Is It Time To Get Out Of Afghanistan?”

Perhaps John’s question is even more jarring as I read the post in which it is posed fast on finishing the piece by Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby in the new Commentary: “Egypt’s Islamists: A Cautionary Tale.”

Fradkin and Lewis note that “[f]ar too many analysts seem to confuse the caution the Muslim Brotherhood has displayed thus far with moderation.” They continue:

There is no conflict between being immoderate and acting with discretion. We know very well from historical experience that successful radical movements and organizations often proceed carefully in pursuit of a violent revolutionary aim.

Fradkin and Lewis then briefly recount the eight decades of patient organizing the Brotherhood has pursued, the long version of which is contained in Lawrence Wright’s The Looming Tower. The story of the Brotherhood’s birth and rise is very much tied up with the question of America’s role in Afghanistan (and Iraq, and Libya, and of our policy vis-a-vis Iran, Syria, Lebanon and the West Bank/Gaza.)

It is all one struggle, one deadly confrontation with the radical side of Islam, one which in all likelihood has barely begun. Ten years after 9/11 we would be blessed if we were at a point in the confrontation with radical Islam similar to 1955 in the Cold War with the Soviets, but in all likelihood we aren’t even close to that point.

That John would pose such a question (and I look forward to his colleague Scott Johnson’s answer as well as the answers of a number of other serious center-right commentators) underscores just how timely is Bill Bennett’s and Seth Liebsohn’s The Fight of Our Lives. John is a frequent guest on Bill’s show and I hope the two of them work through the enormous gamble John proposes.

John’s a very serious guy, smart and thorough and a strong proponent of the use of American power to keep the homeland safe. I am concerned that if believes in the possibility of disengagement without enormous risk to the United States that many more conservatives will as well. I think it is an illusion, a profoundly dangerous one, but one which needs to be debated out in the open and throughout the next ten months leading to the nomination of the GOP’s standard bearer against the president.


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