A tale of four books and the lessons
In 1910, British author Norman Angell argued in his work Great Illusion that war among great powers was impossible because it would harm all. The 1914 war disproved his argument. After the end of Cold War, American academic Francis Fukuyama said in his study wars have ended with the triumph of democracy and capitalism. A decade later, his thesis went up in smoke and flames along with the New York twin towers. Earlier this year, a book co-authored by this writer, Doug Streusand and Frank Marlo detailed how the Reagan administration planned and executed the grand strategy that ended the Cold War and the Soviet Union itself. This year, Lt. General (ret.) Michael Flynn and Michael Ledeen published a book Field of Fight which deals with the current war against radical Islam where many of its followers are actively seeking death as well as dealing it out wholesale.
Since the early years of the twentieth century, the world has been engaged in four world wars: World War I, World War II, the Cold War and the current War against Radical Islam.
The first of those wars was a normal power struggle among nation-states and their satellites. The second and third were characterized by a struggle against secular ideologies: Nazism and Communism, versus Western civilization, an amalgam of Judeo-Christian and Greco-Roman moral and civil principles. The current war pits the same Western principles against the most radical and barbaric form of one of the world’s great religions—Islam.
Four years before the first of these conflicts, the British author Norman Angell published THE GREAT ILLUSION, which definitively proved that another global conflict among the great powers was impossible due to economic and financial globalization. The guns of August 1914 put an end to the enormous popularity of Angell’s volume.
Following the end of The Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, the American academic Francis Fukuyama published his thesis that history, as a chronicle of battles and wars, had come to an end with the triumph of democracy and capitalism. A decade later, his thesis went up in smoke and flames along with the New York twin towers and the Pentagon.
In the span of a century, Western Civilization has been seriously threatened four times. Two-thirds of the past 100 years have been consumed by these conflicts and much of the rest had to deal with the preparations for and the aftermath of those horrific conflicts. It is now threatened by another world war which started in 2001 and is still raging, fiercer than ever. It is the most serious of all the conflicts because secular ideologies can only offer wealth and power in this life; radical Islam offers eternity.
Nazism and Communism differed in that the former had limited goals, whereas the latter had universal aims. World Wars I and II could thus be pursued by the West primarily through military action. The other elements of statecraft: diplomacy, propaganda, economic strategies and subversion played subordinate roles. The Cold War was different, in that Communism had universal domination as its ultimate objective and the same is true of radical Islam.
This year Lt. General (ret.) Michael Flynn and Michael Ledeen have published the book FIELD OF FIGHT (New York, St. Martin’s Press). It is a very short book and chatty rather than analytical, but it makes a very important point—the ongoing war against radical Islam cannot be won by military means alone—in fact, trying to do so is counterproductive because so many of its followers are actively seeking death as well as dealing it out wholesale. All the other elements of statecraft must be actively involved, particularly propaganda, which is so effectively used by the enemy.
Earlier this year, another book was published, THE GRAND STRATEGY THAT WON THE COLD WAR: ARCHITECTURE OF TRIUMPH (New York & London, Lexington Books), co-edited and authored by myself, Doug Streusand and Frank Marlo. This volume details how the Reagan administration planned and executed the grand strategy that ended the Cold War in victory, and a couple of years later, the Soviet Union itself. Written primarily by participants in the planning of the grand strategy within the White House, as well as two historians of the Cold War to provide context, the book demonstrates that every element of statecraft was utilized in the final confrontation with Soviet Communism.
Diplomacy as used by the president himself through the early stages, due to the opposition of the State Department; a massive propaganda campaign directly confronting the U.S.S.R. and its satellites, a variegated set of economic tactics aimed at fatally weakening an enemy already economically challenged, a very effective program of subversion through active support of opposition movements both in the U.S.S.R. itself and more particularly in its satellite empire, and finally a brilliant demonstration of military display through the Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) and the astonishing doubling of the number of capital ships in the U.S. navy in a very short time.
Finally, after meeting with President Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Mikhail Gorbachev offered the president concession after concession if he would only terminate SDI. The president, contrary to the advice of his entire staff, refused. Gorbachev returned to Moscow, convened the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the U.S.S.R. and announced that it was all over. After that, it was only a matter of time, and a very short time at that.
In several appendices, the de-classified National Security Decision Directives leading to the final statement of the grand strategy in NSDD 75 of January 1983 are published to decisively put to rest the erroneous concept that the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union were entirely driven by domestic events in the U.S.S.R. and by Gorbachev’s policies.
The lessons for the current world war the fourth since 1914, are clear for all who understand what must be done and need cogent guidance on how it can be done.
Above all, a spade must be called a spade. After decades of “containment” and “détente” (appeasement by another name), Reagan and his collaborators put an end to what he, for the first time in the Cold War, called “an evil empire.”
Radical Islam can only be defeated by using against it all the elements of statecraft available to the West, guided by the understanding and the open declaration that it is “an evil religious ideology.”
Dr. Norman A. Bailey is a political economist, specializing in national security affairs. His career has included academia, business, finance, consulting and government. He was on the staff of the National Security Council at the White House during the Reagan Administration and on the staff of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush Administration. He is the author, co-author or editor of six books and hundreds of articles.
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