John: Your piece deserves a more full response, and I will do that in the course of the next couple of days. But three points need to be made today.
First, Rich’s piece came not as a result of Derbyshire’s Corner post, but because of a column written by Bill Buckley in which he proclaimed the war in Iraq lost and our goals there unachieved. Rich had to put NR back on the right side, and this is his way of doing attempting that.
Second, you say that radical Islam is the problem and that nation-states only exacerbate it. I believe you are dead bang wrong. Radical Islam is the ideology that cannot last without — and stands in the way of democracy only as long as it gets support from nations. Without support from Iran, Saudi Arabia and Syria, radical Islam would not be able to mount significant attacks outside the Middle East. State funding, training and above all sanctuary for the radical imams and their followers is absolutely essential to large terrorist operations. If you shoot the head, the body dies.
Third, even if democracy were achievable in these nations, how can it be a solution in time to deal with the threat? Wilsonian export of democracy will take decades if not centuries and (despite the progress you cite in places such as Saudi, which is not significant in any respect) will require a huge commitment like the British had in India. You really want to wait that long before doing something about the Iran nuclear weapons program? I hope not.
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