Sunday, September 16, 2007

Philip Gordon's "Winning the Right War"

Philip H. Gordon is the senior fellow for U.S. foreign policy at The Brookings Institution, having previously served on the National Security Council staff as director for European affairs. He is the author or co-author of five books on international affairs and U.S. foreign policy, and his articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Foreign Affairs.

He applied the "Page 99 Test" to his new book, Winning the Right War: The Path to Security for America and the World, and reported the following:
Here is one sentence from p. 99 of Winning the Right War:

"Just as millions of Europeans had to make their choice in the 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, now millions of Muslims must decide whether to join the extremists, extend them support, remain neutral, or actively pursue a liberal and nonviolent future in cooperation with the United States and its allies."

That's a pretty good summary of one of the key arguments in the book, in which I apply lessons from the Cold War to the "war on terror" today. The point I'm making here is that we didn't win the Cold War by killing or capturing all our enemies, but rather by demonstrating the flaws in communist ideology and convincing millions of people who might have been tempted by it that communism would not deliver the future they sought. The same thing, I argue in Winning the Right War, applies to the battle against Islamist extremism today. We will defeat it not by killing or capturing all terrorists or potential terrorists, but by convincing their pool of potential recruits to reject the means and ends being preached by al Qaeda and the like. We can do that not (or at least not only) by deploying our military power, but by containing the threat, maintaining our moral authority, preserving our values, winning over friends and allies, and choosing our battles carefully – just as we did during the Cold War. In the pages that come before and after p. 99, I explain how we did that then, and how we need to do it now. We've been fighting the wrong war for the past six years and now urgently need to change course.
Read an excerpt from Winning the Right War and learn more about the book at the publisher's website.

--Marshal Zeringue