To beat defeatism out of American political elites, the president should take a leaf from Churchill’s book and encourage a shared sacrifice in an honourable cause that the US has no choice but to fight.
The sudden collapse of the morale of the US Congress is surprising, but not unprecedented – after Hitler’s WW2 blitzkrieg, only the Btits stood fast while all the other nations folded
Defeated soldiers can react either by becoming collaborators like Petain after the fall of France, or by redoubling their resistance, like Churchill after Dunkirk. The Congressman lobbying for immediate withdrawal is in the Petain category.
It’s said that only half of the members of Congress have passports, so they’re ignorant of the world. In responding to the unpopularity of the war, they lack the experience to see how America’s enemies and allies will respond to its defeat, and how this will harm their nation.
Fear Of Long Wars
Over 50% of the US people don’t want to finish the job in Iraq, after less than 3 years and with less dead than from one big WW2 bomber raid.
Perhaps this is because successful recent US wars have been short – for the US, WW1 lasted a year, and WW2 under 4 years. The only long war was Vietnam, which was lost.
By contrast, Brits are accustomed to long and ultimately successful wars. Londoners were enduring saturation bombed by V2 rockets in 1945, after over 5 years of war. The Brit defeat of the Malayan insurgency took over 6 years.
So perhaps there is a legacy of Vietnam – the American people think that long wars will end in defeat.
The defeat suffered by the US in Vietnam had no direct impact on American civilians. Until 9/11, no American city was bombed (and 9/11 was small compared with European bombings). No US town has been occupied and its people have not starved. No Americans have been drafted as slave labourers or sent to concentration camps, and American women have not been been systematically raped. And yet terrible consequences do face the US for nuclear-armed Middle East dictators.
So here are my suggestions for the president:
1. Follow Churchill – give more inspirational speeches.
2. Use his political capital to eliminate the Congressional defeatists.
3. Educate Americans on how they will be harmed by a victorious Muslim enemy.
4. Above all, demand sacrifice from all Americans, not just those families who have kin fighting in Iraq. If that means cutting expenditure or raising taxes, do it.