In a recent press briefing, “Defense” Secretary General Jim Mattis was asked what metrics he plans to employ to measure success in the longest war in U.S. history. His response was very telling:
“Yes, I’m not prepared to give those yet, because I need to get to Afghanistan, and I need to sit down in Brussels with the other nations and talk with them together about what the metrics are, and make certain we all put our heads together on this.”
For those keeping score, sixteen years of conflict were not sufficient to provide a seasoned military man any idea of what success looks like. The fact is, there have been no means to measure U.S. military success in Afghanistan to date and we are unlikely to have any in the near future.
One might assume that a goal in war is to defeat an enemy. However, in the “war on terror,” there is no enemy to defeat: terrorism is a means employed by an inferior force to strike at a superior force through fear and intimidation.
The primary reason that Gen. Mattis lacks a means to measure success in Afghanistan is that the ultimate goal of the U.S. government is perpetual war; such metrics for success would only stand in the way. Perpetual war keeps patriotism kindled, justifies ever expanding military “defense” spending as well as growth of the surveillance state, and equates to perpetual power for Washington.
One of the more Orwellian aspects of modern day progressivism in the United States is the ability to simultaneously assert opposing viewpoints without regard to contradiction. Nowhere is this more evident than when confronting “hate.” It would appear, based on the news media and progressive activists, that “hate” groups abound. It seems we are overrun with “fascists,” “Nazis,” white nationalists, and other purveyors of “hate.” The reader will hopefully forgive my liberal application of scare quotes as most of these claims require, at least to some extent, a measure of disbelief.
The terms fascist and Nazi roll off the progressive tongue like milk and honey. It seems anyone opposed to progressive policies can be labeled with one or the other of these epithets. The irony is that progressivism champions state control over private business and private property, two concepts which underpin both fascism and Nazism. The fact that Nazism is a contraction of national socialism also doesn’t register with those whose ultimate goal, stated or not, is socialism.
To be fair, white nationalists, racists, and neo-Nazis do exist in the U.S., albeit in numbers far too small to spark much concern. Not to worry, these “hate” groups are readily countered by Antifa (“anti-fascist”) and other progressive groups ready to launch into violent protests to silence the violence before it starts. Orwell would be proud.
In California, a bay area television newscaster chose to reveal a less than flattering experience with Antifa protesting a right-wing rally at Berkeley. This account detailed threats of violence and intimidation by the left-wing extremist group anchoring many of the recent violent exchanges with right-wing groups in Berkeley, Charlottesville, and elsewhere. While it is ironic that Mr. Somerville went to confront the “hate” of right-wing groups and encountered instead hate from left-wing groups, it comes as little surprise to those of us on the sidelines. Exchanges like this have led some in the liberty community to wonder if this represents the end of the left as progressives of different stripes begin to encounter each other with renewed sobriety. However, the likelihood that such revelations will change the overall trajectory of leftism is slight at best.
As has been detailed here, among countless other places, progressivism and its ultimate goal of socialism offers a long history of death and subjugation. Despite this, many Marxists and “idealists” alike claim that “real socialism has never been tried.” This is the myopia of progressivism. The fact that tens of millions died in communist experiments over the last one hundred years will deter no progressive from pursuit of what is claimed to be a sound approach “in theory.” We champions of individual freedom should not assume that anyone carrying the banner of idealism will soon abandon their dreams for logic or reason.