Friday, September 07, 2007

Perpetual war through inertia

Two months ago, James Joyner was doing his normal thing and saying something smart on the institutional framework that the American political process works within --- the Madisonian system of checks and balances was designed to slow down system changing events that would screw determined minorities.
Unless Collins opposes the filibuster as an institution — a defensible position, certainly — it’s hard to make a case for not filibustering this piece of legislation. This is, after all, the most crucial issue of our day. If anything should be subject to the veto of a vehement minority, it’s a change in war policy. [emphasis mine]
John Robb over at Global Guerrillas is predicting that US conventional forces will be in Iraq for multiple presidencies:
These wars will likely outlast the next several Presidents. The old Vietnam era formulas don't apply anymore. The reason is that the moral weaknesses that have traditionally limited the state's ability to fight long guerrilla wars have dissipated, and modern states may now have the ability and the desire to wage this type of war indefinitely.
He argues that the political-information operations that the Pentagon and the Bush administration are conducting are an extension of the Freeper politics of the 90s, and the direct descendants of the Rovian base mobilization tactics. A small, vocal and pissed off base is more than sufficient to keep at least thirty four senators in line either because they agree with that base, or they fear that the base is capable of primarying them (see Lincoln Chaffee on taxes, see projected challenge against Sen. Hagel (R-NE) for examples.)

So once a really dumb policy is set into motion, and the base is willing to anchor themselves to twisted versions of dis-reality, the institutional inertia of the Senate pretty much guarantees that nothing will be done unless the President of the opposing party, and a unified supermajority of the opposing party and a super (70 to 80%) majority of the country turns against the committed and vocal screeming minority and then becomes willing to rejigger the constitutional order to create an easier stop mechanism.

Seeing that the Democratic Party is the opposing party, we'll get perpetual war without purpose or objective instead of significant change.
the military and its civilian leadership still don't have the ability to garner wide domestic support for guerrilla wars beyond the initial phases. However, they do have the ability to maintain support within a small but vocal base

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