The Corner

Helprin

From a reader:

Helprin’s a good man, but he’s wrong on several

levels. This was my response to his article:

Mark Helprin has an admirable vision of a larger and more powerful military, but he conflates that with his own sense of disappointment about Iraq. For those following the progress of the everyday reality of Iraq (the tortoise), it is clear that the the bloody headlines and the thugs who generate them (the hare) will not win the race there. The United States has placed the winning bet on civil society as the great army, with [the American] military playing the role of security force.

Civil order in any society exists for a reason, and holds through government a monopoly on force, and Iraqis know that an alternative of disorder unto civil war is unacceptable to both them and the United States. Mr. Helprin confuses the uses of a strategic military force with the more subtle needs of restructuring a nation, where success falls almost entirely on the shoulders of the people of that nation themselves. Secretary Rumsfeld’s recent homely and apt analogy to

teaching a child to ride a bicycle was precisely on target, with all due respect to Mr. Helprin’s desire for a stronger military.

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