The Corner

Jacksonians Vs. Wilsonians

I just finished a review of Walter Russell Mead’s new book Power, Terror, Peace, and War. One of the points he makes is that there is an inherent tension between Jacksonian and Wilsonian goals in Iraq. Jacksonians care much more about smashing our enemies than reforming them. Wilsonians have grandiose ideas about uplifting foreign nations. As Wilsonians are discredited to some degree by recent events in Iraq, we will have to rely more on Jacksonian sentiment to see us through there. What seems to be the growing backlash against the wallowing in the Abu Ghraib prison scandal is a classic Jacksonian reflex. It will be made only stronger by the execution of Nick Berg. If you want a pretty good distillation of Jacksonian opinion on Iraq at the moment, consider the end of the New York Post’s editorial from today:

To hell with political sensitivities in the region.

To hell with negotiating with radical cleric Moqtada al-Sadr in Najaf and the Sunni insurgents in Fallujah.

To hell with handing Saddam Hussein over to Iraqis, as some want to do, and risking some reverse – perverse – kangaroo trial that results in his survival.

Evil, cutthroat terrorists need to be eradicated.

Let’s face it: This is a job that’s going to take overwhelming – yes, brutal – force. There is simply no ‘nice’ or painless way to accomplish this.

As yesterday’s slaughter showed (yet again), the enemy is bound by no moral compunctions.

America won’t go that far.

But it had better steel it’s backbone and get ready to fight like it means it.

It’s the only way to win this war.”

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

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