Much has been written about what went wrong in Iraq. If Tony Blair is right, it was failure to understand that Bin Laden is to Islam as Stalinism is to the left. It is small wonder that it did not take long for the two to become allies. Indeed, if Blair understands the phenomenon now, it is because he has struggled to rid Labor of its revolutionary Communist tentacles:
AMANPOUR: But you also talk about not comprehending the complexities that were going to be unleashed in Iraq. What precisely?
BLAIR: What I think we understand more clearly now is -- and this is something I didn't understand fully at the time of 9/11 -- in a sense, at that point you think there were 3,000 people killed in the streets of New York in a single day. And I still think it's important just to hold that thought in our mind, because I always say about this, the important thing is, if these people could have killed 30,000 or 300,000, they would have.
And that really changed the calculus of risk all together. But what I understand less clearly at that time was how deep this ideological movement is. -- this is actually more like the phenomenon of revolutionary communism. It's the religious or cultural equivalent of it, and its roots are deep, its tentacles are long, and its narrative about Islam stretches far further than we think into even parts of mainstream opinion who abhor the extremism, but sort of buy some of the rhetoric that goes with it.
If Tony Blair is reviled by the left, it is because they have yet to forgive his transformation of the Labor party and their resentment at his refusal to deny the long tentacles of Islamism. It should not be forgotten that in American terms, the election of BHO represented the victory of leftist Democrats against Clintonian New Democrats.
Indeed, the same kind of persons who dismissed the threat of Communism or argued that it cannot be defeated, are dismissing the threat of Islamism or argue that it cannot be defeated.
Michael Mandelbaum is correct to argue that economic weakness undermines American to defeat Islamism today just as American economic weakness undermined its ability to defeat Communism during the Seventies. Then, the declinists led by Jimmy Carter failed to take into account American ability to innovate. Judging from the defiant mood of the American people as expressed in the rise of the Tea Party, I would not be surprised if the American"sophisticates" are proven wrong again.
Culture matters and American ability to pick itself up by its bootstraps have been a constant thorn in the side of Western elites.