America’s key weakness

Austin Bay looks zeroes in on what he sees as the United States’ key vulnerability — our four-year election cycle vs. the Salafists’ multi-generational plan: From Surge to Sustain.

In February, I speculated it would take at least eight to 12 months before we’d know if Petraeus’ approach will significantly accelerate the process. Petraeus promises an evaluation in September, so he is a month ahead of my low estimate. The year 2012 is probably a better time to evaluate it.

Yes, 2012, which is not one but two U.S. elections away. To pay off, "the surge" requires a lot of "sustain." This leads to a crucial point: A truly grievous American strategic weakness (which the surge does not address) is our own political cycle. Al-Qaida’s jihadists plotted a multigenerational war. That means we must fight a multi-administration war, which entails bridging the whipsaw of the U.S. political cycle.

The Bush administration has not prepared the nation for that — at least, not in any focused manner. And that omission constitutes negligence. Bush critics who advocate withdrawal are even more negligent, however, for withdrawal without ensuring Iraqi stability is a self-inflicted defeat leading to extremely dire consequences.

 

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