From The Gathering Storm Blog

It isn’t often that someone manages to organize the thinking about the struggle with Islamism in a way that makes political sense. The usual foreign policy debates have centered on phrases like liberal vs conservatives, neo-cons vs progressives, right vs left, socialist vs capitalist, even good vs evil – any one of which comes up short in describing one’s foreign policy position in this struggle.

But an article by Ross Douthat, an associate editor at the Atlantic Monthly, brings the problem into sharp relief.

Douthat proposes a way to organize this foreign policy debate in terms of what year you think you’re living in. You may be a 1938sit, a1942ist, a 1948ist or a 1972ist.

1942ists,” believe that we stand in Iraq today where the U.S. stood shortly after Pearl Harbor: bogged down against a fascist enemy and duty-bound to carry on the fight to victory. To the 1942ist, Iraq is Europe and the Pacific rolled into one, Saddam and Zarqawi are the Hitlers and Tojos of our era, suicide-bombers are the equivalent of kamikazes — and George Bush is Churchill, or maybe Truman.

George Bush fits into this camp.

1938ists” believe that Iran’s march toward nuclear power is the equivalent of Hitler’s 1930s brinkmanship. While most ’38ists still support the decision to invade Iraq, they increasingly see that struggle as the prelude to a broader regional conflict, and worry that we’re engaged in Munich-esque appeasement….. If you hear someone compare Ahmadinejad to Hitler, demand a pre-emptive strike on Iran, or suggest that the Hezbollah-Israel battle is a necessary overture to a larger confrontation, you’re listening to a 1938ist.

Newt Gingrich holds this view.

1948ists,” who share the ’42ist and ’38ist view of the war on terror as a major generational challenge, but insist that we should think about it in terms of Cold War-style containment and multilateralism, not Iraq-style pre-emption. What unites them all is a skepticism about military interventions, a fear of hubris, and an abiding faith in the ability of diplomacy, international institutions and “soft power” to win out in a long struggle with militant Islamism.

Liberal hawks like Peter Beinart and neo-cons like Francis Fukuyama support this view. Finally we have the 1972ists.

1972ists” believe that George Bush is Nixon, Iraq is Vietnam, and that any attack on Iran or Syria would be equivalent to bombing Cambodia….. ’72ists suggest that the greater danger is repression at home and blowback from imperialist ventures abroad.

This is the worldview of Michael Moore, the makers of “Syriana,” and the editors of The Nation.

What am I? The Gathering Storm says it all. I’m a 1938ist – BUT …I also agree with the last statement of Douthat.

A few voices have spoken up of late for the most disquieting possibility of all…..As our crisis deepens, it’s worth considering 1914ism, and with it the possibility that all of us, whatever year we think it is, are poised on the edge of an abyss that nobody saw coming.

So, what year are you?

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