There are a small number of articles I've found online which I think are essential reading for anyone concerned about whether we'll win or lose the war. Just to make sure that they continue to be available to my readers, I'm mirroring copies of them here.
The Jacksonian Tradition by Walter Russell Mead (Original, mirror)
Mead shows that there are four main philosophies in American foreign policy. Three of those are "the commercial realism of the Hamiltonians, the crusading moralism of Wilsonian transcendentalists, and the supple pacifism of the principled but slippery Jeffersonians" but he argues that the fourth and in many ways most important is the heritage left us by Andy Jackson. Jacksonianism, once described, seems very familiar to most Americans, though they never really had a name for it. It's also the aspect of American foreign policy most despised by Europeans, because it's the root of unilateralism.
"To understand how Crabgrass Jacksonianism is shaping and will continue to shape American foreign policy, we must begin with another unfashionable concept: Honor. Although few Americans today use this anachronistic word, honor remains a core value for tens of millions of middle-class Americans, women as well as men. The unacknowledged code of honor that shapes so much of American behavior and aspiration today is a recognizable descendent of the frontier codes of honor of early Jacksonian America."
Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States by Ralph Peters (Original, mirror)
Peters makes the practical observation that there are certain basic ways in which nations and cultures cripple themselves, and that the more of these they are saddled with, the less able they are to adapt and compete in the 21st century.
"The invisible hand of the market has become an informal but uncompromising lawgiver. Globalization demands conformity to the practices of the global leaders, especially to those of the United States. If you do not conform--or innovate--you lose. If you try to quit the game, you lose even more profoundly. The rules of international competition, whether in the economic, cultural, or conventional military fields, grow ever more homogeneous. No government can afford practices that retard development. Yet such practices are often so deeply embedded in tradition, custom, and belief that the state cannot jettison them. That which provides the greatest psychological comfort to members of foreign cultures is often that which renders them noncompetitive against America's explosive creativity--our self-reinforcing dynamism fostered by law, efficiency, openness, flexibility, market discipline, and social mobility."
The Ideological War within the West by John Fonte (Original, mirror, longer PDF)
Fonte describes a newly emerging international political ideology he calls "Transnational Progressivism", and explains its basic philosophy.
"The EU is a large supranational macro-organization that embodies transnational progressivism. Its governmental structure is post-democratic. Power in the EU principally resides in the European Commission (EC) and to a lesser extent the European Court of Justice (ECJ). The EC, the EU's executive body, initiates legislative action, implements common policy, and controls a large bureaucracy. It is composed of a rotating presidency and nineteen commissioners chosen by the member-states and approved by the European Parliament. It is unelected and, for the most part, unaccountable."
Power and Weakness by Robert Kagan (Original, mirror)
Kagan explains that one reason why the Europeans are more inclined to use diplomacy and bribery to solve international problems is that they don't have any military power, and that America's military power changes how we view our options.
"The psychology of weakness is easy enough to understand. A man armed only with a knife may decide that a bear prowling the forest is a tolerable danger, inasmuch as the alternative - hunting the bear armed only with a knife - is actually riskier than lying low and hoping the bear never attacks. The same man armed with a rifle, however, will likely make a different calculation of what constitutes a tolerable risk. Why should he risk being mauled to death if he doesn't need to?"
Stability, America's Enemy by Ralph Peters (Original, mirror)
Much of the rhetoric internationally against such things as our proposed invasion of Iraq has included the dark prediction that it would destabilize the entire region. Peters argues that the status quo isn't worth maintaining, and t