Thursday, August 24, 2006

Musing the War on Terror

The pundits have had me pessimistic about the GWOT. Not that we'll lose, necessarily, but that everyone will lose.

First, as a bit of background, here's some of the reading I've been doing lately:

Captain Ed - An Illusory Partner For Peace
Ace - The One Conjecture
Belmont Club - The Three Conjectures
Jim Geraghty - Two must-read pieces on public opinion, voters, and the war on terror

You don't have to read it all, but they're all fantastic posts worth reading.

Let's look at Israel. As Ed notes, Israel is increasingly faced with an enemy that just seems irredeemable. Is the entirety of the Palestinian people this looney, or is that all we see? The clues keep saying the former, but we're desperately holding out hope that it's not the case.

What if their entire society is hell-bent on destroying Israel at any cost?

What number of "moderate Muslims" is enough to salvage them?

Does Israel have any choice beside forever enduring a campaign of terrorism of ever-increasing severity?

What if their choice does come down to survival through total war or extermination? Will we be able to admit it if that scenario arises? Would the world have the stomach to allow Israel to do what it must to survive?

These questions are all difficult, and I don't have any real answers. But applying them to the US and it's war on Islamic Jihad makes this all the more interesting.

In this, the Belmont Club raises a scenario I find way too frightening. Once Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, it's quite possible that rogue groups will get their hands on nukes. How far will America go to ensure that none of those bombs ever level an American city? If we have to do something morally repugnant, will we do so for our own survival? Will we have to sacrifice New York City (or any other metropolis) to the flames before we allow ourselves to go that far? Or will lay back and await death, comforted by the fact that we were at least morally better than our enemies?

None of these are comfortable questions, but they could be questions we'll have to answer in a future that comes increasingly nearer.

12 comments:

Steve the Troll said...

Once again, my hatred for religion is affirmed. Yes, Shiite Muslims will stop at nothing to defeat Israel, just as Israel would do the same if they were on the outside looking in. They're all looney, and the US is looney for choosing sides.

No country in the middle east possesses nuclear weapons with any significant range. If someone shoots a nuke, they will probably shoot it at Israel, and Israel will shoot back (best case scenario). If they can get a nuke over here, I wouldn't mind if they hit the bible belt (especially Texas and Florida).

I'm rooting for the Shiites. They have every reason to be pissed. The war on Iraq is not at all related to the war on terror. (In fact, there was no terror in Iraq until we got there, unless you count genocide as terror, in which case, why are we ignoring Sudan???)

Hal said...

First, this isn't just about Israel. It's about us, too. The same people who curse Israel curse us in the same breath, and they won't stop cursing us should Israel cease to exist.

Why does the US choose sides? Because Israel is the only country in that region which represents Western values. You know, human rights, religious freedom, economic freedom, etc.

And yes, Steve, there was terror in Iraq. Both the terror that Saddam inflicted on his people, and the terror that he exported to the surrounding region and beyond.

Anonymous said...

Well, I don't think you can call these "western values" anymore, because we don't line up with other western countries like we once did.

Can you blame them for cursing us? Why do you think they are cursing us? Why were they not cursing us 20 years ago?

So, yes, terror in Iraq. No worse than the terror in Sudan, North Korea, Nepal, Chechnya...you're disappointing me, Hal...

Steve the Troll said...

That was me up there...

Hal said...

While we don't "line up" with other Western countries as we once did, these countries still, for the most part, embody said values to a large extent.

Or do you propose that we no longer support countries who allow their citizens to choose their own religion? Countries which have no economic freedom? Countries which are not police states?

And yes I can blame them! The "it is my life goal to kill as many American infidels as possible" attitude bothers me! If you can't negotiate with those poeple, then do whatever it takes to keep them from killing me, dang it. That's the most basic function of government: Protecting its citizens!

meera said...

western values - human rights and religious freedom, eh? the most basic function of the government is protecting the citizens?

interesting.

what about gay rights? what about the country's laws that openly discriminate against atheists?

if we embody these western values you speak of, shouldn't the government be granting equal rights, despite religion, or sexual orientation?

hmm.....

Hal said...

And you know what the best part is, Meera? In our country, we can actually have a civic dialogue about how best to deal with those issues. Whatever complaints you have about the handling of those matters, the US is still among the best countries in the world regarding human rights issues.

For any of the countries that Israel has to reckon with, compare their human rights track record. It's not even a contest.

Steve the Troll said...

If their religion promotes the killing of innocent people, shouldn't we be tolerant of that? I mean, their book promotes martyrdom just like your book says "kill your family if they distract you from God."

I think that you are suggesting that we oppress their religion...I think that if we're going to oppress their religion, then we should oppress all religions. Either that, or suppress none. By taking sides, we've essentially said that their religion is wrong.

Hal said...

Hey Steve,

1) Gross mischaracterization of a biblical verse.

2) If their religion promotes killing the innocent, and they are practicing their religion to that end, then we would be irresponsible not to repress those practicing in that manner.

Agree or disagree?

meera said...

In our country, we can actually have a civic dialogue about how best to deal with those issues

so as long as we can discuss civil rights, the people who want them should shut the hell up and be grateful? i understand that the first amendment is something to be thankful for, but just because we're the lesser of two evils doesn't make us right.


1) Gross mischaracterization of a biblical verse.

so what you're saying is, when a group of people take a bible verse out of context and apply it to christianity, they're just uninformed and silly.

but if we are doing that to verses from the qur'an, we obviously know what we're talking about.

makes perfect sense to me.

Hal said...

so as long as we can discuss civil rights, the people who want them should shut the hell up and be grateful? i understand that the first amendment is something to be thankful for, but just because we're the lesser of two evils doesn't make us right.

Madam, you misunderstand me. My point is that there is real room for change in our country.

The countries we are looking at, disagreement with the government and/or the public majority can earn you anywhere from jailtime to death at the hands of the military or an angry mob.

Disagree with local or foreign policy all you want, the system is designed to allow it to be changed, and you can argue about whether or not it should be changed without worry.

so what you're saying is, when a group of people take a bible verse out of context and apply it to christianity, they're just uninformed and silly.

but if we are doing that to verses from the qur'an, we obviously know what we're talking about.


Again, you misunderstand. I'm not referring to our understanding of these religious writings. I'm more concerned with how others interpret them and then apply them.

If their application is genocide, then surely we must do something about it.

Steve the Troll said...

It's been a while, but I noticed more posts and I wanted to respond to the moderator's comment to me from above (8/28/2006 4:27 PM):

1) I don't think it's a gross misrepresentation of a biblical verse (Deuteronomy 13:6-9). The message seems pretty clear to me! Read it again, let me know how you interpret it.

2) No, I think if they want to kill us to practice their religion, I think other religious people have to respect that. After all, their book is as likely to be correct as yours...