Zach Rosen: ‘Trying to figure out why ‘they’ hate us as a means of understanding why Osama bin Laden attacked the WTC and Pentagon is about as productive as trying to understand why Timothy McVeigh murdered children and innocent civilians, and why McVeigh, and the rest of the Aryan World hates us. As a result of understanding Timothy McVeigh and why he hates us, will we, as a consequence, treat racists better and fix what McVeigh feels are the root causes of society’s problems (i.e., non-white people)? I don’t think so.’
☞ I agree. But it’s not just why bin Laden hates us, it’s why a billion others hate us. And how to proceed in a way that doesn’t make that two billion or convert the passive haters into active, possibly even suicidal, haters. Hence, the White House wisely retiring the word “crusade” almost as soon as it had been uttered. And changing “Operation Infinite Justice” to something else. Things like this – let alone weightier things like, say, the use of tactical nuclear weapons – matter to people. It pays to be sensitive to them.
Russell Turpin: ‘A better question might be: Why are they the way they are? After all, they don’t just hate us. They see the world in a cataclysmic clash, they’re fighting for The Good, this fight is worth killing innocents and sacrificing themselves, and they have the support of their group in doing so. Eric Hoffer’s True Believer is the best answer I have read to this question. I am now rereading this marvel, and find that it speaks as fully to the movements today as it did to those fifty years ago. I highly recommend it to everyone trying to understand this.’
Mitchell Ratner: ‘It is essential to understand the larger context in which the recent violence occurred. One of the best web resources I’ve found are a series of articles on Muslim Rage, Afghanistan, and the Taliban put together here by the Atlantic Monthly. I especially recommend for you and your readers the 1990 (!) article by Historian Bernard Lewis on ‘The Roots of Muslim Rage.’ I hope that one of the outcomes of these horrible attacks will be the realization that the world has become too small, too interdependent, for us, individually and as a nation, not to genuinely care about and work to alleviate suffering and despair wherever it exists on this planet. Showing the dispossessed of the world the U.S. really does care about starving children and wretched living conditions – not spin but genuine acts of mercy and compassion – what a difficult but honorable task for the years ahead. And how much stronger and at peace we would be as individuals and as a country.’
☞ So there are basically two contrasting views.
Alan echoes Mitchell in the first: ‘What do you think of this. We load up all the B1s, B2s, B52, and cargo planes, fly them over Afghanistan and drop…FOOD! We mount an air campaign that lasts as long as the one over Yugoslavia, but we drop food in designated areas. The Afghan government has seized the UN food and supposedly many are starving. After a few weeks of this, we walk into Afghanistan, and the people turn over bin Laden.’
Chris Williams expresses the second: ‘The liberal side of the populace is edging towards pacifism. Well, not edging. Sprinting. Here’s what I hear in various politics venues online. Item #1: ‘We mustn’t enrage the entire Islamic world.’ Item #2: ‘We should go in and get them, but no huge, widespread destruction because the Afghan people are victims and innocent.’ ‘Revenge is evil and just makes you one of them.’
‘Andy, here’s the deal. The devil is, as usual, in the details. Liberals are averse to things military and hence they have inadequate knowledge of military specifics. When asked exactly what Item #1 – ‘go in and get them’ – means, they don’t want to address it. They are more comfortable with touchy feely aspects of the event. Candles held stuff. Moral support to victims’ families. And as a conservative, it’s wise to note that this is not a foolish perspective; it’s just their nature.
‘But the problem arrives when methods for ‘going in and getting them’ are suggested, and suddenly they want to impose constraints. Item #1 becomes operative and any measure with potential for success is deemed ‘too provocative.’ That country is strewn with anti-personnel mines from their war with the Soviets. A US military commander ordering his troops into the areas with deep mountain caves to clean out the terrorist training camps is condemning a significant percentage of his people, young Americans all, to death – or a lifetime with one leg or no legs. It is the commander who has to write letters to the wives and parents of the men he orders into that situation to explain how and why they were injured or killed. And the commander has to do this because one of those measures with potential for success – perhaps a very low magnitude yield, airburst configured (no fallout) tactical nuclear device targeted in a remote valley with enemy casualty probabilities of only a few hundred – is met with expressions of horror and outrage at ‘idiotic military lust for death.’ It’s another of those N words, it seems.
‘An act of war was committed against American citizens on American soil. Pacifism is suggested by the left. If another act of war is committed, what more could the left offer? Perhaps surrender?’
☞ So far the White House has proceeded deliberately and cool-headedly. The goal seems to be, first, not to make it ‘us against the Moslems,’ but ‘virtually the whole world against the terrorists.’ This is an outstanding way to frame the conflict. And, second, to do tough, targeted things that almost any reasonable person would consider at least arguably justified. So far, so good. But a massive, sustained airlift of food (and literature) to the people of Afghanistan would not be a bad idea, either.
Finally, Dean Cardno points us to this wonderful piece in last Sunday’s Times of London. At some length, it marvels at America’s critics – and takes them on.
Quote of the Day
Every debt is ultimately paid, if not by the debtor, then eventually by the creditor.~Jim Grant
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