Thursday, August 10, 2006

what does it take

Well, if you need to scare people into persuading them to let you do whatever you think is necessary then Arnold Kling almost did just that to me. I read Arnold Kling’s blog all the time, and it’s really his thought process and the use of what he calls, “Type C” arguments that convinces me to give a significant amount of what he says weight.

Therefore, when Kling
writes that many Islamists sole purpose has turned into killing any westerner, I naturally get scared beyond all reason. And it’s at these times when I miss the constant quoting of FDR’s, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Unfortunately, I then realize those famous words were in reference and response to the bank panic and depression of the 30s. In fact my fear is best described from a skit on SNL in 2002 when Darrell Hammond as Chris Matthews said, “The only security the office of homeland security provides is the security of knowing I can't go outside without browning my pants!”

My terrified state is justified when Kling writes:

To this day, we continue to be squeamish about firing at mosques or
assassinating "clerics" who espouse violence. Many people say that we need to "engage" Iran, even though the leaders of Iran want to kill Jews and other westerners. Just as we ignored Bin Laden's declaration of war, we ignore the declarations of war of the Iranian leaders and the leaders of the various militant Islamic groups around the world.

That comment is what scares me, and maybe that’s what caused me not to react as harshly to a comment in his article where he
references himself in 2001:

A key strategic element in the war against terrorism will be to confront the arsenals of hatred and get rid of them. We cannot ignore them. We cannot appease them. We should not bother to psycho-analyze them. We need to eliminate them.

And I don’t think he’s backing down on his stance of those comments. As he comments that his suggestions still, “offers a more long-range, strategic vision than I can find reading most pundits.”

So, why react so harshly to the phrase “eliminate them”? Well, I asked Will, my friend and colleague over at
Blogicology as to why I had mixed feelings (I’m scared Islamists want to kill me, but does that mean I should want them to be “eliminated”?) on the article, and what his thoughts on the article were. Will was kind enough to respond.

Quoting Will:

He's clinging to the belief that our way of life (which he does not define) is, somehow, a right. Unfortunately, it's not. Pragmatic consumerism (or whatever he means by "way of life") can never be guaranteed. Eradication (is) completely hysterical and kneejerk. Who does the eradicating? Our troops? Unfortunately, that would screw them up more than war already has. (Cyborgs, maybe?)

On the theory of our eradicating of anyone who opposes the US/Israel

But the cost to our morality and civility would be devastating. The
fallout wouldn't be kept to overseas. Within our borders, the moral and ethical fallout would be devastating. And, remember those moderate Muslims who live peacefully in other areas of the globe including the US? Well, we'd effectively begin a bloodfued with them.

Well, thanks to Will for pointing those items out. I believe my own fears stem from the movement of containment (a great reason to support Israel for me) to escalation. As Will puts it, before September 11 2001, maybe containment came from a US security standpoint that “involved infiltration, intelligence gathering and sharing, and physical and monetary surveillance.” Containment can also be seen from the fact that Israel seems to act like a linchpin in what is a conglomerate of Islamic states. Israel’s western democratic status does two things. First, it acts as a stop from what might turn into an Islamic caliphate in the Middle East. Unfortunately, it also may be the cause of conflicts that arise from the dispute over Jerusalem.

In an escalation environment, I worry that our pro-active motions in the Middle East (The Iraq War) will cause everyone who opposes us to up the ante. How? Factions that had previously opposed each other and had somewhat separate goals (lets say Hezbollah and Hamas) can now coordinate their actions, or at least their motivations (lets all hate the US). If they all hate the US, and Israel loses strength, wouldn’t a caliphate come? It is reason to be scared, but it’s also a reason not to stir the tensions. And an effort to eradicating all those that oppose the US/Israel would most definitely cause ill-will that would of course be a huge escalation.

So, while I like Arnold, and I don’t want to make him angry; the deaths of all those people worry me.

Here’s something to think about though -- as if the current situation in the world isn’t. Since I don’t want war, what would it take for the UN to address the concern (that everybody agrees is real) that so many Islamists hate the US, Israel, and other western nations? Does the UN believe the only western nations targeted are the US, Great Britain, and Israel? Is there anything else that can be done?
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