Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
Fluff Alert - Just End Injustice!
Here is a pretty shallow piece from the sometimes insightful 'Perspective' section in the Sunday Tribune. My first reaction was, the piece is so fluffy, it's really not worth blogging about. My next thought was, wait, this guy is getting published in the Sunday Chi Trib and I'm writing on a lightly read blog for free. This deserves at least a partial fisking! The screaming title, at least in the print edition was, The War on Terror Belongs to the Police, Not the Military.
The author states:
First, it has become clear that regime change through military means is not a particularly effective means to combat terrorism. Most experts agree that the war in Iraq has not made America safer, and intelligence reports suggest that Iraq has become a breeding and training ground for an even deadlier generation of terrorists.
Note that the author doesn't name any experts or offer their qualifications. Nothing is easier than finding a group of academics - "experts" if you agree with them - to advocate just about any policy on any subject. Clearly there are lots of experts that disagree with this vague assertion. Not the least of those 'experts' is the reality that since 9/11, attacks on US soil have been non-existent, and the only three successful attacks in the West (Spain, London, London again) have been increasingly impotent. I am not sure what metric he is using for 'safer' but it seems to me that weaker attacks and Islam becoming increasingly drawn to democracy and away from terrorism are pretty good proxies.
His next paragraph:
Still, this does not mean we should stop taking the fight to the terrorist enemy. That fight, however, must be based on accurate and precise intelligence and really should be primarily a law-enforcement, rather than military, operation. If authorities learn of a "sleeper" cell anywhere in the world, they have to disrupt it, all the while taking special care not to harass and intimidate the very community whose help and cooperation is needed the most.
Here's another vague assertion, "the fight must be based on accurate and precise intelligence." Of course this is what we would all want, but there is no such thing as perfect intelligence, it is impossible, and waiting for it is what leads to 9/11 style attacks, and potentially much much worse.
And which authorities would disrupt a sleeper cell? Say that cell is in Syria, are we to wait for the Syrian authorities to inform us of it, and then drop in a unit of the Chicago Police to make an arrest? Or perhaps we should trust the Syrian police to make the arrest and hold a fair trial?
Law enforcement and War do not really have much in common anyway. Law enforcement is mostly reactive, police rarely get to crimes in time to prevent them, they typically arrive after one has been committed and are in charge with tracking down and arresting the perpetrators. Law enforcement, through their street presence and arrests, do act as a deterrent, but their primary purpose is to make citizens within a state feel safe from threats of other citizens. Law enforcement officials balance the civil rights of citizens against capturing criminals - if innocent lives are at risk, they will let a suspect go, rather than shoot (or even drive fast) in a populated area.
Unlike Islamic terrorists, criminals do not actually threaten the state itself, that is the relevant difference. When the state is threatened, and war breaks out, civil rights are routinely violated in ways that law enforcement would never think of doing, but these violations must happen at times to save the state. It's an ugly thing for sure, but if civil rights must be respected in the manner that the ACLU prefers, we will lose that war, and consequently, all of those civil rights that the ACLU holds dear. Law enforcement is for protecting civilians, war is for protecting entire nations. Islamic fundamentalism does not aim to snatch some purses and commit some armed robberies, their stated goal is to impose Islamic law on the whole world and kill all of those who resist.
Second, we see that the biggest threats come from Muslim extremists wishing to kill Americans. Thus, we have to analyze the root causes of terrorism at the hands of these extremists. It is not because "they hate us for our freedom."
Oh right, it's not because of our freedom. As Christopher Hitchens noted:
"We know very well what the 'grievances' of the jihadists are:
The grievance of seeing unveiled women.
The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people.
The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law.
The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London.
The grievance of the existence of black African Christian farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur.
The grievance of the existence of homosexuals.
The grievance of music, and of most representational art.
The grievance of the existence of Hinduism.
The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule.
All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way."
The article continues:
Though it may be cloaked in the robes of Islam, Islamic devotion is not what motivates these terrorists. Much of the motivation is political, stemming from the political repression, corruption, economic stagnation, lack of freedom of expression and religious intolerance that infest the Muslim world today. This injustice breeds tremendous anger on the part of Muslims across the world--driving some to contemplate violence--and is a potent recruiting tool for Al Qaeda. This injustice must end.
Now, does this mean that terrorism against America is America's own fault? Absolutely not. The Muslim world must take the lead in the effort to clean its own house.
Nevertheless, America has the resources and influence to help. Once we end injustice, the swamps in which terrorism incubates and grows will be dried up for good, and when America is at the forefront of the fight against injustice, the likelihood of another attack against America diminishes significantly.
Ok, I mostly agree with this, and this is what Iraq is all about, this is exactly what war supporters have been advocating. We are at the forefront of fighting injustice. We are taking American casualties to put together a democracy that respects individual rights and self-determination, if all we wanted was Saddam captured, we would have left in December of 2003. Furthermore, it's impossible to see how leaving Saddam Hussein in power would help achieve any of the above ends, yet this author argues against regime change? It's even harder to believe that the author has not realized the long-term strategy of fostering open and tolerant societies in the Middle East is exactly the Swamp Draining he is requesting. I don't think anyone argued that invading Iraq would make us immediately safer, but a free society as a model in the Arab world is a necessity if there is ever to be a solution.
Yes, we are sacrificing momentary peace, and an illusion of safety in this cause, so perhaps our children won't have to deal with this horror, just as my generation has been spared dealing with the horror of the Nazis. The problem is that Arabs are denied the means to a successful, hopeful lives. This is exactly what we are trying to deliver. We know Osama can function well in the old world, where we supported dictators for stability, where he had the West to blame for all of their own misery, but lets see what he can do now that we are changing the equation and finally moving to the right side of history. So far Osama and his ilk have responded by killing lots of Muslims and it's not helping his cause. It's rather like a chess match, one has to plan several moves ahead, but I suppose if one is intellectually playing checkers, this strategy won't make much sense.
You can read the last few paragraphs of the article if you want, but it mostly reads like a George Bush speech on why we must push democratic reforms in the Middle East. This leaves me wondering, do those that are anti-war ever bother to try and understand why they disagree with us? Or are they just so tightly wrapped in their cocoon that they assume we deposed Hussein to steal the oil and to ensure George Bush's re-election? I would be curious as to how this author proposes that we 'end injustice.'
"Just end it!" is not an answer, it's a fantasy.