Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.

Freedom's Fidelity

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Belmont Club: Redress asymmetry

Yeah, I'm way behind, especially as the blogosphere measures time, but here is a great post from Wretchard last month that I'll quote at length:
Redressing the asymmetry of fear is one of key problems whose solution is required to win the War on Terror. It's often forgotten that the principle goal of a terrorist war is not simply to kill, but to do so in the most horrible possible way. It is the "terror" in terrorism that gives that mode of warfare its power. Fallujah provides a pointed contrast between an American approach that would release a man found with a bagful of washing machine timers because explosives are not present to prove he is an insurgent, with the ruthless campaign of murder and assassination waged against anyone who remotely cooperates with Americans. But the problem is not limited to Iraq. Withdrawing from Fallujah or Iraq won't mean an escape from the necessity to solve the problem of the asymmetry of fear. It only means changing the time and place when it must finally be faced.

Syria has recently rolled back much of the Cedar Revolution in Lebanon by killing its opponents in the most public possible way. With huge car bombs or entire clips of armor-piercing bullets fired through the window of a car. Across the world, Reuters reported that Philippine security forces seized improvised bombs hidden in thermos and lunch boxes in a hideout abandoned by Muslim militants on southwestern island of Jolo. One of the thermos jugs was stuffed with dynamite sticks, nitric acid and rigged with 4-inch nails while some lunch boxes were found with similar explosives and ball bearings. The bombs were electronically triggered and powered by two 9-volt batteries. As artifacts the lunch box bombs are the perfect embodiment of terrorism. They are constructed of ordinary, wholesome things. Batteries. Child's lunchboxes. And they are intended for the most horrible purposes; not simply to kill but to intentionally kill children. Not to kill them cleanly, but with the maximum of degradation: what better way to transform children than with acid and 4-inch nails. And one of the ironies of the age is that often the media culture which prides itself in sensitivity cannot help but gasp in admiration at the strength of a culture which so carelessly transgresses the boundaries of Good and Evil.

Russia, probably because of its long history of experience with the brutalities of Central Asia, is psychologically familiar with the atmospherics of terror. It's secret service poisons handsome Heads of State with dioxin to disfigure them before death; or dopes it critics with Thallium, not simply to kill them, but that condemn them first to living death. The asymmetry of fear is the message in Fallujah, Lebanon, Jolo and London. Our satchels are full of death and yours full of Miranda Warnings. We are Gory Death and you are dusty Procedure. And that is why we call it asymmetrical warfare.

It is at heart a struggle between good and evil; and must begin with an understanding of what is good. Many liberal commentators mistakenly argue that "catch and release", and strict adherence to the letter of the Geneva Convention and international rules of evidence are necessary to attain the Moral High Ground; and thereby overawe the world with an admiration for America's shining moral superiority. But no one is impressed, not our friends nor our enemies. Because those pretensions to superiority based on legalisms are undermined at every turn by actual betrayals. The liberals have identified the wrong moral high ground, because a more convincing demonstration of moral superiority lies not in ostentatious adherence to often incomprehensible Western ceremonies but a sincere commitment to stand with and protect anyone who stands for good against evil.. In the Third World especially, America's moral quality will be judged more by its willingness to keep its word of honor than in any self-absorbed liturgy to the gods of political correctness. Moral superiority must first of all begin with a determination not to sacrifice men who have decided to fight on the American side; because without the ability to stand by those who have risked their lives for us, no sweet words, no fastidiousness references to law will adequately substitute. Against fear we must set not Moral Superiority, but love. Fear is the lunchbox bomb; yet our love is that we should lay our lives for our friends until the lunchbox bomb is no more. Down that road of love the road to winning over terrorism lies; down that path and not the path of Judas.

Some pretty powerful stuff there. Some of his commenters took issue with his assertion that love is the road to defeating ideologies of murder, but I think it is quite clear that Wretchard is not referring to the love that hippies like to cite as a means of achieving peace, but rather the willingness, in word and deed, to hitch our cart to those who stand and will fight for freedom with more than mere rhetoric.


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