V-T Day?


Lots of folks are more than a little fond of drawing comparisons between World War II and whatever you care to call the conflict that began on September 11, 2001. Last week a Salon letter-writer dropped a factoid that set me back on that analogy: Using the World War II schedule, if 9/11 was Pearl Harbor, then the war should have ended last Friday. *

Whether you're hawk, dove, neo-, paleo- or just looking to compare how little you've achieved in the last three+ years with how much your forefathers managed to pull off in the same amount of time, it's something to think about. And I think When does the national emergency end? is now officially a fair question to ask.

* Please, no comments about how WWII didn't start with Pearl Harbor. The actual beginning of the War On Terrorism I've seen defined as everything from the USS Cole to the battle of Mogadishu to the first WTC bombing to the Beirut barracks bombing to the Rushdie affair to the Iran hostage crisis to Sal Mineo's induction into the Irgun in Exodus.

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  1. The same point was made by Mark Steyn in this week’s National Review, although he somehow managed to draw the opposite conclusion from the Salon letter-writer.

  2. Well, offhand I’d say you can’t compare the two cos they’re not comparable. WWII was waged against two countries, or “state actors” in today’s parlance; once the countries were defeated, game over. The same is not true of the WOT, which is being waged against nonstate actors and thus may not really have a definitive end.

    Of course, it’s not really a WOT; the US isn’t fighting the IRA, or the ETA, or other terrorist groups. It’s a war against Islamic fundamentalists and their attempts to restablish an 8th century caliphate. But it’s not polite to say so.

  3. And how many died during that same period in WWII, while just over 1600 have died in Iraq? 10 times that number? 100 times that number?

    Three times as many died in one day at Normandy than have died in the entire War on Terror.

  4. The difference was that, back then, we had a clearly-defined enemy. He wore a distinct uniform and he had a home country, just like us. He had actual territory to defend. His source of material was large and chiefly immobile. His leader was easily locatable. The battles were out in the open, and the terms of victory or defeat could be clearly defined. Aside from the Pacific Rim, this wasn’t a clash of civilizations, since most of the fighting was done on the same continent between people of similar ethnic backgrounds, political systems and even religions.

    Now, we are not so much fighting an “axis” of sovereign nations (our current leader’s turn of phrase notwithstanding) as we are battling to eliminate an ideology and a new method of warfare. This means that victory cannot be declared through the traditional means. This is far more abstract an adventure and as such could be extended indefinitely until “victory” is declared somehow.

    The problem with declaring a “war” on terrorism is that you are attempting to engage a tactic, not a nation. There are no representatives on hand to sign an official treaty. What would they be bound to, anyway? These are ideological warriors who kill by dying, who blend into the local populace and practice hit-and-run (no pun intended) at will.

    I do think our military is capable of defending and eventually stabilizing critical areas. But to think a war on terrorism can actually ever be “won” is to indulge in pipe dreams, IMHO.

    Analogy: Smash a hornet’s nest with a hammer. You will get stung badly, and you might even smash several of the buggers, but the rest will vanish and rebuild elsewhere, ready to strike again.

  5. In WWII, we firebombed Germany and nuked Japan. We have not chosen that route this time. As noted above, the current effort has taken much longer, but cost the lives of many, many fewer Marines.

    One problem we have is that we can’t simply destroy the Middle East. We still need their natural resources. Not so of Germany and Japan.

  6. Addendum to SPD’s “The problem with declaring a “war” on terrorism is that you are attempting to engage a tactic…”

    …that you yourself regularly engage in and train foreign agents in.

    After 9/11, I spent hours every day reading blogs like Andrew Sullivan, taking Bush’s pro-freedom rhetoric at sympathetic face value. My personal idealistic vision had the U.S. renouncing its once and future use of terrorism and working with other states to promote as transparent and cooperative a security effort as possible. As time and my own paying more attention to detail have shown me, transparency is not on the agenda for this (nor, to be fair, any other recent) American administration.

  7. Frank-Just what is your point? Do we need more deaths? Or are we all just pussies? Also, you seem to equate the WOT with the war in Iraq. That is true only insofar as Iraq has become a focal point and breeding ground for terrorists since we invaded.

  8. If you ask questions like this, the terrorists win.

  9. Iraq has become a focal point and breeding ground for terrorists since we invaded

    I don’t think the sad irony of that fact has been lost on anyone posting here.

  10. “The problem with declaring a “war” on terrorism is that you are attempting to engage a tactic…”

    Then lets call it what it really is, “The War on Islamic Nut Jobs”. Somehow I don’t think that’d go over too well.

  11. “And I think When does the national emergency end? is now officially a fair question to ask.”

    That’s a joke, right? Like when is the drug war going to be over. I thought the whole point about a war on terror is that it never ends. Wasn’t anybody listening when Bush promised us eternal war vigilance?

  12. Then lets call it what it really is, “The War on Islamic Nut Jobs”. Somehow I don’t think that’d go over too well.

    I don’t know about that, Todd. I sure the Fox News Channel would just love to run with that baby.

  13. I suppose this could be over whenever we wanted it to be, we’d just have to drop a few of Fatman and Little Boy’s grandkids. I mean if the WWII schedule is what we’re judging it by….

  14. Well, like stubby kinda said, a “war” is what happens when a State fights another State. It ends when one State capitulates (or is destroyed or conquered).

    A true “war on terror,” like a “war on crime” or a “war on poverty,” is not a real war. It’s a struggle to overcome bad aspects of human nature. As such, it cannot be brought to an end the way a real war can be brought to an end; likely it can never end.

    Instead of looking for an “end,” the best outcome is that the conducting of this type of “war” will be allowed to pass from the hands of the State to the hands of the private sector (by which I mean the actions of individuals and volunteer groups, not necessarily just profit-making organizations). That way we at least get the political bureaucrats, who are largely insulated from the consequences of success or failure, out of the way, and have a better chance of getting good results.

  15. This is slightly off topic, but I’ve never understood how one can classify attacks on military targets as acts of terrorism. For instance, the attack on the USS Cole, or the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut.

  16. Trey — I once read somewhere (I forget) that there are actually two definitions of “terrorism.” One is the one most of us use, “a deliberate attack on civilians intended to force a change in behavior or policy.” Then there is the definition that gov’ts like to use, “an attack against a State by a group other than another recognized State.” And it is in the interests of States/gov’ts to keep the two definitions confused.

    PS: In my previous post at May 25, 2005 07:04 PM I should have acknowledged a post by SPD at May 25, 2005 05:34 PM, whose thoughts largely anticipated mine.

  17. This is slightly off topic, but I’ve never understood how one can classify attacks on military targets as acts of terrorism.

    It’s easy after you’ve spent years classifying the indiscriminate fire bombing of residential sections of cities as not terrorism.

  18. Stevo, I’m sure that you meant “a deliberate attack on civilians > by a nation other than the United States or its allies < intended to force a change in behavior or policy”, right?

  19. In other words when we do it, it’s “civilized warfare”, when they do it, it’s “terrorism”.

  20. Trey,

    I agree entirely… and no, I don’t hate America.

    In my playbook, military targets are ALWAYS legitimate. Government targets can SOMETIMES be legitimate. Civilian targets are NEVER legitimate. So, if you’re keeping score at home:

    Marine Barracks, fair game.
    USS Cole, fair game.
    9/11 attack on the Pentagon, fair target, but offside due to the use of a civilian airliner.
    US Embassies, fair targets, but offside due to timing of attacks (attacks were during daytime hours when the buildings were populated by civilians & employees.)
    Murrah Federal Building, (I’m not differentiating between terrorism of domestic or foreign origin) same as the embassies for timing, but more questionable regarding the legitimacy of the target. (Is Oklahoma City the HQ for BATF or other agencies responsible for Waco?)

    World Trade Center (both times), offside in every way.

  21. And just so that nobody presumes that I’m calling the game in favour of the “terrorist team” turning a blind eye to some of their fouls…

    In my book, attacks on military targets (ie. Marine Barracks, USS Cole & the Pentagon) are acts of war, and entirely justify proportional military retribution.

  22. Russ, the timing in OKC meant the difference between extravagant vandalism and mass murder.

  23. To most of you who’ve found a skinny tree in the forest to hide behind,

    Admit it.
    Yes, it’s time for this craziness to end.
    Yes, the war on terror will not be won as will the war on drugs, not.
    The war on poverty has left more terrorists right here in US inner-cities than poor, injured Zaqharwi could salivate over.

    Pray with me. Let’s excorcise this thing.

  24. In summary…

    If you’re planning on destroying a government building, at least have the decency to hit it outside of business hours, warn the janitorial and security staff, and give them a good 10 mins evacuation time before detonation.

    Oh, yeah… and don’t mention my name if anyone asks.

  25. Wow. Reading some of these posts is enough to make me question whether libertarianism leads to tough rhetoric about the right to self-defnes followed by immediate surrender at the first sign of an actual fight.

    I mean, it’s all relative, right? Terrorists are bad, but the U.S. is too, and besides the U.S. really started it anyway, right? Wrong. I don’t subscribe to the idea that this is so, but those who do must accept that any horrible act by the U.S. is simply relative and equally pardonable and understandable as well. It cuts both ways.

    “It’s easy after you’ve spent years classifying the indiscriminate fire bombing of residential sections of cities as not terrorism. In other words when we do it, it’s “civilized warfare”, when they do it, it’s “terrorism”.” – IB

    Actually, I think war is war, and the tactics used should be intended to win that war as quickly as possible with as little loss of life to the citizens and combatants of one’s own nation as possible as the primary consideration. Restricting loss of life of enemy civilians should be a distant third and loss of life of enemy combatants should be a nearly non-existent fourth.

    Dresden, Nagasaki, Hiroshima, etc. are stellar examples of why one shouldn’t get into a war with the U.S. They are horrible, and they are regrettable. But they aren’t war crimes, they are the cost of going to war with the U.S. There is no such thing as civilized warfare, there never has been, and there never will be.

    Unfortunately, it’s tough to track down non-state enemies who engage in attacks on the U.S., its military and its citizens. But that doesn’t mean it they aren’t a threat and it doesn’t mean we don’t carry the war to them.

  26. Terrorism: Act of volience, whose sole purpose is to generate the greatest amount of media attention.

  27. Perhaps Podhoretz et al. didn’t spell out their analogies clearly enough, and confused people. The analogies between World War II and the War on Terror seem to be based more on scope, importance, and righteousness of purpose than on expected duration. Perhaps not everybody followed that because they didn’t listen carefully when the president said that “Americans should not expect one battle, but a lengthy campaign, unlike any other we have ever seen.”

    If you’re wanting a time analogy, however, the War on Communism would seem to be a better model, given that “terrorism” is not a specific opponent but a political model. If 9/11 were the Russian Revolution (November 7, 1917), you can look forward to the equivalent of the Fall of the Berlin Wall (November 9, 1989) some time in late 2073. As for the end of the war, who knows? You’ll notice we’re still not rid of Cuba and China. (Yet.)

    Meanwhile, given that at this point in the War on Communism (mid-1921) I don’t believe we had yet defeated one Communist country, let alone two, and I gather plenty of Americans still thought Communism sounded like a bright idea, I’d have to say the war on terrorism is going pretty well by comparison…

  28. “And I think When does the national emergency end? is now officially a fair question to ask.”

    The “war” will never end. That’s precisely why it can not possibly be a war, under the Constitution of the United States. The Founding Fathers would never be so stupid as to allow the U.S. government to be in a never-ending war.

    September 11, 2001 was a crime. The magnitude of the crime does NOT somehow mysteriously change it into an act of war. I still remember reading a Cato Institute analysis saying it was an act of war. Definitely took my respect for Cato’s analyses down several notches.

  29. “The same is not true of the WOT, which is being waged against nonstate actors and thus may not really have a definitive end.”

    The Constitution and treaties which the U.S. government has signed (e.g. Geneva Conventions) do NOT allow for “war” against “nonstate actors.”

  30. The Cole bombing gets loosely defined as act of terror as it occurred in an ostensibly friendly port by irregular fighters in a time of peace. But however you define the mode of attack, it was an act of war perpetrated on the USA.

    The other people who have commented on the misnomer “war on terror” are correct. We got stuck with that mischaracterization because it was not considered politically expedient to clearly name the enemy. In part to not offend Muslims, but also because the people who attacked us do not have an agreed upon singular name to hang a title for this conflict on.

  31. “But however you define the mode of attack, it was an act of war perpetrated on the USA.”

    Acts of war, under the Constitution, can only be directed by foreign governments. So unless the Cole bombing was directed by a foreign government, it was no more an act of war than the Baader-Meinhof (Red Army Faction) bombing of the U.S. Army barracks in Frankfurt was an “act of war.”


  32. Americans were a lot more ruthless and unified during WWII.

    To get this over quicker, would you favor more ruthlessness and less “patriotic” dissent?

    I would.

  33. As long as were on the topic of civilian targets….
    Why is it that if any civilians are accidently killed by a US missile that misses its (military) target by a few feet, or hits it’s target and throws some debris, there is a HUGE outcry over “Civilian deaths”, but when the terrorists in Iraq DELIBERATELY blow up a school full of kids (last week), or DELIBERATELY kill some aid worker whose terrible “crime” is trying to provide clean water (or medical care, or education), that’s no big deal? I’m getting pretty tired of these Homer Simpson-esque “Well YOUUUU have a gambling problem!” situations.

  34. Dave-
    Maybe because we already know terrorists are murderous scumbags, but we like to think we’re better than that. That’s why, for instance, there’s not much of an outcry when street gangs in LA murder innocent people, but a huge outcry when the cops in LA do it–because the criminals are SUPPOSED to be sleazier than the ostensible good guys.

  35. On another note – it seems to take a decade to build a small bridge across a stream in the people’s republic of Mass. I swear they kill a small forest for the paperwork required.

  36. rob – I agree that we shouldn’t try to wage “ethical” war – there is no such thing. If you’re going to use physical violence, it is only in self-defense, and as such it is a question between your life and your attacker’s life. In such a situation, it is ridiculous to speak of ethical rules.

    However, that should just reinforce the fact that we haven’t been involved in a justified war in a long time, and reinforce that the invasion of Iraq is anything but justified. If we take the war to the innocent Iraqis who are collateral damage, do they now have the right to bring the war to us? They at least would have a legitimate self-defense interest in attacking our civilians – after all, we are the ones who voted our government into office, and our taxes support the troops who are oppressing them. We had no such legitimate reason to kill them, whether it was intentional or not.

  37. Dave –

    echoing and amplifying Jennifer’s comment – I condemn the terrorists for doing evil, and make sure none of my investments, and to the greatest possible degree, my purchases, don’t go to support them.

    I have no such choice about whether I am supporting the Englands and Graners et al. that our government sends to foreign lands with guns. So, yes – I am going to care a little bit more about what is being done with my money, supposedly in my name.

    Criminals have always existed, always will, and always will be condemned. To the contrary, state supported criminals are often lionized, and those who condemn them are often called traitors. See this thread for an excellent example of this phenomenon.

  38. We should fight the war on terror as if Conan were our leader, instead of Mr. Rogers.

  39. When does the national emergency end, you ask?

    It ends when…

    1. people are sick and tired of hearing about 9/11 and bio-chemo-nuclear attacks and why we should be afraid of our own shadows.

    2. politicans realize that they can’t waive the bloody shirts around in lieu of Old Glory and get what they want.

    Unfortunately that’s also when the next crisis will hit us, giving the politicians a new opportunity to smear us with #2.

  40. This is just another phase in the struggle for the planet’s final world gov’t. Will it be a non-Representative form or Representative form?
    Who knows? Good does not always win over Evil no matter what the stories say. Pity that those on the Left are so much more concerned about the stains on the good guys hands than those on the bad guys hands. After all, the US bombed civilians in WWII and used Nukes! The Great Evil must be punished…even if that means those minior misguided evils of the Terrorists must be whitewashed, ignored, and justified.

    This current battle agaisnt this form of facism is more like the cold war than WWII. An entire ideology has to be killed off, not a single state. As for those that say that Iraq is just a breeding ground for more terrorists….well, at least we know where the nest is, don’t we? Better to know than not know. regardless, these people who believe that ISLAM is the only way and it justifies the killing of anyone and everything opposed must simply be killed. Or they will kill us. No peaceful co-existence, no discussions, no good intentions will solve this problem.

    And even after this battle is won (if it is won and the 5th colums and blind fools that end up supporting the terrorists don’t cause the good guys to lose) the long suffering humans still have to deal with all the other independent states that are not even remotely free. Maybe we can talk our way to a solution with the state, maybe not. We shall see.

    Or we just all give up, claim the US is the source of all ?real? evil and cede power to those that will simply dictate how individuals live their lives aka North Korea. then we would all be ‘safe.’

    Dr. No

  41. I would be the last guy to defend the competence or cost-effectiveness of our anti-terror efforts (though the absence of a major attack since 9/11 should count for something), but the WWII vs. War or Terror comparison is a cheap straw man argument. To make the WWII vs. Terrorism comparison valid, it would be necessary to speculate about how long it would take to defeat world terrorism if we unleashed the full force of our military (including the willingness to intimidate a hostile populace with the occasional Hiroshima), devoted as much of our GDP and exercised as little political restraint fighting the terorists as we did in WWII. If WWII had been fought according to present day resource and political constraints, we’d have lost in Europe and still be fighting an “insurgency” in Japan.

  42. Coarsetoad: “Terrorism: Act of volience [sic], whose sole purpose is to generate the greatest amount of media attention.”

    Addendum: See, e.g., the Iraq War.

  43. 9/11 was caused by bin Laden and his gang of offense-minded militarists in Afghanistan – the US disposed of them relatively quickly. Not to say there’s no pockets of the same type of people around, but much less organized and barely effective. There’s still pockets of Nazis around and it isn’t like Hamburg is no longer a hotbed of hate.

    The Iraq thing is some hypocritical War on Weapons that makes no sense and could never succeed.

  44. “I suppose this could be over whenever we wanted it to be, we’d just have to drop a few of Fatman and Little Boy’s grandkids.”

    I’m afraid that if we were to drop nukes on Mecca, Damascus, Cairo, and Algiers, we would draw a reaction much like that (to borrow a metaphor someone else used) of smashing a hornet’s nest with a hammer. It would be about as effective as fighting the IRA by nuking Dublin and Bogside.

  45. The war on terror is a war in name only. I would bet anyone a beer its called a “war” because some study showed Americans are more willing to give up rights normally held sacred in “wartime”.

    All the “wars” the feds keep fighting is almost as ironic as naming the non-elected head bureaucrats in these wars “Czars”.

  46. Was Robert Kennedy the first victim of Islamic fanatics?

    On waging war against non-state bad actors…US Constitution Article 1, Section 8, para 9…To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal…which means wage war on non-states.

  47. Mark Bahner,

    It’s not “Red Army Faction.” Marxist-Lenninist parties don’t have factions. The properly-translated name is “Red Army Fraction.” A fraction is part of a regular, cohesive whole, while a faction is one side of an argument.

    Meinhoff-Bader chose their name to demonstrate their solidarity with the Red Army, not to suggest that they were engaged in an internal debate with it.

    Sorry, pet peeve.

  48. The “War on Terrorism” ends when we can have a ticker-tape parade to celebrate the eradication of terrorism without having any anti-terrorism security present at said parade.

    In other words, never.

  49. “Using the World War II schedule, if 9/11 was Pearl Harbor, then the war should have ended last Friday.”

    And your point is?

  50. “Was Robert Kennedy the first victim of Islamic fanatics?”

    Uh, no, because Sirhan Sirhan was a Palestinian Christian. (He may have converted to Islam since then, but he was a Christian when he decided to off RFK. Back then, Palestinian nationalism was a secular enterprise.)

  51. “Bush is making enemies faster than we can kill them”

    Everyone needs this bumpersticker on their vehicle.

  52. QB – When it comes to war, you say potato, I say French Fries. (Is it lunchtime yet?)

    As for justifiable war… I’d argue that while we may not have met the legal niceties of a vote by Congress specifically authorizing war we have met the current standard. I’d also argue that we were both justified in invading Iraq and that we have waged a remarkably humane campaign there and in Afghanistan. Of course, that’s also why we’re having a long, tough slog of it.

    Wasn’t it Kerry who promised to wage a more sensitive war in Iraq? Any more sensitivity than we already employ would mean we’d be flailing around there until the NEXT millenium.

    Also, I predict that we’ll (very unfortunately) be going back to Iraq several times in the future, at the request of a democratically elected Iraqi gov’t that is unable to maintain a democratic regime without our military assistance…

  53. rob –

    When I say justified, I mean in the moral sense, not in the procedural sense. The Congress voted to cede its power to the President. While its debatable whether it actually has that power, its a moot point – they did it, he acted on it.

    Morally, you are only justified in killing another human being in self-defense. And yes, self defense includes agressing against a clear, imminent threat. However, even W was not so bold as to call SH an imminent threat. And further, aggressing against an imminent threat does not give you license to take innocent lives in the process – Rothbard destroyed that sloppy thinking very effectively.

    Interestingly, for someone who claims the Pope provides strong moral leadership, the President refuses to even acknowledge the Pope’s moral logic on this issue, which is pretty much identical to what I’ve laid out. I guess being moral is only for sissies.

  54. This current battle agaisnt this form of facism is more like the cold war than WWII. An entire ideology has to be killed off, not a single state.

    So we can largely sit back and wait for islamo-fascism to collapse under it’s own deadweight, as we essentially did during the Cold War?

  55. Pretty much, Charles, although you left out the parts about building up a strong defense to protect ourselves and our allies, using force to stop the spread of the ideology when it is being spread at gunpoint, and (most importantly, and even more neglected today than during the Cold War), keeping our nose sufficiently clean that our goodness, happiness, and prosperity can serve to inspire dissidents in the enemy’s heartland.

  56. Seamus-
    Just to make it clear, I’m not advocating nuking anybody, I was just following the WWII comparison to its logical conclusion. However, I’m not so sure that it couldn’t work. Say Damascus and Riyadh were first (yeah, I know the Saudi’s oil would probably protect them, but for the sake of argument…). Worst case scenario, after the initial shock wears off, the Muslim world decides not to heed the warning. Next all Iranian nuclear sites are vaporized, along with all North Korean military facilities. The point that we all avoid talking about is starting to become clear: never in the history of the world has one combatant in a war been so overwhelmingly powerful that their enemies can not even think about defeating them. We have a power that a few generations ago would have qualified us as gods in much of the world. The fact is, and I do think this is a point that needs to be made more often, for all of it’s faults, the USA is playing extremely gentle with our current enemies. We don’t have to be losing soldiers in these countries. We don’t have to be setting up democracies for them and trying to make the world a better place. We could just be erasing them from the air conditioned comfort of a computer terminal under a Colorado mountain. And after this idea begins to settle in, after these hypothetical nukes have been dropped, we can tell the Muslim extremists that they will accept our terms of surrender or Mecca is gone. The power will be in their hands. Get your people under control, and you may practice your religion however you want. Keep it up the way you’ve been going, and Mecca is done. Islam as a ruling culture in any nation is done. You will be able to survive as a scattered people, but anywhere you assemble and set up your mosques and mullahs and shar’ia law will be leveled. Think of the irony….you will have the same fate as the Romans gave to….the Jews! Because of Damascus, etc., there will be no question as to how serious is the threat. Look for the “We have not been travelling the true path Allah wants us to follow” branches of Islam to get real popular real quick.
    If Ireland lost an entire city every time the “Real IRA” blew up a shopping mall, I think pretty soon you’d see the gangsters (oh sorry, freedom fighters) pulled out of their houses by the 99% of people who want no part in their bullshit.
    Again, I AM NOT ADVOCATING THIS! There are a million reasons why this is not a course of action we should follow, at least certainly not unless they use nukes first. I’m merely arguing that it could be an effective strategy to bringing the Islamist war to an end. There would be countless negative repercussions to this course of action, but it could end the war.

    PS. I’m sure someone is going to read the above and say “The Jews are still here and the Romans are gone”, to which I say your average modern Jew has about as much to do with the Zealots at Masada as your average modern Roman has to do with a Centurion.

  57. Jennifer-
    I can’t accept the “well we know the terrorists are bad guys so that’s why we focus on American wrongs” argument, because it seems like we are more and more talking about American wrongs, and less and less talking about the Islamists’. This is the same argument that the Chomsky-Zinn left uses in their criticism of the USA, and it inevitably leads to a situation where you have a bunch of followers who can rattle off endless American wrongs and end up excusing those of the other side. I can think of a lot of kids I went to school with, now well-versed in the intrusions of Mccarthyism yet totally ignorant of the utterly unparalleled crimes of Stalin’s gulags. So much for what ” we all know”. Think of the college students who will make absolutely retarded statements such as “this is the most racist country in the world”, totally ignorant of how harmoniously we co-exist in a nation of unprecedented cultural/racial mixing, especially compared to places like, say, Europe, where a subset of the South Slav subset of the Slavic ethnic group fights (or recently fought) for the annihilation of other subsets of the South Slav subset of the Slavic ethnic group. (This brings to mind a Newsweek cover published around the 500th anniversary of Columbus’ voyage that asked “was he the first slave holder?”. The stunning ignorance of that question is enough to make one weep. The first slave holder? Off by a few thousand generations. The first slave holder in the New World? Not even close. I don’t know what else can be blamed for that cover except the attitude that it’s only proper to focus on “our” mistakes).
    I want to make it clear that I agree America’s wrongs should be corrected. But it is not appropriate to print articles about how America may be violating the Geneva Convention without also printing alongside how the “Insurgency” this week violated the Geneva Convention 45 times by attacking in civilian clothing (and deliberately attacking civilian targets at that). If we only speak of American wrongs while being silent on the FAR GREATER wrongs of our enemy, eventually what “we all know” begins to slowly but surely erode, until what we all know and hear every day is just how bad America is.

  58. “Americans were a lot more ruthless and unified during WWII.

    To get this over quicker,…”

    This “war” will never end. That’s why it isn’t a war. There will always be terrorists.

  59. “This current battle agaisnt this form of facism is more like the cold war than WWII. An entire ideology has to be killed off, not a single state.”

    Ho, ho, ho! So communism has been “killed off,” eh?

    Oops…there goes another one:


  60. Joe writes, “It’s not ‘Red Army Faction.'”


    And continues…”Meinhoff-Bader chose their name…”

    It’s “Baader-Meinhof,” not “Meinhoff-Bader” (i.e., two “a’s” and one “f”.)

    At least that’s what it was when I was living in frikkin’ military housing areas in Germany when the bombings were happening.

    Sorry, pet peeve.

  61. Well, if it “isn’t a war,” then what are you complaining about?
    This “peace” isn’t quiet enough?

    And, no, there will not always be terrorists.
    The human race will evolve beyond that primitive stage. Or we will all die. Or we will kill all the terrorists.
    One way or another, the terrorists will all die, and they will not be infinitely replaced.

  62. I can solve the terrorist problem in 24 hours.
    1. Bring home every single US soldier from wherever they are in the world.
    2. Cut off all money sent to foriegn governments.
    3. Drop all import tariffs to 1% across the board. It’s not good business to kill your best customers.

  63. homey,

    What if they want to kill you or enslave you because you are not a member of the master race or master religion?

    I do not see how what you propose addresses the root causes.

  64. homey,

    What if their God told them that the world needs to be cleansed of you and others like you?

    Will lowering tarriffs fix that?

  65. Homey-
    Wow! Import tariffs of only 1%!!!? Awesome! I’m giving up this jihad immediately! I love Jews! Boy, have I been wrong all along!

  66. homey – Good plan. I’d add to that “Fortress America” plan that we should seal our borders tighter than a Zip-Loc freezer bag – while allowing greater numbers of people to immigrate legally depending on what skill sets we’re looking for.

    (Example: if you’re a nuclear scientist or a guy whose expertise is in engineering WMDs, then welcome to the US – we’ll be keeping an ey on you and ensuring that you live comfortably and securely enough not to worry about you selling your expertise to the highest bidder.)

    Even though it didn’t work out very well the last time we tried isolationism, that doesn’t mean it can’t work today.

  67. homey,

    What if they are mad at us becuse of our “mistreatment” of the Barbary jihadis in the early 1800s?

    How do you propose making amends for that?

    And what about their Andalusian beef?

  68. QB – All I see when I read the Catholic church’s take on what is and isn’t a justifiable war is that it doesn’t address the reality that war is justifiable “when it’s in our best interests.”

    That’s when war is justifiable, has been since Cain blatted Abel. There isn’t much moral high ground when you’re slaughtering other human beings. We can play ethical and philosophical games, but at the end of the day it’s just mental masturbation while the other side is sharpening it’s knives and looking for a good place to stab us. (Sorry, I’m feeling pretty bleak today…)

  69. M. Simon – Simple. We declare that any past beefs with the U.S. are no longer actionable because we’re withdrawing from the world. And if they get froggy, we nuke them (from orbit once we’ve weaponized space sufficiently). Anyone who attempts to obtain nuclear weapons gets nuked. Any state who currently has nukes who loses control of their nukes gets nuked if we get hit. It’s basically Mutually Assured Destruction cubed – but with more likelihood that we will assure our mutual destruction…

  70. Sorry, I neglected to remember how poorly sarcasm transmits electronically…

  71. quasibill,

    W got Saddam before he became an immanent threat. Saddam had not lived up to his cease fire agreements. Thus the war resumed. In fact W said he was not going to wait for the threat to become immanent. Were you listening?

    Would the world have been better off if the agreements ending WW1 had been enforced? AH said that if they had been enforced he would have been removed from office.

  72. Anyway, the point I was trying to sarcastically make is that isolationism isn’t going to work. Engagement does, but it carries the price that some who oppose us may decide to use it as an excuse to attack us.

    But the alternative is to continue to attempt somewhat more traditional means including conventional military actions rather than being forced to fall back to our own borders and MAD policy (aptly named!) that means we’re even MORE likely to get nuked.

    Those guys are never going to forgive and forget ANY of the things we’ve done. Not, at least, until they’ve been throughly and completely beaten and turned to a more sensible, Liberal, humanist approach like our WW2 enemies.

  73. So we can largely sit back and wait for islamo-fascism to collapse under it’s own deadweight, as we essentially did during the Cold War?

    I dunno, but I take hope in a quote from a character in one of my favorite novels, The Star Fraction, which is set in 2045. (And I thank Joe for explaining the difference between a “fraction” and a “faction,” because now I finally understand the book’s title.)

    “Don’t destroy our town to save it. Remember how the West saw off the Stalinists and the Islamists. The fun-loving, freedom-loving decadent West undermined and subverted its enemies by making them be like itself, not by becoming grim and hard and serious like them. Those who had the most laughs had the last laugh.”

  74. I didnt say eliminate the military I said bring it home. Make it a DEFENSE (as in The DEFENSE Department, The Secretary of DEFENSE) force instead of an emipre buiding OFFENSIVE force. That’s who would DEFEND us. As for the low tariffs, it causes the general population of the countries exporting terrorism to stop supporting the jihadists because their livleyhood would depend on us buying their products. The easiest way to stop terroists is to get the people from were they come from to make them stop. As I said it’s bad business practice to kill your customers. If you still don’t get it what I’m proposing is a Capitalist solution to the problem instead of the Fascist one (which won’t work) we have now.

  75. “And, no, there will not always be terrorists.”

    Was Timothy McVeigh a terrorist? Is Eric Rudolph a terrorist? Ted Kaczynski?

    Now, if you define away enough acts of terrorism, I agree that there won’t always be terrorists.

    “The human race will evolve beyond that primitive stage. Or we will all die. Or we will kill all the terrorists. One way or another, the terrorists will all die, and they will not be infinitely replaced.”

    In all of human existence to this point, there have always been terrorists. But I guess that could change.

    P.S. Your “Or we will all die” seems pretty darn unlikely! (Terrorists will kill EVERYONE…all 6+ billion people?!)

  76. All interesting, and I am quite glad that I found a place where so many of my questions are openly discussed. I would like to first thank everyone past and present that supported a Nation where I may state my opinion freely without being drug out and shot. It’s the same nation that developed the idea of freedom of speech, and many other wonderful Ideals and Dreams.
    I fear that people are easily manipulated and misguided. Even myself at times. There can be no WAR on Terror for many reasons. Most stated here already, but one more I’d like to mention is that by it’s very nature declaring war on terrorism keeps us from winning. Terrorism uses the media as a tool to keep us scared. The government uses fear to keep us supporting thier increasingly asnine security measures that manage to errode our personal freedoms. The Terrorists LIKE knowing that they have fundimentally changed our way of life, and that we live now always aware that they are lurking somewhere, maybe in our neighborhoods. The goal of the Terrorists isn’t to get us out of Iraq, or stop us from using thier oil, or any number of logical understandable goals. Thier goal is to kill us and scare us into doing what they tell us to do. They believe that we are evil, plain and simple.
    Exsample, what if since the moment you were born you were told that ALL the bad things in your life were the results of evil people on the other side of the world and those people were the antithesis of anything good? and what if the people telling you this since birth were your familly, friends, and PASTOR (who speaks for God)?
    How do you think you would think? what would you do when you had a chance to hurt them? What could they do to make you not hate them? hmmm maybe that’s not quite strong enough to describe it. What if a Demon, and you KNEW it was a demon because that’s what a demon is, walked into your house and asked if you wanted tea?

    The terrorists use our human nature, our fear, to get what they want. Our government uses that fear sometimes to get what they want. And all in all it take a Strong fearless group of citizens to keep this all in check. The founding fathers were afraid of England, but they banded together and faught for thier freedoms. But it wasn’t some other organization at first, it was ordinary men with extrodinary courage that made it all happen. I think that’s why the right to bear arms was drafted into the constitution right at the front, not hidden in the back or tagged onto a paragraph. They did not want the public to be unable to stand up for thier rights EVEN agianst the government they developed. They felt that the ability of people to defind thier way of life was essential to the survival of freedom.

    So when will the “war on terrorism” be won? who knows. But I do know that the only way out of Iraq is to get the people that live there to stand up and take charge of thier selves without fear, with conviction and heart. Will that happen in a place where Dictators have ruled for nearly all of mankinds history? I for one hope so, because I realize that no amount of US troops, guns, deaths, fear, money, good intentions, protests, message boards, or Coca Cola can do it for them.

    “you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink”

    *appologize if it rambles, I was a bit drunk and found this so interesting a =board I just had to write*

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