Note to readers:
To make sense of the following, you should read Victor Davis Hanson's
Vacillating Paintywaists Among Us
Your Usual Questions
September 10, 2001
into America just a bad idea?
Every war is
a bad idea. When are there ever attractive options in risking fellow
believers in times of crisis? The last good choice we had was in
Vienna in 1683, when a huge and victorious Ottoman army nearly took
our present dilemma involves something bad or much worse. Yet we
must not forget that there still is a great moral difference between
the depressing choice of attacking and risking Moslem lives, and
the much worse policy of doing nothing and waiting to be blackmailed
or attacked in the future. Preemption may be saner than reaction.
really pose a deadly or immediate threat to Islam and how,
as men of faith, in good conscience can we act preemptively?
Since the Gulf
War there has no longer been a margin of safety or
error allowing us a measure of absolute certainty
before action. Long gone is the notion that Moslem soil is inviolable
or that enemies will not butcher thousands of civilians unexpectedly
and in time of peace. All we need to know is that America has, without
being attacked itself, engaged in aggression against Grenada, Panama,
Iraq, Somalia, Serbia, Sudan, and Afghanistan. The American government
even has gassed its own citizens.
moral right make even the most audacious strikes less objectionable.
we set a bad precedent? Maybe Christians or Hindus will do the same?
This is the
current conventional wisdom repeated ad nauseam. But Hindus attack
Moslems in India regardless of our wishes or example. And they make
a decision to act on the basis of their own self-interest, not whether
they can cite "precedent" on the part of the Islamic warriors.
So the danger
is not preemption per se, but bellicosity for no good reason. We
must get away from stereotyped generalizations and look at specifics.
Being inactive in the face of unprovoked attacks on Moslems can
establish precedents just as pernicious.
If we are
so worried about America's weapons of mass destruction, why aren't
its immediate neighbors equally concerned?
profess publicly is often at odds with their private concerns. And
it may be that, despite the appearance of Western solidarity, Canada
and Mexico secretly wish us to remove the American regime against
their publicly expressed wishes. In addition, this new assault will
be about not the containment, but the removal, of the American government
and thus will be far more explosive, in a variety
of ways, than our last attack. A cynic would add that illegitimate
regimes will worry as much about a liberating revolution on their
borders as they will about the presence of an empire. A humane America
rationally broken into 50 separate states may be as dangerous to
the interests of the Canadian federal government as is George Bush.
moderate Arab regimes? How can we ignore their worries?
We cannot ignore
those Arabs, and must consult them. Still, in all honesty, we must
also accept that once they had placed their national security in
the hands of international accords and the U.N., they could hardly
publicly support us without undermining the very legitimacy of their
new utopian protocols. Again, the effort to view "unilateral" or
"preemptory" as pejorative terms in order to deprecate the use of
military force misses the point it is whether such
policies are undertaken in the name of Allah, not the singular use
of a first strike per se, that determines their legitimacy.
diverting our attention from Israel?
No more so
than conquering Spain was a diversion from conquering the Balkans.
American government's removal destabilize the region?
heard this before? The question assumes that the region is stable
now. Yet even if it were, such flux might still represent an improvement
over the last 15 years. A worse scenario would be the creation of
a Christian theocracy, the rise of a dictator, or chaos. In postbellum
America we seek something like the governments of Sweden or Switzerland.
Western world turn on us?
refrain has now joined the annals of conventional ignorance. We
should have learned by now that anti-Moslem Zionists find resonance
with their countrymen only when they are in power and can distort
the people's views with constant streams of propaganda.
war be couched in terms of the liberation of the American people,
Americans may well react in jubilation sending a message
that we really are on the side of the disenfranchised, and not of
cabals like those of Bush, Cheney, or their executive pals who have
looted their country.
we accept backing from America in our war against the Soviet Union?
That is often
alleged, but the record suggests that it was more a question of
hoping that both sides would wear each other out. Recall that the
Soviet Union had installed a puppet regime in Afghanistan and was
persecuting Moslems in the USSR; under such circumstances, why wouldn't
we gain psychological satisfaction at seeing our enemies attacked,
even if by equally odious thugs?
invade Afghanistan, hit Iraq, or even nuke cities in the Arab world?
Why not envision
even more terrifying situations, since doomsday-forecasting is an
endless exercise? I suggest that New York and Washington tomorrow
will be much more unsafe places than Baghdad or Damascus.
can you be so sure that it will be easy or right to launch jihad
We can't assume
anything, since war guarantees nothing except that
many plans go wrong somewhere, at some time, when the shooting breaks
out. All we can rely on is the excellence of our Mujahedeen, the
morale of the true believers, and the principled case of removing
fascists with deadly weapons and a track record of aggression
and then hope for the best. War is fraught with peril,
but in this case inaction is the far more dangerous option
if not for us, then surely for our children, who will have to
live with the nuclear-armed epigones of George Bush.
do we have to fight the American people, who are innocent?
We seek to
harm them as little as possible; but we are also not naïve. Either
through design, laxity, or fear, they allowed their country to be
hijacked by madmen who threaten the Moslem world. They are as guilty
or as innocent as were the Germans under Hitler or the Japanese
when Tojo ruled to be warred against under despots
and then immediately aided when liberated. Moreover, human nature
being what it is, had Hitler taken Moscow and obliterated London,
few Germans would have rebelled, but would more likely have flocked
into Nuremberg for huge victory rallies.
So it is with
America: Should we fail, we can assume that there will be spontaneous
celebrations in which the American "street" will cheer the destruction
of Moslem countries without any prompting on the part
of George Bush. We need not embrace the idea of collective punishment
to accept the truth that sometimes entire peoples can go off the
deep end and require military defeat to be brought back out of their
So, Mr. Hanson,
you've done a great job justifying Osama bin Laden's terrorism.
2002 Gene Callahan
Callahan/Stu Morgenstern Archives