Tuesday, August 01, 2006

"Tonight, you will taste man-flesh!"

So a while ago, Jon Podhoretz opined that it was really too bad that western democracies had gotten so serious about human rights and such (is he serious?) because it prevents us from waging victorious wars in the style of the Uruk-hai, apparently.
And as for the United States, what if we have every tool at our disposal to win a war - every weapons system we could want manned by the most superbly trained military in history - except the ability to match or exceed our antagonists in ruthlessness?

Is this the horrifying paradox of 21st century warfare? If Israel and the United States cannot be defeated militarily in any conventional sense, have our foes discovered a new way to win? Are they seeking victory through demoralization alone - by daring us to match them in barbarity and knowing we will fail?
Funny, I think the most interesting thing about Hezbollah's tactics has been how "western" they are. A standing army, dug in to heavily defended positions, using rockets to strike at civilian targets. Very western indeed, albeit in a mid-20th century kind of way.

Later, at the Corner, he clarifies his remarks:
Right now, Israel has decided to halt its war because of an airstrike that caused 60-plus civilian casualties. The fundamental question I was posing is this: What if only a civilization willing to commit them ["monstrous tactics"] can successfully extirpate a conscienceless menace like Islamic extremist terror?

This is not a rhetorical question. I don't know the answer. I don't even know if this is the right question. But we are back, it seems, at the point at which Herman Kahn wrote Thinking About the Unthinkable. Even the act of trying to think through the nature of the struggle we're facing is itself deemed criminal.
Now, I think I've asked similar questions before, but there's something that I don't think anyone else has mentioned yet: If America, Israel, or anyone else finds the humanitarian cost of their illegal, unjust wars too high a price to pay, this is a very, very good thing. Maybe, just maybe, we should stop having illegal, unjust wars.

Of course, if you're a conservative, is just means we should stop caring about humanitarian costs. Typical.

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