The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What Matters

In a brief commentary at the blog, “Callimachus” comments on the differing world view between those who believe that the WoT is real and justified, and those who believe that it's an overreaction by the current administration.

We all do see the enemy [Islamofascists] for who he is and we read his own words and take them at their face value. Some of us recognize this as a Long War for Civilization, and think the obvious disparity in firepower and national economies masks a vulnerability in the West. The people we are fighting say certain things very clearly: we are infidels who have offended their religion, they are at war with us, and they want us to die. They may not have an air force, but they have other weapons, more intangible, perhaps more powerful. And we have weak spots. We could be brought down hard by a combination of lack of will and a few hard, well-timed terrorist strikes with the right volume.

To some of us, on the other hand, the Islamists are simply not a long-term threat worth the name of "enemy" or worth a serious reordering of American rights and priorities. They talk nasty and hurt when they can, but they should be taken no more seriously than a 5-year-old in a temper tantrum. 9/11 was something of a one-off, a combination of a few extraordinary individuals and good luck based on our lack of vigilance. A little more vigilance on our part will be sufficient to prevent a repeat performance. To involve American resources and lives in a major Middle Eastern "war" against this, with the inevitable bungles and unforeseen consequences, is doing more harm than good.

I am not trying to parody that view, but I perhaps don't capture it very well. I'm leaving out the figure of Bush, on both sides, because ultimately he doesn't matter. People who put him at the center of everything lose sight of the long-term picture.

The main difference among Americans today is that some of us believe the United States is at war, a dangerous war against a desperate enemy.

And other people don't believe that's true at all.

To the non-believers, the people who are waging war look insanely violent, paranoid, and unstable. To the people at war, it takes great mental effort to look at those who don't believe it and not see appeasers and useful idiots, if not outright traitors.

Callimachus makes an interesting point when he notes “I'm leaving out the figure of Bush, on both sides, because ultimately he doesn't matter.” I sometimes get the feeling that those who view the current President with visceral hatred do so (unconsciously) to change the subject. It’s easy to characterize the President as a warmonger and/or a buffoon and lose sight of the fact the we face a very real enemy.

To this point, Todd Beamer’s father comments on the movie Flight 93 in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal: (subscription only)
There are those who would hope to escape the pain of war. Can't we just live and let live and pretend every thing is OK? Let's discuss, negotiate, reason together. The film [Flight 93] accurately shows an enemy who will stop at nothing in a quest for control. This enemy does not seek our resources, our land or our materials, but rather to alter our very way of life.

Maybe it’s time for those who are obsessed with George W. Bush to step back for just a moment and think about the enemy we face. Think about how any President would deal with another major terrorist attack; think about what life would be like if we appease the Islamofascists and slide slowly into Dhimmitude (2/13/06 post). Sobering thoughts that have nothing to do with the current President. Because in the final analysis, it’s the enemy and how we face him that really matters.