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

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Proportionality and Restraint – Part II

A interesting July 14th post in the blog
discusses a “friend” who believes “Israel and the United States have reached the limits of their power.” The reason for this hypothesis is that
Having power assumes a monopoly of violence. As we restrain our power to appeal to our allies and win friends on the ground, Islamists do everything they can to monopolize violence through random acts of terror. They're quite unrestrained in that pursuit, and on that level, we are neck-and-neck with them for control on the ground. The battle for the monopoly of violence is symmetrical in this war because we restrain ourselves from unleashing our full fury. My friend assumes that we will restrain ourselves indefinitely, and so we have reached the limit of our power.

The question is whether or not we continue along the road of proportionality and restraint. Both sides commit a series of violent, but constrained acts, accomplishing relatively little. But as time passes, the Islamofascist terror groups and states grow stronger, gain access to even more potent weapons (as evidenced by Hezbollah’s use of long range rockets and Iranian missles, weapons they did not have a few years ago), and ultimately, the acquisition of WMDs.

Will the Islamofascist terror groups and states use restraint as they acquire bigger and more powerful weapons? Will they avoid casualties in civilian population centers? Historical evidence indicates that they will not. Their Jihadi world view indicates that they will use WMDs to kill the “infidel” regardless of the consequences.

But many people would rather risk that horror than condone an all out war against Islamofacist groups and states now. They simply cannot accept that true evil in the form of Islamofascism stalks modern Western liberal thought and would destroy them, their friends, and families without a thimble of remorse. They simply cannot believe that Islamofacists would also erase every vestige of the culture they hold so dear (free speech, woman’s rights, secular education, free elections, gay rights, diversity, the list is long). Better to risk it all, they would argue, and change our ways, so that Islamists will somehow be mollified.

I understand this sentiment, I really do. It represents the gentle belief that even very bad people will come around, if we just find the right catalyst. And the catalyst has to be our behavior, not theirs, our compromises, never theirs. The problem, of course, is that they won’t come around, even if we do modify our behavior and compromise on things we shouldn’t. The only thing that might work is our full capitulation—surrender.

In 1979, the war began with the taking of American hostages in a US embassy in Tehran -- an internationally-recognized act of war. It continues to this day, getting hotter and hotter. It can’t all be our fault, and even if it is, both democrat and republican governments have tried hard, crafting myriad peace treaties, road-maps, and agreements—all broken by the Islamofascists with months of their signing.

So, like it or not, we are at war. And that returns us to the fundamental question—do we fight the war to win, or do we fight it with proportionality and restraint. The blog concludes with this comment:

In the years to come, we may wonder how this thing started. We may look back through a haze and wonder why 9/11 happened, and why we went into Iraq. Our moral and political calculus will have evolved after the fury is unleashed. It isn't for us to say today how our current motives will be interpreted by the survivors of this great war.

Part of me wants to see our self-restraint maintained; we have the keys to Hell's door, a Pandora's Box that is best kept shut. Another part of me wants to see our civilization's enemies mercilessly vanquished. We can't have it both ways forever.

My sentiments, exactly.