Sunday, January 14, 2007

VDH: War? What War?

Put on your thinking caps, boys and girls, Mr. Hanson points out the dangers of the new type of war in which we are currently embroiled (we are?).

So one reoccurring topic is the controversy over just how serious is the threat of radical Islam. I get a great deal of furious mail, suggesting that Bush & Co. for a variety of reasons (fill in the blanks: oil, Halliburton, etc.) have created a bogeyman out of a few ragtag terrorists, and dangerously and gratuitously set us on a path of war in the Middle East.

Such critics are emboldened by the luxuries of relative world peace. Remember, we enter into year six without an attack on the United States homeland comparable to September 11. That fact, taken together with the absence of a clearly-identified enemy nation state, has suggested to many that there is hardly a present threat comparable to dangers posed by Nazis, fascists, Japanese imperialists, or Soviet and Chinese communists of the past.

But how true is that really?

I. -Isms and –Ologies Are More Deadly

Global ideologies pose greater threats than particular bellicose states. Nazism, for example, was more dangerous than Prussian militarism because it much more easily appealed across national boundaries.

The same was true of communism versus, say, Japanese militarism that was predicated on unique thoughts about racial superiority rather than Pan-Asian communitarian solidarity. Bushido appealed to few non-Japanese.

Jihadism, however, resonates with Muslims in Pakistan, the Arab World, the Philippines, or Indonesia. Race, language, landscape, or nationality are not always predictable in our enemies, only a certain shared derangement guided by the idea that the West and its modernization have eclipsed Islam and are in some way responsible for radical Muslims’ current sense of inferiority and lost entitlement.

II. A Dirty Bomb Versus a Salvo or Air strike?

Second, the global wherewithal of any enemy is predicated as well on technology and conditions of the age. Just as the Kaiser was NOT the avatar of a global revolutionary ideology, he also lacked the technology to harm the continental United States. While it is true that al Qaedists don’t posses (yet) Soviet-style nuclear missiles; still, equipped with miniaturized weapons, stealthy terrorists can now hit almost anywhere. And there is no logical reason why in the next act of escalation, they will not evolve from planes and bombs to more deadly chemicals or germs—or a nuclear Iran or a Pakistan run by jihadists.

III. “We Didn’t Do It—They Did”

There is also a third force-multiplier that might explain why the pathetic cave-dwelling Dr. Zawahiri and his clowns could hurt the United States far more than Hitler or even the Soviets ever could. True, the absence, after the fall of the Taliban, of a state apparatus has hurt the terrorists, but their umbilical cords to Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran offer them the nourishment of a parent state, but without national culpability. Thus it is hard for us to target patrons who by design deny culpability, and nullify classical deterrence between nation states.

That is, killer teams that poison the water supply of Los Angeles or blow themselves up in the Mall of America, defy an easy response. Do we hit the Saudis whose charities funded them? The Syrians who gave them the weapons? The Iranians who trained them? Or the Pakistanis who offered them space? All such governments would immediately “deplore” such attacks, offer their condolences, and claim they had no influence over their cheering crowds (in the manner Arafat gave blood after the West Bank street high-fived 9/11).

There's more, and as with all his articles, you should read it all.


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