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Thu Feb 14, 2013, 09:02 AM

The Art of Infinite War


I am sitting in Baltimore Washington Airport. I am waiting on my flight to back to Boston. While going through security I refused to go through the full body scanner, and asked for the pat-down. I generally do that as a rule these days. The wait was longer than usual, about 20 minutes or so. This did not worry me. My flight was delayed an hour anyway. But standing there watching people go through, and thinking back on our conversations around drones, and our current war against Al Qaeda and its affiliates, something came to me -- I can't see how this war ends.

We have set as our goal the destruction of Al Qaeda and its affiliates, and the safe-guarding of every single American life against murder at their hands. That strikes me as a reasonable undertaking, and one that any state acting in its interests might undertake. One problem with this is that America prides itself on a kind of moral exceptionalism. We do not, in fact, view ourselves as merely acting in our own interests, but as a force for good in the world. But the more vexing problem is that it means a kind of perpetual war.

Do we really have it in our power to guarantee that no group of young men ever again organize themselves under the banner of Islamism and set the destruction of America as their goal? And why should we restrict our concerns to Islamism? Surely there will be (and are) other protean fighters who claim no country and who will swear themselves to our destruction. Why should we not also war against them?

Consider what this means. The president is anti-torture -- which is to say he thinks the water-boarding of actual confirmed terrorist Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was wrong. He thinks it was wrong, no matter the goal -- which is to say the president would not countenance the torture of an actual terrorist to foil a plot against the country he's sworn to protect. But the president would countenance the collateral killing of innocent men, women and children by drone in pursuit of an actual terrorist. What is the morality that holds the body of a captured enemy inviolable, but not the body of those who happen to be in the way?

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Reply The Art of Infinite War (Original post)
xchrom Feb 2013 OP
WCGreen Feb 2013 #1
Puzzledtraveller Feb 2013 #2
Amonester Feb 2013 #3

Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:04 AM

2. It's about the optics

Torture is visible, their are lawyers and politicians. Drone deaths are invisible and worse than that, hardly covered by the major media outlets.

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Response to xchrom (Original post)

Thu Feb 14, 2013, 10:50 AM

3. The sad part is, we could stop being at war with them, but...

they would not stop being at war with us, no matter how much anyone could wish they would.

And that also includes North Korea, and to a lesser degree but still lingering in some circles, China.

War is not going to go away from this species' DNA anytime soon.

No matter how much we, pacifists, wish it would.

It's been here since even before Cro-Magnons.

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