Daily War Watch
War Perhaps, But Not Stupid War
September 18, 2001
Whoppers regarding domestic politics are one thing. Whoppers
like the World Trade Center towers collapsing on TV - I saw
both on the first replay, was awake by chance (I'm a night
owl) and Freeperland had gone nuts, I thought it might be
a hoax - transcend mere logical fallacies. One person has
referred to this as a "failure of conscience," over and
above intelligence failure, structural failure... it's one
way to put it, and a rather good one, I think.
It doesn't matter what the US has done to Moslems in the
world, how it has troops in Saudi Arabia, how it's been backing
Israel beyond all bounds of anything an objective person could
call "fairness," and how it's been doing all this with
little meaningful debate at home: This act was beyond the
It was meant to be done for no other reason than to inflict
maximum damage, both in terms of loss of life, and in shattering
the American sense of invincibility. In that, it was remarkably
successful. I credit the planning and the execution: They
knew exactly what they were doing. If those planes in New
York had been higher or lower by any great margin, the towers
would not have collapsed. Any measure of justice they might
have had - and not to give the wrong impression, Israel has
cartloads of justice on its side too, that's what's so saddening
about the whole conflict - vanished when they chose to pursue
justice with such a massive slaughter of innocents.
Put simply, they drowned out what tiny voices of justice
they had in the blood of others, and now, they will never
be heard again, or at any rate, listened to; not for generations.
They declared themselves, with no election, consultation,
or other measure of civilized behavior, as judge, jury, and
executioner of Americans who, likewise, were not consulted
about what the US does abroad.
The terrorists dragged America from indifference to the Palestinian
and broader Arab plight, into stunned horror and righteous
anger. The price the terrorists will pay is merely their lives;
the price that the innocents of the Middle East will pay -
and make no mistake, they do not all live in Israel - is much,
much higher. That saddens me and sickens me. Not only did
what they do was cruel, but the good Moslems in this world
are going to suffer dearly for it. Justly so? No, these terrorists
are self-appointed. They decided for themselves what God wanted
and inflicted the consequences on the people they've painted
giant bull's-eyes on, people of their own blood and religion.
I feel for those people, too, and needless to say, I feel
tremendously for all Americans; they're not perfect, and neither
is their nation, but they sure as hell didn't deserve what
was done to them, both in the death toll and in the psychological
sense. There is no moral equivalence: only a refusal to accept
the idea of moral absolutism, or being 100% right about everything.
I only mention these other things, not because I question
the side I'm on, but because the world is a complex place,
and we ignore that fact at our peril.
So the big question is: Now what? There are whoppers that
still persist. There are Republicans of years past, James
Baker, Dan Quayle, Lawrence Eagleberger... all calling for
less liberty in American life because we're not safe. Maybe
so, but did they have to act as if we're supposed to respect
their opinion on it? This is jumping on top of graves and
shouting: "Give up your freedom! You don't need it!" I imagine
they're well intentioned, but Ben Franklin would be very disappointed
On the other hand, there are principled people who are saying
that there is no way the US should be waging a bloody war
against Afghanistan and other allies of Osama Bin Laden. These
include people who should damned well be respected, like Simon
Jenkins writing in The Times (of London). The fear of these
people, an entirely rational one, is that overkill is going
to create a war between the US and over a billion Moslems
worldwide, which is Osama's wet dream.
(The day after, The Times wrote an editorial kicking Mr.
Jenkins' arguments in the balls saying that the fears were
not worth taking seriously because they absolutely had to
do something, and not just something, but a lot, and that
men like Mr. Jenkins provide the convenient arguments that
let terror win. The Times is, last I heard, owned by Rubert
Murdoch. The Whopper/War Watch takes a position of full disclosure.)
I am not the type of person who has read every meaningful
book in Western civilization, but I have read The Prince,
by Machiavelli. The case is pretty clear, and relies on psychology
that resonates in both the Western and Islamic worlds: It's
one thing to be hated, and it should be avoided. If you ARE
going to be hated, however, you absolutely must not be hated
and despised, which is simply to say, to be hated and seen
to be weak. If you are hated and feared, or hated and respected,
then you will frighten away a lot of people who wish you harm.
At this point the US simply cannot help being hated. It has
risen too far; it has done too much. Be it for cultural reasons,
political reasons, reasons of jealousy, or reasons of personal
offense, or a combination of the four, the US will be hated.
It need not enhance this hatred, but there is a clear danger
of being hated AND despised, which is the worst of all possible
combinations and brings the whole world to your gate, breaking
it down, because not only do they not like you, they actually
believe they can do something about it, and win.
Obviously this is the same as having a giant "Bomb Me" sign
over America. This will not do.
Thus, there is a clear case that the US could well use TOO
LITTLE force in dealing with terrorism, and that those who
would prefer the US deal with this by going after the perpetrators
and do no more, and also clean up its imperfect act abroad,
just can't have their noble ideas respected in this case:
not doing enough will bring us to the exact same place as
doing too much, which is increased terrorism. Thus, the noble
principles of not behaving like an ass as a nation cannot
be fully adhered to. The US needs to be the Great Satan, and
actually be feared as such, if only far enough to prevent
it from the worst of all possible worlds: the Great, Cruel,
Unjust, and Weak Satan.
That is absolutely not a reason for doing it stupidly.
Since Ann Coulter wrote a particularly vile article before
her latest one in eulogy of Barbara Olsen, I just can't let
this pass: She said that we should invade these countries,
kill their leaders, and convert them (the countries and their
peoples, not the leaders with blood running out of their skulls,
presumably) to Christianity. She also wrote that we killed
civilians in Germany, such as in the bombing of Dresden; that
was OK. Killing civilians now is OK too. This is war.
It may be war... and I can sort of agree with invading the
countries, killing their leaders...
But CHRISTIANIZING THE POPULATION!?!?!?
This is not one war. This is two or three CENTURIES of war
here, against 1.2 billion people and their progeny over the
span of literally hundreds of conflicts with millions of casualties
on our side and probably billions on the other before it's
done. This is an American Empire founded on the One God when
we haven't even settled on which sub-religion we want to preach
when we convert the heretics by force. This is a Permanent
Crusade, people: A literal world war where the only victory
is stamping out the other religion from the face of the Earth,
where Americans would become the first targets, including
atheists and many, many moderate Moslems. Incalculable numbers
of Moslems would become suicide bombers, terrorists, soldiers,
assassins, poisoners, and butchers, because they would rather
die than be forced to bow by force to Christianity. Our treatment
of the rest would be presumably so horrible that every Moslem
country on Earth would become the West Bank, writ large.
And besides that...
Just what are we going to do if two rival TV evangelists
convert parts of a Moslem population, and then THOSE groups
fight each other, whether or not the evangelists tell them
to or not? I mean, we're talking about going to these countries
and trying to make fanatics out of them, fanatics for our
God rather than their Allah. (I use the term 'our' loosely
here to make a point.) There is no one Christianity. Just
the Protestant/Catholic split could create hundreds of years
of warfare in itself, warfare that the US is too good for,
but could be very easily sparking abroad. Latin America and
Africa would support the Catholics and much of the US and
Europe would support the Protestants. Our military consensus
would break down as both sides start sending weapons (you
know, bang bang, rat-tat-tat) to both of their proxy militaries
(and their pathetic civilian populations waiting to be slaughtered
in the crossfire) and we can no longer count on the loyalty
of our own soldiers.
For that matter, an official policy of Christianization would
force an immediate questioning of all Moslems in the US military,
be they Arabic or Black (or some mixture, or even white but
having the Wrong Answer on the form that asks you your religion),
and an active campaign of expulsion, internment, or imprisonment.
We can't be asking Moslem soldiers to go Christianize an Islamic
country! So they need to go, too.
Just so you know, this article was published, among other
places, in the Jewish World Review, as high an irony as I
can think of. They brag about Judeo-Christian values, but
how long is it gonna take before someone decides that non-Judeo
Christian values are pretty nice, too, and if Christianization
is good enough for the heathen Moslem scum, it's good enough
for the Jews?
People, we do NOT want to go there.
Other stupidities reported around the warmonger world...
- A British article touting a US rifle that will fire 20mm
grenades that will be guided by a tracking system by US super-soldiers
laden with computers that will shoot around corners, drop
down into trenches and behind obstacles, and explode as an
area-effect weapon. NATO 5.56mm bullets would be used as a
supplement. (Said article failed to make plain that the guidance
system is battery powered, and batteries and grunts don't
mix; the complex system would prove much too fragile; and
the cost of each rifle could rival that of a kidney for transplant
on the black market.)
- The media has narrowed in on a plan for air strikes with
manned aircraft against Afghanistan with a large amount of
US special forces in a combined air-land war. (Problem 1:
Pakistan said you can fly through Pakistan, on condition you
don't send ground troops. Ouch. Problem 2: Our HUMan INTelligence
(HUMINT) sucks. It sucks very, very hard. We have not a single
spook in Afghanistan, because there is no booze and no women
for fanatic soldiers and gentlemen simply do not do such work.
And you're gonna send special forces in with no effective
intelligence? Ever heard of Desert One, the Iranian hostage
rescue plan where two helicopters collided in mid-air over
the desert? Do you think Delta Force has forgotten that, or
the stifling, paranoid, hugely bloated command structure inflicted
upon them that helped make it happen?)
- Mr. Falwell, who needs no introduction, launched a tirade
against gays, lesbians, atheists, and other moral degenerates
for putting the country in such a morally deficient state
of affairs that God chose not to foil the terrorist attack,
thus making them just as guilty as the terrorists themselves.
Falwell Spin 1: I have nothing to apologize for. Falwell Spin
2: I was taken out of context and only the terrorists are
responsible. Falwell Non-Spin 1: I never took back that they
are moral degenerates and harmed the country and are bringing
us towards further disaster and must be stopped. Falwell Non-Spin
2: Stop bothering me.
- Attacks on mosques and Moslems, though less than some pessimists
expected, occur nationwide as the nation's leaders keep talking
about War this and War that, and The Enemy will be defeated.
Suggestions arise of declaring War against the Unknown Enemy.
Orwell stirs in grave.
- Republicans continue to suggest sacrificing liberty for
security. Ben Franklin stirs in grave.
- Bush quietly makes legal determination that he is able
to do anything he wants if it means protecting the US, then
asks for Congress to give him a blank check anyway, though
he insists it's for show and he doesn't need one. Congress
disagrees and puts in the fine print that the Constitution
still matters. Bush disagrees and says the Constitution makes
him the boss and Congress will have to shove it. Congress
fumes and complains to Bob Novak.
- Sen. Orrin Hatch spilt the beans on the US having intercepts
linking Bin Laden to the terrorist attacks. He said this first
6 hours before the Pentagon said Bin Laden was even a suspect,
obviously playing fast and loose with intelligence briefings.
Rumsfeld later rips Hatch in public without using his name
(not that he needed to); press reports say Powell is also
furious. Hatch spin: I didn't expose any information that
was dangerous or counter to US interests. Everyone else's
spin: Yes you did. My spin: Can Senators be put in prison
for this? If not now, then after this draconian anti-leak
Official Secrets Act style bill is passed and signed by Bush?
Hatch could be jailbait. If he's not, he's lucky - because
then everyone else IS jailbait, and for spreading information
a hell of a lot less sensitive than this.
- As a result of Hatch's leaks, the quality of information
flowing to the House and the Senate's intelligence committees
drops below that of CNN and network television. Congress promptly
complains to Bob Novak. Paranoid spin: Possible conspiracy;
Hatch could've done it on Bush's orders to shut down the spigots
of information to Congress. My spin: The Defense Department
gives info to the media all the time, officially and unofficially,
usually under direction of the White House. Can they be prosecuted
now too? Can Bush be prosecuted if he decides to leak something?
Why are we in the position of asking?
- The Taliban arranges the near-killing of a kid in India
and stuck a note to him saying that India had better not help
the US or no Hindu would survive. Problem 1: The kid survived.
They took the slugs out. Problem 2: There are about a billion
people in India. The vast majority are not Moslem. Hint to
Taliban: This is not a good war to start.
- Dump Tenet (CIA holdover from the Clinton era) movement
begins. Vegas takes odds on how high he will bounce. Question:
If they don't like him now, why'd they keep him, anyway? He
raised CIA morale a lot, right? Okay, maybe CIA morale is
not exactly high anymore.
- European nations try to say this isn't 'war' even though
Article V of the NATO treaty was invoked. Um, guys, you can't
say no here. It is the law of your land, you agreed to it,
and if the US is at war because it was attacked, then by golly,
you are too. It's automatic. It's in the treaty. The US is
patrolling the world asking which side everyone's on. Italy,
you're the latest on the bandwagon. If you're not at war,
then you're renouncing Article V of the NATO defense treaty.
(Of course this is the consequence of the activation of NATO's
treaty obligations in Article V, which may turn out to be
a stupid move if this keeps up, because either because Italy
and France quit and Germany gets torn or the US bombs them,
too, NATO may not survive.)
- Tony Blair pleads for war now or else we'll all be glowing,
choking to death or dying of Ebola the next time. Thank you
for making us feel safe, Tony. We appreciate it.
- Japan moves to rearrange their Constitution in a long-expected
move, and long-demanded by the US, so that Japan can take
more of its rightful place in the world. A quiet start to
a big change. Japan spin: It's so we can help the US. US spin:
It's about damned time. Asia spin: Uh... rightful place? Just
what do you mean by that...?
It's a busy world right now, and as long as they're calling
it war, the War Watch will pay attention to it as circumstances
dictate, bringing a skeptical eye. Blind support only aids
leaders who can see; and if we are blind, how can we really
be sure they can? Clear thought is still needed, even more
so when everyone's justifiably angry. Censorship never helped
the Soviets win in Afghanistan, and probably hurt because
the leadership over there just went into mass denial. If the
War Watch punctures such denial, good.
The Daily Whopper will resume when circumstances favor it.
Bringing attention to bad things that make no sense that politicians
want to inflict upon us, in war or peace, is to honor the
tradition of free speech and to build upon it. I stand proudly
in upholding that principle.
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