WHY I’M BACKING MR. BUSH AND NOT MR. KERRY: PART 2
The second, even more critical reason I’m backing Mr. Bush can be summed up in three words: WAR ON TERRORISTS. I don’t think just war theory has had a problem with preventive war (if you’re planning to invade us Wednesday, we’re allowed to hit you Tuesday). But I’ve concluded, as a follow-up to my previous posts on Just War, that we not only have to hit terrorists with all our strength, with every weapon and strategy we have, for as long as we need to, but that we have to expand just war theory to allow pre-emptive war, or striking before a threat becomes imminent, for two reasons:
The weapons our enemies can get hold of – I don’t think I need to belabor this too much, but the sheer destructive power of biological or chemical agents, let alone even a small nuke or a “dirty bomb”, along with the speed and ease with which they can be delivered, make them something horridly unique that just war theory will simply have to adjust to. A worst-case scenario would be somebody unleashing ravening hell in Manhattan, or London, or Paris, or anywhere, and not claiming responsibility. What would the world, or the U.S., do then? Would we have to concede defeat and live in constant fear of any barbarians who might threaten to trump all our aces, or would we lash out in fear and anger against we know not whom, and thus risk destroying who we are?
Our enemies themselves – Ralph Peters makes a useful distinction between two basic types of terrorists, allowing for exceptions and gray areas:
Practical terrorists “may behave savagely, but they have tangible goals, and a logical approach to achieving them… their determination is fueled by the intellect and common emotions…They view their own deaths as a misfortune, however necessary or noble, and not as an embrace of the divine…
The practical terrorist may have ambitious dreams… but he (or she) is rarely suicidal and does not view death and destruction as goals unto themselves.
He may commit atrocious acts…but the scale of his actions is usually limited…he does not destroy entire cities, which he would rather rule than wreck…
On the other hand, the practical terrorist’s “hellish counterpart, the apocalyptic terrorist...sees himself as chosen and apart…believes that only his own ideals have any validity…is detached from compassion by his faith and only wants to punish the sinful... apocalyptic terrorists view themselves as tools of a divine and uncompromising retribution. Retribution against unbelievers, heretics, and even their own brethren whose belief is less pure is (their) real strategic goal…
The key distinction between these two types, Mr. Peters says, is that while the practical terrorist is trying to force change in the real world,
“No change in the world order will ever content the apocalyptic terrorist, since his actual discontents are internal…and no alteration in the external environment could sate his appetite for retribution against those he needs to believe are evil and guilty of causing his personal sufferings and disappointments – for such men, suicidal acts have a fulfilling logic, since only their own destruction can bring them lasting peace.”
(“When Devils walk the earth.” Dec. 2001, The Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities; go to “Publications” and then to “Papers.”)
Lee Harris argues that Islamic terrorists are driven by a fantasy ideology, which provides each of them a starring role in his own personal fantasy of glorious martyrdom in the name of Allah, an allure that can be so strong that it overrides political considerations. Thus, he says, the terrorists responsible for 9/11 viewed their atrocities not as terrorism with a political goal, but as a piece of theatre for the Arab street, to prove that radical Islam can, indeed, defeat the West. The key factor here is that terrorists cannot think realistically about the conflict they’re involved in because,
“It matters not how much stronger or more powerful we are than they; what matters is that God will bring them victory…In the fantasy ideology of radical Islam it is almost as if the ‘real’ world no longer matters… because the sole cause of all events is God…if this is so, then the ‘real’ world that we take for granted simply vanishes, and all becomes determined by the will of God.”
(Civilization and its Enemies: the Next Stage of History, New York, Free Press, 2004, p. 17).
For a good example of fantasy ideology, I refer you to a quote from Bin Laden himself, from an interview in 1998 - with a tip of the ol’ Blogger template to The American Thinker:
“I am one of the servants of Allah. We do our duty of fighting for the sake of the religion of Allah. It is also our duty to send a call to all people of the world to enjoy this great light and to embrace Islam. Our primary mission is nothing but the furthering of this religion.” (“Terrorism at its Root,” Aug. 9, 2004)
Yeah, right, Binney – And if you REALLY believe the whole world will rush forward to embrace Islam, I think maybe you need to back off the opium, because I suspect that most of the non-Islamic world will join me as I say, IN * YOUR * DREAMS!!
The basic problem here is that even if apocalyptic terrorists don’t have a chance of forcing their nightmare vision on the real world, they can still cause unimaginable damage if they get the weapons. So I believe that we need to take the war to them whenever possible, up to and including hitting them (or their sponsors) first. I’m not fond of the idea of pre-emptive war, but I’d rather run that risk than see any more 9/11s, or worse, anywhere at all…
Mr. Peters concludes with some rules for fighting terrorists, including:
“Identify the type of terrorist you face…Practical terrorists may have legitimate grievances that deserve consideration, though their methods cannot be tolerated. Apocalyptic terrorists, no matter their rhetoric, seek your destruction and must be killed to the last man…Our bloodiest successes will create far terrorists and sympathizers than our failures.
Do not be afraid to be powerful…Our responses to terrorist acts should make the world gasp.
When in doubt, hit harder than you think necessary. Success will be forgiven. Even the best-intentioned failure will not. When military force is used against terrorist networks, it should be used with such power that it stuns even our allies.
Do not allow the terrorists sanctuary in any country, at any time, under any circumstances…We must be faster, more resolute, more resourceful – and, ultimately, even more uncompromising than our enemies”
(“When Devils walk the earth.” Dec. 2001, The Center for Emerging Threats and Opportunities; go to “Publications” and then to “Papers.”)
Again, I’ve said all that to say this: Mr. Bush “gets it:” he understands the significance of the conflict we’re involved in, and seems to be willing to do whatever’s necessary to win it. For instance:
The National Security Strategy of the United States of America, Sept. 2002, states that:
“We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction (p.14)…The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction – and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty as to the time and place of the enemy’s attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries, the United States will, if necessary, act preemptively.” (p.15)
Mr. Bush has extended the scope of the war to include states that support or sponsor terrorism, including Iraq, which is just as important as striking the terrorists themselves – you can run, but you can’t hide...
We’ve already seen one extra benefit of hitting terrorism effectively – Libya, for the time being at least, seems to have decided to turn from its wicked ways. In fact, I’m thinking that if we keep up the relentless pressure, we’ll probably see more would-be terrorists make the same rational decision, which would mean we might have fewer enemies to worry about, which would be a good thing.
Mr. Bush has a broader strategic vision; to make the world safer by encouraging democratic reform in the Middle East. This is going to be very difficult and long term, but he has a very valid point. Even if democracy isn’t a part of a particular culture, I think most people would like to be free from the constant threat of a knock on the door in the middle of the night, from the threat of watching their family tortured before their eyes, from the threat of being fed into a paper shredder, etc…And that, I think should provide some common ground to build on.
Saddam Hussein and the Taliban government of Afghanistan are no longer in power. ‘Nuff said, I think.
Mr. Kerry, on the other hand, has proclaimed that he will treat terrorism as simply a matter of law enforcement, as a “nuisance,” like prostitution or gambling, to be reduced to an “acceptable” level. Forgive me, if like Rudy Guilani, “I’m wondering exactly when Senator Kerry thought they just a nuisance.” I’m sorry, Mr. Kerry, but terrorism went off the nuisance scale a LONG time ago!
Mr. Kerry has never (or almost never?) voted to authorize any new weapons systems during his time in the Senate. For instance, he opposes the Administration’s plan to modify “bunker busters” so that they can penetrate enough rock to take out underground installations, including those that contain WMDs. But the project is scheduled to cost only 27.5 million during the current fiscal year, not the hundreds of millions Mr. Kerry claims. And this sort of weapon would give us a viable option in dealing with rogue states and their WMDs besides giving in to their demands, using airborne nukes, or mounting a conventional raid. Is Mr. Kerry so suspicious of our motives that he’d deny us this option? (The Wall Street Journal, “Bunker Busting Myths,” 10/24/04)
I’ll be saying more about this later, but so far we have a clear choice here, and, in spite of specific reservations I might have, I’m sticking with the man who seems more interested in winning the war.
I’ll have more by the weekend; thanks for your patience, and please stay tuned!
WHY I’M BACKING MR. BUSH AND NOT MR. KERRY: PART 1
Well, first off, I’m adamantly pro-life, because I contend that the Bible teaches that a human life begins at conception, and thus is protected by God’s very strong prohibitions against shedding innocent blood. Those of you who are interested might look up Psalms 139:13-16, Jeremiah 1:5, and Proverbs 6:16-19 for starters. There’s a lot more to say about this, and perhaps I will in the future, but for now, let’s cut to the chase…
Unfortunately, I don’t expect to see Roe v. Wade rolled back any time soon, without major shifts in the culture, and I think we evangelical/fundamentalist Christians are partly to blame for letting things slide so far – we haven’t, as a group, been doing such a great job of being salt and light during these past decades, now, have we? (I include myself here)
But still…Even though I realize we can’t scientifically prove that life begins at conception, and allowing for cases where neither child nor mother would survive, wouldn’t simple, ordinary human decency want to give the child the benefit of the doubt???
I’m sure many of you have heard of Amy Richards, who decided to abort two of the triplets she was carrying, because, in her own words:
“Now I’m going to have to move to Staten Island. I’ll never leave my house because I’ll have to care for these children. I’ll have to start shopping only at Costco and buying big jars of mayonnaise… When we saw the specialist, we found out that I was carrying identical twins and a stand alone (which) my doctors thought was three days older. There was something psychologically comforting about that, since I wanted to have just one.” (7/18/04 New York Times Magazine, quoted in National Right to Life News, Sept. 2004)
I realize that Ms. Richards is an extreme case, but I do tend to stretch an idea until it snaps. I also DO*NOT*FOR*A*MOMENT think that everyone who’s pro-choice is this callous. However, I think that this self-absorbed, cold-hearted indifference is the logical end result of accepting abortion on demand, and I can only see it as a giant, lurching step towards evil.
I’ve said all that to say this:
Mr. Bush has been as reliably pro-life as a President can be; he opposes using tax dollars to fund abortion, has supported legislation to keep minors from being taken across state line for abortions without their parents’ consent, and has signed laws that give legal rights to unborn children injured or killed during violent crimes, and to children who survive an attempted abortion. And to his firm stand on principle, I can only say, “GO W!!”
Mr. Kerry, on the other hand, can’t even steel himself to vote against the abomination of partial-birth abortion, which, so help me, I can’t see as anything but cold-blooded murder. I mean, GIMME A BREAK!!! – it involves crushing the skull of and sucking the brain out of a living child, who would otherwise be able to survive outside the womb, so that he/she can be more easily removed and tossed into the trash. If we can’t even be bothered to stop THAT sort of barbarism, I would say we have some big problems.
NOTE: According to Dr. Kathleen Raviele, fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, that organization has stated that “this procedure (partial birth abortion) is never necessary to do to save the life of the mother.” (Dr. Raviele, interviewed by Kathryn Jean Lopez, “ Life, Stats & Election–Year Snow Jobs,” National Review Online, 10/21/04)
Like I said, especially with partial birth abortion, it’s a question of basic human decency; Mr. Bush understands this, while Mr. Kerry, in spite of his sophisticated “nuance,” doesn’t.
I have more on why I’m supporting Mr. Bush, hopefully by this weekend, so please stay tuned!