July 17, 2007

In WWII we flattened cities and interned an entire ethny, citizens and all. In the Cold War we banned the entry of communists into our country — and, as a matter of fact, the entry of long-inactive ex-communists and “fellow-travelers,” too.

There is no prospect of our doing such things in the War on Terror. We shall not be interning any Muslim citizens or excluding foreign Muslims or Muslim “fellow-travelers” (what would one of those look like? Karen Armstrong, perhaps), let alone annihilating any cities. It’s just not that big a war.

So far as military operations are concerned, our preferred means is counterinsurgency — the “surgical” winkling-out of jihadis from among civilian populations, with as few collateral casualties as possible. There is a respectable body of thought that argues this is a waste of time founded on illusions, that the only effective counterinsurgency techniques are those employed by the Romans, the Ottomans, and the Nazis.

Whether that is the case or not, these dainty means, with their dainty economic and diplomatic equivalents, are all we shall employ. The grosser means of earlier wars — carpet-bombing, ethnic internment, mass exclusion, government requisition of entire industries — are not appropriate. We all feel that instinctively. Why do we feel it? Because we know that the end — the suppression of a worldwide nuisance — is not really that important, except in the president’s flights of gassy rhetoric.

-- John Derbyshire
Smart guy, Derb. There's no hue and cry for conscription or tax surcharges, or anything like that. It's not World War III, or IV, or n.

1 comment:

kath said...

good post...

I am sick of hearing about all of the death for no reason....destruction for no gain...