Kid Various has been listening to the raving lunatics over at Air America for some time now. Lately, harebrained AA host Randi Rhodes has been pushing the case of Cindy Sheehan, who lost her son in Iraq and started an anti-war organization called Gold Star Families for Peace. Currently Sheehan is trying to attract media attention by sitting at the border of President Bush’s ranch in Texas where he is spending his August vacation (for which the President is being mercilessly pilloried on AA, for reasons beyond Kid Various’ understanding. Does he not have a beeper or something?)
Sheehan is there with a specific agenda. In her own words:
"I want to ask the president, `Why did you kill my son? What did my son die for?" she said, her voice cracking with emotion. "Last week, you said my son died for a noble cause' and I want to ask him what that noble cause is?"
But also, though not quoted in the AP article, but played on The Randi Rhodes Show, Mrs. Sheehan stated that the President had told her that her son had died helping to protect American freedom by fighting those who would seek to harm us in Iraq so that we would not have to fight them in America. However, Mrs. Sheehan considers this a lie because it’s been “proven” that Iraq was not a threat to the United States so she’s demanding to know the real reason from the President.
Kid Various does not relish criticizing someone who has to endure such unimaginable grief. However, Mrs. Sheehan’s motivations strike The Kid as disingenuous in the extreme.
The President already told her why her son was called upon to make the ultimate sacrifice in the defense of his nation. She does not like that answer, however, and thus is seeking to use the emotionally loaded (and factually inaccurate) question “Why did you kill my son?” as a stick to whip the President with.
It is rather unseemly.
Just in case she isn’t aware, Mrs. Sheehan’s son gave his life to prevent this
This is a rough representation of the effects of a nuclear strike (10 kilotons) on downtown Manhattan. Everything within the first circle is destroyed. Within the second circle there is “heavy” damage to reinforced buildings and complete destruction of all others.
What is not shown on this map, however, is the strike’s most damaging effects. That being the destruction of the American Republic, at least as we know it.
Historically speaking, there have been only two restraints on the use of nuclear weapons.
The first restraint is the feasibility of separating out enough fissile material and other technical requirements needed to actually construct a working weapon.
The second is the fact that, even taking into account the beneficial effects of deterrence throughout the Cold War, nuclear weapon states have never actually used them because of a deeply held moral restraint. Neither the U.S. (in Vietnam or Korea) or the Soviet Union (in Afghanistan) used nuclear weapons, even when such use would cause little fear of a retaliatory strike. Similarly, Israel has not used nuclear weapons against her Arab adversaries, nor had India during the nearly 25 years in which it had a nuclear monopoly vis a vis Pakistan.
After the events of September 11th, it is clear that we cannot rely on restraint number 2 to protect us from the enemy.
And, unfortunately, given enough time, the chance of the enemy overcoming restraint number 1, either by increasing their own technical capability or by procuring weapons from an existing nuclear weapons state, approaches 100%.
Therefore, there is an unknown, but finite, amount of time that we are working with before New York City is destroyed in a terrorist strike.
What the United States must do, is destroy/disable the enemy in that unknown but finite window of time.
What must be pointed out is that, and Kid Various will give the opponents of the War this, the enemy cannot destroy the United States of America. Not with one nuclear weapon, not with ten. Nuclear strikes would be a disaster unprecedented in American history, but they could not destroy us. Only we can do that.
To quote Abraham Lincoln:
At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) in their military chest; with a Buonaparte for a commander, could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years.
At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected? I answer, if it ever reach us, it must spring up amongst us. It cannot come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide.
The enemy seeks to have us destroy ourselves. The nuclear scenario in which New York City disappears spells the end of the Republic, in two specific ways.
First, after New York City is destroyed, America will become a national security state that is locked in a permanent state of emergency. Those opponents of the War who rail against the USA PATRIOT act should think heavily about what will happen after a nuclear strike on one or more American cities. As a civil libertarian, Kid Various is disturbed by the expansion of government surveillance and prosecutory power since September 11th. Specifically, he is most appalled by the President’s move to accrue to himself the authority to have anyone (citizen or foreign) at any time deemed an “enemy combatant” and subject to indefinite detention without benefit of counsel, knowledge of the charges against him, prohibition against self incrimination or any way to challenge his status as an enemy combatant.
But, all said, the expansion of government power since September 11th does not change America’s basic character as a nation.
After an attack of such magnitude that it kills hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions of people, the pressures to go to any length to secure the homeland will be too great to bear. It is not likely that Americans will escape martial law. The government will have to be invested with great powers to investigate into the private lives of its citizens. The time of America as a free republic will be at an end.
Secondly, we will begin to fight this war unrestrained. That is a terrifying thought.
What Kid Various finds perplexing is that so many people in the Arab world and their fellow travellers in the anti-war movement see America as pathetically weak. Support for the Iraq front in the War is slipping to all time lows because people think we are losing. What they don’t understand is that we could easily win here without breaking a sweat. We could easily destroy the entire area from which the enemy springs. We could remove the threat of the enemy obtaining nuclear weapons by destroying every nuclear stockpile that is not in our own hands or the hands of our allies. We could subjugate the entire Muslim world from the Atlantic to the Gulf and destroy other potential problem areas such as North Korea.
We also would lose our character as Americans, for we would become the greatest mass murderers of innocent civilians since the Stalinist era Soviet Union.
We have done it before. If pressed to make the choice, we will choose to do so again. During WWII, the last time our nation was truly mobilized for war, we killed hundreds of thousands of civilians in central Europe and Japan through strategic bombing. Deliberately. Because by their labours and their efforts they kept their nations’ war machines running.
Similarly, the civilians behind whom the enemy hides, from whom he draws sustenance, from whom he replenishes his ranks, those civilians will be marked as necessary sacrifices to secure the victory of the United States.
The enemy, who pathetically burns American flags in the street, as if by some transitive effect of primitive magic they could do the same to the U.S., has no idea that he faces a society that indeed burns civilizations to the ground.
The Arabs, for all their bluster, have never produced a Dresden, a Tokyo or a Hiroshima.
A post-New York America, truly imperial, truly murderous and truly authoritarian, is a fate too horrible to contemplate.
Therefore, we must, in the time allotted to us, destroy or disable the enemy and the threat that he poses.
How then are we to defeat the enemy before he can strike us down?
The preferred method of the AA crowd is apparently to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Seeking to highlight the alleged folly of the opening of the Iraq front in the War, these people disingenuously squawk “But what about Osama? Osama is the one who attacked us! Where is Osama? We’ve diverted resources from the hunt for Osama!”
As if these people were not complaining about alleged massive civilian casualties and cluster bombs that looked like food packets in the autumn of 2001.
Let Kid Various be clear. The day that Osama bin Laden is marched in chains into federal district court in lower Manhattan to stand trial for the murder of nearly 3,000 Americans will be a great day for this nation.
But it will also be largely strategically insignificant in the War.
Osama bin Laden is not our problem. Al Qaeda is not our problem. Our problem is the dysfunctional culture that exists within Arab societies that produces such twisted men and fuels their illegitimate rage at the West.
Sun Tzu once said:
Where your enemy is strong, harass him.
Where your enemy is weak, strike!
Going after Osama is going after the enemy’s strength. Our enemy’s strength lies in the fact that he is not organized as some sort of terrorist corporation, with operational control of the lower levels held at the top. By killing or capturing Osama we would merely remove one node in a vast enemy network, with different cells and organizations retaining the capability to act independently. Rooting out every terrorist cell across the globe is a Sisyphean task. No matter how many terrorist we kill, the dysfunctional culture of the enemy will simply produce more.
Where the enemy is strong we will harass him. We will continue to hunt for Osama and all his compatriots. We will narrow their areas of operation. We will squeeze their sources of funding. We will deny him movement and resupply. The enemy will never know rest.
But to tie the fate of America as a free republic to our ability to fully extinguish Al Qaeda and other organizations through military and police means would be folly. Ultimately, we can destroy the enemy only by hitting him where he is weak.
Where then is the enemy weakest? The great weakness of the enemy is that his culture is not inherently attractive. He knows this. It’s his greatest fear. He knows that, given a free competition of ideas, his traditional way of life will be extinguished. His weakness is our strength. It is the reason he attacked us in the first place. The value of individual Liberty, that is at the root of Western culture, makes it inherently attractive to the peoples of the world. Given a free choice, humanity will tend to choose more freedom over less freedom, not because Liberty makes the cultures that embrace it prosperous (it does), or powerful (it does) but because the idea of being the author of the script of your own life, without reference to government or tribe, is intrinsically desirable.
The enemy sees this as corruption. The United States is the Great Satan, not in terms of being evil, but in the sense of being the tempter. The enemy sees humankind as being inherently wicked, weak and easily given over to what he considers “sin.” Therefore, he is justified in using any means available to enforce “virtue.” And he must use force to do so, otherwise the power of Western values would eventually overwhelm his traditional values.
Kid Various has heard it asked, “Why is there no jihad against China?” After all, China ruthlessly represses its Muslim Uighur minority, but, as of yet, there has been no attempt by the enemy to combat Chinese oppression.
Of course, some of the reason for a lack of Jihad against the Chinese lies in the fact that since China is a closed society, it is much more difficult for the enemy to operate freely there. There is also the fact that the Chinese would not stand for nearly the amount of provocation that the West does before it murderously stamped out all challenge to its power.
But the real reason there is no jihad against China is because China offers no real threat to the enemy.
True, they oppress and kill Muslims, but their culture offers no existential threat to the enemy. They have their own authoritarian culture that works just fine, no need to import one from China.
But the West, led by the United States of America, represents a threat so damaging, so basic, that the enemy is compelled to strike at it with every amount of force available. As stated before, he lashes out because on this ground he is weak.
And this is where we will strike him and this is where we will defeat him.
The answer to Mrs. Sheehan’s question is that her son died in Iraq because it is here that we are trying to implant the seed of not only democracy, but of individual Liberty in this barren cultural desert of tribal despotism.
Weapons of mass destruction, links to terrorism, regional instability – are all valid (and true) reasons for the opening of the Iraq front in the War. But the ultimate reason the Untied States is in Iraq, and the reason why we must prevail in Iraq, is because the dysfunctional cultures of the Middle East must change.
We cannot prevent the post-New York America by battling the enemy on his ground. We can only do so by attacking his weakness. When his society is free, when his traditional tribal ties break down, when his people have the ability to chart the course of their own lives – only then will they begin to become prosperous, powerful and content.
Content with their own station and their ability to control their own destiny. Content not to bring their anger and hatred upon us. Content not to set in motion the murderous machinery that will result in the post-New York America.
The enemy knows this. And he knows that if he allows this seed of Liberty to germinate, prosperity and power in small amounts will follow, followed then by more breaking down of traditional ties and more Liberty, followed then by more prosperity and power in an ever upward cycle until his dysfunctional traditional way of life has been utterly usurped.
That is why the enemy killed Casey Sheehan. That is why they will kill many more like Casey Sheehan. Because if Casey Sheehan, and the hundreds of thousands like him are successful in their mission, the enemy’s way of life is doomed.
And so, it was worth your son’s life Mrs. Sheehan. It is worth my life. It is worth the life of countless numbers of other Americans to ensure that this nation; the most powerful, the most prosperous, the most just, the most good - society in the history of mankind shall not perish from the face of the earth.