Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Fight like a Russian?

Noted professor Bernard Lewis fears the U.S. will start to slide into old habits in the war against terrorism. From Opinion Journal: "Was Osama right? Islamists always believed the U.S. was weak. Recent political trends won't change their view"

During the Cold War, two things came to be known and generally recognized in the Middle East concerning the two rival superpowers. If you did anything to annoy the Russians, punishment would be swift and dire. If you said or did anything against the Americans, not only would there be no punishment; there might even be some possibility of reward, as the usual anxious procession of diplomats and politicians, journalists and scholars and miscellaneous others came with their usual pleading inquiries: "What have we done to offend you? What can we do to put it right?"

A few examples may suffice. During the troubles in Lebanon in the 1970s and '80s, there were many attacks on American installations and individuals--notably the attack on the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, followed by a prompt withdrawal, and a whole series of kidnappings of Americans, both official and private, as well as of Europeans. There was only one attack on Soviet citizens, when one diplomat was killed and several others kidnapped. The Soviet response through their local agents was swift, and directed against the family of the leader of the kidnappers. The kidnapped Russians were promptly released, and after that there were no attacks on Soviet citizens or installations throughout the period of the Lebanese troubles.
IIRC, one of Osama Bin Laden's propaganda tapes alleged that the Americans wouldn't fight back because we didn't have the stomach to commit ground troops and he cited high-altitude bombing of Bosnia as proof. The reaction to 9/11 was a miscalculation:

Stage One of the jihad was to drive the infidels from the lands of Islam; Stage Two--to bring the war into the enemy camp, and the attacks of 9/11 were clearly intended to be the opening salvo of this stage. The response to 9/11, so completely out of accord with previous American practice, came as a shock, and it is noteworthy that there has been no successful attack on American soil since then. The U.S. actions in Afghanistan and in Iraq indicated that there had been a major change in the U.S., and that some revision of their assessment, and of the policies based on that assessment, was necessary.

More recent developments, and notably the public discourse inside the U.S., are persuading increasing numbers of Islamist radicals that their first assessment was correct after all, and that they need only to press a little harder to achieve final victory. It is not yet clear whether they are right or wrong in this view. If they are right, the consequences--both for Islam and for America--will be deep, wide and lasting.
If the war in Iraq is intolerable to some (nobody really complains about Afghanistan) then we need to ask whether we're willing to accept periodic terrorist attacks on civilian and military targets (e.g. USS Cole). The conflict remains either way.

7 comments:

Mark L said...

The problem that the Islamofascists (and Democrats) have failed to recognize is this: If we fail in Iraq, the only response to the next terrorist attack on American soil will be genocide. We have always had the power to turn the Middle East into a nuclear wasteland. We chose instead to try to democratize it.

The next time there is a major terror attack on the United States that kills thousands, the American people are going to demand the problem be ended. Whoever is President will be forced to oblige by leveling Middle Eastern states that sponsor terrorism. Because we will have demonstrated through failure in Iraq that no other solution will work.

Anonymous said...

Mark I:

The problem here is that only SOME of the American people will demand such retribution for the next major terrorist attack on US soil.

The usual suspects; the Blame-America-First Crowd, Liberals, Left, Far Left, Lamestream Media, pointy-headed, bow-tied academic frauds, etc., will be shouting that we provoked the attack, that we should respond as this will promote the cycle of violence, that we need to seek the root causes of terrorism, we need to have a proportionate response, we can't exterminate a nation or religion that seeks to do the same to us, blah, blah, blah.

Those mentioned above are a 5th Column that will do whatever it takes to see this nation collapse and will do everything they can to oppose ANY American counter-attack on their terrorist comrades.

Anonymous said...

Mark I:

The problem here is that only SOME of the American people will demand such retribution for the next major terrorist attack on US soil.

The usual suspects; the Blame-America-First Crowd, Liberals, Left, Far Left, Lamestream Media, pointy-headed, bow-tied academic frauds, etc., will be shouting that we provoked the attack, that we should respond as this will promote the cycle of violence, that we need to seek the root causes of terrorism, we need to have a proportionate response, we can't exterminate a nation or religion that seeks to do the same to us, blah, blah, blah.

Those mentioned above are a 5th Column that will do whatever it takes to see this nation collapse and will do everything they can to oppose ANY American counter-attack on their terrorist comrades.

Anonymous said...

once again another neocon confuses Osama bin Laden with Iraq.

Reject the premise that the two are related, and the post's argument falls apart.

Hercules in Belchertown said...

Anonymous, WHERE will the '5th Column members live?

Won't that be a big surprise?

Dave said...

Once again, lefty trolls attempt to deflect the thread and the argument. Reject that and you realize they have their collective cranium so far up their anal aperture that they can't see any evidence and hence must operate strictly on the hallucinations they're getting from the fumes.

I'm not confusing bin Laden with Iraq just as I'm not confusing jihadist Islamofascism with a tea party. Far as I can tell, only denialists on the Left *ever* even try to confuse bin Laden with Iraq. I wonder why? Because if they admit what the difference means they might have to face that Reality they're always claiming (and falling short of) being immersed in?

Once. Just once, I'd like to see one of these people say that they'll accept the blame *if* we pull out before we've won and the results are as bad as many of believe they will be.

No conscience at all, evidently.

Anonymous said...

Hercules:

Unfortunately, the towellyheads will not be able to kill all the usual suspects of the 5th Column at one go. The surviving traitors and their abettors will proceed to blame Christians, Conservatives, Jews, Capitalists, gun owners, land owners, hunters, SUV owners, NASCAR fans, etc., and of course exonerate the actual criminals involved, guys with names like Mohammad, Ismail, who stick their ass up in the air 5 times a day worshiping an Arabian moon god.