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September 07, 2011

VDH looks at aftershocks of 9/11 [ArthurK]

Victor Davis Hanson has a column looking at the big things that happened (or didn't happen) after 9/11. It's great, read the whole thing, yadda yadda but there's two sections I want to point out.

3. The taboo enemy dead. After Vietnam, who would wish to count enemy dead? To a 21st-century public, such terrible arithmetic might seem macabre, intrinsically politicized, or simply irrelevant in war. The age-old idea that killing die-hard enemies wins wars and ensures the peace is for some antithetical to the spirit of counterinsurgency doctrine, at least superficially so. Few would ever channel William Tecumseh Sherman’s frightening remarks that to win the Civil War the Union army would have to kill or humiliate several thousands of the Southern "cavalier" class, whose livelihoods depended on slavery, whose zeal had started the war, and whose boasts of martial superiority had galvanized the Confederate belief that its fighters were far better than the Northerners and could trump inferior resources.

Tens of thousands of hard-core jihadists from as far away as Algeria, Chechnya, Egypt, the Gulf monarchies, Libya, Syria, and Yemen obeyed the calls for jihad issued by the likes of Osama bin Laden, Dr. Zawahiri, and Abu-Musab al-Zarqawi. They flocked to al-Qaeda’s "main theater" of jihad in Iraq - and in Baghdad and throughout Anbar Province were killed in droves by the U.S. military and its Iraqi allies. Only off the record will military officers confess that the eventual American success in Iraq was due in some part to doing away with murderous jihadists and impressing the local population with our martial superiority. And even off the record, few will suggest that the absence of such killers from the world’s pool of hard-core terrorists may well have made life safer at home. We are in a new age when we "beat" or "subdue" the enemy but do not admit that we do that often through killing him. The Iraq War has become a story about troop levels, hearts and minds, and training the Iraqis, but not much about a shooting war in which thousands of jihadists lost.

Note the boldfaced sections in the 2nd paragraph. LeMay's quote comes to mind - "If you kill enough of them, they stop fighting."

And what about our Darth Vader, Cheney?

5. The Cheney monster. By 2011 a gaunt and ill former vice president Cheney was the constant butt of late-night comedians and derided almost weekly by smug columnists. But how and why that metamorphosis had come about was never explored. It was as if Cheney was now and always had been Darth Vader, a man who liked to shoot his hunting pals and who sat in retirement with ill-gotten Halliburton riches. Few reminded us that for nearly 30 years Dick Cheney was a centrist fixer, praised by liberals as fair-minded, bipartisan, and sober and judicious in his rhetoric. ...

The charges against Cheney seem to rest on the waterboarding of three confessed terrorists who had had a hand in the planning of 9/11 - and on Cheney’s unabashed defense that such harsh interrogation saved lives and that he would most certainly do it again if we were in similar dire circumstances. ...

Somehow bloggers and op-ed writers have established by their selective outrage a narrative that it was immoral of Cheney to approve the waterboarding of three confessed terrorists like KSM, but quite moral of Obama to expand fivefold the Predator targeted-assassination program that served as judge, jury, and executioner of suspected terrorists - and of any living thing in their vicinity when the Hellfire missiles obliterated their compounds. It is apparently the nature of a therapeutic culture to demonize one of the architects of the present anti-terrorism policy of renditions, tribunals, Guantanamo, etc. only to apotheosize one of its chief critics - while quietly assuming that Cheney so convinced Obama of the utility of these protocols that the latter adopted nearly all of what he inherited.

(Published by ace.)

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posted by Open Blogger at 02:26 PM

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