Monday, August 21, 2006

Discussion

I'm going to take the time to answer a comment in a post that was from some other discussion. This is the biggest line I've heard that is flat out wrong with regard to the GWOT. It is, usually, in response to the assertion that the doctrine of taking the war to them (i.e. Afghanistan and Iraq) has prevented additional attacks on the United States. Indeed, there have been no terrorist attacks on the United States since 2001, the longest stretch since the widely agreed-upon start of the terrorist age (1979).

The argument that we haven’t been hit again in 5 years is ********, too! We’ve lost 2,601 and another 20,000+ seriously wounded during the last 5 years! Those deaths and injuries in Iraq were unnecessary.

First, I'd like to address the idea that civilian and military lives are equivalent. To put it bluntly, they're not. A man who chooses to fight for his coutry has done so under no duress, with a clear conscience, and of his own volition. No one in today's great military is there against his or her will. This is the beauty of such a system -- they're all volunteer patriots. This is in distinct contrast to the civilian. The civilian has chosen his life to be at the expense of others by his very nature. I am one, and it is likely you are as well. We live solely because others are willing to die for us. The difference between the military death and the civilian death then becomes clear; one has chosen his, the other has his life snatched forcefully from him. On this basis alone, the argument of American casualties in Iraq compared to the number dead on September 11th (2,752) is significant falls apart. The people who died on 9/11 were murdered going about their daily routine; the soldiers sacrificed their lives as a conscious decision.

Furthermore, simply by the numbers the war in Iraq has been a relatively mild one; by comparison, the Vietnam war led to the death of over 58,000 servicemen in eight years. World War II cost us nearly half a million. There are differences between them, yes -- but in all cases, the point was to protect our civilian population from a perceived threat. There were dissenters in all wars (yes, even in WWII after Pearl Harbor) and there were those who thought that what we were doing was the wrong thing. However, the government has an obligation to protect its civilians from danger, whether that is death by suicide bomber, communist enslavement or facist rule.

Finally, the difference in the numbers is more than civlian or military, willing or unwilling. A major difference is simply in the location of the deaths. In order to fight terrorism effectively on your home soil you have to severely limit personal freedoms. Due to the nature of the terrorist threat, truly effective means of enforcement would involve taping of all phone calls, monitoring of suspicious people, racial or religious profiling (due to the nature of the threat) and the introduction of "papers". This is something Americans are not willing to endure. The Germans are figuring this out, as are the British. In order to combat Islamic terrorists, you have to profile. You have to treat Arabic people differently, because the vast majority of terrorists in the world are Arab or Islamic. Because the public will not do this, we take the war to them. This is the only other alternative to fighting it here.

By now people are beginning to realize that it really is Us or Them. The Germans are shaking their heads right now trying to figure out why they're being targeted; they were neutral in the Iraq war and have basically stayed out of Other People's Problems. The insistance of the Islamic terrorists to attempt to kill them anyway is indicative of their nature: all western culture is an affront to Islam. Any western culture runs the risk of being targeted.

In this climate, what choice to we have other than to be proactive?

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