Monday, May 23, 2005
We cannot become like the enemy. If we do, we will have denied ourselves victory. You can see the essence of the temptation in this passage from the Belmont Club blog:
Not only the treatment of the enemy combatants themselves, but their articles of religious worship have become the subject of such scrutiny that Korans must handled with actual gloves in a ceremonial fashion, a fact that must be triumph for the jihadi cause in and of itself.
No; no; no. It is insane to believe that maintaining America's long-held respect for others' religion, especially when those others are in the custody of the U.S., is somehow a victory for Jihadism. It is the opposite. It is a victory for our values that we do not stoop to their depraved understanding of what morality is. It is a victory for Jihadism to turn this battle into a fight between Islam and Christianity, or to watch our own military descend into the religious bigotry and intolerance we are fighting against. It is so sad to watch decent people like Glenn Reynolds or Wretchard descend into this moral abyss, even though their motives are doubtless good ones.
Yet here's my problem with Sullivan's rant of today. He missed Wretchard's larger point. Wretch was speaking of our relative restraint in our conduct of the war, yes (were he Victor Davis Hanson, the Athenian expedition against Melos would have been brought up by now...). However, what Sullivan fails to mention, and what I deliberately mentioned to him in an email, was something Wretchard posted at the end of that same posting that Sullivan cites. Money quote:
But if the US has been at pains to avoid the image of ruthlessness, the enemy by contrast has made a special effort to magnify his brutality by attacking mosques, beheading women, mutilating children, etc. often on camera. And the really disappointing thing it is that the intended intimidation works. If George Galloway's standard response to his critics is a lawsuit and radical Islam's first recourse is a fatwa then terror's first answer to insult is always the Grave of a Hundred Dead. Intimidation brings them respect from the very people who style themselves immune to intimidation. It is plain to the lowliest stringer from the most obscure tabloid that to insult America is cheap but to insult the local 'militants' very, very expensive. Kipling's cynical dictum is proven again and the lesson not forgotten.
We live in a strange world where the Beslan story vanishes in weeks while Abu Ghraib lives on for years. Maybe it reflects the inherent importance of the stories but it more probably demonstrates the media's ability to prolong the life of some stories while ignoring others. I hope it is not impertinent to observe that the media's demeanor towards terrorism bears more than a passing resemblance to cheap cowardice; but though outwardly similar it really springs from a high-minded idealism, deep courage and profound learning. Or so I hope.
I wonder why the hell Sullivan left that part out?
I suspect it is because he understands that the Mainstream Media doesn't give a damn about Beslan, or Iraqi mass graves, or the thousands of victims of the Taliban, and has even lost interest in 9/11, except insofar as that black day may be used as a club to be used against the head of the wicked Bushitler (for an example of the latter, see Ankle Biting Pundit's exciting fisking of Kristin Breitweiser, Professional Widow and Obnoxious Bush Hater). But they do give a damn about sullying the reputation of the American fighting man and bringing into disrepute the cause for which he fights. This statement by Andrew:
Some fun with the amazing troops working in Iraq. It goes without saying, doesn't it?, that criticisms of policies of abuse are designed not to undermine the war but to support the vast majority of ethical soldiers who do great work in incredibly tough circumstances. Well, in this case, they seem to be having a blast.
....shows the best of Andrews own intentions combined with the worst of his own naivete. He really believes the that MSM is not out to undermine the President and the war that the media overwhelmingly opposes by any means necessary.
Now then, Andrew, if the BBC opposes this war and uses slanted reporting against our troops in the field, what makes you think that CBS or ABC won't do the same thing?
In fairness to Sullivan, his reporting on this issue is of a genuine concern over abuses in the U.S. Army prison and detention system. There have been abuses. People have died. The UCMJ needs to be followed to the letter. But no more than that. I see no need for the U.S. Government to wear the hairshirt, especially given the barbarism of our enemies. Indeed, a firmer attitude on our part, insistent on respect towards us if respect is expected to be given in return should be the cornerstone of any policy.
Justice. But no apologies. I didn't hear any of those bastards apologize to us after 9/11 did I?