Existential threat

So a couple of thoughts on the nature of the threat that we as Americans face from…what do we call them? radical islamists…islamic fundamentalists…terrorists of the islamic global supremacy (TIGS)?

I read a blog entry somewhere, but don’t have the link at hand. The essence of the argument, with which I agree naturally, is that the folx on the right believe there is a realistic danger of us being taken over, conquered or some other such nonsense because the TIGS would like nothing better than to establish a worldwide islamic caliphate. Hogwash! Really? Take us over? Conquer us? I might accept that there is some danger from terrorist bombings in the states. But physically conquer us. Please. As far as existential threats go, the existences that are threatened are the potential victims of such attacks. But that’s not really the idea that comes to my mind when someone uses the term existential threat. That sounds like the end of American society and all its people. Or the subjugation of Americans to another way of life. I don’t see that ever happening. There’s like no chance.

And this whole, fighting them over there so we don’t have to fight them here. It seems pretty likely that these TIGS aren’t all of sudden forgetting about us over here just because we’re stuck in a civil war in Iraq. I’d argue they’re more likely to be mad at us and want to come here. Even if it’s the same, we could be using that 10 billion dollars a month we’re spending over there in other ways to make this country bigger, better, stronger and faster (not to mention safer).

But then, what if it is a huge, ginormous ™ existential threat to our very existence, or even something somewhat approximating that? Folx on the right want to pull out the WWII analogy when it suits them. Well how about, if it truly is such a dire situation for our country, instead of urging people to shop and trying to get yet another tax cut for the rich, maybe we should work to get a sense of shared sacrifice in the country to defend ourselves against this threat. Maybe this is a critical time in the lives of Americans, but shouldn’t we also recognize that such times cost, not only in lives but also dollars. It’s costing 10 billion dollars a month to have that war. It’ll cost a lot more to the American people over the years and decades if we don’t start paying as we go, rather than putting that on credit.

It might also be nice if more of the people who declare this such a dire situation and existential threat were willing to give themselves and their children to fight this war to end all bumper sticker wars.

5 thoughts on “Existential threat

  1. OK, first of all, let’s talk about why some of us see Johnny Jihad as a threat to our way of life.1) The Islamofascists have openly declared war on us and our way of life, which is perfectly in keeping with the Koran’s teaching’s regarding those of us outside the Dar al-Islam.2) They have shown a willingness to act in an effort to bring this about (e.g. WTC 1, USS Cole, Iranian Hostages, WTC 2, Khobat Towers, etc.) Therefore, 1) doesn’t appear to be empty rhetoric.3) They have shown a willingness to acquire weapons that will increase their destructive capacity. Remember, they needn’t necessarily kill all of us, just enough of us that the survivors quit resisting (see Clausewitz).4) There is no indication that they are willing to settle for less than the whole loaf. When do we decide we’ve given enough? A retreat into isolationism? The destruction of Israel? The return of Al-Andalus (or as we call it these days, Spain?) They’ve told us what they want. Their scriptures are plain on the matter. They’ve shown a willingness to do whatever they can to get what they want. We have not shown the willingness to prevent them by any means necessary.So I take it seriously, and I say that Islamofascism does in fact represent an existential threat. “Nuh-uh” is not a rebuttal; try telling me why they can’t beat us — particularly if we aren’t willing to get dirty in the process.I think there’s actually room for agreement in your fourth paragraph.Unfortunately, your chickenhawk gambit in your final paragraph os arrant nonsense. You might as well say that people who haven’t joined the fire department have no right to be opposed to houses burning down, or that victims and potential victims of crime have no standing because they aren’t on the police force. That’s a silly argument, and you’re smarter than that. Finally, I’m sure the various folks who have been killed in the attacks I mentioned earlier (and their survivors) would be surprised to hear that all this is mere bumper sticker fodder.

  2. I kinda like nuh-uh as a rebuttal, because, notwithstanding your points, that’s just the best come back. I actually doubt your statement that “their scriptures are plain on the matter.” One that goes against what I’ve heard about islam and two it kinda sounds like the same parsing of words that Christians use of the bible to say, for example, that “Jesus hates gays.” But I’m no religious guy.It just boggles my mind though that you think some attacks can somehow be a serious threat to our way of life. Your points make it sound like I’m facing an Islamist version of “Red Dawn” any day now. I just don’t believe it.Why don’t I believe it? Even if I accept the level of threat that you state for the TIGS, I know that America is strong enough to combat it. But that strength doesn’t come from getting dirty about it. Our strength comes from our system of the rule of law, from diplomacy, from recognizing our power and using it in a wise and measured way. With the dirty military option as a last/defensive resort.What I think you mean by getting dirty (taking away habeas corpus, wiretapping Americans without a warrant, torturing/enhanced interrogation techniques, holding U.S. citizens as an enemy combatant without access to a lawyer or many of the other rights that Americans are due) actually makes us weaker, rather than stronger against this enemy or any enemy. Just as attacking a country that did not attack us has made us weaker.Finally, your last paragraph, in response to mine. A couple of points. I think the volunteer system we have for the military works fine. But I also think the system is broken when the political elite can so callously advocate a course such as war when they’re not willing to sacrifice something themselves, including their lives or that of their children. This hits the economic/taxes issue as well, but I think there would be a much different vibe from many of those people if they or their family were subject to being called up in any war – existential threat or not.And I have to call you on your analogy on two points. One I think the civil protective nature of fire department/law enforcement if very nearly the opposite of the offensive nature of the war foreign policy that is advocated by the chickenhawks. And two, I think it’s more correct, to use your burning houses analogy, to say that we’re a community with many of our houses engulfed in flames, to the extent that the community may be totally devastated if something is not done. The chickenhawk not only wants to put the firefighting equipment on credit so that it doesn’t affect his bottom line, but he’s also not willing to go himself or send his able-bodied sons and daughters to fight the fire because it’s too dangerous. But he will stand on his soapbox and yell at anyone in the community who won’t go off to fight that fire or who doesn’t agree that it’s worth their lives or the lives of their children to save a few people’s houses.

  3. First off, what’s this “Notwithstanding your points, I disagree with your argument” bit? Notwithstanding that they have no wings, sheep are capable of flight. Notwithstanding the final score, UK beat Duke in the 1992 Elite 8. I’ll stipulate an inexactitude with regard to the Koran bit — if you would prefer it to go something like “Their interpretation of their scriptures is clear,” I’m fine with that, just as I’m glad you’re willing to stipulate that your complaint isn’t really with those who are pro-war, but with the “political elite”.Given that you’re applying your chickenhawk epithet to the political leadership, I suppose it’s unnecessary to point out to you that if a)it’s conservatives who support the war and b) it’s mostly conservatives in the military (which I think you’d acknowledge), that conservatives actually ARE “putting their money where their mouths are” so to speak. Meanwhile, I’m sure you’re calling for Barack Obama to go ahead and enlist, given his call for the Great Overmountain Pakistani Invasion. In fact, I notice a number of libs saying that Afghanistan was fine — so why aren’t you griping about Chelsea Clinton’s failure to sign up? I’m sorry, I just think the chickenhawk argument lacks substance and is a mere species of ad hominem. Also, does your use of the chickenhawk argument indicate that you oppose civilian control of the military? I mean, by definition that means that some people will send other people to conduct warfare without engaging in it themselves.Not surprisingly, we disagree, but let me put the issue another way (btw, while I don’t envision a “Red Crescent” scenario (if you will), I _can_ envision a lack of will power that allows Western Civ to take a nosedive. In fact, I think the cracks, though small, are already appearing. Check the footbaths at the U of Michigan. But let me pose a question: What does it take to convince you that these people mean to destroy us or at least our way of life? If we wake up tomorrow to discover that these guys set off a dirty bomb or suitcase nuke on Fountain Square, is that just another isolated criminal incident? How many isolated incidents do we need to establish a pattern and/or threat? And what level of threat will it take to persuade you that it’s actually a war, and there is no silver medal or Lady Byng Trophy? In the words of a member of one of your former employers, Adm. Jonas Ingram (quoted approvingly by Robert Heinlein), “The Navy has no place for good losers! The Navy needs tough sons of bitches who can go out there and WIN!”As far as it goes, if we accept the argument posed by some on the left (I’m not necessarily ascribing it to you) that we should treat TIGS as some sort of criminal enterprise, rather than as illegal participants in warfare, I have to say that our lack of success in stopping various avatars of organized crime (Crips, Bloods, the Mafia, MS 13, etc.) gives me even less reason for hope.

  4. In your 3rd paragraph, A+B does not necessarily = C in this case. Just cause the folx in the military are mostly conservative, that doesn’t mean they necessarily support the war – especially at this point. I think most would look at it as just doing their duty/job. If the folx in the military were free to speak their minds politically, I’m not sure we’d see them overwhelmingly supporting this war. They are not the ones putting their money where their mouths are, they just happened to be here when others decided to go forth and attack a country that did not attack us first. As to Barack Obama, you know very well that he was not advocating an invasion of Pakistan. You may argue that he misspoke or that he’s naive in the ways of foreign policy, but saying he’s calling for the Great Overmountain Pakistani Invasion is just a right-wing talking point. I can get that kind of thing from Michelle Malkin.As to the Afghanistan bit, I have mixed feelings about that. I think a little bit of that is political tacking to the center and also trying to take the sting out of the “national security” advantage the GOP generally has. There’s more to say on that one another time, I think. But I’ll tell you what, when you (and your friends on the right) start giving Mitt Romney as hard a time for his $200 makeovers and enormous wealth as has been given to John Edwards for his haircut and wealth, maybe then we can talk about whether I should be nonpartisan in my complaints.C’mon, footbaths at Michigan? Here I thought we were supposed to be a multicultural land of opportunity for people from all over the world. I didn’t realize that meant you had to check your culture and religion at the door. And I fail to see that as the harbinger of the coming Muslim invasion.As for the war issue, I think to a large extent we started it by escalating at a point when we didn’t have to. We went beyond the retribution into trying to change the whole middle east in our image. Even if I accept that they want to take over the world, blah, blah AND that they declared war on us long ago — just because someone declares war on you, does that mean you have to declare war back? Wasn’t there a Peter Sellers movie with that plot? And not all wars are waged and/or won by firing a gun and killing people (see Cold War). There are other methods that we could have and should have used. We didn’t, but it’s time now. Only a Democrat is going to be able to break with the Bush history and that’s why I’ll even vote for Hilary when the time comes.

  5. As I see it, the problem transcends the Left vs. Right debate…the best that can be said for America’s national politics is that both major political parties have been taken over by their lunatic fringes, thus letting the loonies run the asylum.I find myself in agreement with both you and “conservative prof” at certain points…yes, the rule of law is one of our strengths (and not just in the US of A, but in Western Culture in general)…and yes, Islamofascists have declared war on us and our way of life; (due partly to their concept of the rule of law differing markedly from ours).However, the simple fact is that a “war against terrorism” is a war against a tactic, not an enemy. Where the problem lies is in the fact that we do not have an overall grand strategy for the current and future situation…each US administration seems to pull strategy out of their asses as they desire…”When in trouble, or in doubt; run in circles, scream and shout!”I would suggest that both of you read the document that can be found at: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?pubID=276, and hope that at some time in the near future, the man or woman who sits in the Oval Office will at least give it consideration.At the very least, it should provide both you and “conservative prof” ammunition for future debate.

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