October 24, 2002
WITH US OR AGAINST US?:
Be in no doubt, war is only weeks away
(William Rees-Mogg, October 21, 2002 , Times of London)
In all politics, and in particular in American politics, events change attitudes. The South should not have fired on Fort Sumter in 1861; the Germans should not have sunk the Lusitania in 1915; the Japanese should not have attacked Pearl Harbour in 1941. By the same logic, Al-Qaeda should not have destroyed the Twin Towers in 2001. Before these acts of aggression, negotiation was still open; the American determination had not crystallised.
After they had occurred, the destruction of the aggressor became inevitable. In each of these wars, the initial challenge came from the other side. But once Americans are convinced that they face an implacable enemy, that has a revolutionary effect. The aim of terrorists is to radicalise their own potential followers; 9-11 radicalised the American people, despite their anxieties.
Some of the opponents of the war argue that al-Qaeda and Saddam Hussain are two separate groups, but al-Qaeda is indeed an enemy of Saddam Hussain. The Americans I was meeting do not see it like that. They regard all Islamic terrorism as forming a single threat.
Americans do not know, or much care, what precise relationship exists between al-Qaeda and the Bali terrorists. They see them both as being in the same line of business, and do not doubt that some links exist between them. They see Saddam Hussain in the same light. He is the brutal dictator of an Islamic country; he had repeatedly supported terrorists and used terror himself. To allow him to develop weapons of mass destruction would, they think, be as irrational at allowing al-Qaeda to do so.
So far as most Americans are concerned, Islamic terrorists, whether they belong to the al-Qaeda network or are Palestinian suicide bombers, or plant bombs in Indonesia or Kashmir, or lead terrorist governments, all form part of the same global threat.
We are an unsubtle people and I mean that in the best sense possible. We may not know who Occam was, but we know his razor cuts fine.
Posted by Orrin Judd at October 24, 2002 8:26 PM
I think Alexander's solution to the Gordian knot might be an apter analogy.
We've decided who the bad guys are, any one who wants to kill us or are friends, but we haven't yet put them to the sword.
John: Despite Orrin's insouciant scoffing about our recognitiion of "Entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily", I would still prefer the razor as a symbol. After all, what is the value in conquering the world when you can't be an absolute despot anymore?
Rees-Mogg comes closest to saying something I have been pondering. The entire anti-self-protection crowd is agreed that retaliating against Mohammedanism will just create more antiAmerican Mohammedans.
But they never say that Mohammedan attacks against Americans should equally produce more Americans who are anti-Mohammedan. If I were a Mohammedan, especially if I were one of the allegedly peaceful ones, I would stop and think about this very hard.
The example I have often used is whether, if you had asked Americans in 1940, "Could any national policy ever justify boiling 25,000 infants alive?", no one would have said yes. But by May 1945 we were doing just that.
To teach the Japanese to behave, we had to kill between 3 and 4 percent of them and burn down 50 of their biggest cities. I have been speculating whether it will be necessary to do more than that to tame the Mohammedans or whether they might conform to civilized standards after a lesser level of encouragement.
Cannot decide. But 3% of 1.1 billion is 33 million.
I believe it's the case that Muslims object to the use of the term "Mohammedan" because it suggests that they worship the Prophet, when instead they consider him to have been a mere mortal.
And I object to being called a Satan, but
nobody complains when it happens. Screw 'em.
Besides, they do worship Mohammed. Say bad
stuff about him and they kill you. What other
human do they treat that way? Not Jesus, for
sure, though he is supposed also to be a
high-ranking messenger from god. Abraham?
Their distinction is as meaningless as the
Roman Catholic claim that they don't worship,
merely reverence, Mary. I've been a Roman
Catholic, and I'm here to tell you they worship
But just as we'd not allow folks to put up posts using the "n" word or anti-Semitic epithets, we'd prefer you not use the "M" word. Thanks.
I'll consider it, but you're letting them set the
terms of the discussion. Why?
The words Islam and Muslim have a meaning,
too, if you know it. Most people I know would
not willingly endorse those meanings, if
they knew what they were. The same is not
the case with, say, African-American instead
of . . .