Guys, I Get It

In the comments sections, it’s being pointed out to me that we’ll ultimately win whatever war comes our way, so my concerns about faith and endurance are misplaced.

That’s not news to me. Read this and I hope you’ll understand what I’m really afraid of.

…here’s my fear. I don’t want to be a part of a society that eradicated another culture; I don’t want to commit genocide.

30 thoughts on “Guys, I Get It”

  1. we are the children of societies that have eradicated many cultures. so your concern is understandable. but do you really think that is where we are headed again? i look around at the braintrust here and in so much of the rest of our own ever emerging culture and see a whole lot to feel good about, no matter what shortcomings there still may be. i dont see the death of culture as the result of the war we are in… quite the contrary. culture is not a static, stagnant museum piece. this war we find ourselves in is all the more likely to open the world to greater cultural exchange — if we win. we are at war *against* those that would eradicate all cultures but their own. dont be so afraid of our success.

  2. I really believe the odds of us comitting genocide are vanishingly close to zero.

    Unless we get repeatedly nuked because some dumb-ass president won’t take this problem seriously and we elect a political maniac to replace him.

    And I find that highly unlikely, too. But, yes, remotely possible.

    Otherwise, no. It just is not in our character.

  3. Well said Balagan. The people we’re at war with are unequivocally committed to genocide against us. All we really want to do is help them build free societies and welcome them into the free-market world economy.

  4. Left to our own devices without the sort of thing we’re experiencing, we’ll win any war we fight. The problem is will we fight the wars we need?

    I also believe that left to our own devices, the kind of people who were strongly in favor of spending money and effort to develop increasingly accurate guided weapons so we wouldn’t have to employ the sort of tactics that lead to such widespread devistation and death in the past, that are proud of the use of “ACME Guided Anvils” to strike targets that destroy what they’re aimed at without blowing down the neighboring buildings (remember the big fuss over hitting that restraunt in Baghdad that Saddam & friends had been meeting at? And how, though the reporters and their rent-a-mob locals tried to claim widespread destruction, the images belied the claims; we could all see with our own eyes that the buildings to either side of the restraunt were still standing. A feat like that could not have been accomplished without the weapons programs that the “bad guys” supported being developed and the “enlightend people” were reluctant or opposed to), such a people is not likely to commit many genocides in my opinion.

    The only thing that could change that is a loss in the Pan-Western Culture war, whereby the side that claims we’re all no-good, uniquely nasty butchers, essentially destroys the civilization that did not create slavery but ended it, that does not plunder the societies it is victorious over but rather spends our own treasure to rebuild them and then seats them at councils – like NATO or the UN – where they can speak contemptuously of us when they want (which is often).

    Left to our own devices not only will we win the war but will do so in a way that benefits the defeated as much as the victorious, something that is also unique in human history, not in a negative but in a positive sense. Even with all the problems a majority of Afghanis and Iraqis are, in polls, already saying they’re happy that the regimes that ruled them are gone and are hopeful about the future – for the first time in those countries in a long time.

    The problem is, we’re not left to our own devices, as we’ll see in the reaction some will give to this comment. . .

  5. so since we are not left to our own devices we must accept the challenges ahead of us and win this culture war we are in. if there is any doubt which side we are on, it is the side of which seeks the growth of freedom. the only way we can win all of the battles we are engaged in is by being true to these values of life, freedom, and dignity that we are fighting for. as long as we are guided by these values the results of our fight will breed the same. there is always a concern of an enders game scenario where we are engaged in a genocidal war because we are blind to what we are doing. but it is telling isnt it when those of us who are most adamant in prosecuting this war are also the most self critical and concerned for its impact.

    i do not for one second advocate our becoming deaf dumb and blind to the impact of what we support… but must we be so insecure that we cannot recognize when we are right — or when it is the europeans and so many other antiamericans in the world who have much more in common with what we fear out of ourselves than we do?

  6. imagine for one second what the world might be like if the anti-war crowd, the europeans, the arab and muslim regions, and those democrats who are pretending to be presidential candidates, were ever as self critical and inviting of honest debate as so many of us have been.

  7. AL –

    The question is ambigous. Hence, the differing responses to both interpretations of it.

    We will not be committing genocide in a literal sense: Hell, we just carried out a major war in which we did everything possible to avoid killing innocent people and with a great deal of success on that score.

    Cultures evolve, and there are certain elements within certain Islamic societies which I would happily see disappear.

    The pro-Israel “bias” of the blogosphere is a healthy corrective to the blathering and moral equivalence in the media. (In Europe, it’s not even equivalence, the Jews are the bad guys.)

    The risk I perceive, and perhaps you are alluding to that in part, is the growth of an anti-Arab (and more generally anti-foreign) extremism that demonizes Arabs and Muslims as a whole under the dual pretexts of security concerns and merely another false “root causes” argument. (Little Green Footballs – a hugely overrated site run by and for bigots of another idiotarian brand – is a good example of Arab bashing masquerading as political honesty.)

    Muslim culture is not monolithic. The two sides I am mostly familiar with are the Gulf Arabs – camel riding tent dwellers now sporting Mercedes and living in luxury high rises built and maintained by European commercial “interests” – and the far more Westernized and enlightened Tunisian and Moroccan educated classes (who not uncoincidentally have little or no oil, but also benefited from a deeper more sustained colonialism). The latter give me some reassurance on the possibilities within Muslim societies.

    What I do not want to see die is that uniquely American tradition of inclusiveness. The multiculturalists have a point here: I think they represent, in the States at least, far more of an (extreme and somewhat deluded) form of tolerance in the Western liberal tradition than postmodern relativism. Whereas the bigots undermine the virtues of tolerance, the multis fail to see in their moral equivalence that the limit of tolerance is intolerance of tolerance.

    I would not want to see the uniquely American virtue of inclusiveness and assimilation diminished by paranoia about Muslim invaders undermining the “American Way” or the Rachel Corries fighting alonside the fascists.

    The sane middle ground in the true American tradition is best exemplified by Rudy Giuliani, a truly enlightened man who calls a spade a spade and brooks no idiocy from either side.

  8. A.L.,

    I wouldn’t be so worried. After all we still have a thriving if somewhat reduced (or is it greatly expanded?) Nazi culture in the world.

    What I miss thogh are the huge parades and speeches in German.

    Ah, the good old days when real cultures were respected.

    Although I am somewhat in agreement with Goring re: his reaction to culture.

    And you hardly see the Aztec meat tenderizers used for their original purpose any more. Or their culture of open heart surgery.

    Where is the Mongol culture of Ghengis Kahn? Lost to the world.

    I guess we can be grateful that the North Koreans are keeping alive a remnant of the Soviet culture in their beleaguered land. Wouldn’t want to lose that.

    Think of all those South Sea islanders with a well developed culture of cannibalism. Their practice has been destroyed by well meaning but ignorant westerners. The west is no respecter of culture that is for sure.

    The world would be a lot better off if America just plundered other lands instead of trying to change them. America is the world’s economic and military hegemon, why do we need to be the cultural hegemon as well?

  9. It’s not genocide to encourage another culture to modernize at least to the point that they can have peaceful relationships with neighbors and trading partners.

    All cultures change over time as they adapt to modern realities, some deal with the change better than others. The Arab world is struggling to fit into a modern world that doesn’t quite fit their culture.

    Some, we call extremists, are demanding a return to the ways of old. Others are living in western society, trying to assimilate and to exert influence to make changes in their host nations. Do you accuse the latter of genocide?

    A progressive culture and progressive people cannot preserve other cultures while, at the same time, extending a hand of cooperation for mutual benefit. Peaceful coexistence demands compromise. How can one be an advocate and believer in making the whole world a better place while keeping distinct cultures isolated?

    To be progressive is, by definition, to be an advocate of change. We hope and work to make the change for the better of everyone. It is not genocide to work for change in Western culture any more than it is genocide to advocate change and modernity in Arab Islamic culture.

    Methinks you are being a bit heavy-handed by using such an inflammatory word to describe the problems of Arab world in modernizing. I have more hope for them than you I guess.

  10. The Arab Islamic world has a vocal, powerful minority that wants to have a knock-down, drag-it-into-the-street fight with the West, and while the West has politely ignored the offers of Bare-Knuckle diplomacy for 50+ years, enough other ‘pressing” concerns have ended ( read, the USSR has decided to conceed to Capitolism ) to make this _minor_ conflict a major irritation.

    The “Die-Hard” Islamicist that want a real war to defeat the Christian / Judaic West is less ( probably ) than 5% of the total Arab Islamic world, but they are a noisy, obnoxious bunch. this is a very serious, deeply spiritual mattre to them, they intend to obey the Koranic injunction to spread Islam everywhere, by fire and sword, to fulfill their duty to Allah.

    That the 85% of the islamic world thinks that they are loony isn’t important, because the 10% that _isn’t sure_ has so much money.

    The critical 5% had been kept under control during the Cold War because the powers that be in the world knew that the loonies would gleefully start a general war between the West and the USSR block to allow a ( hoped-for ) final Islamic victory. That Mecca, Medina, Jerusalem, Damascus, Rhiyad, Cairo, Bagdhad, Tehran, and most of the rest of the Middle East would be coated in glow-in-the-dark Glass didn’t enter into the minds of the Loony 5%, but it was in the minds of the ruling Families / Juntas.

    Now the lid is off the pot, and the Loony 5% isn’t under survival-minded thumbs. Our ( the Wests’ ) choice is on how we deal with that loony 5%.

    We can:

    A) Ignore them, swatting the individual groups as they appear. ts was in force prior to 9/11/2001.

    B) Wipe everyone out – burn everywhere they could hide – do a slash-and-burn of all Islam.

    c) Convince the Islamic Powers-that-Be to keep the Loony 5% under control, or risk our wrath, and application of option “B”.

    It seems that option ‘C’ has been chosen; the Invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq demonstrated to a disbelieveing / delusional Islamic world just _why_ cooperation is the best option.

    Our ( Western ) goal is to prevent any possibility of 9/11 happening again; to do this, the people ( in every nation ) who might imagine such acts of political theatre realise that the result will be against their best interests and goals; If OSB and AL_Q intended to bring about a General War against Islam that Islam would _win_, they forgot that everything done by man is InshaAllah, and, it seem, Allah didn’t “Insha”.

  11. Gabriel-

    Have to disagree with you on the problem of bigotry.

    There really has been no anti-Muslim violence here in the US, not realy. I’m sure that you can find isolated examples of vandalism of Sikh-owned conveience stores in rural Alabama or something, but there really have been precious few hate crimes.

    On the streets of every American city, you will find veiled women walking unmolested. Very few mosques have been vandalzied. Even airport security isn’t that big of a deal. You might think that everyone with a Middle Eastern appearance gets singled out by airport personnel when flying, but this isn’t true. On a local note, there are several Muslim familes on our blcok and no one ever bothers them.

    There simply isn’t a widespread bigotry problem. To be sure, one probably wouldn’t want to be a Muslim in the rual South, but then again, one woudln’t want to be any kind of racial or ethnic minority in the rural South.

    Now, if there were to be more catastrophic terrorist attacks, there might be a bigotry problem. People probably would call for the deportation of all Muslim visa holders, and even the permanent residents.

    But it woudln’t go anywhere. Once people began to realize that such a polciy would result in the deportation of their neighbor, a 63-year old Egyptian doctor who has lived and worked here for 30 years, the calls to “expel ‘em all!” would die out.

    This is one of the things that has made me very proud to be an American. In the wake of 9/11, there simply has been no outbreak of bigotry.

    Then again, if one or two of our cities did get nuked, well…I can see people calling for the Middle East to be turned into glass.

    But, strange as it may sound, a call to destroy the entire Middle East would not be based on bigotry. We wouldn’t be destorying them because they are racially or culturally inferior; we’d do it becuase we would percieve them as a threat to our survival.

    This would be small comfort to those killed in such an attack, obviously.

  12. Michael J. Totten,

    A.L. is right and you are wrong about the American people. Some Americans are as you think. Most are not.

    The Cherokee at the “Trail of Tears” knew differently, as did a number of other American indian tribes.

    The Japanese in WW2 knew differently as well. Had the A-bomb failed the American military was prepared to drop 50,000 tons a week of lethal chemical agents on Japanese urban areas. In so many words, we were going to gas them from the air like bugs.

    In the life time of many people still living, the American government planned, produced the military tools for, and was going to execute genocide as a contingency policy of war. What we can do once, we can do again, if the American people are motivated by a terrorist WMD attack.

    Tom Holsinger wrote a series of four columns over on on American national character and its relationship with this war, including the political possibility of “Genocide as War Policy.”

    They were titled:

    The Giants of Flight 93
    Two American Traditions in the War On Terror
    The Bush Administration and American Nationalism
    The World’s Coming Encounter With Andrew Jackson

    and are meant to be read sequentially.

    This is the most powerful passage of the four columns, “The Giants of Flight 93″:

    “Students of American character should pay close attention to Flight 93. A random sample of American adults was subjected to the highest possible stress and organized themselves in a terribly brief period, without benefit of training or group tradition other than their inherent national consciousness, to foil a well planned and executed terrorist attack. Recordings show the passengers and cabin crew of Flight 93 – ordinary Americans all – exemplified the virtues Americans hold most dear.

    Certain death came for them by surprise but they did not panic and instead immediately organized, fought and robbed terror of its victory. They died but were not defeated. Ordinary Americans confronted by enemies behaved exactly like the citizen-soldiers eulogized in Victor Davis Hanson’s Carnage and Culture.

    Herman Wouk called the heroic sacrifice of the USS Enterprise’s Torpedo 8 squadron at the Battle of Midway “… the soul of America in action.” Flight 93 was the soul of America, and the American people know it. They spontaneously created a shrine at the crash site to express what is in their hearts and minds but not their mouths. They are waiting for a poet. Normally a President fills this role.

    But Americans feel it now. They don’t need a government or leader for that, and didn’t to guide their actions on Flight 93, because they really are America. Go to the crash shrine and talk to people there. Something significant resonates through them which is different from, and possibly greater than, the shock of suffering a Pearl Harbor attack at home.

    Pearl Harbor remains a useful analogy given Admiral Isokoru Yamamoto’s statement on December 7, 1941 – “I fear we have woken a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” They were giants on Flight 93.”

  13. Gabriel –

    Please understand that I don’t mean genocide in some anthropology-grad-student ‘buildng a McDonalds is cultural genocide’ way; I mean it in the old-fashioned ‘kill them all and God will take His own’ way.

    The combined forces of the Muslim world are no match for us in a real fight; two Trident submarines could reduce the population of the Muslim world by one-third in about twenty minutes, and most of the survivors would die in the next ninety days. For some reason, they think they are. For an even less explicable reason, we’ve encouraged them to think that (Actually, I have an explanation, and it is based in the ‘liberal’ mindset).

    One of the major benefits coming from the last year’s activities in the ME is that the misperception is being eliminated.

    That has good and bad consequences; in the short and intermediate term, they are predominantly good.


  14. AL –

    That’s not going to happen, if only for lack of a clear target. In passing, we would also be destroying our own civilization, but only in the “grad student” sense.

    Schmoe –

    I agree. But the little I’ve seen of it is rather distasteful. I’m not referring to violence anyway, but to creeping attitudes. Unless we believe we are a society that has been immunized against resurgence of racial hatred: Europe thought that as well and most continue to believe that resurgence in antisemitism is essentially minimal (and for some – even leftist Jews – a myth), despite the clear evidence to the contrary.

    I guess I fear long-term threats to cultural values the way AL fears the atomic ones.

  15. I agree with Armed Liberal’s concerns about genocide in the war on terror. I doubt that enemy attack might cause us to resort to it. IMO the greatest danger would be from the American people growing tired of an endless war, and our endurance in the Cold War makes that quite unlikely.

    Note, however, that cutting the Saudis off from their oil income (i.e., their oil provinces in the northeast becoming independent Shiite Arab client states of America) might have genocidal effects on the Sunni majority due to general economic/civic infrastructure collapse.

  16. I have a definitional question for Armed Liberal, and to the group in general. Is “to commit genocide” analogous to “to murder” or “to kill”? And yes, I would leave the grad-student definition entirely out of this discussion.

    My own thought is that the correct analogy is “to murder,” and I think the difference is philosophically crucial.

  17. Sam has a good point, especially pertaining to my prior post. We will do a de facto take over of the Saudi oil producing areas, if only because the Saud regime won’t last, and that will have genocidal effects on the Sunni aka Wahabbi areas of the country because the culture there is best defined as “sorry vicious loser”.

    And I’m aware of the significant differences between flavors of Wahabbi, and how those are largely rooted in tribalism.

    They can’t be saved regardless of which flavor they are. They need modern skills to run the civic infrastructure necessary for such a relatively dense population to survive in such a hostile environment, and those skills can only be provided by a culture they don’t have and couldn’t develop fast enough even if they wanted to. They can’t hire the necessary skills absent present oil income, i.e., the only way to save their population _in place_ from a catastrophic die-off would be subject them all to a brutal foreign military occupation.

    IMO most will become refugees to plague people elsewhere for generations. But millions will die in place in a 4-5 year period once they lose their oil income. Which will happen no matter what we do as regime collapse is inevitable, but we’ll be blamed for it, especially as we’ll occupy the oil producing areas thereafter and pump the oil thereafter for our own benefit. We just won’t share the income with idiot Wahhabis trying to kill us.

  18. Sam –

    “Murder” has a very specific moral and legal connotation to me. When I say “commit genocide” I mean to destroy a culture by killing enough of its members that it collapses.

    As opposed to commiting genocide by convincing them to sell Amway or listen to Celine Dion.


  19. This will be a moot point if the Iranian nutjobs, as they promise, drop their first A-bomb on Israel.

    SDB is very accurate when he states that our response to a WMD will be “extremely ugly”. As it should be. The source must be identified and repaid in kind; to that extent, our response must be MAD. If you build it or create it, you stand surety for its usage. We need to be very blunt and public about this.

    Those that use such weapons against us are obviously dead. A great deal of wishful thinking is being expressed but the reality is that we have very little patience with those who kill our women and children. If Afghanistan and Iraq have not made that point, the next example may have to be slag where Saudi Arabia now stands.

    After that, triage on Islam may be required. If its a question of our loved ones or Islam, no contest.

  20. so how about we act to prevent this kind of worst case scenario before it happens? …oh wait… we already are!

    instead of preoccupying ourselves with our fears of being cultural annihilators, why dont we step up what we are doing to fight and win this culture war? arent the worries about america nuking islam into glass just the same as all the worries of quagmire in afghanistan and iraq? why dont we just recognize it as one of many variables to deal with, but nonetheless continue to respond to the threats we face with the same kind of aggressive attack as has proved so succesful thus far…

    im the grandkid of holocaust survivors – only 3 members of that half of my family survived the holocaust – and of a hispanic-native mix on the other half of my family, so the whole cultural annihilation thing isnt exactly a foreign concept to me. i just dont see it happening here and now. the only way this kind of cultural genocide will happen is if we fail. so instead of sitting around worrying about that, how bout we bust our asses doing everything it takes to succeed?

    there are no guarantees. thats just how life is. personally i like it that way. what we do here in this fight we are in matters. it is life or death. dont get so preoccupied with the death part and lets get back to fighting tooth and nail for life. death will take care of itself just fine without us.

    may the cultures of death-worship fade and suffer the same violent fate as those hussein sob’s. the good in islam, the good in culture, the good in human life will outlast them all.

  21. Armed Liberal,

    I realize that murder has specific connotations beyond killing–that was why I distinguished between them. My point was to ask whether those specific connotations would also apply to your definition of genocide, and it appears that your answer is no, if I understand you correctly.

    “To kill,” in this context, means to cause the death of another person. There is no inherent moral quality associated with killing in the abstract, since the word applies equally to killing in self-defense (most moral codes consider this defensible) and killing for personal gain (not morally defensible).

    I’m not sure “to commit genocide” is similarly morally neutral in connotation. To me, the word also implies a certain amount of malicious intent, which would make it more like the concept of murder.

    I hope this is more clear. I think there are troubling implications in both forks of the analogy, but I think you do have to choose between Person:Group::Kill:Genocide and Person:Group::Murder:Genocide.

  22. I think we have to hold out the option of real genocide to them. So they get the idea that fookin with America will not give them the results they want.

    I think setting up Iraq as flypaper is excellent. Bring it on. Nothing like a fair fight on THEIR territory.

    They just need to give up the whole WMD idea. We are willing to commit genocide if the attack is serious enough.

    And I want it widely known that this Jewish cowboy from New Jersey supports such a policy 100%. Hands off America. Period. Or we will be doing modern art. You know shadow pictures on walls with atomic flash bulbs. You don’t want to go there.

    This is the land of crazy cowboys and we are only severely annoyed at this point. You don’t want to get us mad. Sometimes we lose all reason. You know we just can’t help it. The American disease you know. A lot of folks could get really hurt and that would be most unfortunate.

  23. After 9/11, one of my biggest fears was that we’d overreact and start bombing indiscriminately, that we’d ‘nuke mecca’ Like many people, I worried about the consequences of such an overreaction. I also worried because, like many people, I wanted to do it. Still, it would have been wrong.

    Some thought that Bush would overreact, but he didn’t. That was when I first started to have some respect for him. We didn’t go to extremes after 9/11, and I have some confidence that we wouldn’t go to extremes if there was another attack.

    Letting the nukes (or MOABs) fly is one dangerous, extreme reaction that could cause a disaster. The other extreme reaction is the idea that killing is wrong, even when that killing is done to defend others and to save lives in the long run. The urge to seek peace when we’re dealing with nihilistic extremists who have no interest in peace, can cause more damage than a whole fleet of nuclear-armed subs. History is full of examples where inaction has caused more damage than action. If Hitler had been stopped before he invaded Czechoslovakia, how many millions of lives could have been saved?

    From recent history, the Taliban had a habit of murdering their own people by the thousands. By removing them and al Qaeda from power in Afghanistan, we most likely prevented many terror attacks around the world and prevented thousands of Afghan deaths. Saddam had a habit of murdering hundreds of thousands of his own people. That carnage has stopped.

    One of the most horrific things America has ever done was to drop the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Yet, most historians agree that if we hadn’t used the bomb, many more lives would have been lost. At that point in time, dropping the bomb wasn’t an extreme reaction – it was a way of preventing a larger war.

    WWII did destroy some of Japan’s old culture – yet, in the long run, it seems to have worked out for the best. I can’t say, though – it would be better to ask the Japanese about that.

  24. oops – I cut off the end of my overly long comment..

    During WWII, the Japanese were as nihilistic and self-destructive as the Arabs are today, but they had a stronger military force. Since the Arabs (even with their terror paramilitaries) are a fairly weak fighting force, I don’t think our government or any other Western government will go to either extreme when fighting them. I doubt that we have any intention of letting the nukes fly – and I don’t think the Europeans have any real commitment to pacifism. They just want to let us do all the work and take all the blame, as always.

  25. Gabriel,

    Your comments concerning Little Green Footballs are simply unwarranted and untrue. Charles has a very open comments policy that attracts nutbars both left and right. But he most certainly is NOT a bigot, nor is that the intended audience for his site.

    If you truly elieve that it is, you’d better be prepared to face off with many of your fellow readers here, and for that matter many of this blog team – who read Charles’ blog regularly. They are not bigots, nor am I, and if you believe we are then you are a fool.

    Speaking personally, I value LGF’s continued exposes of the hatred being fomented in the Arab world. To attempt to understand the current international situation without reference to that phenomenon is like trying to understand Germany 1940 without any reference to its official culture of sanctioned and encouraged hate.

  26. Joe-

    I think you are dead wrong on LGF but would rather not engage that here. The issue will eventually come back. All we need is another round of hysteria about pulling arms out of exploded vehicles and ex-communication of dissenting bloggers on the right by the high priest. That’s the tip of the iceberg, but some don’t want to look under the water because of the feel-good message given off by the site if you’re pro-Israeli, are concerned about Islamofascism or simply want to be ordained as a member of the elite Anti-Idiotarian Club. Maybe Sullivan won’t give Johnson a pass the next time around or others will have the lucidity and courage to confront the problem.

    I’ll take my chances on being a fool, but I certainly won’t be fooled.

  27. Gabriel, for someone who “would rather not engage that here,” you certainly have a lot of venom left to spew.

    And I second Robin’s comment.

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