November 05, 2003

Dodge, Parry, Thrust, Ripost, etc.

Joshua and I engage in a large amount of. . . how shall I put this. . . spirited discussion regarding American foreign policy, with D thrown into the mix with her perpetually bleeding heart.

I like discussion. Even when it makes my brain hurt and throw up my hands in irritation, I can usually always step away from every lengthy comment thread secure in the knowledge that I've learned something. Even during comment threads that start with Michael Moore and end with the eternal question: "if you believe in this war, why aren't you fighting in it?" We go all over the place, to be sure.

Joshua gets annoyed with me, and in that he joins countless other human beings. But, what annoys him the most, I think, is he sees me as "pathologically incapable of hearing things that might upset my worldview." I'll grant him that, if he's willing to admit the same.

I mean, Joshua once labeled me as hypocritical for adhering to the Constitutional requirement requiring an electoral college, but that I was willing to give our nation a pass because it circumvented the U.N. rule of law when it came to invading Iraq.

Fair enough.

However, the hypocrisy swings both ways here, seeing as how Joshua wants to amend the Constitution to edit out the electoral college in the name of a more pure Democracy, while still maintaining that we should still adhere to the horribly flawed institution that is the U.N.

Another time, I made the assertion that the radical Islamic strain touted by the likes of bin Laden and his ilk has everything to do with a deep-seeded hatred of the decadence of the West, and yet somehow the discussion twisted and turned in on itself until we were talking about the historical evolution of the modern state of Israel. It was a fascinating history lesson, but it did little to address the initial assertion. After all, the Iraeli/Palestinian issue was practically a footnote in bin Laden's doctrine, which put more emphasis on getting the infidels out of Saudi Arabia and cleansing the Islamic world of the impurities of Western influence.

It's not that Joshua or D are apologists for Islamic extremism. Of course not. But they tend to instead focus their ire on the history of American foreign policy, which they basically blame for all the ills of the world. It's never about making the world safe from terrorists TODAY; it's always about trying to point fingers at ourselves for allowing terrorists to exist in the first place. It's never about rebuilding a Democratic Iraq, an act that horrifies Islamic extremists to the point they're willing to stream across the border to blow up ambulances at the Red Cross; it's about blaming the U.S. for going in in the first place without the blessed backing of the almighty U.N. It's always about finding fault with us, without ever looking beyond our borders to explore where other guilty parties may, and DO, exist.

Joshua wrote today about war: I think it's socially irresponsible to pretend that state sanctioned mass murder is just another kind of foreign policy. That war, like justifiable homicide, is homicide first and justifiable second: that it is murder to which one is granted temporary immunity due to extraordinary circumstances and that a failure of diplomacy did not, to my mind, qualify as extraordinary circumstances.

Neville Chamberlain once famously spoke, after what was believed to be successful diplomacy, about achieving "peace in our time," shortly before Hitler unleashed some pretty extraordinary circumstances on the world. I would argue that 9/11 qualified as pretty extraordinary circumstances, with nary a hint of diplomacy of which to speak.

What Joshua and D fail to grasp, and this is my own opinion, is how drastically different the world truly is today. Joshua's keen analytic skills no doubt worked marvelously well in the world of absolutes prior to the war on terror. But the war on terror has no absolutes, no matter how hard we try to cling to concepts such as recognized borders, international law, and national sovereignty. So long as terrorists worm their way unimpeded from nation to nation, you may as well erase all borders from all maps, as far as the war on terror is concerned.

Joshua's definition of war: When there's an acknowledged leadership, engaged in a declared war, that can eventually sign a surrender. When there are armies that can be captured and killed, rather than a population that has to be subjugated. When there are commanders who give orders to an army that obeys them, rather than a philosophy that motivates individuals to a general course of action.

Not in the war on terror. Not by a long shot.

Am I being "pathologically incapable of hearing things that might upset my worldview?" Perhaps. But only because I firmly believe I'm right. So does Joshua. And so the dance continues.

UPDATE: Did I just read this, in the Arab News?

ANOTHER UPDATE: Well, this is different. A blog created to argue with me. Joshua, you're the coolest.

Posted by Ryan at November 5, 2003 10:12 PM
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