Never Fight On Their Terms

While there is much to discuss in President Bush’s speech yesterday, shop I found this part to be especially interesting:

Bin Laden and his terrorist allies have made their intentions as clear as Lenin and Hitler before them. The question is: Will we listen? Will we pay attention to what these evil men say? America and our coalition partners have made our choice. We’re taking the words of the enemy seriously.

The comparisons of Osama to Hitler, website like this and, by extension, of Al Qaeda (or perhaps terrorists generally) to nazis are an understandable and increasingly frequent propaganda move. Glenn Greenwald has an excellent post on this subject, essentially pointing out that the analogy doesn’t make sense.

In addition to that matter, though, I think Bush’s phrase reveals a flaw in our approach to the War on Terror. We want to locate and neutralize Osama. We want to isolate and neutralize any Al Qaeda cell we can. The question is, how shall we do this? I don’t think that letting the enemy dictate the terms of engagement makes any sense. The last few years we have been reacting, predictably, to our enemies’ incitements. This isn’t good strategy.

For example, what if they’re lying? It seems far more intelligent for us to decide on our own what the best course is, and then follow that. Lenin and Hitler said a bunch of crazy stuff, including threats that they carried out, ones they didn’t, and craziness of a more general nature. This oversimplification of “evil men” who “say” all the things they will do truthfully is stupid.

Finally, I’d like to mention this quote, from a Washington Post news piece:

“America is safer, but we are not yet safe,” the document concludes.

The document is, according to the Post, the “White House . . . updated plan for combating terrorism”

What a self-serving generality. “The Republicans are keeping you safe. But be afraid! Vote Republican or the evil men will kill you!”

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6 Comments

  1. Posted September 6, 2006 at 6:19 am | Permalink

    There is so much to say about this speech. My overall impression was one of fear. I am more fearful than ever of Bush’s true intentions before he fades into history. My overall take on the speech was that it was a demagogic call to arms for the final apocolyptic battle between the forces of the Christo-Judaic world and the forces of the Islamic world. When he gave his first speech I thought, okay, he is using fear to bloster the republican propsects in the mid-terms but yesterday I saw a man on a holy mission of manifest destiny, a true Crusader.

    If the voices of reason dont somehow gain some control in this discussion I truly fear for the worst.

  2. Harry Crumb
    Posted September 18, 2006 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    LennyBruce,

    Do you believe that the Islamofacists who wage jihad against the west are not already fighting what they believe to be the “final apocolyptic battle between the force ofthe Christo-Judaic world and the forces of the Islamic world?” What do you propose we do to address the issue of those who want to kill us?

  3. Jon
    Posted September 22, 2006 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I doubt lennybruce believes that America is engaged in any fight that is either “final” or “apocolyptic.” I certainly don’t.

    Harry, do you believe that America is currently engaged in a struggle you would qualify as either “final” or “apocolyptic?”

    If you believe these to be terms set by the “Islamofascists” do you think we should fight them based on the terms they set?

  4. James
    Posted September 22, 2006 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    The Koran teaches “conversion by the sword”…they cannot deny it is in there. So, to be a “moderate” Muslim, you must omit this verse, or explain it away. Therefore you are not a “true” Muslim at all. The crazy jihadists are doing exactly as their false religion commands them to. Although there are Muslims who are peaceful people, we should not mischaracterize their religion as “peaceful”. The only time it is at peace with society, is when society is converting to it. Muslims who do not practice jihad, are not “card-carrying”, faithful Muslims. The Crusaders, who killed in the name of spreading Chrisitanity did not practice anything close to Christianity. God gives a choice. He has set before us life and death, blessing and cursing. He gave us a free will. Even Jesus’ followers are told to go forth and preach the gospel to all men – not threaten them with violence if they don’t believe! In this respect, people who would kill to spread Christianity, are not following the teachings of the Bible…at all.

    In conclusion, the Christians who participated in the Crusades were not following their ascribed religion. The jihadists are following their ascribed religion. Which religion is peaceful? Not according to the actions of the people supposedly following the religion, but according to the teachings of the religion itself. Christianity, peaceful. Islam, not peaceful. End of story.

    The Pope should not apologize, nor offer any regret for his words. They are truth.

  5. Harry Crumb
    Posted October 5, 2006 at 12:32 pm | Permalink

    Jon,

    Whether or not I believe us to be in a ‘final’ or ‘apocolyptic’ struggle against the Islamofacists is immaterial. The question that I asked Lenny was not whether he believed it or not either. The question I asked was whether or not he believed that the Islamofacists believe it or not. And I certainly believe that the enemy does believe that they are engaged in that final/apocolyptic battle. The overall point here being that regardless of our willingness to fight the enemy, they are fighting us. They will continue to fight us until they either die or are successful. This leads to my final question to Lenny which was – what do you propose we do about these people who want to kill us, if not fight them? I believe that we must fight them to destroy them or until they surrender their global Islamic caliphate goals. Apparently, Jon, you really don’t subscribe to the concept that we are at war with Islamofacists. What would you say we are doing then? More importantly, who is fighting us?

  6. Stephen Lewis
    Posted October 27, 2006 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Harry, The answer is that we should do what good Christians would do. That is to preach our faith and if threatened with death, turn the other cheek and become martyrs for the faith in the pure and sacred knowledge that heaven awaits us.
    To match violence with violence is un-Christian.

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