Thursday, July 24, 2008

Us and Them

For some reason the TypeKey comment registration program never works for me, even though I have an account there and log into it. Michael J. Totten uses it at his site, and thus I am unable to comment there. He has a recent post up about the sad state of affairs in Lebanon. One weakness of blogs is that the first comment on a thread often can be a hijacker, and that was the case (deliberately or not) with this one. Someone going by the handle Good Democrat posted this:

All those who resort to the constant use of violence are doomed in the long run. One of the things that fell the massive Roman Empire is its constant warmongering. Americans should take note. Hezbollah should take note. Hamas should take note. Al-Qaeda should take note.

It's off and running from there, with other commenters trying to knock this down and often not quite hitting the mark. Here's what I would have added:

America is not averse to using violence to confront violent movements and governments -- those that only understand carnage and resort to compromise or diplomacy only when all bloody avenues seem temporarily blocked. That sets us apart from much of the rest of the modern West and irritates a great many Americans, such as, probably, Good Democrat. It does not, however, make us the moral equivalent of Hamas or Islamic Jihad or al Qaida.

It seems prudent, to me, to reserve the right and preserve the ability to tangle with vicious, fanatical, honor-obsessed organizations in a way they will fear and respect.

Having thews of honor culture and a respect for the prudent use of force also makes us -- or, typically, our military professional class -- more suited to understanding such qualities and working with them when that need arises, as it has in many places in Iraq.

In other cases, America is capable of diplomacy and occasionally even good at it. Even when dealing with the Soviet Union in its worst nightmares, we were able to maintain a mostly diplomatic relationship that kept the violence (there was plenty of it) on the sidelines and under the rugs. I doubt Hezbollah could have gone 15 minutes without chunking a missile at someone under similar circumstances.