I've used this West Wing quote before. Bear with me—when you're done reading it, I'm going to makea point:
President Bartlett: Did you know that two thousand years ago a Roman citizen could walk across the face of the known world free of the fear of molestation? He could walk across the Earth unharmed, cloaked only in the protection of the words civis Romanus — I am a Roman citizen. So great was the retribution of Rome, universally understood as certain, should any harm befall even one of its citizens. Where was Morris's protection, or anybody else on that airplane? Where was the retribution for the families, and where is the warning to the rest of the world that Americans shall walk this Earth unharmed, lest the clenched fist of the most mighty military force in the history of mankind comes crashing down on your house?! In other words, Leo, what the hell are we doing here?!Now read this story about an American teen kidnapped by Palestinian gunmen:
Leo: We are behaving the way a superpower ought to behave.
Bartlett: Well our behaviour has produced some crappy results, in fact I'm not a hundred per cent sure it hasn't induced it.
Leo: What are you talking about?
Bartlett: I'm talking about two hundred and eighty-six American marines in Beirut, I'm talking about Somalia, I'm talking about Nairobi-
Leo: And you think ratcheting up the body count's gonna act as a deterrant?
Bartlett: You're damn right I-
Leo: Then you are just as stupid as these guys who think capital punishment is going to be a deterrant for drug kingpins. As if drug kingpins didn't live their day to day lives under the possibility of execution, and their executions are a lot less dainty than ours and tend to take place without the bother and expense of due process. So, my friend, if you want to start using American military strength as the arm of the Lord, you can do that. We're the only superpower left. You can conquer the world, like Charlemagne! But you better be prepared to kill everyone. And you better start with me, because I will raise up an army against you and I will beat you!
An IDF source said that Fishbein's US citizenship had saved his life since the "last thing the Palestinians want is to open a new front against the Americans." Had the kidnappers succeeded in abducting an Israeli national the outcome, the source said, would have been very different. "Their decision to release him was because they didn't want to deal with the hot potato otherwise known as the US," the source added.Ha'aretz adds:
"Apparently, the kidnappers did not want to end up like Zarqawi," a defense official said.Maybe ratcheting up the body count could accomplish something after all.
You know, it's really starting to drive me a little nuts how quickly most people now condemn the Iraq war as a foolish distraction from what's really wrong with the world. If we weren't in Iraq, Katrina wouldn't have killed people. If we weren't in Iraq, we could be devoting more money to discover alternative energy sources. If we weren't in Iraq, we could have captured Bin Laden.
Well you know what? If we weren't in Iraq, Zarqawi would still be alive and aiming to torture and kill innocent people. Same for Saddamn, and any number of his stooges and henchmen. If we weren't in Iraq, there would be one fewer democracy in the world—another country who cannot stand up for herself and her people. Sure it's a fledgling democracy at best. And no, we don't yet know how this will turn out. Sure, it could turn out that we've wasted our efforts. It may even seem likely at this point.
But is that really an argument that we shouldn't even try?
Let's look briefly at the flipside. Suppose—just suppose that more and more groups decide not to target Americans for fear of retribution. Suppose that the teetering Iraqi democracy learns to stand on its own two feet eventually, and sets an example of freedom that arab countries have never before seen. In fact, read the cartoon at the left (click on the image for a larger view) by Chris Muir at DayByDay, which makes this argument better than I could ever hope to. Anyway, suppose that logic works out—a possibility that no one I've met has been able to disprove, which makes me wonder why they are so quick to dismiss it—wouldn't this all have been worth it? Won't we have done far more to protect Americans and defeat the insidiously evil monsters who would slaughter as many innocents as time allows if they could than withdrawing from the Middle East and trusting them to leave us alone?
You think on that. And anyone who wants to give me an intelligent alternative way of approaching the situation please do.
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