Patton vs. the Martyrs
Posted by aogTuesday, 05 September 2006 at 10:43 TrackBack Ping URL

Andrea Harris comments on the two kidnapped Fox reporters and David Warren’s criticism that the “conversions” demonstrate the weakness of the West, that we are not willing to die to defend beliefs.

Two things come to mind, as always.

First is, I take the Patton view on the situation. You don’t win culture wars by being willing to die for your beliefs, you win by making the other guys die for their beliefs. As the famous Marine saying on this goes, “We like Pepsi and Mullah Omar likes death. Now he’s dead and I have a Pepsi — win win!”.

Second is that I have already said the same thing Ms. Harris said, which is that Warren’s charge sticks much better because of the behavior of the reporters afterwards, who don’t seem upset at all about being forced to “convert”. For me it would be a matter of being made to express religious beliefs I don’t have more than the particular religion. I think it is a failing (pace Mr. Burnet) that religious belief isn’t taken seriously. Perhaps the rationalists are correct and in the future we will all “outgrow” such things, but that’s not the situation today and to pretend otherwise is hardly rational.

P.S. The difference between this incident and the Italian Quattrochi is that Quattrochi was going to die and he knew it. He certainly could not have saved his life in any way making it a completely different situation. At that point I would hope I had the strength of will he did.

Comments — Formatting by Textile
Peter Burnet Thursday, 07 September 2006 at 04:57

Warren seems to forget that the Christian martyrs he so admires were not dying to protect a civilization—if anything they were trying to bring one down—nor to prove to anyone what big chests they had.

Still, there is a worrisome general point here. The whole WOT seems to be built on overwhelming military superiority underpinned by a population that is preoccupied 24/7 with Brad and Jen and that gets livid with the government if they have to economize on gas or their house equity doesn’t go up at least 10% a year.

But isn’t our dream that the Islamists will be ultimately defeated by Muslim moderates who decide to share those same priorities? Are we banking on the Marines holding them down until they smarten up and become as feckless and self-absorbed as we?

Annoying Old Guy Thursday, 07 September 2006 at 08:23

Is the citizenry really pre-occupied? President Bush was re-elected, after all. Moreover, the hot topics for the upcoming election seem to be serious issues (budget control, border control, etc.).

Beyond that, I think that if the citizenry really is pre-occupied, it is because of a failure of leadership. The very name “War on Terror” is the kind of thing that has no rallying power and if it did, it would rally people to do exactly what you claim they are doing, living normal lives.

Examples of a failure in leadership abound, particularly that few if any of them are willing to openly defend their own civilization (look at how much flack Australian PM Howard received for saying that people who move to Australia should adopt Australian culture).

As for the final win condition, that’s not the current plan by the leadership. It’s certainly not the Marines who are holding down the Muslims or even the moderates. We are almost daily sacrificing Marines to not hold them down. We have refrained in a historically unprecedented way at doing damage to the enemy nations. Some believe that, since Caliphascism is intrinsically incapable of supporting a technological civilization, we can just wait while they hold themselves down until they smarten up (and others simply assume that has already happened).

Robert Duquette Sunday, 10 September 2006 at 09:54

As I posted elsewhere, the Japanese thought us weak for not martyring ourselves on the battlefield, but surrendering when we could no longer fight. It is one thing to fight in the face of death, it is another thing to value death as the supreme accomplishment of the soldier. We give great honor to those who sacrificed themselves in battle, but we prefer them to live through the battle and defeat the enemy. Martyr cultures like Imperial Japan and Al Quaeda give more value to the dead fighter than the living fighter. They value the glorious death on the battlefield higher than victory. In the end, victory belongs to the living.

Part of the problem with this war is that it is at such a low boil. It is very much like the Cold War. It is like a tooth that hurts, but not enough to force you to go to the dentist. If we were to be hit by the terrorists more regularly (I mean civilian hits here,not military deaths overseas) we would be less distracted and more supportive.

Michael Herdegen Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 04:26

Some believe that, since Caliphascism is intrinsically incapable of supporting a technological civilization, we can just wait while they hold themselves down until they smarten up…

While I hope that they eventually smarten up, my belief is that they’ll hold themselves down until they die.

Caliphascism will cease to be more than an oddity by sometime in the latter half of the 21st century, when the oil revenues to the Middle East will have slowed to a trickle, due to reserve depletion and/or lack of demand for 20th-century-style go-juice.

As the heads of governments and societies in the region are well aware, they have just a few decades remaining to make a miracle happen. Most of their societies will fail the test.

Annoying Old Guy Tuesday, 12 September 2006 at 08:25

I think so too. I am very doubtful of the long term existence of Islamic and especially Arab/Islamic culture in a technological age. It seems to me that we might see a wave of conversions to Christianity if the ummah is obviously defeated by the USA, a Christian nation. I consider it obvious that Christianity is compatible with technological civilization and if Islam itself (and not just Caliphascism) isn’t, it doesn’t seem an implausible result.

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