Wednesday, November 07, 2001

An Unpopular Opinion?

I was having a discussion with a friend recently about America's War on Terrorism. He took the devil's advocate position that if we are going to fight such a war, rather than making surgical strikes with special forces we should go in full force and kill everyone - men, women, children, and the elderly alike. Now of course we don't actually condone the killing of innocent civilians. America is not a country of murderers, and no responsible nation would ever sponsor such a course of action.

The point here is that if we are not willing to do the job right, why bother to do it at all? Does anyone truly believe that killing bin Laden will bring an end to terrorism?

The following is an excerpt from Black Hawk Down, an account of the US special forces raid on Somalia in 1993. Somalia is on the coast of northeast Africa, and I believe the situation and attitudes of the people there are common throughout the Middle East.
"It was a watershed," says one State Department official, who asked not to be named because his insight runs so counter to our current foreign policy agenda. "The idea used to be that terrible countries were terrible because good, decent, innocent people were being oppressed by evil, thuggish leaders. Somalia changed that. Here you have a country where just about everybody is caught up in hatred and fighting. You stop an old lady on the street and ask her if she wants peace, and she'll say, yes, of course, I pray for it daily. All the things you'd expect her to say. Then ask her if she would be willing for her clan to share power with another in order to have that peace, and she'll say, 'With those murderers and thieves? I'd die first.' People in these countries - Bosnia is a more recent example - don't want peace. They want victory. They want power. Men, women, old and young. Somalia was the experience that taught us that people in these places bear much of the responsibility for things being the way they are. The hatred and the killing continues because they want it to. Or because they don't want peace enough to stop it.

1 comment:

oge said...

This is the passage I remember most clearly from this book also.