Wednesday, January 25, 2006

What's the Big Deal?

There's lots of outrage in the conservative blogosphere over this column by Joel Stein, and we're not really sure why. Here are some of his more provocative passages:

I don't support our troops.... I've got no problem with other people - the ones who were for the Iraq war - supporting the troops. If you think invading Iraq was a good idea, then by all means, support away.

But I'm not for the war. And being against the war and saying you support the troops is one of the wussiest positions the pacifists have ever taken - and they're wussy by definition. It's as if the one lesson they took away from Vietnam wasn't to avoid foreign conflicts with no pressing national interest but to remember to throw a parade afterward.

Blindly lending support to our soldiers, I fear, will keep them overseas longer by giving soft acquiescence to the hawks who sent them there - and who might one day want to send them somewhere else.

The truth is that people who pull triggers are ultimately responsible, whether they're following orders or not. An army of people making individual moral choices may be inefficient, but an army of people ignoring their morality is horrifying.

I'm not advocating that we spit on returning veterans like they did after the Vietnam War, but we shouldn't be celebrating people for doing something we don't think was a good idea. All I'm asking is that we give our returning soldiers what they need: hospitals, pensions, mental health and a safe, immediate return. But, please, no parades.

Frankly, we don't know what all the fuss is about. Stein is simply saying honestly and without rancor what almost every liberal Democrat thinks but doesn't have the courage to admit because it would be political and social suicide to do so. Stein's right. It makes no sense to say the war is an immoral unsupportable undertaking but that you nevertheless "support" the troops. Exactly how does one support the troops if they're perpetuating what one believes to be a great wrong?

Fault Stein for being wrong about the war. Fault him for thinking Kosovo was worth fighting for but Afghanistan and Iraq are not, but don't fault him on the one point about which he's correct. Rather fault his fellow liberals for lacking the integrity to admit that they agree with him.


Clarice Feldman of The American Thinker has a pair of posts here and here on the Damadola airstrike that sheds some light on exactly how well-planned the attack was and who was killed in it. Feldman thinks Zawahiri was among the casualties but that no one wants to say so definitively since his corpse has not been recovered.

Not counting Zawahiri, it looks like six senior al-Qaeda leaders were in the houses that were struck. Feldman quotes milblogger Dan Darling:

I have a Weekly Standard piece on the death of Abu Khabab coming out pretty soon, but for those who are interested here are all of the al-Qaeda leaders who have been listed as being killed in Damadola at present according to media reports:

Abu Khabab al-Masri (WMD committee head); Abd Rahman al-Masri al-Maghribi (al-Zawahiri's son-in-law, al-Qaeda commander); Abu Ubeidah al-Masri (Kunar operations chief); Marwan al-Suri (Waziristan operations chief); Khalid Habib (southeastern Afghanistan commander); Abdul Hadi al-Iraqi (southwestern Afghanistan commander);

Add to that Maulana Faqir Mohammed and Maulana Liaqat (local leaders of the Tehrik Nifaz-e-Sha'riah Mohammed, apparently) and it looks like that was quite a dinner they had planned. I would have settled for nailing Khabab alone, but this looks like the biggest single decapitation strike on the al-Qaeda leadership since Tora Bora.

If the terrorists are now realizing that they can't hide forever even in a desolate place like Waziristan, if they're realizing that they're nowhere safe, it will have the effect of considerably ratcheting up the stress and weariness that must already afflict them. This in turn, one hopes, will lead to careless decisions, producing more casualties, which will lead to yet more stress, and so on in a runaway feedback loop.

The problem for the senior leadership is there's no way out. They can't surrender nor can they just quit their war and go home. To do either would be the psychological nail in the coffin of global jihad. The only path left to them is to fight and sooner or later be suddenly killed by an unseen predator drone and a hellfire missile. That realization must be extremely hard on those men and their families, but they asked for this hell in which they live and which they've created for others. They have made it clear that they are at war with the West, a fight to the death.

There's no easy way out for us either. We must either fight or, eventually, capitulate to Islamic will. Either we relentlessly pursue the al-Qaeda leadership and thoroughly demoralize those who follow them or we can look forward to a world where our granddaughters wear burkhas and our grandsons memorize the Koran. Either we defeat them or watch darkness descend over the world. There's no other alternative.

Orlando ID Debate

Barry Carey at withallyourmind attended a debate in Orlando between anti-IDer and philosopher of science Michael Ruse and pro-IDer theology and history of science professor Thomas Woodward. Carey is posting a series summarizing the debate. Here are his initial impressions:

On Thursday, 1/19/06, I attended a debate between Thomas Woodward, Professor of Theology and History of Science, and Michael Ruse, Florida State University Philosopher of Biology. The debate was called, "Intelligent Design versus Darwinian Evolution". The question posed was this: "Does nature demonstrate a design planned by a superior intelligence, say God, or can it be sufficiently explained by purely naturalistic processes such as evolution through natural selection?"

I have a number of thoughts that I might share in my next few blogs. First, let me comment on the general tone of the debate. The two gentleman were civil enough, but it was obvious that each employed a different strategy. Professor Woodward attempted to present Darwinism as a theory with serious problems and Intelligent Design as a scientific theory which is preferable to Darwinism. Professor Ruse on the other hand assured the audience that every respectable scientist embraces Darwinism and that ID is "creation light" and the result of a few "idiosyncratic evangelicals in America". I must say that I was once again surprised that the Darwinian argument was much less focused on the science and much more directed on presenting a caricature of Intelligent Design. Ruse was a very funny and personable speaker, however, I was very disappointed in the substance of his presentation.

His second and third posts on the debate can be found here and here.