Printer friendly version

January 21, 2005

Leave Me a Gun and Go Get the Bastards

Citing Richard Clarke, of all people, John Derbyshire argues as follows:

In Clarke's prognostication, Al Qaeda launches a second wave of terrorist attacks on our home soil -- Las Vegas, theme parks, malls, big-city subways, cyberspace, etc. All this triggers a big withdrawal from Iraq. "The army was needed in the subways." Our Iraq effort dwindles to defense of some watchful enclaves. "Our goal now is just to prevent Iraq from becoming a series of terrorist training camps. If the new Iraqi army can't keep the peace among the factions, that's its problem."

If there is a new wave of terrorist attacks on our home ground, I think public opinion will indeed force something like this -- not Euro-style appeasement, but a retreat to a more defensive posture, with much less talk about "bringing democracy" and "helping the Iraqis" (and others).

This underestimates both Americans' tenacity and their intuitive understanding of how problems must be addressed. Without illusion that my inclinations are exactly those of my countrymen, I'd suggest that the slogan that would build after a second wave of terrorist attacks on our soil would be akin to the title of this post: "Leave Me a Gun and Go Get the Bastards."

Appeasement is only the full expression of a trait to which the bulk of Americans simply haven't succumbed, and that only lies as shallow waters for most of the rest: dependency. Americans aren't afraid to fend for themselves if need be. (Considering Derb's recent writings thereon, an interesting angle for further thought would be how this relates to different brands of Christianity.)

Subsequently in the Corner, Jonah Goldberg touched on the aspect of a second wave that Americans would intuitively understand:

Adams' warning about not going abroad in search of monsters to slay is not on point. The monsters came to us. The monsters are still coming to us. In a world which is much smaller and in which our economic interests (and citizens) are everywhere "abroad" really doesn't mean the same thing anymore.

I too hope there's a lot of realism under the rhetoric, but I for one am persuaded by the logic of the "drain the swamps" analogy.

The closeness of "over there" is the key point. It was one thing to concentrate on defending the home front when repelling the enemy meant sending them back overseas, not easily to return. But just as "'abroad' really doesn't mean the same thing" when it comes to our actions elsewhere, it doesn't mean the same thing in reference to the home base of our attackers. Far more likely, therefore, than Americans' yielding to liberals' siren call to close tightly our eyes and keep beneath the blankets would be increasing awareness that the comforts of modern life and the niceties of modern society must be put aside for a time.

Posted by Justin Katz at January 21, 2005 11:16 AM
Middle East