January 24, 2008

Pacifism gets ready to kill again...

Michael Goldfarb writes in the Weekly Standard blog about a RAND report which drew on Chinese military journals and other unclassified documents to construct a best guess of how a conflict between the U.S. and China would kick off...

....Another interesting item, straight from the report this time:
Chinese analysts assess that even a small number of casualties is sufficient to spark strong popular opposition and erode domestic support for U.S. participation in a conflict. The U.S. experience in Somalia is usually cited in support of this assertion.
It's hard to gauge just how damaging Somalia was to American credibility. It's been much discussed that al Qaeda interpreted that retreat as a sign of U.S. weakness. (And of course, bin Laden claimed that it was al Qaeda trained affiliates that shot down the American helicopters in the Battle of Mogadish.) It seems the Chinese drew the same conclusion--Americans don't have the stomach for a fight. Which leads to the obvious question: how would the Chinese interpret an American withdraw from Iraq?...

[Regular readers can skip this; I've said it before.] Being "anti-war" is the best way to get yourself into a war. Pacifism kills.

Planet Earth is like a rough neighborhood. If you look weak, you get jumped. If you look dangerous you are respected and left alone. (Even better, you should look dangerous and crazy.)

It is very likely that President Clinton's decision to pull out of Somalia after 18 deaths has killed hundreds of thousands of people. And may kill millions in the future. (Our weakness in Vietnam, Lebanon, and the Iran hostage crisis have surely also contributed to the slaughter.)

We probably should not have gone so blithely into Somalia. BUT, once the stuff hit the fan, the most peaceful, the most humane, the most "pacifistic" thing to do would have been to smash the attackers with all available force.

I imagine someone saying about now, "It is always wrong to do evil so that good may come of it." (I have to invent imaginary opponents, because no one ever gives me a good counter-argument.) My reply is that it would NOT have been evil. The correct analogy is to police work, not to "starting wars". We are, de facto, the cops of this burg. Imagine an actual "rough neighborhood." One where gang violence is growing, and threatens to get out of control. Is it evil if the cops go after the gang members, using deadly force if necessary?

What would be the real evil option? A. Storming the gang hideout in a hail of bullets? Or B. Allowing the neighborhood to fall into the control of criminals, and thereby condemning thousands of innocent people to bleak lives of hopelessness and violence and crime?

[And if anyone wiser and more moral than I is reading, and doesn't like this thought, you are welcome to correct my reasoning in the comments.]

Posted by John Weidner at January 24, 2008 11:47 AM
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