Day By Day© by Chris Muir.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Do we have the will to win?

The following paragraphs from a generally interesting article by Victor Davis Hanson strike me as being the essence of the conflict between us and them:

Precisely because terrorists believe that life is awfully good in the West (and relatively less so in their own environs), they compute success by a different, asymmetrical arithmetic: killing a few of us, even if it means losing a lot of their own, is what brings victory -- withdrawal of American forces under waves of media carping and popular outcry. Bin Ladin, Saddam's remnants, and the like all believe that there is a magical and relatively small number of fatalities -- 600? 1,000? 4,000? -- in any one campaign beyond which Americans will conclude that fights like those in Afghanistan and Iraq simply are not worth the effort and anguish. And they may well be right. Who, after all, wants to raise a son in the San Jose suburbs, with a B.A. from UCLA, to die in the filthy streets of Sadr City seeking to bring democracy to tribal fundamentalists? Thus many Americans conclude that the short-term and daily televised costs of pacifying Iraq add up to a grave moral and political mistake. They resent the immediate suffering involved in the long-term goal of changing the landscape of the Middle East to end terrorism sponsored or tolerated by petroleum-funded Arab autocrats who, at least in public, blame the Americans for their own glaring political and economic failures. Such aims might make long-term moral and political sense, but when CNN or NPR interviews an amputee maimed by an improvised explosive device, it is hard for 300 million other Americans not to think that his misery was preventable—or might just as easily have befallen their own children or spouses. Like the British and Israeli public who tired of war when hundreds of innocents were blown apart in Belfast and Jerusalem, the American citizenry feels that it cannot withdraw and yet cannot quite stay either. In the terrorists’ logic, each explosion is intended not to destroy incrementally the U.S. military—that task is impossible—but to lower its morale and, more important, to convince the suburbanite back home that the carnage on his screen is his to stop.
This quotation, of course, ties in with my post yesterday about the average American's fear of death driving his great generosity. This same fear, this same (dare I say it?) cultural softness, leaves us ill-equipped against an enemy with a lesser fear of death, and no investment at all either in the comforts of daily living or the possibility of a better future for himself or his children.