On Indiscrimate Bombing
After the bombings in London a couple of weeks ago, there were comments, some by me, that were interpreted as a call for massive, indiscriminate retaliation. I use the word interpreted because I don?t usually support that sort of violence except when ?joking? about Chicago or France. Since comments are a limited medium of expression, I thought I better explain myself in a full post.
First of all, I only ever consider one person to blame for wrong doing and that?s the wrong-doer. The person who chooses to cause the harm to another has made a decision. Is such a person fully and correctly informed when he or she makes that decision? Who knows? Are there extenuating circumstances? Perhaps, but it doesn?t matter too much. When the pit bull runs at the child we don?t usually concern ourselves with the pit bull?s point of view. Unfortunately, we don?t consider whether the child did something to warrant the attack.
The bastards in London seem to have been regular guys except for a penchant for weak will. It seems that another person, with a stronger will, talked these bozos into carrying bombs onto a mass transit system. Do I think their families should be punished? Not necessarily. Do I think their families should be pumped for every bit of possible information? Yep.
One of these guys had been to training in Pakistan. Now, there?s a problem. We hear in the news (I mention the news because I don?t have access to Intelligence reports on the matter) that there are bad guy summer camps in Pakistan. Pakistan claims to be our ally in the war on terror. I?ve even heard that there are training camps near Pakistani military bases and that the military tolerates them because too many of the soldiers area sympathetic to the bad guys. (Sorry, I heard this a while ago so I don?t remember who to cite.)
In the comments to the previous article, the phrase ?indiscriminate bombing? was used. I?m sorry, but there would be nothing indiscriminate about bombing the terrorist camp at the same time we bomb Fort Example just up the road. We are at war. We will accept that some countries want to be neutral and allow neither side in. If you?ve allowed one side in, though, you should be prepared for the other side to visit as well.
If that seems like we would be violating the sovereignty of Pakistan then you aren?t looking at things in a larger scheme. One could easily claim that we were violating French sovereignty when we bombed German invaders in the Second World War Either Pakistan is our ally, as they claim to be, and we are protecting them from a violent invader in their midst, or they are lying about being our ally and we get to bomb them anyway.
Of course, things are more complex than that. I suggested in my earlier post that if other nations, such as Syria, had something to do with these attacks (or others) then those countries could expect a massive bombing or two. The concern many people have about bombing such nations is that many of the people who would be harmed are actually innocent civilians with no say in what happens in their countries. I can sympathize with that, within reason.
Let me illustrate my point with a simple illustration. [As with all such analogies, it is simplified to make a point. I understand this, so please try getting the point without arguing the oversimplification or I?ll call you a moron.] Imagine that you and your deranged roommate live in a small, ground level apartment. Your roommate likes to shoot people at random because he believes that assorted strangers on the street are oppressing him. You are concerned that if you tell the police about him that he may shoot you. There are opportunities to narc on him but you are still afraid.
One day, the police have shown up to stop him. There?s a big shoot out and you get shot. Do I care that you got shot? No, I do not care. Why? Because you had the opportunity to stand up and stop this violent person from hurting others and you decided that you didn?t need to.
There is a neighborhood in Cedar Rapids called Wellington Heights. Ten years ago, it was very dangerous. There were regular drug related crimes. If you were in Wellington Heights and muttered the phrase, ?Drive by check,? people around you would drop to the ground. Most of the trouble was drug related. Most of the trouble makers were from Chicago.
The people of Wellington Heights decided they weren?t taking it anymore. There were threats of reprisals, but the people worked with law enforcement personnel. Now, Wellington Heights is a very pleasant neighborhood. Why the change? The people stood up and did something about it. They did not want to be victims of somebody else?s trouble.
I believe that the average person in the Middle East just wants to go on with life. They have concern for their families and friends. They are not inclined to go off and kill strangers for imagined affronts. They may sympathize with the terrorists, but they have mouths to feed. They don?t really want to get bombed and we don?t want to bomb them. Unfortunately, we have to stop the ones who want to bomb us.
I believe that the terrorists use Islam as an excuse, but that Islam is not the reason there are terrorists. The terrorists are made up of bad guys who are filled with hatred for the world and a desire for power. The terrorists are also made up of simple-minded peons who do the bidding of the angry guys. How do we stop terrorism? Ultimately, you must take out the angry guys. As the Jerry Springer Show has pointed out, there is no end to the number of simple-minded people.
The United States may have quite a bit of the world?s wealth and resources. Even so, those resources are finite and we cannot spend all of them trying to chase down the leaders of the terrorists. What?s more, conventional warfare does not work well against armies that don?t march across the battle field like armies. Bombing small building and shooting up the streets in an effort to get a suspected bad guy leaves homes in a shambles and the local angry at the American forces. That?s a lot of conventional firepower to gain very little in the war on terror.
I remember back to the early 1980?s. In my school we discussed how the United States had a nuclear arsenal capable of destroying the planet, repeatedly if necessary. We really do have the ability to wipe out entire cities. When we go in with so-called ?indiscriminate bombing? we are actually trying to be as neat and as reserved as possible and still carry out military objectives. Would we rather just send in a swat team using information forwarded by the locals? Sure we would. It would be cheaper and more effective.
Yes, it would be nice if every one would just play nice together. Many Middle Eastern people would be better off if they could get a little more freedom and education. There was a time when some of the greatest thinkers of history were coming out of the Middle East (we use Arabic numerals to do our math, and don?t ask about the origin of algebra or the concept of zero.) Unfortunately, none of that is going to happen any time soon. If I have to choose between bombing your city and allowing that one little group living there to bomb me, your city is history.
So that?s my official stance. I maintain no Pretense of Nobility. I really don?t want to have to hurt someone, but I won?t let someone hurt me either.