That's One Tight Quran
A Man Who Was Advocatus Diaboli

Uncouth History

Rich Lowry:

Edward Coffman, a former military historian at the University of Wisconsin, studied the 25 best history departments according to U.S. News & World Report rankings and found that a mere 21 professors out of more than 1,000 listed war as their specialty. A Notre Dame student complained recently: "We have more than 30 full-time history faculty members, but not one is a military historian. Even in their self-described interests, not a single professor lists 'war' of any era, although half list religious, gender and race relations."

Quite sad especially when one considers the times we live in today. Learning about and understanding previous wars makes us comprehend the present global conflict at a much better level.

For example, Winston Churchill's The Second World War (a six-volume set) is a magnificent place to start. It's scary how some of the appeasement rhetoric of the 1930s is being used today. Historically ignorant people continue to "think" that if only we were to leave the Jihadists alone, we'll have peace. You see, they've seen the warmongers and they are us. Churchill detailed this pathology in the first volume. In the rest, we see the bloody consequences.

Another relevant book is Donald Kagan's The Peloponnesian War (the world war of the ancient world). Many people who read it take the lesson that a democracy can be defeated. My reaction was a little different. I was amazed at just how much effort and resources it took to finally beat Athens: the two kings of Sparta leading massive Greek armies (for its time), the rebellions in the Empire and the bankrolling by Persia.

One also learns a lot about humanity from this. We can be extremely fickle and short-sighted when blood is being spilled. We'd rather grab on to a momentary pause in conflict rather than truly finish a war. That peace is often a cruel illusion.


Josh Scholar

Everyone thought we'd reached "the end of history" that no one was stupid or insane enough to imagine, now that WMDs were possible, that conquest was a path to anything but suicide, and certainly not conquest of the west.

So no one studied war.

And they were almost right. You do have to be insane or stupid to imagine conquest now. But we didn't count on Islam making an entire civilization stupid, insane and suicidal.

Funny that.

Isaac Schrödinger

Good point.

Problem for the West: how does one deter people who are suicidal?

Josh Scholar

Problem for the West: how does one deter people who are suicidal?

I have theories, but I think we have to solve the problems one at a time.

And the first problem is overcoming the resistance to becoming aware.

I want to see Americans fully aware and debating.

People resist that because they know that there are horrible drawbacks to such awareness.

Even Wretchard of the Belmont Club is sounding horribly conflicted about it these days (see the comment section, not the post):

Blackfive posts remarks from David Kilcullen on sectarian violence in Iraq which are very telling. The boldface is mine.

I. Al Qaeda Iraq (AQI) and other terrorists/insurgent groups establish strongholds, largely through intimidation, especially in Sunni areas.

II. They use those bases to carry out murderous attacks on Shi'ites.

III. Shi'ite militias retaliate against Sunni civilians, since they are unable to target the terrorist groups directly.

IV. The sectarian attacks polarize the Sunnis from the Shi'ites, making reconciliation and governing harder while offering the terrorists increased cover.

Because political correctness does not allow us to target any group which disguises itself with Islamic nomenclature, something which is most pronounced in Europe, where in London evil men are allowed to masquerade as "imams" and "preachers" and consort with celebrities and singers, the average man in the street, who unlike the politicians, feels a real threat, begins to respond with a generalized suspicion of Muslims.

Thus the kebab seller, the housewife with a headscarf or just the Muslim man with no terrorist intentions becomes an object of fear, resentment and sometimes, hatred. We move a little further away in the train. Watch their movements in spite ourselves. Guard our conversation in their presence. They become the Other. This is of course, the intention of Osama Bin Laden. But we help it along, because by refusing to go after the bad eggs, or allowing them to don the coloration of the innocent, we blur the line between the Muslim and the terrorist. Finally the two identities become one in the public mind and we're for it. When that happens, Muslims can only find protection under the aegis of their own "militias". The regular police and army become the "enemy". All the middle ground evaporates and the horrible smash begins. And although that smash can only culminate in catastrophe, even the annihilation of Islam, everyone, for their own short-term political game, dons the blindfolds, pours on the coal, builds up the steam and the train wreck tootles merrily along.

We'll need political and cultural courage to save the innocent. We need leadership to fill the middle ground between moronic appeasers on one side of the divide and the demagogues who will soon appear on the other.

he's afraid that moderate Muslims will be alienated by being blamed and create militias, turning to the jihadis for protection in the west leading to civil war.

It's a no-win bind. If we do nothing, they train their kids in hate-dripping Islam and some percentage of them become home-grown terrorists or give cover to terrorists. And if we blame them, they create organized militias perhaps becoming death squads...

I would normally ignore that sort of defeatism, but I don't expect it from Wretchard. He's a serious student of war, and so he's got me worried.

So where's the solution?

I tend to think our own democracy is more important than what our enemies do, but Wretchard has a point. War is war. Is there a way to avoid it?

But being strong is the best deterrence, and we can't be strong if we don't know.

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