This Infernal War

    Okay, let’s grant that most of us want this war in Iraq and other places to end. We don’t want more casualties, we don’t want to spend more trillions. We all feel it should have been won long ago. Some claim, even Sen. John McCain himself, the war has been mismanaged until recently. A large bloc of voters believe we never should have gone there in the first place. 

   But here are some questions that I’m asking in my feral brain these days as a non-military person who still respects the need for a strong military in these perilous days.    First, why should we just “pull out” in 30-60-90 days or whatever, if we’re winning at this point, as nearly everyone says(McCain, Murtha, etc.)? Casualities are lower than ever. The Iraqi government is slowly getting their act together. Al-Qaeda is virtually destroyed in Iraq. This looks to me like a Super Bowl team forfeiting at three points ahead just because some of the fans hate them. 

   Second, since we face an enemy motivated by religious and ideological concerns, why should we think defeating them should be easy? In the America of today, we are far too used to seeing quick and easy solutions to even the toughest problems. But my impression of problems like jihadism is that they were a long time coming and will be a long time going. These people crave dying in their cause. They use universally despised and reviled techniques to fight – suicide bombers, women and children as “shields,” murder, rape, and all kinds of world-recognized evil — because their cause not only permits it, but  commands it. And they believe they will be rewarded for such actions in ways not even Donald Trump could offer. Facing such an enemy is totally new and unprecedented. So why should we think this war would go like anything resembling a conventional war? 

   Third, do we really believe if we did simply quit the field of battle that jihadism will simply disappear, satisfied that they have the Middle East to themselves? They have made clear that their gripe is not our presence in the Middle East. Their gripe isn’t even a gripe. It’s a goal, a determined, implacable resolve to conquer the whole world for Islam. So how can we even begin to believe that quitting will in any way stop this force?  In fact, if we do quit, it will send a signal to all of them that they should keep going.

   Fourth, how can anyone say, “I support our guys in the military, but I can’t support their mission, cause, and actions in the Middle East”? Look, if you hate the military, hate what they do, hate everything about it, simply say so. We can take it. But this pretend stance of supposedly supporting them personally but saying as those young people face suicidal maniacs, snipers, IEDs, and imminent death every day, “On the other hand, I reject your goals, your work, and I will do everything I can to make sure you fail” is truly evil. And it doesn’t work logically, realistically, or even theoretically. It’s just a political dodge. Like in poker, either you’re in or you’re out. But you can’t be both. 

   Show me answers to these questions with facts, logic, and realism, and perhaps I’ll come over to your side. But for now, I honestly think we’re in the fight of our generation and our lifetimes. Giving up when most people in power say we’re winning is foolish at best, and suicidal at worst. Moreover, it won’t solve the problem because the problem isn’t the war, the killing, the casualties, or any of that. It’s them. Their ideas, their outlook, their hearts, their repeatedly proclaimed desire to convert us or kill us.         

   Show us how to deal with that permanently, and you have my unwavering support.  

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