In a comment on this thread at The Belmont Club, Wretchard notes:
The brilliance of the new barbarism is that you cannot fight it without destroying your own value system into the bargain.
Traditionally the solution has been to consider wartime a discontinuity, when civilization's rules are suspended. It becomes possible, for example, to lay waste to the Monte Cassino Abbey. Berlin was bombed without regard for its buildings, churches or people.
The alternative is to create methods of fighting so discriminating that we can literally shoot between the raindrops. But that creates a different problem, for we will need an intelligence system so comprehensive that it will become intrusive.
Either way, the war cannot be won without cost. And the fundamental fraud foisted on the public is to claim we can have war without horror, conduct an intelligence war without dishonesty and cunning and obtain victory without sacrifice.
I am confident that we will not lose our values; and that our overall moral heading can be recovered should we need to temporarily deviate from the course of the moral compass that guides us. Because, in order to combat and defeat this new barbarism, we must confront it and be willing to do whatever it takes to defeat it.
If we appease or ignore it, it will continue to menace everything we hold dear; and sooner or later, it will sink us--no matter how moral we are or how much restraint we demonstrate to their provocations. Morality and restraint will not win this conflict. We must be sure in our own hearts and minds of the endurance of our own values in order to do what is necessary.
Our uncertainty is sinking us already. Value by value. Look how willing much of the West was to compromise our freedom of speech in the Danish cartoons (no matter how "offensive" they might be taken) in order to accommodate the enemy's threats. Soon, we will have compromised away all that matters to us; and our civilization will drown, little by little as it is taken over by the barbarians.
If we continue to appease them, we will drown in their ruthlessness and love of death.
The cost of this war will be more than all the lives lost; it will also be for the humanity and civilization we must temporarily abandon to win. I love to read fantasies as much as anyone, but in the real world, the good and virtuous whose cause is just do not always win.
When we are finally cornered and must allow our own barbarism to surface to combat theirs head to head, then we must be prepared to live with the consequences, including the agonizing guilt that will ensue--or everything we hold dear, everything we aspire to become, will forever perish from this earth.
I've said it before, but this reality is what I hate and despise most about these Islamic fanatics--who do not let reason or life interfere with their jihad; who abide by no treaties, follow no rules, and scorn the very values upon which western civilization is founded. We could have lived with them they did not insist that we must become what they are or die. But they have defined the groundrules (or the non-rules) of this conflict; and eventually, we will have to meet them at their level--or they will win. We should hold tight to the thought that it is they who have set the playing field.
"Good people sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf." - There is controversy over who said this, but for a discussion of this quote, see Mudville Gazette.
UPDATE: One of the leaders of the new barbarians has this to say today:
In the message broadcast by Al-Jazeera television, Ayman al-Zawahri, second in command to Osama bin Laden, said that al-Qaida now views "all the world as a battlefield open in front of us."
The Egyptian-born physician said that the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah and Palestinian militants would not be ended with "cease-fires or agreements."
"It is a jihad (holy war) for the sake of God and will last until (our) religion prevails ... from Spain to Iraq," al-Zawahri said. "We will attack everywhere."
So, what should civilization's response be? Should we pretend we don't hear him? That he doesn't really mean it? Even if you hate the idea of violence and death --and what sane and rational person doesn't?-- isn't it time to get really serious about this threat and stop pussyfooting around pretending it doesn't exist?