A few weeks ago, I wrote about how wonderful it was to be wrong sometimes. In this instance, I was discussing a review of a flash fiction anthology called “Espresso Fiction.” The editor of the collection took his time to instruct me on how to write more helpful reviews, and I’d like to think that I’m a better person for this exchange. I’ve certainly learned from it.
Sometimes, though, I’m not wrong, and I wish that I were.
Over the past several years, I’ve been watching the chaos in the Middle East. I’ve been waiting for more riots, more innocent victims, and more anti-American passion inflamed by ignorant people with bullhorns. We here in the States like to think that we can all just talk it out because after all, we’re all human at the end of the day. (Remember that song by Sting (yeah, I know, a Brit) called “Russians?”)
This talk it out philosophy only works in certain circumstances. There are limits. First and foremost, all parties involved must agree that there are some things that are sacred, some point where the cost of war is too high. This idea became a popular foreign policy theory after the First World War, also called The Great War, or The War to End All Wars. Everyone living at that time thought that no one would ever be willing to experience or inflict that kind of carnage (a whole generation of young men dead) again. And in this first experiment of talking, the new League of Nations, the brainchild of our intellectual President Wilson, designed the Treaty of Versailles. When reading the terms, it does not take a student of history to predict the war which became the Second World War. Just a few years later, Nazis (oh, and let’s not forget the Japanese Emperor, too) decided to rule the world at any cost. Millions died. The only thing that ended the War was the Bomb on the Eastern Front.
Japan didn’t back down after the first bomb. The US had to do it again.
The Japanese were told by their Emperor to fight until the last farmer had died, and they were prepared to do so because they had extraordinary faith in their leader. They had an ideology that only lost a war because the competing ideology’s technology destroyed its followers.
History teachers always say that if we don’t learn from history, we are doomed to repeat it.
And here we are again. Eleven years ago, we thought, “We’ll never allow another event like the 9/11 attacks to happen again.” We’ve been rationalizing and excusing increases in violence against America and against Western nations for eleven years, continually backing down and apologizing for the fact that our ideology’s existence is offensive to someone else’s ideology.
It is another ideological war.
Talking won’t work when any one of the parties involved is committed to dying in glory for his ideology. In this case, the only hope for survival is to shoot first.
Yes, I said it. Shoot them before they shoot you, for they will surely try.
Today, watching the news, I wonder, does America have the fortitude anymore to make the difficult decision to turn part of the world to fire. I don’t think that we do, which makes me sad.
It also makes me very sad that I wish that we did.
I will not apologize for my existence or the ideas I live by. I will not permit threats to my family and loved ones. I would gladly leave everyone else alone – as long as they don’t endanger me. But if it’s between them and us, I pick us.
Sane conversation can only happen between sane people. If one party is insane, then the entire conversation becomes an exercise in managing symptoms. Eventually, someone brings out the medications and enforces sanity. In foreign relations, those pills look like bombs.
We need to stop arguing with the people who hate us just because we exist. We need to finish the discussion and deliver the medication.