Friday, February 11, 2005

Michael Scheuer's Dark Vision

Readers will know that I have a running argument with Michael Scheuer, a.k.a. Anonymous, author, " Imperial Hubris." I won't rehash that here. But I'm surprised that liberal critics of the Bush administration embraced Scheuer and his line that al Qaeda attacked us, not because of who we are but because of our foreign policies, especially our support for Israel. This surprises me because Scheuer presents a vision of the War on Terror that anyone to my left would find exceptionally dark. Scheuer recently spoke at the Council on Foreign Relations and the host of the discussion read this quote from Imperial Hubris.

"To secure as much of our way of life as possible, we will have to use military force in the way Americans used it on the fields of Virginia and Georgia, in France and on Pacific islands, and from skies over Tokyo and Dresden. Progress will be measured by the pace of killing and, yes, by body counts. Not the fatuous body counts of Vietnam, but precise counts that will run to extremely large numbers. The piles of dead will include as many or more civilians as combatants because our enemies wear no uniforms.

"Killing large numbers is not enough to defeat our Muslim foes. With killing must come a Sherman-like razing of infrastructure. Roads and irrigation systems; bridges, power plants, and crops in the field; fertilizer plants and grain mills--all these and more will need to be destroyed to deny the enemy its support base. Land mines, moreover, will be massively reintroduced to seal borders and mountain passes too long, high, or numerous to close with U.S. soldiers. As noted, such actions will yield large civilian casualties, displaced populations, and refugee flows. Again, this sort of bloody mindedness is neither admirable nor desirable, but it will remain America's only option so long as she stands by her failed policies toward the Muslim world."

That's pretty bleak if you are to the left of, say, Attila the Hun. This is similar to the possibility I addressed in The Worst of the Worse Case Scenarios. The choice we face today isn't between fighting wars or not fighting wars. It's between fighting wars and rebuilding the nations we defeat or obliterating those nations altogether. I can't think that anyone wants to later.

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