Steven den Beste at USS Clueless captures my thinking exactly, in explaining to an Iranian about why and how America goes to war:
It’s not a question of my nation making a decision whether people will die. Islamic militants made that decision. America’s only decision now is who will die, and where and when. If we stand by idly and passively, then it will be Americans who die, whenever and wherever the Islamic extremists choose to kill them, probably in huge numbers.
We don’t consider that acceptable. That’s surrender. That’s not going to happen.
Instead, we’re attempting to take control of events, in hopes that we can minimize the total number of deaths caused by this war. That’s why we’ve embarked on the highly risky and unprecedented strategy we’re following. If we were only concerned with minimizing American casualties and if we didn’t care about anyone else, then every major Muslim city on the planet would have been vaporized by September 15, 2001, and the war would have ended in a week.
Well put, and be sure to read the entire post; it’s extensive and thoughtful, just what you’d expect from den Beste (and I’ve added USS Clueless to the blogroll, too). I only disagree with one part of his post, and that takes my response to the Iranian in a different direction.
Steven claims that the Islamofascist war started on 9/11, and that’s only true if you count from the time most Americans realized that they were at war. Our war with Islamofascism started in Teheran in 1979, and has continued off and on ever since. Our feckless response to the sacking of our embassy — which is an internationally recognized casus belli — encouraged various radical Islamist groups to take ever-bolder actions against American interests.
You ask what actions we take make us feel contradictory to our purposes and our principles. I reply to you that you are facing the diminishing options that Islamofascists have left us. Your country sacked our embassy and held diplomats hostage for 444 days, and we negotiated. We went to Lebanon to maintain peace and Hezb’ Allah (financed, again, by your country) killed 243 of our troops; we pulled out. Islamic Jihad and Hezb’ Allah (financed, again, by your country) kidnapped American citizens who were trying to educate Muslims and report fairly on their difficulties and held them hostage for years; we negotiated directly with your country and released financial assets held in dispute since 1979, as well as sold them military hardware. Muslims were threatened in Somalia with starvation; we fed them, and when the aid was held up by warlords, we attempted to stop the warlords from starving Muslims. When we were attacked, we left Somalia.
When Islamofascists bombed our World Trade Center in 1993, we treated it as a law-enforcement problem, and tried and convicted those who conspired to kill the six people who died in the attacks. When Muslims were threatened in the Balkans, we committed our troops to protect them from the Serbs, and they are there to this day, protecting them throughout the Balkans. When our embassies in Africa were bombed and hundreds of people were killed, we treated it as a law-enforcement problem, and again when our Navy was attacked in Yemen by the same Islamofascists, we sent the FBI to search for them.
After all of that, when Islamofascists funded by the various kleptocracies finally and inevitably struck catastrophically in our own country, killing 3,000 civilians, do you really expect us to repeat the same, failed strategies, or try something new, in the hope that the message might start to get through the thick skulls over there that we were finished with those approaches? We have decided that after 24 years of retreating and, negotiating, Middle Eastern extremists were not going to respond to a 25th year of it. America gave up on your ability to police your own house, and now we are going to police it for you. If you don’t like it, you have no one to blame but yourselves.
And Steve is correct — you had better pray that the Islamofascists don’t pull something really spectacular here in the US, like a nuclear, chemical, or biological attack. So far, we’re trying very hard to only target those government structures that directly support terrorism or are defying international agreements. If something very ugly happens here, you can bet we will not be anywhere near that particular about our targets or our enemies, and every one of the nations that support terrorism will feel the blowback. Most likely, starting with yours.
If your government wants to avoid that outcome, then it had better stop supporting and sheltering terrorists who attack Americans. Period. We’ve waited 24 years for the mullahs to grow the f**k up. Our patience has run out.