Thursday, 11 September 2003
|1236 - Sound deguello|
"Deguello" (de-gway-o) is the name of the battle charge sounded by General Santa Anna's buglers when his Mexican army attacked the Alamo fortress in 1836. "Deguello" is also symbolized by a blood-red flag. Roughly translated, it means "No Quarter". No Mercy. -- Trish Bennett, Deguello (a Star Trek fan fiction novel)
It's now two years after the day, as Alan Jackson put it in his song, the world stopped turning. As many of you reading this know, I was in Manhattan that day. I watched the whole thing on TV as I got ready for an appointment three blocks away from Ground Zero at 11 AM (that, of course, never happened). My memories of that day are mainly a mounting disbelief, compounded by frustration and desperation at being unsuccessful in letting my family know I was several miles away and in no danger. There's one other memory that lasts, however, and it's the one that drives my feelings toward the rest of the world: the CNN video of Palestinians dancing in the streets in wild celebration.
Oh, sure, the leadership of the Palestinians clamped down almost immediately and expressed their sorrow at the events of the day. They could do nothing else if they wished to have any relevance at all in the world afterwards. Their actions since then give the lie to their pious words, however, as Palestinian militants, with the overt support of the Palestinian Authority (which refuses to lift a finger to stop them), continue to kill innocent civilians. Their refusal to renounce terror puts them in the same category as al Qaeda.
There are still those who would negotiate with the terrorists. They say that terror will never end until we understand their demands and give them what they want. To that, I can only reply, BULLSHIT!
There is another way. It is one that we have taken in the past, practically since our existence as a country. Tom Clancy's latest book, The Teeth of the Tiger, gets its name from the following quote: "If you want to kick the tiger's ass, you'd better have a plan for dealing with his teeth." It's time to show our teeth. More than that, it's time to use them.
Afghanistan was a good beginning. Iraq was another good beginning. We haven't shown that we have the balls to finish the job, however. We need to sound the deguello ourselves. The terrorists show no mercy, and ask for no quarter. We should not offer them any. We should make war on them. Full, unrestricted war, using their own rules of engagement, for that is all that they understand. We should wipe them from the face of the earth. Along with the terrorists should go anyone who supports, finances, harbors, trains, or shields terrorists. If that makes our friends in Saudi Arabia unhappy, I'll give them a towel to cry on. When I say anyone, I mean anyone. No exceptions. If you support terrorists, you are one yourself, and should be dealt with accordingly.
The attacks of two years ago have had one other consequence: They've led us, as a body politic, to forget that what defines us as Americans are the civil rights that the Founding Fathers laid down as inviolable. We tolerate today invasions of our privacy that, 100 or even 20 years ago, would have people marching in the streets with torches. Our police forces have broad, sweeping powers to invade people's lives without any sort of oversight, and without even having to notify the victims of the invasion.
Ben Franklin put it best: "Those who would give up essential liberty for a little temporary security deserve neither liberty nor security." That we have allowed this to happen is nothing less than a victory for the terrorists.
Instead, we should go back to basic principles. I have an NRA t-shirt that expresses it perfectly: "The Second Amendment: America's Original Homeland Security". We should allow anyone who has obtained a concealed handgun permit in their state of residence to carry a firearm aboard airline flights. This would generate a large, ready force of air marshals overnight. Terrorists would think twice about trying anything if they knew that they would only earn their own private martyrdom without having the opportunity to turn the deaths of thousands into their own political statement.
The most common objection (aside from the hysterics of gun grabbers such as the group Sarah Brady runs, whatever it's called this week) to this is that stray rounds would wreck aircraft. This is a fallacy. Modern aircraft, while not invulnerable, will withstand bullet holes without exploding in midair. The pilots would be able to land the aircraft safely
Instead of cowering in our homes, we need to return America to the principles that got us where we are in the first place. We should allow our people to defend themselves, rather than depending on increasingly intrusive government to take care of us. We never have, and we should not now.
As for the terrorists, we should take the war to them - not just al Qaeda, but all of them. It's time to sound deguello and take the gloves all the way off.
current mood: angry
There's something sickly ironic about you now taking the side of the bloodthirsty and merciless Mexican army.
Congratulations. You just won the Completely Missed the Point award for the week.
I didn't say a blessed thing about Santa Ana's use of the deguello. The quote (note, a quote, not my own writing) was included strictly to define the term for those who may be unfamiliar with it. As it happens, Santa Ana is a particularly poor example of anything military, being one of the most incompetent commanders in history. His siege of the Alamo is the perfect case in point: he ignored the larger objective, dealing with Sam Houston, in order to wipe out the folks there. There was absolutely no reason for him to do so. He should have left a comparatively small blocking force and bypassed the fort. Had he done so, he might well have caught Houston and defeated him.
There is no comparison between that situation and this. We are not dealing with a sideshow, but with the main objective. Dealing with the terroriss as they would deal with us is entirely appropriate, and, in fact, necessary, or else we will be plagued with them for all time.
Larry Niven once said that "there is no idea so good that you cannot find a fool who believes it". This is one such case. You cannot validly impugn the deguello by pointing out that Santa Ana once used it.
You know, for someone who complains bitterly whenever he peceives someone else putting words in his mouth, you sure are good at doing it yourself...
I'm sorry, I figured the fact that you used a word which you yourself said meant "no mercy", as well as your other statements such as "taking the gloves off," "wipe them off the face of the earth," and "anyone, and I mean anyone," meant that you actually meant "no mercy" and such. That'd seem to be what you meant by it, but if you meant it merely as rhetoric and not with the actual "we should kill them all" force that it seemed to convey, then I apologize for the misunderstanding.
There's an interesting parallel in there, too; perhaps if we focused on going after the actual terrorists, catching Osama, finishing off the Taliban, and removing the threat in Saudi Arabia, instead of focusing so much on the sideshow in Iraq, we'd get somewhere.
I do actually mean "kill them all and let Allah sort them out". That does not mean I side with Santa Ana, as you said in your comment, and that is what I was objecting to. Are you being deliberately obtuse?
As it happens, Iraq is indeed part of the fight against terrorism, no matter how much the Left would have us believe otherwise. Iraq has harbored known terrorists for years. Why do you think the mastermind of the Achille Lauro hijacking was found there? Why else would Saddam Hussein guarantee large cash payments to the families of suicide bombers? Yes, I agree that there's more work to do than just Iraq, but that does not mean that we should not finish the job there.
I didn't mean you were siding with him politically, as in, you were suddenly waving the Mexican flag or anything. I meant that you were agreeing with him morally and tactically and it seems that you're only proving my observation more correct all the time.
I was referring to the same raw blood thirst that you two seem to share, since you need it spelled out so bluntly.
I'm not agreeing with him morally. There is a world of difference between the Texas Revolution and the current wave of terrorism. For starters, the Texians (yes, that's the correct spelling) didn't travel to Paris to take out a major commercial center. in fact, they only targeted the Mexican Army, which by all definitions is a valid military target.
It's not a matter of tactics, but of strategy. What was bad strategy for Santa Ana is good strategy for us, because of the differing nature of the conflict and the enemy.
Thus, your continued attempts to tar me with that brush aren't gonna stick. It's not blood thirst. It's a calculated, thought-out response to a threat the likes of which the world has never seen. I'd like nothing more than to see terrorists lay down their arms and pursue peaceful means. I simply believe it's not going to happen unless and until we find the guts to deal with them in the only manner they respect.
If you really wanted to see a peaceful resolution, you wouldn't keep insisting that there was only one way--the most bloody way, at that--to resolve things.
Yes, it's true that the Texians didn't target anyone other than the military. However, the Mexicans did; the Texians didn't say "We'll stoop to their level and start killing Mexican women and children and burning the homes of Mexicans where we see them because we don't want them here either." The Texians didn't play by the Mexicans' rules, they stuck to their own rules which they knew were more morally right, and they still won.
You're insisting that in order to win we must discard our morals and take to using their immoral tactics. I refuse to believe that. If we do that, then the terrorists win, even if we kill them all.
A peaceful resolution requires the cooperation of both sides. It's abundantly clear to even the least observant that the terrorists aren't going to cooperate.
The Texians won because their enemy was an organized (FSVO) army. Ours is not. Using the methods one would use against an army in this case is doomed to failure. If we learned nothing else from Vietnam, we should have learned that lesson.
Our choices are to either adopt the terrosts' rules of engagement, or else let them continue to kill innocent civilians. I like neither choice. However, I cannot ignore it and hope it goes away. Those are the only two options available. It's an "us or them" situation, and the only moral choice in such a case is to choose "us".
I just wrote a long thing which got rejected for being over 4300 characters and then lost it when it got rejected. I hate that. I'll try to rewrite it shorter.
I'm not saying that we should ignore it and hope it goes away. However, targeting civilians is not the way to go, and this is what we would be doing if we "adopted the terrorists' rules of engagement". Your point about Vietnam is inaccurate; we lost in Vietnam militarily not because we refused to resort to the guerilla tactics that they did, but because we refused to use our full military force against all their military targets. We as "peace offerings" regularly declared various Vietnamese sites and airports as "off limits" even while in full-scale war; if we wanted to win the war, we should have just bombed the hell out of all of those targets and kept bombing new ones when they popped up. That is why we lost the war.
However, Vietnam is worthy of a point here because we refused to target their civilians (with some sad exceptions). I mean, we could have just chosen to carpet-bomb all the cities until they surrendered, and then we would have won thanks to overkill. But then we would have had plenty of people, thousands, who lost families and parents and children and who hated us as a result and it would have become an eternal conflict. If you look at the state of Vietnam now, if you ever talk to Vietnamese people, they don't harbor too much hatred or resentment of the United States for what we did; there is peace now, and diplomatic relations that are a lot more stable than they would be had we done otherwise.
If we target civilians wilfully in our pursuit of terrorists in the Middle East, it will be remembered, and for a long time. Even after "the war" is over, even after we destroyed all the terrorist groups that were at all connected to those that attacked us and even all those that existed today, we would have bred so much new hatred and contempt for the United States that new terrorist groups would spring up all over the place.
Terrorist groups are allowed to exist in the Middle East because they have convinced the people there that we are corrupt and immoral. We can with our war prove them right and only make them stronger, or we can fight a just and morally conscious war and prove them wrong, and make them weaker.
The only way to defeat terrorism, not just individual terrorist groups but terrorism in general, is to undermine the support for terrorism in these nations. We cannot do that if we behave unjustly, as injustice will breed contempt, and given that terrorism is seen in such a destitute land as the only way to harm such a powerful nation as we are, contempt will only breed terrorism.
We must choose to avoid doing what terrorists do, avoid violating people's rights or taking the lives of innocent civilians in our war; otherwise we are only becoming that which we are fighting. We would be fighting certain terrorist groups while terrorizing another part of the world, and we would only perpetuate the cycle of hate. To act like them is to justify the morality their actions, and that belittles the memory of those we fight for now.
To avoid stooping to their level, to committing even with our loss to a goal that shows the world we are moral and compassionate and helpful even when we are victimized by terror, is to create a world in which people even in the terrorists' homeland do not want terrorism to exist anymore, and eventually, to kill terrorism by making it so that they have nowhere to hide, because nobody would want to hide them anymore. Not out of fear of retribution, but out of contempt for such immoral people.
We can draw blood and win the war in the short term, or we can remain just and moral and win the peace in the long term. If we want terrorism to die out across the earth, we must choose the latter.
As it happens, Santa Ana is a particularly poor example of anything military, being one of the most incompetent commanders in history.
Then it makes perfect sense, since Bush is the worst commander we have had in the White House, meeting another such great as Nixon.
Bush lied to the American (and as the UK would point out, the world) people about what Iraq was capable of, yet none of this has been proven as yet, and even now if something was shown, who would believe it? We're doing what our ancestors did: conquer a nation and remake it in our image. Our government is spending billions of dollars we don't have on a country we went out of our way to destory after our own blunders and helping to put these people in power in the first place, and no amount of cleaning up on our part is going to make this better. Yet despite all of this, Bush isn't impeached, because he used 9/11 to build up what little respect he had. I thought that with the "impeachment" of Clinton that the US set the standard that our President shouldn't lie to us. Guess it only works when it's about sex, but war is perfectly fine.
We try to act like the police of the world, but we're not. We're just manipulators, and it's no wonder there are those who would want to destory the nation, so that we'd finally leave them alone. And I'm fine with that. I'd rather the US become self sufficient like it used to be and not depend on the world for what it needs. If the world wants to screw us over, fine. We'll take our troops and go home. When the US can once again stand on it's own two feet and can help itself, then maybe we'll take a look at the world again and see if we want to help them. And this time without screwing over the people who don't have a choice.
Tactics, strategy, or lack thereof
Someone mentioned how Santa Ana goofed mightily by letting himself be distracted by the Alamo, rather than fixing his main attention on Sam Houston's army. I really do think that we're following the same mistake--rather than finish off al-Qaeda and the Taliban, we instead started a second fight. Another problem is that this was, if one looks at it in a certain light, a coup. About the main benefit this is doing is giving the terrorists another place to attack us. They've got two places to come in quite easily to harrass enemy (read: our) forces, and do other terroristy things, and not only that, but to seem more like home-town boys in the process.
I will, however, respect and compliment your devotion to the principle of civil liberties. Many who rail against terrorism with fervor both not as and much bloodier than your own see those as triflings. However, I am somewhat skeptical about arming the citizenry, if for nothing else than the weapon that 'made all men equal' only does so when all men (and women) carry them. Those that don't can find themselves..easily intimidated, for whatever reason. And while self-defense is now and has almost always been a time-honoured legal defense (when actually the case), I'm not sure how well untrained citizens would respond in a crisis situation. Keep in mind that we also require drivers to show training and competence before operating a motor vehicle, and consider how well a lot of them do that.
Sadly, I don't have the 'real' answer. What many of the terrorists seem to want is something vile in the face of civil liberties. The political process to try to find their 'legitimate grievances' might help deligitamize them in some matter--if they get what they say is 'their right' (and assuming they are right to have it, too--I do think, from what I've read, that there is a legitimate case for some sort of a Palestinian 'home' state), then they might find the more rational members of the fringe slowly backing away, further ostracizing them.
And it's true, if you do go for the total warfare approach, one must pick and choose the fights properly.