Friday, 22 August 2014

hIStory and evil

Few wars, and few historical moments, present clear cut choices. Especially in the Middle East, a ruined region raped by successive Great Game imperial machinations for over 100 years, whose borders are debatable and often fictively imposed with force, it is unlikely any conflict will present the armchair general and seething metropolitan pundit a black and white cause for just war.  The last Good War was, it seems, WW2 - for though the motives for fighting Germany and Japan might have been imperialistic at core (protection of markets and colonies and borders; and petrol) - the Nazi regime was markedly evil, in ideology, intent, and constant deed. Never mind that Canada was anti-Semitic in the 1940s, and Churchill had mooted winnowing the weak; or that the British invented concentration camps in the Boer War; or that it was the Allies who dropped the doomsday bomb and burned Dresden - even so, the Nazi plan and the Nazi way was - and is - almost the definition of inhumanity.  It had to be stopped, and any killing done to stop Hitler's soldiers was, on balance, sadly justified.

Since then, many politicos and tub-thumpers have claimed new enemies are as validly evil (and hence subject to mass destruction) as the Nazis.  We now know that the Chinese, Koreans, Viet Cong, and even Taliban, let alone the Iraqis, are not, were not, that Great Enemy.  Communism, even radical Islamic thinking, is not quite as profoundly horrid as Nazism - for all their faults, these ideologies retain, normally, some hope for the good.

Not so, however, this new scourge - for, from the rubble of Syria and Iraq has arisen a dedicated, highly-trained, ruthless, wealthy, sadistic, and evil enemy to the West - an army so wicked even the perpetrators of 9/11 have scorned their tactics.  This group is sweeping across a vast arc of territory in the Middle East, carving out a new homeland for a form of belief so cruel, intolerant, and brutal, it staggers the imagination.  They slaughter villages; they behead innocents; they will, if they gain atomic weapons, deploy them. Their hatred of women, the Westerner, the Christian, even their fellow Muslim, is harrowing. They recruit freely from the disaffected youth of a half-dozen of our own nations. They move among us. They speak English even as they murder with a savagery of adroit ease.

They must be stopped.  Air attack will not be enough, nor advisors.  We may need boots on the ground, to save Syria, Iraq, Turkey, the Kurds, Israel, and all our friends (even foes) in the region.  To save ourselves.

This seems like the next clear cut war.  I have sought nuance here, have sought talking room.  These people make the Taliban look like Mickey Mouse.  We need to arm ourselves, and plan for a struggle that may define our age.  Or am I mad? Merely fearful.  A silly man grown long in the tooth?
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