Skip to comments.Lee Harris : A Modest Proposal to End the War on Terrorism
Posted on 03/24/2004 11:08:24 PM PST by quidnunc
To begin with, President Bush should invite John Kerry to the White House for a confidential discussion on how to bring the world wide threat of terrorism to an end. Kerry will have no choice but to accept the invitation; and the press will be fed tips from high governmental officials that the meeting between the two men will have the profoundest historical consequence. Bush will have earlier issued a statement that, at this dangerous juncture in history, there can be no hint of a partisan divide on our nations' approach to the problem of terrorism; and that it is imperative that any proposal coming from the current administration will be backed one hundred percent by the opposition party.
Kerry arrives, but does not leave. The press is told that the joint discussion is going so well, and has reached such a critical level, that Senator Kerry has been invited to stay at the White House as an overnight guest and, indeed, let the Senator stay there for three or four nights just to increase the dramatic tension.
The leaks are flowing profusely by now. Talk is circulated in the media about the "breathtaking" and "astonishing" proposal that will be announced in a joint statement by both the President and the Democratic candidate for President.
This is what the joint statement, when it is finally released, will say:
"The United States had decided to open negotiation with Islamic terrorists, including Al Qaeda. Our only demand is that the terrorists must formally state their demands to us in a written document, and this document will become the basis of any future negotiation. These demands may be for cutting off all support for Israel, or for banning American presence from the Middle East, or for the mass conversion of all American citizens to Islam. Everything will be open for discussion."
Now how can the terrorists or their American and European apologists ask for more than that?
But what about the fine print. Certainly there must be some strings attached somewhere?
In fact, there are two very minor conditions.
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Wakey, wakey, you've had a dream my friend!
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Otto von Bismarck could have done such a thing. We probably can't. And yet by simply contemplating such a scenario it becomes instantly clear why the crisis we are facing is so different from any crisis in our past. Every war in our past could, in theory, have been capable of a solution had we been simply willing to give up enough to those who were our enemies. Had we abandoned the Pacific to the Japanese, that would have appeased them; had we kept out of the European war, Hitler would have been fine with us. Had Wilson simply accepted the German sinking of our ships on the high seas, as William Jennings Bryan had urged, we would have never gotten involved in the First World War.
In our current situation, however, the mere willingness to yield to the demands of the enemy is not enough to bring about a definitive solution, simply because while we have enemies, they are not even close to being organized enough to constitute something that we could plausibly call the enemy. Indeed, let us suppose that, instead of trying to open negotiations, we simply decided to flat out surrender. To whom would we surrender? And if we surrendered to terrorist group A, how could we be sure that we were not thereby embroiling ourselves in a war with terrorist group B, who might decide to insist that we surrender to them instead, and to underscore this insistence with terror strikes of their own?
As long as a handful of people in the Muslim world believe that they have a grievance against us, and are willing to use terror to express this grievance, it will be impossible for us either to achieve a negotiated solution to the problem of terrorism, and equally impossible for us even to surrender. This means that even the most peace-loving dove must accept the fact that we have no choice but to fight -- and to fight with whatever weapons come to our hand. Either that, or just to stop caring when hundreds or thousands of human beings are brutally murdered for no reason at all.
This means that even the most peace-loving dove must accept the fact that we have no choice but to fight -- and to fight with whatever weapons come to our hand. Either that, or just to stop caring when hundreds or thousands of human beings are brutally murdered for no reason at all.
Does it sound like surrender?
Because according to federal copyright law it would be illegal to do so.