Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Centrist Blogs & The Big Red Button

One of the blogs I visit regularly is The Mighty Middle. In a recent series of posts (one, two, and three), Michael Reynolds wonders aloud whether the threat of nuking of Mecca would prove an effective (and final) deterrent to terrorism.

I love a great many things about Michael's style and substance, but I can't agree with him on this particularly "ghastly" subject. However, his arguments are far from flippant, and the resulting discussion is captivating.

The debate has spilled on to a number of centrist blogs, and while Michael's arguments are compelling and well-articulated, he's the black sheep amongst his peers. Check it out:

Alan at the Yellow Line starts it off with his reaction to Rep. Tancredo's recent comments and then responds to Michael.
Amba at
Ambivablog highlights.
Independent Sources gives a nod.
Joe Gandlemann points the way from The Moderate Voice.
as does Jonathan at The American Centrist.

The bulk of the argument appears to be happening at The Mighty Middle and at Yellow Line's original Tancredo post for those interested in the bloodletting.

Amba's at Ambivablog points out following comments by Richard Lawrence Cohen:

"Speak softly and carry a big stick." I don't recall that during the Cold War the US and the USSR, at times of crisis such as October, 1962, made a practice of publicly threatening to annihilate each other. In fact government officials tried to downplay the possibility in public. Yet everyone knew it could be done and might be done. That was the deterrent -- not noisy threats. In contrast, the Bush administration and its suporters have made a practice of speaking loudly and using a small stick (e.g. boasting of "shock and awe" but not providing enough troops, enough armor), or the wrong stick (e.g. attacking a country that wasn't a credible threat, based on concocted evidence). The threat to nuke Mecca belongs to this pattern. It sounds desperate and shrill, an emotional acting-out rather than a reasoned policy. Therefore it is actually not a powerful threat, and is likely to arouse an equally desperate and shrill response.

Besides, everyone already knows we can nuke the entire Arab world if it comes to that.

Having said this, I also want to say that I understand and share the frustrations of the people who are supporting the threat. I especially share their frustration at their liberal opponents. Throughout this crisis, beginning 9/11, the left-wing position has seemed to amount to doing nothing, to replying to terror with gentle compassion and tolerance. This allows the left to take the moral high ground in debates. It's a very attractive stance, undoubtedly gratifying to those who take it. But it is completely, absolutely useless. It would be suicidal for an entire society to take that position. Until the left states a pragmatic, effective way of defeating terrorism, the center will be drawn to the right."

Despite my distaste for the closing characterization of the "left wing" and their supposed response to terrorism, I'm with Amba. This is probably one of the more astute comments made throughout the evening.

1 comment:

Lily said...

But why can we not view it in less extreme terms? Nuke Mecca or have gentle tolerance? This anti-left bullshit about how we all want to give them therapy... simplistic generalizations about any response to such significant events is of dubious value. Painting us as unresponsive hippies singing in the grass helps their cause. And look at us defend ourselves, our patriotism, at every turn! Yet many patriots sit back while children are dying in a country we are liberating, while genocide goes unnoticed in Darfur, sitting there watching their Fox news and propaganda and can't even bring themselves to care about accountability or truth. Whats better, thinking that we are increasing terrorism or thinking that Saddam Hussein caused 9-11? Is it patriotic to be ignorant? The left are not characterizing our views this way, Rove and his cohorts are characterizing us this way and we do not have to accept this simplistic view of our stance. As it is, we argue about patriotism next to people driving huge SUV's with "Support Our Troops" magnets- people that do not consider it their patriotic duty to push for an energy bill with CAFE standards. To push for restoring vet benefits... people that say HELL YEAH- DRILL IN ALASKA! and are not even informed enough to know that this does not free us from middle eastern oil because it is sold to any country that wants to buy that oil...I am tired of patriotism being manipulated to get morons to support bad policy. Patriots were the people that threw the tea in the water way back when and said BULLSHIT to this kind of tyranny....