Friday, June 29, 2007

"Exterminate the Brutes"

How do you get your head around this?

Almost six years after the worst attack ever on U.S. soil, special operations commanders believe that simply killing terrorists will not win a war against an ideologically motivated enemy.

That view is reflected in a series of transitions in special operations leadership posts. New senior officers are expected to give greater weight to an indirect approach to warfare, a slow and disciplined process that calls for supporting groups or nations willing to back U.S. interests.

Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld turned special operations forces into a “giant killing machine,” said Douglas Macgregor, a former Army colonel and frequent critic of the Defense Department.

Now, with Rumsfeld gone and Navy Vice Adm. Eric Olson about to take control of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM), Macgregor anticipates a return to the fundamentals drilled into Army Green Berets, Navy SEALs and other specially trained troops.

“The emphasis will be on, ‘If you have to kill someone, then for God’s sakes, kill the right people,”’ Macgregor said. “In most cases, you’re not going to have to kill people and that’s the great virtue of special operations. That’s been lost over the last several years.”
I remember when the concept of "pest control" was simply: Eliminate the insects. Of course, by the time Rachel Carson wrote "Silent Spring" we began to figure out that wouldn't work. But this Administration seems to have missed that lesson, and the lessons of European Empire: you cannot control what you must destroy. If you're only option is "kill 'em all," then you have no options.

How hard is that to figure out?

It's becoming clearer and clearer this Administration's approach to every problem has been: extermination. Did Donald Rumsfeld really, seriously believe this was "Fortress America," and that we could eradicate all enemies and threats, that we could kill all our enemies? Did he really imagine that was a defensive posture? That's foreign policy via Tom Clancy video game. That's not serious; it's madness.

But apparently he did believe it. Why do we continue to consider these people intelligent? Why do we continue to think they even deserve the positions of authority they hold? Because we are, at bottom, afraid of the government?

The questions of theodicy are much easier to deal with than this. That field of inquiry just asks: "Why does God permit evil in the world?" The question here is: "Why was Donald Rumsfeld convinced evil would do good, and why did the rest of us let him get away with it?"

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