Battlepanda: Going against our instincts


Always trying to figure things out with the minimum of bullshit and the maximum of belligerence.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Going against our instincts

Sometimes, it's hard for people to go against their instincts even though doing so would clearly be in their best interests. It's in your best interest not to thrash in the water when you're drowning. It's in your best interest not to drop the burning pot on your foot even though the hands you grabbed it with is in shocking pain. I feel like our response to 9/11 was kind of like that -- the stress and fear of the attack drove us into panic mode. It's as if our national consciousness was flooded with adrenalin. Fight or flight! We fought. Nay. We lashed out.

But it's now damn well near five years later, as seventy percent of you would know. Time to calm down and cease acting so, you know, terrorized.

Kevin Drum wrings his hands some and wonder how to break it to the nation that we're acting like a chicken with its head cut off and it's not making us any safer:
FORBEARANCE....Over at, Robert Wright mentions something that's been on my mind for a while. He's talking with Ann Althouse about the war in Lebanon and makes the following observation:

What I think is actually sometimes the smartest thing to do in response to terrorist provocation, which is forbearance, is very hard to counsel. [But] if you ask what kind of shape would Israel be in if they had done a day's worth of retaliation, and since then just endured any missiles, and said, "OK, look, at this point there's no excuse for what they're doing, we're not even fighting them," I think Israel as a nation would be more secure than they are.
But it's very hard to convince people of that, and I admit that rhetorically it's hard to make that a winning strategy. [snip] It's human nature to demand action following an attack. Any action. Counseling restraint in the hope that it will pay off in the long run is politically ruinous.

But our lives may depend on figuring out how to make this case. If it wasn't obvious before, it should be obvious by now that conventional military assaults are usually counterproductive against a guerrilla enemy like the ones we're fighting now. We can't kill off the fanatics fast enough to win, and in the meantime the war machine simply inspires more recruits, more allies, and more sympathy for the terrorists. It's not the case that conventional military force is always useless in these cases — the Afghanistan war still holds out hope of success — but as Praktike says, it usually results in a terrorism own goal.

Unfortunately, I'm not smart enough to figure out how to formulate this argument in an effective way. [snip]

I'm just meandering around the point here, trying to marshal my own thoughts by setting them down on the blog. If that seems a bit pointless, I apologize. But I'm probably going to keep doing it from time to time. After all, I'd hate to think that this is a flatly impossible problem.

How about the direct approach:
I am just not going to wet my pants every time some guys get arrested in a terror plot. I will do my best to stay informed. I will support the necessary law enforcement agencies. I will take whatever reasonable precautions seem, um, reasonable. But I will not be terrorized. I assume that the terror-ists would like me to be terror-ized, as that is what is says on their nametag, rather than, say, wanting me to surrender to ennui or negative body image, and they're just coming the long way around.

Osama Bin Laden got everything on his Christmas list after 9/11 -- US out of Saudi Arabia; the greatest military in the world over-extended, pinned down and distracted; the greatest proponent of democracy suddenly alienated from its allies; a US culture verily eager to destroy freedoms that little scumfuck could never even dream to touch himself -- I would like to deny him the last little check on the clipboard, i.e. constant terror. I panic, they win. To coin a phrase, Osama Bin Laden can suck my insouciance.

I am absolutely buffaloed by the people who insist I man up and take it in the teeth for the great Clash of Civilizations -- "Come ON, people, this is the EPIC LAST WAR!! You just don't have the stones to face that fact head-on!" -- who at the whiff of an actual terror plot will, with no apparent sense of irony, transform and run around shrieking, eyes rolling and Hello Kitty panties flashing like Japanese schoolgirls who have just realized that the call is coming from inside the house!