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28 July 2005

Not One Cent for Tribute!

John Derbyshire, aka "the Derb", writing in NRO's blog, gives a rather British view of how the war on terror should play out (in contrast to the more conventionally American conservative views of his NRO colleagues):
I see the world as comprised of a zone of civilization, and a zone of barbarism. The barbarians are nomads and raiders (or descended from such), who attack us by raiding "over the wall" when we are complacent and unprepared -- that is how I saw 9/11. Our policy should be the one practiced by the great empires throughout history: (1) Soothe the barbarians with flattery, gifts, bribes, and commerce -- and yes, always hope they will take up civilized ways, which they always might. (2) Watch them constantly for signs of trouble. Infiltrate, conduct quiet assassinations, set them squabbling among themselves. (I greatly enjoyed the Iran-Iraq War.) Then, when (1) and (2) fail, as they always do sooner or later, (3) send an expeditionary force to chase them round the steppe, smash up their assets, humiliate their leaders, and knock them off balance for a few decades.

This seems rather sensible to me, particularly after the experience of the last few years. We (Americans) have always prided ourselves on not taking any shit from anyone. Even in the early days of the Republic, we departed from the European custom of paying tribute to the Barbary pirates of Tunisia, and instead sent an expeditionary force to quash them. It didn't really work out the way we hoped, and we ended up paying the bribes anyway. But we got out of it the memorable slogan "Millions for defense, but not one cent for tribute!" Fast forward to the 1980's, and Ronald Reagan pledged to never give in to terrorists while authorizing a deal to spring kidnapped hostages. The insistence not to negotiate with terrorists is not always easy to stick to, particularly when the costs escalate. While it's true that paying-off terrorists can encourage continued terror acts, if combined with a credible threat of overwhelming force it need not. That's why dictatorship is the preferred form of government in non-Western governments - they can do our dirty work while being easily bribed.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Harlem said...

Ziel:
What a wishy-washy, namby-pamby reading of the current situation and our options therein.
The strategy seems like a "lull them into a sense of security" but that is tough to do when they are on the offensive.
We need more of what has taken place this week. Raids on suspicious houses, hightened security and public condemnation of the terrorists from every avenue. I'd like to see (and am surprised that an agnostic like me has to call for it) a public condemnation from Pope Sid (or whatever his name is).
It was great to see that the fatwha (sp?) was issued by the American Muslim clerics.
I'd like to see the IRA announcement of laying down arms folded into the big picture.
What we need is for the world to agree that oppression and terrorism is not an acceptable avenue to any type of freedom or recognition.
It's a tough message for the US to promote, given our current situation in Iraq, but maybe we should be learning from that as well.

July 29, 2005 11:11 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

Well, I agree it is a bit namby-pamby. But it comes from the idea that we need to protect our turf and deal with them on their turf. What's most disturbing to me is being wishy-washy on defending our turf - our inability to discriminate on who comes thru our borders. It's rather obvious but therefore more compelling that had we an immigration policy that deliberately discriminates against non-Western immigrants 9/11 would never have happened. For some reason my DNA won't let me understand why we are incapable of having such an immigration policy.
But the world will never agree that terrorism is unacceptable because much of the world operates under the premise that terrorism is wholly natural. What else would you do to your enemies but slaughter them? And who are your enemies? Why everyone who is not in your tribe.

July 30, 2005 1:24 AM  
Anonymous Jim lV said...

"It's rather obvious but therefore more compelling that had we an immigration policy that deliberately discriminates against non-Western immigrants 9/11 would never have happened."
Pat- is that you??

August 01, 2005 11:17 PM  
Anonymous Harlem said...

Ziel:
Jim Iv said exactly what I was thinking when I read your response.
Your position is Pat Buchanan isolationism personified. I'm not sure that it isn't a valid position but it is unrealistic. The government, at least the current regime but certainly not limited to them, serves the military industrial complex at least as much (more I fear) than they do the general public.
Isolationism will result in a closing of not just the immigration borders but the economic borders as well and big business just won't stand for that. Imagine us telling Halleburton that we are pulling back and will support no more activity in countries we view as enemies or threats. Never gonna happen.
On the positive side, if we did adopt an isolationist policy, think what it would do for local American economies that are continually reeling from base closures.
Harlem

August 05, 2005 7:56 PM  
Blogger ziel said...

I guess I should clarify: I meant that if we only permitted immigration from countries where the citizens would ethnically and culturally best fit our nation as a whole, 9/11 wouldn't have happened. I don't see any real economic dangers in this policy.

August 05, 2005 8:37 PM  
Anonymous Harlem said...

Ziel:
"Ethnically & culturally best fit our nation" might even be to the right of Buchanan, if there is any room there. Not necessarily saying I disagree but you've got to admit that is in "right field", and deep.

August 05, 2005 9:50 PM  
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