Bell Curve The Law Talking Guy Raised by Republicans U.S. West
Well, he's kind of had it in for me ever since I accidentally ran over his dog. Actually, replace "accidentally" with "repeatedly," and replace "dog" with "son."

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Unconquerable Nation

The RAND corporation hsa published an excellent monograph by Brian Jenkins: Unconquerable Nation. Jenkins served as a Captain in the U.S. Army Special Forces during the Vietnam war, and he is now one of the nation's foremost experts on terrorism. In an article excerpted from the book, Jenkins argues that we have allowed ourselves to succumb to fear.

At home, we in America have spent the past five years scaring the hell out of ourselves... What else but fear can explain the readiness of Americans to tolerate tossing aside the very Geneva Convention agreements the United States had fought to implement? What else but fear could have led Americans to even entertain public arguments in favor of torture and against any restrictions on how we might treat those in custody?

Instead of scaring us, Jenkins says the government should have been reassuring us and helping us defend ourselves.
In the wake of 9/11, Washington’s continual reminders of imminent threats induced Americans to think of themselves as victims instead of protagonists... But the federal government does not provide homeland security. Citizens do. Our most effective defense against terrorism will come not from surveillance, concrete barriers, metal detectors, or new laws. It will come from our own virtue, our courage, our continued dedication to the ideals of a free society.

Perhaps most provocatively, Jenkins says that at least some of the terrorists can be redeemed and transformed into a force for good.
Those in custody should be offered the opportunity to quit jihad, repent, publicly recant. We should not let our desire for revenge or our determination to see justice done get in the way. We must be pragmatic. We are not settling blood debts... Would it not be better to try to enlist at least a few detainees as spokesmen against al Qaeda’s brand of jihad, having them tell their stories to would-be jihadists - explaining their initial illusions and their eventual disillusionment?

Jenkins writes much, much more than I have quoted here. His book is the most lucid discussion I have ever read of how we should be fighting terrorism. It opened my eyes, and I highly recommend it.


Anonymous said...

I think that last excerpt is spot on - exacting revenge by punishing jihadists is never going to discourage potential jihadists, it'll just disillusion them even more, and bias them further against the 'evil Western white man'. However, present them with one of their own, and that may just have some impact... 

// posted by Pombat

Anonymous said...

I think we should release the ones we know are innocent first. Then start worrying about converting the ones we know are guilty.

The problem is that since our current administration has spent the last several years holding these people in inhumane and humiliating conditions, I doubt we'd have much success with either policy. That's the real tragedy of the Bush policy. He's locked into a situation where our credibility and image are critically damaged and our options for the medium term are severly limited.

VOTE DEMOCRAT! A change in actual leadership changes the credibility and image situations and may actually enable us to take a broader approach - without resorting to the false dichotomy of "stay the course" and "cut and run." 

// posted by RBR

Anonymous said...

I hope that a Democratic president won't drink the cool aid and release these people and end the craziness in Iraq.

That is my big concern: we get a Democrat in there and he drinks tha cool aid.  

// posted by USWest

Anonymous said...

One more thing: we also need to bring the current Administration to trial. They shouldn't be allowed to just walk away, many of them for the second time.

If we as a nation want our moral authority back, we also have to repent and exact proper justice on those who, as of today have killed some 650,000 Iraqi civilians . 

// posted by USWest

Dr. Strangelove said...

Pombat: I agree. The very idea that jihadists could be persuaded to leave their evil ways seems never to have occurred to Bush. I suppose it was too much to hope for that a self-professed born-again Christian would understand repentance or redemption.

Anonymous said...

Maybe that's because he knows he's lying about his own repentance. He applies his own self loathing to everyone else around him. 

// posted by RBR