The American Conservative’s Andrew Bacevich tells Americans that “the West today finds itself caught in a paradox of its own making.”
The murderous attack earlier this month in Nice, France, prompted Jay Nordlinger, senior editor at the ostensibly conservative National Review, to propose a new approach to dealing with terrorism. His strategy is simplicity itself: “you have to kill these jihadists, and kill them, and kill them, until they simply tire of being killed and leave civilization alone.”
In their relations with the non-West—the peoples of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East—Western powers have rarely demonstrated a desire to be left alone. They have instead sought to subjugate and exploit populations classified as inferior. In pursuit of their objectives, they have relied not on suasion but on violence and intimidation.
Support for a keep-killing-until-they-quit approach is gaining momentum. Nordlinger is not alone in calling for escalation. Donald Trump has demanded a declaration of war against ISIS. His running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, proposes to “defeat this enemy of civilization at its source.” Bloodlust is on the rise. When the day of victory finally arrives, we may wonder what will then remain of the values we are ostensibly defending.
The West today finds itself caught in a paradox of its own making:
Violence employed by prior generations claiming to represent civilization has elicited a violent response; the violence we employ today to defend that civilization actually feeds the very forces that imperil it.
More from Bacevich here: