Yesterday, I had a telephone conversation with a very close friend. He is a successful no-nonsense businessman, a model father, an adoring husband, and a great credit to his community.
My friend is also generous to a fault. He is front and center when it comes time to lending a helping hand to his family, his friends and his Church.
But like so many other well meaning people, he suffers from a real disconnect.
He believes that President George W Bush has crossed the line in “his” war against TERRORISM. And that the net Bush has cast to capture enemy combatants is too large and capable of ensnaring innocent people.
And he really doesn’t like that Bush just signed into law a program which allows for summary detention, a military tribunal to try suspected enemy combatants, and the right to use coercive means to extract information from them.
To many people, coercive means is code-speak for torture. Which to an extent, it probably is.
Well, I don’t like any of that either. And I don’t support it. But, unlike my very good friend, I see this as being an extremely necessary evil in our self-defense against Islamo-Fascism. And I accept it as an evil of war.
The problem with the war we are engaged in, is that it doesn’t seem to be a war at all.
Where are the uniformed enemy troops? Where are the pitched battles and battle fields? Whose flag(s) are we supposed to capture? And when will we win an unconditional surrender from the enemy?
If bombs were falling all over our cities, enemy battle-ships were blasting our shoreline from just beyond the horizon, fighter-jets strafing our highways and enemy troops charging upon our soil, my friend and every other right-thinking person would have no problem doing whatever it would take to repel the enemy.
INCLUDING USING COERCIVE MEASURES!
But this isn’t that kind of war we’re fighting. The enemy which is engaged against us is no less vicious or determined than a uniformed military. It’s just that they’re invisible.
That’s right. They’re invisible.
The enemy we’re facing who are bound and determined to do us in, fights from the shadows. He/she is your neighbor, your co-worker and sometimes a member of your own family. He/she comes from poverty stricken areas, or is a product of wealth. And he/she is absolutely ignorant and possibly illiterate or college educated.
They are everywhere and they could be anyone. Now that’s an enemy to be feared.
On top of this, this enemy we’re facing is willing and even eager to die in order to kill us. As a matter of fact, dying is what they’re all about.
The fact that they don’t wear uniforms or fight under a national flag makes them even that much more difficult to defend against.
But make no mistake about it. This enemy is as united in their cause to destroy us, as was any uniformed enemy we have ever faced.
Yet, because this is as unconventional a war as there has ever been, people like my friend are aghast that we will use techniques that are in our culture morally unacceptable. Actually reprehensible.
But, if this enemy wore uniforms making them visible, and was seen to be attacking us on our homeland, the rules set forth by President Bush and the US Congress to deal with them would be more than acceptable.
The problem we are living with in our war against Islamo-Fascism is simple.
To people like my good friend, he just doesn’t appreciate that we are really at war, and the enemy we have to beat is as determined to destroy us, as any other enemy we’ve ever encountered.
And for them, there is no Geneva Convention or any rules of engagement. There is only absolute TERROR. The more terrible the better. Yet, my well meaning friend wants us to deal with these savages by our own civilized standards.
Until such time that we all understand that there is a real war being waged around the world and on our own soil, my friend will always believe that leaders like George W Bush are over the top Right Wingers.
I fear the day after the US November mid-term elections when the Democrats will most probably take over control of the Senate and the House of representatives, and our guard will drop against this implacable foe.
And only after another series of 9/11 type catastrophes, will people like my friend understand the consequences of not acknowledging the fact that the world is really at war.
And that there are people out there who are absolutely determined to destroy us in any way they can.
And only then will decent people like my friend pray for the return of a leader with the courage to do the unpleasant things that must be done, so we and our loved ones may survive.