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Jason Holliston
Monday, August 16, 2004  
Are We In a World War?

In response to my post last week about the naming of our current struggle, an anonymous poster let me have it:

The US unilaterally declaring a war against 14 dead men and their mates because 3,000 people were killed in NYC doesn't make a world war my friend. Dream on.

Unfortunately, Blogger forces you to have a full account before attributing your comment post to an actual name, so I won't completely blame them for not putting in their name or site. Yet another good reason to move to Movable Type. Anyway, let's break down the statement:

"...US unilaterally declaring a war..." Sorry, we didn't declare it. Radical Islamism has been "at war" with the West since the Iranian revolution in 1979, and al Qaeda declared war on the United States in the mid-1990's. Not to mention this is hardly a unilateral war: we share the struggle with many other states, including on some level, all of Western Europe, Australia, large parts of Eastern Asia, and parts of the Middle East, just to start the list.

"...declaring a war against 14 dead men and their mates..." We're not trying to kill suicide agents that have already succeeded in their goal. That's just silly. If by "mates", you mean the entire radical Islamist movement, then you're right, that's who we're at war with, even though most people are afraid to say so.

"...doesn't make a world war..." Ah, the crux of the problem. So, what does make a world war? Can you define it easily? It is difficult, I'll admit. World War I was hardly a world war in its reach -- a vast majority of the fighting occurred only in Europe. The only reason it gets the moniker "world war" is due to the Europeans thinking that the world was Europe. World War II, I think, can safely be given that title, however, since major battles were fought on three continents and had a majority of the world's countries involved in some respect. The Cold War, I think, should be categorized as World War III, as it was probably more wide-ranging than the previous one. Bill Roggio over at The Fourth Rail does a good job at arguing why it should be named thus. I also direct you, again, to The Belmont Club's post about the whole "world war" definition.

That brings us to the current struggle, and why there's people out there, like my anonymous commentator, that believe that this is hardly a world war. First, you must name the enemy. In this case, the enemy is radical Islamism, or given another name, Islamo-fascism.


I can pretty much guarantee, that if I were having a conversation with this person, they would stop me and challenge that assertion. I've heard quite a few reasons why we're not at war -- or shouldn't be -- with them, but all ring hollow. The anti-war Left stops you at the first step, naming the enemy, because if they agree with that assessment, they would be forced to join the dialogue on how best to defeat the enemy. No, it's best for them just to ignore the fact that there are lots and lots of people in the world that want us dead for no other reason then we don't worship Allah and live under Sharia law. It's best just to give over to the notion that if we die, we deserve it, and if they die, it's our fault. Simplistic, but true. It's a sad holdover from the Left's anti-colonialist theory, that says that all the current problems in the third world have at their root cause colonialist policies. Take that idea and move it over to a new argument. There you go: instant anti-American rhetoric.

Common sense says that when you're hit, especially over and over again as we have been, you strike back and make sure that the aggressor loses the ability to hit you anymore. Or, in our case, make them not want to hit you anymore. That's really what we're doing all over the world (as in, world war) right now -- doing our best to ensure that a generation or two down the road, we won't have to wage war to protect our way of life, since they'll have, and want to keep, that same way of life. In that dream's absence, it becomes a war of attrition. We'd win that one too, but at a much, much higher cost to the societies we're now fighting in.

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