Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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June 21, 2004
By: Kevin Drum

"WINNING" THE WAR....I'm with Matt on my reaction to Spencer Ackerman's interview with Anonymous, the CIA guy who's about to release Imperial Hubris. He thinks we're losing the war on terrorism, but then proposes this as a winning strategy:

To secure as much of our way of life as possible, we will have to use military force in the way Americans used it on the fields of Virginia and Georgia, in France and on Pacific islands, and from skies over Tokyo and Dresden. Progress will be measured by the pace of killing....

Killing in large numbers is not enough to defeat our Muslim foes. With killing must come a Sherman-like razing of infrastructure. Roads and irrigation systems; bridges, power plants, and crops in the field; fertilizer plants and grain mills all these and more will need to be destroyed to deny the enemy its support base....[S]uch actions will yield large civilian casualties, displaced populations, and refugee flows. Again, this sort of bloody-mindedness is neither admirable nor desirable, but it will remain America's only option so long as she stands by her failed policies toward the Muslim world.

Anonymous basically thinks things are hopeless: America is utterly hated, reform is a chimera, there are no Arab moderates to appeal to, Al Jazeera controls the airwaves, and nothing short of extermination will stop al-Qaeda's fanatics. So extermination it is.

Now that's a counsel of despair. America is pretty plainly not planning to send an army of 10 million men to the Middle East to emulate Sherman's march to the sea, and if Anonymous truly believes that's the only thing that would work then it means he thinks we're doomed to failure.

So I guess that's that for Anonymous. Just for the sake of curiosity, though, I wonder how he thinks his Shermanesque approach to the Middle East would work? Does he really think we could occupy the entire region from Libya to Pakistan for the next 50 years? Or is he planning to soften them up with a couple dozen nukes first? Guess I'll have to read the book.

In any case, at least the prowar bloggers ought to have a new hero to chat up....

UPDATE: Does Anonymous really think that total war is the only option left to us? I asked Spencer Ackerman if he could clarify this, and he did. More here.

Kevin Drum 1:23 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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