The first call came in from someone identifying himself as an Army Ranger, in response to President Obama's earlier calls to contain and manage ISIS; he asked in frustration:
"How do you defeat an idea?"Which is a question that our govt and intellectual leaders have unfortunately given very little consideration to (certainly less than they've given to the more Politically Correct ideas of how our culture can go about accommodating all ideas).
The second call came in from a popular local bakery owner here in St. Louis, Dave McArthur, who pointed out that central to our waging WWII was our publicly, explicitly, identifying America's enemies to the American people. To that end propaganda posters filled our cities to remind us of the ugly business we were engaged in, reminded us of the brutal realities that such a war entailed and reminded us of the very real reasons why we were at war with Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany. Propaganda can of course be, and usually is, misused, but that was actually one of its few legitimate purposes it has, and it spurred Americans on the home-front on to victory; to a victory which was understood to be necessary, and a victory which would require us to devastate our enemies in Japan, and Germany to the point that they totally, unqualifiably, surrendered.
IOW we had a strategy which meant that "We win, they lose".
Why did victory require the devastating defeat and unqualified surrender of our enemies? Because, as with our world today, WWII was not about issues that could be negotiated, it was not about simple border or trade disputes, but about the violent and expansive imposition of absolutist political schemes in order to dominate some or all of the world.
WWII was not fought for things, but for ideas, ideas of liberty or tyranny. And as long as we desired to remain free, there was no possibility open for bargaining with such enemies of liberty, only their total defeat and surrender (It's also worth noting that after winning WWII, in fewer years than we've expended since 09/11/2001 to today, we had not only imposed a government and a constitution upon both Axis powers, but they had become, and have remained, actual allies of ours ever since; something the Paul Bremer-Bush admin kinder gentler coalition would never achieve in Iraq).
What Dave McArthur said about defeating the islamists of ISIS - and all the rest of those who wish to impose islamic rule upon the world - that it requires total war, is something that is horribly, painfully and exactly true.
There is no alternative - other than "We lose. They win", that is.
How do you defeat an idea?
The first caller asked exactly the right question:
"How do you defeat an idea?"And the answer is, if it is an idea that people are not open to discussing, an idea that will not tolerate reasonable alternatives, an idea that requires your death or your submission, then the answer to that question is a very simple one:
You cannot defeat an idea.All you can do is make physically certain that those of the enemy who might survive a war with you, would live in constant fear and dread at the thought of that idea ever again being in their head, let alone upon their lips. You cannot defeat an idea, you can only make people determined to no longer entertain them, because of the memory of the war they fought with you over it, and the fear of the possibility of such a conflict ever happening again, is too painful to think about.
This is not an anti-Islamic position, nor is it limited to radical islamists. For any of those that believe that the Emperor, or der Fuhrer, or das Capital, or Sharia, or whatever else the case might be, when they believe that their belief system entitles them to impose their political rule upon others by the sword, that killing those who don't agree with them is a viable policy, then they must be made to either die, or vigorously and forever repent of ever having had such ideas, plans and policies to impose tyrannical rule upon others.
And if we do not face up to the fact that that is the reality of what we are facing and fighting, then we cannot, and we will not, achieve victory - and the peace - that we seek.
And when we do finally face up to it, we will have to realize, and it will be the responsibility of our political and intellectual leaders to clarify what that means and to keep it current in public opinion that we will have to defeat ISIS exactly as we did the Nazi's and Imperial Japan - by destroying them, ruthlessly, utterly and completely.
Our failure, and our leaders failure, has been to try and turn away from that reality. It's what we failed to face up to after the Marine Barracks bombing in Lebanon under Reagan, what we failed to face up to during and after the Gulf War under Bush I, what we failed to face up to during the World Trade Tower bombing under Clinton and what we have continued to fail to face up to during and after Iraq & Afghanistan with Bush II and Obama today.
And that is why, 13 years after September 11th, 2001, we are still being threatened, and why our people are still being harangued and murdered by islamist radicals today. And despite President Obama's denial that ISIS is not a 'legitimate state', their undocumented state covers great swaths of Syria and Iraq - territory which we must now, one way or another, rid them of.
If we want these conflicts to end, then we will have to ensure that the idea that it is acceptable, desirable and practical idea to impose their radical ideology upon us, we must make it thoroughly understood that that idea means death and destruction for those holding it - or we will remain ever at their mercy.
It is an alternative we'd better face up to this September 11th: 9/11 never again... or 9/11