One of the more pressing questions in the ongoing war against Islamofascism is, how do we fight these people?
It’s not just an academic question. The opponents of classical liberal civilization have become adept at using the West’s principles against us. The Geneva Conventions, for instance, were originally designed to protect both civilian populations and members of lawful armies from mistreatment. Terrorists from Lebanon to Somalia to Afghanistan, with no small amount of help from jurists and journalists in the West, have learned to turn those principles on their heads, regularly using civilian populations as shields from attack, only to turn and claim “atrocity” when attacks are carried out against terrorists hiding amist civilians. They have also used the West’s legal systems as defenses, claiming rights to which they are not entitled under the letters of prior treaties, but accepting no responsibility for their own barbaric treatment of captured Western soldiers or civilians.
These conditions are not likely to change. Gunmen in Mogadishu learned early that Americans do not attack women and children; they quite literally hid behind civilian women while shooting at US troops as a result. What then can the response be from the civilized world?
For the Israelis, when Hezbollah intentionally locates its forces within civilian neighborhoods and next to technically neutral “UN peacekeepers,” the answer is to attack anyway, albeit after sending warnings to the civilian population to flee (imagine for a moment the leadership of al Queda or Hezbollah even contemplating taking the same measures). In a world without many easy answers, their decision is understandable, if still terrible.
The question still remains for us: how do we fight? We don’t want to stoop to the enemy’s barbarism, but it’s even less palatable to consider acquiescing to that very same barbarism. They must be defeated, but how, and at what cost, both to us or to innocents in between?
In the end, I’m afraid the answer is still the terrible one: unwillingly harming innocents in the crossfire is still preferrable to surrender–especially when surrender means subjugation at best and annihilation at worst. It’s an awful, awful choice, but it’s one we’re going to have to make many times over during the harsh years of the Long War.