"Mirroring" and Compromise

[Earlier today I got involved in a private, inter-office email war that I am often made privy to. It’s a law firm, you see, and lawyers (like me) like to argue about things.  Generally it sharpens the mind, and this was no exception.


What got me into the fight was the overall idea that negotiation is always preferable to conflict and that the Patriot Act, specifically, was a horrible usurpation of our freedoms and produced no good result.

Here’s a response. The name which I am responding specifically to has been changed to Mary.]


I have resisted the urge to comment on these epic battles (although they have been great reading) but I feel I must interject something here regarding the Patriot act and this pious belief that it was somehow evil and beneath us.

On Friday, I interviewed a life-long CIA case officer who has recently joined a flood of life-long intelligence officers who are resigning from the CIA. He resigned because the George Bush’s Global War on Terror has been changed to Barack Obama’s Global War on the CIA. When Eric Holder has been tasked with prosecuting the people who have kept this country and its citizens safe against murderers that do not use armies and bombers and battleships but rather box cutters, airlines and anthrax powder, he eliminated our defense department — which in thiswar, is the CIA and the other Intelligence services.  With one exception, I have not heard of a single case of a US citizen’s rights being infringed by the Patriot Act. The single exception is that of the “US Citizen” who — while technically a citizen — is a Jihadi immigrant who was assembling the materials for a radioactive bomb that would have killed a few hundred thousand of his “fellow citizens.”


The CIA is the immune system of the country. It operates invisibly to kill invading threats. This case officer confirmed what I have known from other intelligence operatives: namely, that “several” (to me that would be more than three and less than twenty, which would be “scores”) attacks EQUAL TO OR EXCEEDING 9/11 have been stopped by these people specifically because of the intelligence-gathering tools provided by the Patriot Act. But those men and women and their lifetime of experience are now leaving the agency in droves, specifically because this Leftist President — like most leftists — sees his own people as the enemy of peace and not the 7th Century savages that would have peace-loving people like Mary living in a Burka and unable to leave the house without male escort.

I’m afraid, Mary, that if you have your way you will not be legal assistant to anyone, and neither will any of your daughters, sisters, mothers or aunts. Their job, and yours, will be to create male children, and succumb to whatever beatings, rapes and “honor killings” the men you create may feel entitled to at the whim of the moment. This is the inevitable outcome of having a president that attacks not the germs but the white blood cells. Obama is giving the American immune system AIDS.

When the subject of Obama as a “peacemaker” comes up, people like Mary seem to think that the answer is to be nice and talk to people and the problem will go away. This is known as “mirroring,” and it is the blind spot that most people bring to negotiations — the idea that our opponents want the same things we do. In Afghanistan we are dealing with an enemy who insists on praying to Allah multiple times a day, who believes that women are subhuman, that homosexuals be killed on sight (preferably by crushing them under falling walls — look it up) and that any criticism of Allah, his Prophet (PBOH) or his clerics is punishable by beating or death. That is their IRREDUCIBLE CORE BELIEF SYSTEM and for that they are willing to die. We, on the other hand, believe in fundamental human dignity for all, the right to worship or not as we see fit, the right of women and homosexuals to live lives as equal members of society, and the fundamental right to say whatever we damn well choose. Those in turn are OUR IRREDUCIBLE CORE BELIEF SYSTEMS for which SOME of us are willing to fight and die.


Now Mary, perhaps you can tell me where the talking, Nobel Peace Prize-winning,  negotiatable answer to this conflict lies? Jihadis will not be talked down into worshiping Allah only two times a day, allowing women out of the Burka on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays nor will they allow criticism of their religion on months that have an “R” in it. Likewise, I am not willing to be forced to pray to Allah on even-numbered days, nor will I give up my freedom to say what I think except on Freedom Tuesday.

So there you have it. Irreducible conflicts of FUNDAMENTAL BASIC INTERESTS will sometimes lead to war. That is beyond debate, and you cannot show a time in history where this was not the case. I on the other hand, can show you a continuous spectrum of human history where this has always been the case, and I can go further. I can show you many instances where a civilization grew to power and success on the basis of courage, hard work, individual responsibility and belief in their own greatness, and then, over a few decades of success, became self-satisfied moral cowards who were too comfortable with their own lives to face the reality of what lay outside those city walls and therefor lost the will and the moral and physical courage to defend it. Those societies are dust now, and the finely-robed defenders of talk and negotiation and Peace Prizes were put to the sword if they were men, raped and murdered if they were women or sold into slavery if they were children.


I for one am against seeing that happen. If you believe that a good society does not deserve to defend itself against bad societies merely because philosophers like Michael Moore have concluded it is not perfect then we are in trouble. And forgive me for making this personal, but if you support this weakening of our defenses and the politicians that call for them, then you become responsible for the consequences of the next attack in the same way that I am responsible for the civilian deaths and subsequent freedom of the people in Iraq, the invasion of which I supported with my votes. I would remind you in closing that the terror attacks of 9/11 started planning in 1995, at the height of the Clinton feel-good Presidency, and that numerous dry runs had taken place before Bush was elected. This idea that if we are nice to them they will leave us alone is demonstrable false in the face of the EVIDENCE, as is the fact that an aggressive defense also produces EVIDENCE that this can keep us secure.

I would have expected a legal mind to have more respect for cause and effect and the ability to weigh evidence than you seem to show.


Bill Whittle

[A little late for the note, but from the comments I realize some people thought I might have been a lawyer myself. Nope. Just a naturally argumentative cuss who is occasionally privy to some lawerly conversations. ]


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