November 19, 2002

BRINK LINDSEY writes that the barbarians are back:

We face, now and for the foreseeable future, the threat of a new barbarism. The new barbarians, like those of old, consist of groups in which every member is a potential warrior. Like their predecessors, the new barbarians rely on their ability to outmaneuver their civilized adversaries, to concentrate deadly force at vulnerable spots. But unlike the old steppe nomads, the new barbarians seek neither booty nor conquest. Our new barbarian adversaries pursue a strategy of pure and perfect nihilism: They seek destruction for destruction’s sake. Their strategy, in other words, is terrorism.

Well, we’re hardly weak in this battle. Civilized societies have always won against barbarians ever since the industrial revolution made making things a greater source of power than breaking them.

Civilized societies have found it harder, though, to beat the barbarians without killing all, or nearly all, of them. Were it really to become all-out war of the sort that Osama and his ilk want, the likely result would be genocide — unavoidable, and provoked, perhaps, but genocide nonetheless, akin to what Rome did to Carthage, or to what Americans did to American Indians. That’s what happens when two societies can’t live together, and the weaker one won’t stop fighting — especially when the weaker one targets the civilians and children of the stronger. This is why I think it’s important to pursue a vigorous military strategy now. Because if we don’t, the military strategy we’ll have to follow in five or ten years will be light-years beyond “vigorous.”

UPDATE: A lawyer reader emails:

“The new barbarians, like those of old, consist of groups in which every member is a potential warrior.”

It seems to me that a part of the defense against these “barbarians” is to make every (or least most) members of our society a potential warrior by expanding concealed carry rights and allowing people to carry guns as a matter of course. I say this as a person who cannot be considered a gun nut. I am not a hunter, I’ve never been an NRA member and I have only minimal experience with guns. For a long time I supported gun control, but no longer. Now I am seriously considering purchasing a gun and getting trained to use it properly.

Why would I do this? Consider it my part in the war on terror. In this war, unlike any other, we are all on the front lines. Terrorists have attacked civilians and have announced that attacks on civilians are part of their strategy. Since the terrorists can pick the time and place of attack, the police cannot help us. They can’t be everywhere and can’t respond quickly enough. The only solution is to prepare our citizenry to fight back. We are all soldiers now.

Times have certainly changed when you hear talk like this from bigshot lawyers at big, stuffy law firms. But this guy must be a mind-reader, because my TechCentralStation column for tomorrow has more along these lines.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Ken Summers writes:

I have to take issue with use of the term “genocide”. Genocide implies murder because it is the destruction of a group based on their group identity. Destruction of a group because they refuse to quit fighting should be termed “group suicide”, or simply as self-defense.

I had a discussion with ArmedLiberal over the use of the term for the Hiroshima and Nagaski bombings. He applied it to the bombings, recognizing that they were necessary. My biew, though, is that calling such bombings (or destruction of a group that refuses to quit fighting) is akin to using the term “justifiable murder”.

Well, okay.

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