I’m still catching up on reading after the holidays, and I see that RCP’s Tom Bevan gripes:
Many thanks to Katrina Vanden Heuvel of The Nation for just beating the December 31 deadline for the dumbest comment of the year award. Regarding the failed terror attack on Flight 253, Vanden Heuvel writes:
I believe the lesson is that we need to end as quickly as possible the military occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan and call for an end to permanent war against Islamic terrorists.
Because the terrorists will stop trying to kill us if we do these things, right? You would think that if the last decade has taught the world anything – from 9/11 to London to Bali to Madrid to scores of other places around the globe – it’s that laying down our arms and giving the Islamic terrorists a big hug will not achieve the preferred outcome.
Bevan makes a classic conservative (neoconservative?) mistake here, asking the wrong question. What matters isn’t whether us ending the wars in Iraq in Afghanistan will make the terrorists stop trying to kill us. No, what matters is whether continuing those wars will make them stop trying to kill us. If the answer to that question is “no,” then it’s all a colossal waste of time, money, effort, and human life. And to Vanden Heuvel’s “dumb” point, that’s time, money, and effort (and, potentially, human life) that could be better used in other ways that do make them less likely to try to kill us.
As plenty of counterterrorism experts have pointed out, our military actions in that region of the world ironically makes them more likely to try to kill us, so it’s exactly counterproductive. Of course, since those experts envision approaches that extend beyond
blowing up brown-skinned people, they’re “unserious.”
But Bevan gets even worse:
These people wanted to kill us yesterday, they want to kill us today, and they will want to kill us tomorrow (and every day after that) until either 1) we cease to exist or 2) reform-minded Muslims finally stand up and take their religion back from these violent lunatics.
To think otherwise is to indulge in a fantasy – and an exceedingly deadly one at that.
OK, Mr. Wizard: In what way does our continued occupation of two sovereign Middle-Eastern nations make option 2 the slightest bit more likely? We’re left to wonder, because Bevan doesn’t bother to explain it, and, as I mentioned, those “unserious” experts claim that quite the opposite is true. It’s as if he’s wholly unaware that he’s just completely undermined the point he was trying to make, even if one buys the risible “they hate us for our freedoms” logic that seems to underlie his argument (which I obviously don’t).
In trying to call out the alleged “dumbest comment of 2009,” Bevan has instead provided us with arguably the dumbest blog post of 2009.
Footnote to the Preceding: His colleague David Paul Kuhn makes a valiant early attempt at the 2010 honor, writing a blog post in which he argues that political reporters pay too much attention to political bloggers. I’ll take that as a sign that political reporters can safely ignore his posts.