I’ve often opined that the Left is stuck in Gandhi mode. This is the believe that the only possible form of resistance is the non-violent type. To that, I always point out that this worked for Gandhi because the other side was England which, in those days, didn’t have the stomach for bloody massacres (something that, presumably, will be different once the Muslims take the helm). Ann Coulter, who often walks a thin line between brilliance and savage vulgarity, gets it:
The belief that we can impress the enemy with our magnanimity is an idea that just won’t die. It’s worse than the idea that paying welfare recipients benefits won’t discourage them from working. (Some tiny minority might still seek work.) It’s worse than the idea that taxes can be raised endlessly without reducing tax receipts. (As the Laffer Curve illustrates, at some point – a point this country will never reach – taxes could theoretically be cut so much that tax revenues would decline.)
But being nice to enemies is an idea that has never worked, no matter how many times liberals make us do it. It didn’t work with the Soviet Union, Imperial Japan, Hitler or the North Vietnamese – enemies notable for being more civilized than the Islamic savages we are at war with today.
By the way, how did the Geneva Conventions work out for McCain at the Hanoi Hilton?
It doesn’t even work with the Democrats, whom Bush kept sucking up to his first year in office. No more movie nights at the White House with Teddy Kennedy these days, I’m guessing.
It was this idea (Be nice!) that fueled leftists’ rage at Reagan when he vanquished the Soviet Union with his macho “cowboy diplomacy” that was going to get us all blown up. As the Times editorial page hysterically described Reagan’s first year in office: “Mr. Reagan looked at the world through gun sights.” Yes, he did! And now the Evil Empire is no more.
It was this idiotic idea of being nice to predators that drove left-wing crime policies in the ’60s and ’70s – leading like night into day to unprecedented crime rates. Now these same leftist ninnies want to extend their tender mercies not just to rapists and murderers, but to Islamic terrorists.
Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Ronald Reagan, and Winston Churchill had a different idea: Instead of rewarding bad behavior, punish bad behavior. How many times does punishment have to work and coddling have to fail before we never have to hear again that if we treat terrorists well, the terrorists will treat our prisoners well?
Fortunately, history always begins this morning for leftists, so they can keep flogging the same idiotic idea that has never, ever worked: Be nice to our enemies and they will reward us with good behavior.
And before someone runs away with the idea that I’m advocating torture of the type that springs to mind when one thinks of Torquemada or the Gestapo, I’m not. I am entirely comfortable, however, with the idea that known enemy combatants — that is, people who have already embraced the idea of physical risk to achieve their goals in the first instance — can be subject to coercive tactics if those tactics might yield information that will prevent attacks against Americans.
Coercive tactics, in my book, do not include savage beatings, electrocutions, burning, racking, pressing, bone breaking, “scientific” experiments, rape, flaying, etc. They do, however, include sleep deprivation, cold, hunger or loneliness at levels, and for lengths of time, that, while not causing permanent damage or bringing a person anywhere near death, nevertheless make someone willing to spill some beans in order to be returned to a more acceptable level of physical comfort.
And just to clarify further, when I mention coercive techniques in the context of the current war, I’m talking about using them against combatants who do not fight under the banner of nations that have signed the Geneva convention. This isn’t just a pure legalism. It’s practical. If a nation has entered the Geneva convention, it is a defined entity that has a physical location (such as, say, France) and that has representatives (say, Chirac). You can find it and you can speak to it. If you’ve got Joe Shmo (or, should I say, Mohammed Al-Shmo) from Turkey, via Britain and Germany, who owes his allegiance to a small branch of terrorists that’s loosely affiliated with Al Qaeda, with whom are you going to negotiate?
UPDATE: Deroy Murdock has another excellent article on the Western fallacy that “being nice” to zealots, fanatics and sadists will change their behavior.