Except in the rare circumstance when genocide is the goal, war is never an end in itself. It is always a means to the end of a better negotiating position. Someone in one of these threads mentioned the old saying that war is diplomacy by other means. With this in mind, consider Judyrose’s question, asked twice now but not answered, of what we could offer to the jihadists at the negotiating table. If we take the approach of the liberals, who would withdraw from Iraq and, essentially, abandon war and the threat of war as negotiating tools, we would have nothing to offer.
The plain truth is the jihadists want to destroy us, our society, our freedoms, our religion, our way of life. They’ve said so over and over again. They have proven over and over again that they are deadly serious. Assuming we are not willing to surrender those things, we really do have nothing to offer that they would be interested in. The only other alternative I see is to “persuade” them to abandon those goals. I’m absolutely certain that talking nicely to them won’t do that. They aren’t interested in the usual bribe-like financial incentives. They don’t want to join our modern-day materialistic society; they want to destroy it.
The only way we can persuade them to give up their goals is by persuading them that (a) they cannot possibly achieve those goals, and (b) we will make it so painful for them to even try that they should abandon the effort. Obviously, we can do this only by displaying a commitment to war and a ruthlessness that we have thus far utterly failed to show. We have the power to really “shock and awe” but we have never unleashed it or even threatened serious to do so. Until we do so, the jihadist threat will grow. Attempting to appease or persuade them with anything short of the use, or serious threat of use, of all of our power will surely fail.
This leads to a serious question, though. The American public has shown conclusively that they are not nearly ruthless enough. They will not even support the limited effort we are making in Iraq. They are not about to support the kind of military effort it would take to have any deterrent effect on the jihadists.
So, two questions: (1) are there any other alternatives to serious warfare which will result in the johadists giving up? (2) If not, how do we persuade the American people (and the rest of the non-Muslim world, for that matter) that such a serious, grim and ruthless effort is necessary?