Not Your Father’s Resistance

Steve Chapman, a member of the Chicago Tribune editorial board, has a column like many we’re seeing from commentators on the Left. It puzzles me.

Chapman writes:

One thing we should have learned from the last century is that people generally detest foreign occupation. Another is that when resistance to occupation flares into full-fledged war or insurgency, the resistance almost always prevails in the end.

So when Iraq day laborers are mass-murdered by a suicide bomber, when teachers are taken from their classrooms, lined up and shot — that’s because the killers “detest foreign occupation”? Isn’t that a rather odd way to express it?

And when a Sunni uses a power drill to torture a Shia to death, or when a Shia death squad drives a Sunni family from their home, that’s “resistance” which “prevails in the end”? I think I recall the French Resistance taking a somewhat different approach.

Chapman adds:

Look at the French in Algeria, the Americans in Vietnam, the Israelis in Lebanon (in the 1980s and ’90s) or the Soviets in Afghanistan. Each had huge advantages in military might, but all failed.

So based on that we should conclude that failure is inevitable? There is no succeeding – no change in thinking or policy or strategy can save us from defeat? Well, those who believe that are hardly alone. It has long been the working assumption of bin Laden, Saddam, Ahmadinejad et al. How gratifying to them that our intellectual elites have embraced and internalized their key message. If only the US were so adept at communications and public diplomacy.

And if we can’t win in Iraq, surely we can’t win in Afghanistan – or Somalia (where Islamists are setting up shop) or anywhere else.

And when, from these places, our enemies plot future 9/11s, we should do what? Lob Cruise missiles at camels, tent camps and aspirin factories? Urge the Israelis to give up the Golan Heights? Launch New Diplomatic Offenses in which we’d ask those shouting “Death to America!” if they wouldn’t consider yelling “Serious Allergies to America!” instead in exchange for membership in the WTO? 

Clifford D. May — Clifford D. May is an American journalist and editor. He is the president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a conservative policy institute created shortly after the 9/11 attacks, ...

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