“Military force vs. islamic strongholds is quite an absurd method of combatting radical, violent islam.
How is that absurd? You repel force with overwhelming counterforce.
BTW, I never said military force alone would defeat jihad.
For one thing, its stateless”
That’s simplistic. There are state sponsors of terrorism like Iran and Syria.
To some extent that’s also true of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia—although they scaled back after 9/11 out of fear of American military reprisal.
The jihadis need material resources to do their thing.
“For another it is ideological”
Yes, a militant ideology.
One way of combating a militant ideology is to defeat it militarily. That’s what we did with Japan in WWII. Pretty successful, I’d say.
Nothing falsifies a triumphalist ideology quite like failure. The defeat of the Nazis is another case in point.
“And fueled by the perception of imperialistic aims backed by military power.”
The theology of jihad antedates Western “imperialism” by centuries. It’s the jihadist ideology that’s imperialistic.
And, if you wish to cast it in such terms, it’s commonplace in military history for one “imperialistic” regime to crush another “imperialistic” regime and put it out of business.
“American militarism has created radical islam.”
Is that a fact? What’s your historical referent? How far back in American history are you going? When do you think this began? Care to give me a date? Was there some pivotal event?
“So how in the world will more stupid (and amoral) foreign policy ratchet down the hostility.”
Killing your enemies can be a pretty effective way of ratcheting down the hostility.
“We let the genie out of the bottle.”
And when did we do this?
What about the Ottoman Empire? Or the Mongol invasion before that? Or the Abbasid conquest before that?
These were all Islamic warrior cultures.
“More of the same will only create more terrorists, until what?”
Do you have any hard statistical data to back up your claim?
“Our govt shrugs its shoulders and says ‘Oh well, now we HAVE TO nuke 'em"?”
Really? Can you quote any high-ranking administration official who’s said that?
“Funny, I don't think God condones that sort of logic.”
Aside from the fact that you’re building on a faulty premise, how do you know what God thinks of our foreign policy?
“And ‘them’ happens to be men-made-in-God's-image. It's time to start thinking of these persons as human beings.”
A straw man argument. It’s because the jihadis are human beings made in God’s image that they are morally responsible agents.
There were laws for conventional war as well as holy war in the OT (Deut 20). Is that because God viewed the Canaanites as subhuman?
If an armed house-burglar breaks into my home and threatens my family, I’ll kill him if I get the chance.
There’s a basic difference between innocence and guilt.
And if you and your like-minded friends really care so much, why don’t you all emigrate to Pakistan or Iran or Syria or Saudi Arabia and practice your philosophy on the locals?
“ Maybe some of them do think of you as an insect. Does that make it right for you to return the favor?”
Another straw man argument. Self-defense is not predicated on what your assailant thinks of you, but what he does or intends to do.
“You don't combat an ideology or religion with physical means.”
You can combat a militaristic ideology by militaristic means. Nothing is more disillusioning to the proponents of a militaristic ideology that ignominious defeat.
“It's a fools errand to think that by killing zillions of arab muslims, you will eliminate islam, and eradicate evil thoughts.”
You’re addicted to straw man arguments. No one is supposing that we are going to eliminate Islam.
Thus far, the vast majority of Muslims are sitting on the sidelines waiting to see who will win. Only a fraction are active jihadis.
“Wasn't that the error of Pol Pot? of communism? of naziism? of ancient Rome vs. Christianity?”
These regimes weren’t brought down by flower-power.
Conversely, force can be a very effective way of stamping out religion. The Mideast was once Christian. Now the Christians are hanging by a thread.
The brutality of the Counter Reformation (e.g. the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre) was very successful in halting and scaling back many of the inroads made by the Reformation.
“All that's happenning right now is hate-breeding,”
Once again, do you have any comparative statistics?
“And the curtailing of missionary effectiveness, not only in islamic countries, but everywhere.”
You’re living in a fantasy world. Evangelism is illegal in countries governed by Sharia, and converts are executed.
“America has lost goodwill around the world.”
Another example of your naïveté.
“And instead of introspection, we bemoan the fact that "no one understands us.’"
Is that what “we” are doing? Who’s the “we”?
“Well, maybe they do understand us, and we don't understand us.”
Or maybe you don’t understand the nature of the enemy.
“Why should we think that God supports our stand--militarily or ideologically--against islam, when the wickedness of the west may well be more nauseating to God than militant islam?”
You like to jumble a lot of things together. God is opposed to Islam.
Since we’re in no position to know whether God either supports or opposes the Iraq war—to take one example—God’s delitescent position is irrelevant to our foreign policy. We can only act on what we know or think we know, and not on what we do not know and cannot know.
“Maybe islam is God's hammer today?”
And maybe it’s not.
There’s only one way to test a hypothetical—and that’s by putting it to the test.
“But since the spiritual battle is the real battle,”
This is a Gnostic view of the “real” battle. A “real” battle can be both. It can be a physical force which is animated by a spiritual motive.
“Islam will not be defeated by "democracy" (a false religion) or nukes, because God will not let it happen. He will not let men, with their idolatry and illegitimate means, claim his victory.”
You have a very confused mind:
1.We’re not trying to defeat Islam. Rather, we’re trying to defeat a jihadist expression of Islam.
2.It’s not a choice between total victory and total defeat.
Rather, it’s more a matter of cutting your enemies down to size. You cannot eradicate the threat, but you can minimize it.
3.In what sense is democracy a “false religion”? Are you a registered voter? Does the act of voting make you an idolater?
4.Maybe democracy won’t work in the Mideast. You don’t know what will work until you try it. If one thing fails, you try another.
5.Once more, where does the talk of “nuking” our enemies come from? What are your sources? Any direct quotes from Bush, Cheney, Condi, or Rummy?
6.But as long as you bring up the issue, if it came down to a choice between Iran nuking the US, or the US nuking Iran, then “we” should nuke Iran.
“There is no true victory that is not a moral victory. And there is no genuine defeat where there is moral victory. “
That sounds very nice on a bumper sticker, but even “immoral” military victories are genuine victories. They stick.
“Americans know their govt bludgeons entire nations for the sins of a few.”
What’s the referent? Iraq? Afghanistan?
I’d add that jihadis can only function with popular support.
“Americans know their govt now justifies torture in the name of expediency.”
To begin with, “torture” is a word used the critics, which they then impute to the “gov’t.”
You don’t get to frame the issue the way you like, and then blame the rest of us for your prejudicial characterization.
Interrogation is not the same thing as torture. The first question to ask is how to extract information from an enemy.
There are many available methods.
Critics like you use “torture” as a conversation stopper.
“Pragmatism will sap every ounce of moral will in this nation,”
Pure pragmatism is immoral, but pragmatic considerations are not inherently immoral. To the contrary, pragmatic considerations are an essential element in much moral valuation.
Do you believe in disarming the police? Are consequences irrelevant?
“Until embracing islam seems like a positively moral choice.”
You place great confidence in your prophetic powers. If it turns out that you prognostications were false, I assume you don’t mind if we stone you to death.
“It's already happenning on the left wing,”
Where, exactly, is this happening? Is Nancy Pelosi or Arianna Huffington or Katrina vanden Heuvel sporting a burqa these days?
Is Teddy Kennedy praying to Mecca fives times a day and observing the fast of Ramadan?
“And its migrating rightward.”
Once again, where is this happening? Is there an emerging pattern of conservative Christians and Ultra-Orthodox Jews converting to Islam? Or even libertarians?
“It's high time for true Christians to self-consciously distance themselves from the pragmatists,”
No, it’s high time for folks like you to drop the emotionalism and bring some reason to bear, using actual evidence and argument instead of hysterical tirades and feel-good slogans.
“And others seeking amoral political & military solutions to these life-and-death issues.”
You haven’t begun to demonstrate that the political and military solutions are “amoral.” A mountain of groundless assertions doesn't add up to a millimeter of truth.