Sharp Knife

Sharp Knife:

Sharp Knife has some incisive questions for John Kerry. He's right about all of them--keep scrolling. If Kerry is the nominee, this is going to be a brutal and ugly campaign. I hope America can stand up to it. Divided as we are, I wonder.

Divided or not, though, it is time to answer some of these questions once and for all. Chief among them is this: do we have the will to fight for the Order of the West?

This question weighs heavily on my mind lately. It was brought to my mind most recently by the case of the Talibani child soldiers recently cut loose from Camp X-Ray at GitMo. I have several friends of a liberal persuasion--indeed, sometimes I think my dearest friends of of that persuasion. It is a remarkable thing, that people who disagree so sharply about things so important could be friends, but so far, we are and have been.

The position of my friends, who admitted that they weren't sure just why these children were arrested, was that the US military was plainly doing wrong. Arresting children, shipping them halfway across the world, and holding them incommunicado from their families is certainly a big deal. It's not something you do for no reason. That, at least, was my impression, at the time when I knew no more about it than they did themselves. Their impression was that the military had done it for no reason, or at least, for no good reason, as no reason good enough for such a thing could be imagined.

Well, here is the reason:

Two of the boys were captured during US raids on Taliban camps in Afghanistan; the third was captured trying to obtain weapons for the Taliban, the Pentagon said.
Now let us say a few things flatly. First, the Taliban has freely imported resistance tactics from the terrorists of Palestine, to include the use of child soldiers and suicide bombers. Second, these children were introduced to the war by the Taliban, which was training them and using them to procure weapons against the United States and the Coalition. Third, if the children had not been removed to Camp X-Ray, but had instead been released to their families, it is without question that the Taliban would have tried to use them again. Put otherwise, the decision to ship these kids to Cuba probably saved their lives. It removed them from the war, gave them time and space to be forgotten as assets by the Taliban, and kept them from being recruited to risk their young lives again by their former leaders.

The boys faced stern interrogation in their first few days, according to the only one of them who has spoken out. However, they were not tortured, and he feels he was pretty well treated overall:

"At first I was unhappy with the U.S. forces. They stole 14 months of my life," said Agha, sitting in a relative's general store at the bazaar in Naw Zad, a market town some 300 miles southwest of Kabul....

"But they gave me a good time in Cuba. They were very nice to me, giving me English lessons," said Agha, a smile spreading across his face between a small beard and a white turban that made him look two or three years older....

He was not beaten but was made to sit on his haunches for three or four hours at a time, even when he wanted to sleep, he said....

"For two or three days I was confused, but later the Americans were so nice with me, they were giving me good food with fruit and water for ablutions before prayer," he said.

The Taliban had given him less choice:
The boys were standing outside a shop in a town along the way when they were detained by Afghan militiamen.

'They said, 'Come and join us,' but we told them we are poor people, jobless, and we don't want to join the militia, we want to earn money," Agha said. "Then they said, 'You are Taliban.'

It's an ugly war, to be sure, but the US military seems to me to come out well here. Still, as interested as I am in the facts of the case, I am as interested in the initial impression. That is to say, before the facts were known, my assumption was that the military had good reason for taking what seemed unusually stern measures; my companions, that the military was obviously wrong to do so. For a moment, let us forget the question of who was right and who was wrong when the facts came out. Let's focus just on that initial impression.

These friends of mine--and I claim them gladly, as all of them are dear and good hearted folk--assume, until sufficient evidence appears to convince them otherwise, that our military is brutal. I assume, until such evidence emerges, that our military keeps its professional commitment to the rules of war. The evidence suggests that people who believe as I do, who assume that the military is trustworthy until it is proven otherwise, are not more than half the populace. Indeed, the Honorable John Kerry has made his career on the opposite assertion.

I would humbly suggest that if you find yourself instinctually distrustful of the American solider, during a time of war when American soldiers are dying every day in your defense, you might want to reexamine the core assumptions of your life. Whether you do so or not, however, you've got just this problem: the American soldier's violence is as good as it gets. The Order of the West can not be protected through law enforcement. Law enforcement can't stop the nuclear market we've seen from Libya and North Korea to Malaysia. There are two things that can, perhaps stop them: intelligence, which by its nature involves law-breaking, not law enforcement; and military force. There is nothing else.

When we get to the point that terrorists have access to nuclear weapons, even occasionally, things are going to become worse than you would like to consider. My dear friends--some of you read this site--I beg you to reconsider just how grave this threat really is. Strong measures are required. First among them is belief. It is absolutely necessary to trust the fighting American Solider. He may not always do right, but you must believe that he usually will. He needs your trust to have the freedom of action required to protect you.

The next thing you must believe is that the Order of the West is worth preserving, though it means the deaths of many people. For now it is thousands who must die--we have killed thousands already. I pray that it may remain only thousands, and not hundreds of thousands, or more. The war we have joined is not going away. We can not wish it away. We will wrestle the nuclear genie back in his bottle, or we will see him loosed on our cities. That which must be done for victory, that same thing must be done. There is no alternative.

Believe this now, or wait for it to be proven on our bodies. Fool yourself now, and you may mourn at your leisure.

Her face was like an open word
When brave men speak and choose

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