The Cowardly West

I’ve been mulling over this article by Christopher Hitchens about the withdrawal of the UK’s Prince Harry from the front-line in Afghanistan. One of his conclusions is we are perhaps too afraid of so-called “Islamists.” I agree. But first, for those of you not familiar with the story, Prince Harry had been serving in Afghanistan, more or less secretly, until news of his deployment was leaked on the right-wing smear website Drudge Report. After assessing the risks, the British military decided to withdraw Harry from Afghanistan immediately.

As Hitchens notes, there was no more risk after Prince Harry’s deployment had been leaked. Drudge didn’t give us the exact latitude or longitude. He was already in Afghanistan for Christ’s sake. The Taliban and Al Qaeda are already trying to kill all of the British troops there.

Of course there’s also this (from Hitchens):

That this might look like a hugely advertised scuttle or a retreat—and thus be vastly encouraging to the Islamist gangsters who are trying to retake Helmand from the legitimate government of Afghanistan—seems to have occurred to nobody.

This cowardess isn’t limited to the hasty evacuation of Prince Harry. If memory serves, there were very few newspapers (and likely no TV stations) in America that showed the Danish cartoons of Mohammed. You would think showing the cartoons that would be integral to any story about the backlash of riots and protests.

IMAGE: Newspaper compilation of Mohammed cartoons

Then there’s the seemingly neverending but slow erosion of our freedoms and basic principles of government. Why it’s necessary to cede our rights now and not during the Cold War is beyond reason. We had hundreds if not thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at us everyday by the USSR (in fact, I’m sure Russia still does), but somehow Bin Laden and some hijacked airplanes are the greatest threat we’ve ever faced.

And so, we get things like the PATRIOT Act and the government telling us we need to redefine our definition of privacy. We get ludicrous airline security measures that are degrading, inefficient and ineffective. We get the government and parts of the media telling us we shouldn’t know about what our government is doing with regards to national security. We don’t question our government when they tell us we have to invade a country. And we don’t mind, because as Hitchens said:

We are apparently determined to act all the time as if the Islamists who blow up girls’ schools and destroy cell-phone towers and murder aid workers and vaccination teams are 10 feet tall.

3 Comments

  1. Ian

    Well if they were 10 feet tall it would be easy to pick them out of a crowd.

    I’ll just copy and paste what I wrote about the prince in another thread:

    I respect that he wants to serve his country and has gone through so much trouble to do so. That said, I can’t imagine that serving in the military is the only way to serve one’s country. He makes himself and all of those around him a special target. You can’t be a Prince and still be treated like a common man. You know he still has to be almost babysat by his superiors.

    Otherwise I agree with you.

  2. Cameron

    My British friends have said that while neither prince is… well… very smart, that the older one (Harry) is like a sack of doorknobs.

    But I agree overall. The best defense is a good offense. We’re turtling. Xenophobia, anti-immigration, give-up-your-liberties-or-else, trade-deals-are-bad, Fortress America thinking is taking over. I did my part publishing our own Mohammed cartoon back at the newspaper with you, but unfortunately, isolationism seems to be gaining momentum. Just look at Lou Fucking Dobbs. It’s like he’s channeling Charles Limburgh and America First…

  3. Chris

    Cameron,
    You reminded me of a quote from Thomas Friedman:

    “No two countries that both had McDonald’s had fought a war against each other since each got its McDonald’s”

    While not precisely true, I think the sentiment is correct.