The Bronx Blogger

Saturday, August 06, 2005

Steven Vincent's execution disrupts his last symposium

The online magazine has just published a symposium evaluating the U.S. coalition's efforts to rebuild Iraq.

The managing editor of FrontPage, Jamie Glazov, moderated a panel of six experts, including Steven Vincent. Before the symposium was able to run to its conclusion, Steven had been abducted and shot to death, and the balance of the symposium was canceled.

I strongly recommend reading the whole transcript of the symposium. Here's a pair of quotes where Steven counters and rejects Jeffrey White's characterization of the coalition's enemies as "insurgents". Jeffrey White is a retired government intelligence analyst who is currently an active think-tank consultant. Mr. White gives advice to the government and to defense contractors.

Jeffrey White: I do not think we get very far by trying to stick a "terrorist" label on the insurgency.

What we are looking at is a composite insurgency, one which combines elements of "resistance" against the "occupation", armed opposition to the Iraqi government, and terrorism, largely but not completely driven by foreign Jihadis and their Iraqi allies. Labelling all those involved in the insurgency "terrorists" is both inaccurate and dysfunctional. Precision in language is critical to precision in thought. We can not get it right in Iraq if we employ sloppy or emotive language.

We have been through "regime dead-enders", are now using the nonsensical "anti-Iraqi forces", and slap a terrorist label on people who are determined, ruthless, and inventive in prosecuting their wars. We also need to stop characterizing what is happening in overly simple ways. The insurgents do not attack indiscriminately, as I heard on TV this morning. They know who they are attacking and killing, sometimes by name, as in targeted killings of "collaborators."

These attacks are the antithesis of indiscriminate action. Violent, sometimes tragic, death and injury are what we see, but they serve various insurgent operational goals. Again, we need to be clear in our minds about what is going on. Let's start thinking clinically for a change.

[ ... ]

Steven Vincent: What's the question? What our personal views of the "insurgency" might be? Then I must admit I found Mr. White's comments a bit chilling.

Perhaps I've been in Iraq too long, but they sounded to me like a doctor telling a cancer patient his tumor is a form of "resistance" against the "occupation" of his body. And though Mr. Munthe is correct in parsing the jihadists from the Saddamites, his points strike me as discriminations that make little difference beyond tactical considerations. Emotions--outrage, contempt, wrath--are exactly what we need to carry on the fight against the anti-Iraqi terrorists.

These are, after all, cold-blooded killers who propose no programs, no alternatives, no vision of a "better" Iraq.

Are the Sunni paramilitaries anti-colonial "patriots?" Why, then, do they kill 20 times more Iraqi citizens than U.S. soldiers? Why don't they join with the Kurds and Shia in a national government and ask the U.S. to leave? What is the point of their bloodshed? From Tikrit to Basra, I have asked pro-fascist Sunnis these questions and have never received an adequate answer. Perhaps its time we consider that there is no answer, that the killing has no point, beyond archaic notions of tribal honor and revenge.

We want to believe that the paramilities have some sort of rational--or at least reasonable goal, as if they were continuations of the anti-colonial guerrillas of the last century. But those days are gone. The true horror of the war being waged against Iraq--whether by Baathi-fascists or Islamofascists--is its utter pointlessness, a fact that robs the dead of even the dignity of martyrdom. This is terrorism.

And the proper response is "clinical" analysis, coupled with Old Testament wrath.

I was directed to the FrontPage symposium by an item on the Power Line blog.