Orianna Fallaci – Overdoes It, Maybe, But Better To Overdo It

She had this much discussed article in the Wall Street Article last week. A friend, OrthodoxLawyerPundit, was worried that she was fatalistic with her evocation of the dying at a new Alamo beneath the scimitars of the Islamic hordes, and he was also concerned that she was being extremely impractical in her approach. I responded as follows:

She’s Italian. Cut her some slack.

She says “what if.” This suggests not fatalism but an awareness that going into Iraq is a gamble, which it is. A pacifist would say, don’t take such a gamble. She says, no, take it. If the pessimists’ worst predictions come true as a result, better that she and the rest of us go down fighting for the West. I see nothing to object to here at all.

Moreover, trying to accomplish something practical by means of war raises all kinds of complications. Asking people to kill and die necessarily means appealing to values and emotions and sentiments. No one climbs out of a helicopter into enemy gunfire, or crawls on their belly in the mud to mark a target with a laser target designator, or drives a tank toward an enemy position, as a result of a cold-hearted cost/benefit calculus. You do it out of love, loyalty, professionalism, devotion to the cause, devotion to your comrades. Similarly, kissing your husband and watching him climb on board a troop transport and waving goodbye and forcing a smile requires courage as well. If this is “practicality” it is an exalted form of practicality.

Ms. Fallaci is right to make a stirring appeal. She is facing the fact that death and defeat are always possible for individuals as well as for civilizations. We will conquer Iraq. But that is one battle. The war will be long and difficult. She is also right to show that even the worst prospects do not scare us off. Bin Laden said the West is weak because we love life but they love death. We have to prove him wrong. We haven’t yet. And doing so is going to take a long time and a lot more blood to prove it. God alone knows if we are up to the struggle. We might not be. The day Manhattan is demolished by an atomic bomb will be a day when the survivors will reassess their commitment to the struggle. That day may come. I think it is more likely than not.

Long, bitter struggles require a Churchill, a Lincoln. Fallaci is apparently all we’ve got at the moment, which is sad. I’ll take her.

OrthodoxLawyerPundit basically agreed with all this. But Lex cannot resist the desire to keep typing, as many of you have probably figured out, and I responded further: