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Posted: 9/28/2004 3:40:47 PM EDT
The best part is when he rips the Eurotrash for being "overcivilized".

Modern evil demands medieval response by John O'Sullivan

My back was turned when, to my surprise, I heard my mother's voice on the evening news. I promptly assumed I must have been mistaken: Why would the evening news interview a 92-year-old retired lady from a Liverpool suburb? Of course, my assumption was correct: The network was interviewing an 86-year-old retired lady from a Liverpool suburb -- the widowed mother of Ken Bigley, the British hostage in Iraq.

She was pleading for her son's life.

Ken Bigley is one of more than 100 foreigners who have been taken hostage in Iraq since April. They include Turks, Canadians, Egyptians, Brits and, of course, Americans. Some are truck drivers. Most are civilians -- aid workers, civilian contractors -- of both sexes and of different religions, including Muslims. Nor is nationality a safeguard: Two French journalists are held by terrorists, and French news organizations are pulling their reporters out, despite President Chirac's strong opposition to the Iraq war.

At the last count, 30 such hostages had been murdered -- two Americans last week -- sometimes by the medieval method of beheading. It must be terrible to die alone, far from home, at the hands of brutal bigots, and suffering perhaps minutes of agony before consciousness fails. Yet we know of no one acting cravenly or seeking to join his captors. And at least one hostage behaved with exemplary heroism, trying to tear off his mask and defying the terrorists with the words: "Let me show you how an Italian dies."

In the course of 30 years reporting from foreign countries, I have run into many Ken Bigleys over a drink late at night in a hotel bar after hearing a familiar accent. Some were loners. Others, like Bigley himself, had met and married local women in Thailand or India or Bahrain. But almost all of them were proud that their work was helping poorer people to lift themselves up toward a better life. My impression is that this motive is unusually strong among those in Iraq -- for instance, in the two Italian women aid workers whose fate is still unknown.

Hostage-taking has been a staple tactic of Mideast terrorists since the airline hijackings of the early 1970s. The IRA employed it on both sides of the Irish border. In Latin America kidnapping was started by Marxist terrorists in the 1970s, but since then it has become a profitable commercial business. A hostage is taken every hour in Latin America. The hostage is often a son or daughter of the rich. And the victims are often brutally tortured either to encourage the payment of a ransom or as punishment if it is not paid on time.

Yet 40 years ago hostage-taking seemed a concept from the distant past -- something like slavery and piracy that Victorian imperialists had stopped in their old-fashioned self-righteous way. Like hostage-taking, however, piracy and slavery are making a comeback. Piracy flourishes in parts of southeast Asia, slavery in parts of Africa such as Sudan, and hostage-taking in the Middle East and Latin America.

In general they advance where terrorism has blazed the way by revealing the impotence of law and government when they are not backed by the self-confident application of lawful force. The post-modern world lacks self-confidence and shrinks from using force. It places its trust in treaties and conventions that it enforces only against those who agree in advance to be bound by them. Thus, in the week that its citizens were pleading for their lives in Iraq, the European Union was mainly concerned to prevent Turkey from making adultery a criminal offense -- a droll illustration of "European values."

This high-minded timidity permeates modern culture at high and low levels. For instance, a recent thriller about hostage-taking, "Man on Fire," directed by Tony Scott and based on a novel by A.J. Quinnell, received harsh critical reviews precisely because it seemed to approve of revenge and vigilantism.

Creasy, played by Denzel Washington, is a burnt-out former mercenary who becomes a bodyguard to a young girl in Mexico City. She gradually draws him back from his suicidal despair by her frank affection. When she is kidnapped and apparently murdered, he methodically sets out to find and kill the men responsible -- in very brutal ways. As in the 1970s Charles Bronson movie, "Death Wish," the viewer essentially sympathizes with Creasy. The critics thought this a crudely vicious message on both occasions.

But as Bacon pointed out: "Revenge is a kind of wild justice." It will inevitably -- and arguably rightly -- become the resort of decent people when law and government fail to deliver justice. Post-modern governments fail in just that way. Humanitarian bodies such as Amnesty International are even worse: They practice a sort of unilateral civil libertarianism that holds governments to account for the smallest infraction of civil liberty but treats terrorism as a natural disaster. Transnational bodies like the U.N. and the EU are worse -- they seek to take the weapons of war and capital punishment from us in our struggles against terrorism, slavery, piracy and hostage-taking and to force us to rely instead on their own paper resolutions and elevated principles.

All these responses -- from the critical reactions to "Man on Fire" to the E.U.'s prohibition of capital punishment -- are overcivilized. That sounds almost like a compliment, as if it meant more civilized. In fact, to be overcivilized is to be less civilized because genuine civilization includes a robust willingness to enforce its order and truths on anarchy, violence, murder and superstition.

As long as we remain overcivilized, anarchy, violence, murder and superstition will continue their sinister recovery -- until one day you may think you hear your own mother's voice on the network news.

Link Posted: 9/28/2004 3:50:35 PM EDT
I think that the job of a professional military is to be uncivilized, that civilian may remain civilized.
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