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Nice writing, but, in the case of the Jihadists, total rubbish. They declared war on us. We are the ones who must convert or die. I suggest you read the Gita for the proper perspective, not Thucydides. You may weep when you find your former friends arrayed against you on the field of battle, but you must fight for the right and destroy them, though their sin be folly and not evil.


In the current conflict Hezbollah are likely to be our Melians, as the IDF have already found they’ll be a good deal harder to kill.

I do hope we aren't the Athenians, they bungelled it and lost to Sparta after all.

The Athenian behavior was more or less conventional. A city that resisted siege was put to the sword; the same was true, two millennia later, when the Roundheads stormed Drogheda. It’s interesting that ancient Athens is still so well regarded that the incident is shocking to many.

PS: Just read Hezbollah by J.P.Harik. Patchy but illuminating, it's a very odd war they've been fighting.


Oscar, I agree. They did declare war on us--and, like the dinosaur bitten by a rodent, the brain didn't register what the tail was feeling. The "convert or die" statement isn't exactly accurate, since what they argue is, "All believing Muslims need to live under the Shari'a." Functionally, that may mean the conversion of more states to their version of Islamist doctrine, but it doesn't mean the conversion of people. However, I'd rather live here than in Riyadh, so the distinction may be a bit meaningless in the long term. It's one that the Islamists insist upon, so you walk into a rhetorical trap if you say, "You people are insisting that all Westerners convert to Islam."

And my point had less to do with justification than resistance. I think many people were surprised at how doggedly the Taliban has held on in Afghanistan, or how "shock and awe" didn't impress the partisans or terrorists now fighting us in Iraq. Like the Athenians, we felt the overwhelming justice of our cause and power with which we could pursue it would make resistance self-evidently foolish. However, the Melians pursued a pretty foolish course of action, but for reasons (including honor) that made sense to them at the time.

We don't have a Sparta ready to fill our place as a superpower--even Europe is in no position to do this. However, vacuums don't have to be filled by states. Sometimes, they aren't filled at all, like much of Western Europe after the collapse of the Roman Empire. Other times, they can be filled by a motley collection of smaller entities, or a unifying idea--like Christianity in post-Imperial Europe, or the way the Norman model of feudalism took hold in much of Western Europe in the 11th century. We could stumble, and something else might pick up the security burdens we dropped--and these new entities, whether states or not, may not have our interests at heart at all.

Ali, thanks for the recommendation. I've read older works about Hezbollah, like Jaber's book, so I'll be on the lookout for this newer title.

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