Suppose our enemies declared war on us—and we didn't show up? In a variation on the pacifist line from the 60s, that's essentially what Chris Hayes has proposed as American policy.
On his MSNBC show this morning, the hopelessly naive Hayes suggested that rather than debating "big war"—boots on ground—versus "small war"—targeted strikes—we go for a third option "no war." In Hayes's fantasy-land, America declares the war on terror over and "declares itself at peace." View the video after the jump.
Of course there's just one litle problem with Hayes's pacifist panacea: we can declare ourselves "at peace." Al qaeda and other terrorist groups surely won't. But not to worry. Hayes has that handled. We will defend ourselves by "rigorously and energetically using intelligence and diplomacy and well-resourced police work to protect ourselves from future attacks."
Go that? Say an intelligence agency determines that an al qaeda cell in, say, Mali is plotting a major attack in the United States. Under the Hayes Doctrine, we surely don't use drones to kill the terrorists on the ground. Do we use "diplomacy" to have our oh-so-reliable Malian allies root out the plott? Do we wait till the terrorists arrive on our shores, then rely on local police to make sure that all the plotters are arrested? Perhaps Chris will clarify in a future episode. And there's a reason "no one ever seems to consider" your alternative of "no war." Because it's a hopeless, dangerous fantasy that all but the most deluded realize would wind up getting a lot of Americans killed.
CHRIS HAYES: This narrow choice between big violence and smaller violence shows, I think, just how fully we have all implicitly adopted the conceptual framework of the war on terror, how much George W. Bush's advisers continue to set the terms of our thinking years after they've been displaced from office. Because that argument presupposes we are at war and must continue be at war until an ill-defined enemy is vanquished.
What, people ask, is the alternative to small war, if not big war? And the answer no one ever seems to consider is no war. If the existence of people out in the world who are actively working to kill Americans means we are still at war, then it seems to me we will be at war forever and we'll surrender control over whether that is the state we do in fact want to be in. There's another alternative. We could be a nation that declares its war over, that declares itself at peace, and goes about rigorously and energetically intelligence and diplomacy and well-resourced police work to protect us from future attacks.