Why should we care what the terrorists think?
The apologists for this administration keep coming back to this tired rhetorical point. Case in point, this Washington Post op-ed, "Why Are They Speaking Up Now?", authored by Melvin Laird and Robert E. Pursley. Laird was a Republican congressman before becoming Nixon's Secretary of Defense. Pursley served in the Air Force and was the military assistant to three secretaries of defense (McNamara, Clifford, and Laird). They are the latest to come to the defense of Donald Rumsfeld against the generals who have called for his resignation.
[E]ach of them speaks from his own copse of trees and may not have a view of the larger forest. In criticizing those with the broader view, they should be mindful of the risks and responsibilities inherent in their acts. The average U.S. citizen has high respect for the U.S. military. That respect is a valuable national security asset. Criticism, when carried too far, risks eroding it.
We do not advocate a silencing of debate on the war in Iraq. But care must be taken by those experienced officers who had their chance to speak up while on active duty. In speaking out now, they may think they are doing a service by adding to the reasoned debate. But the enemy does not understand or appreciate reasoned public debate. It is perceived as a sign of weakness and lack of resolve.
We've heard this same tune a multitude of times in the last four years. Yet those who play it never explain why we should give a damn if the terrorist "does not understand or appreciate reasoned public debate".
So, because our enemies are irrational thugs, we should be careful not to give them any examples of how a modern society can survive and thrive when "reasoned public debate" is encouraged? So, because they have no respect for the principle that freedom of dissent is what makes us strong, we should curtail that freedom lest they get the wrong idea.
Why are we letting the opinions of the terrorists dictate how we run our society?