TERRORISM….A recent post from Glenn Reynolds about how we ought to be responding to Iran has been batted around quite a bit in the past few days. Here’s Glenn:
We should be responding quietly, killing radical mullahs and iranian atomic scientists….Basically, stepping on the Iranians’ toes hard enough to make them reconsider their not-so-covert war against us in Iraq.
….[T]o be clear, I think it’s perfectly fine to kill people who are working on atomic bombs for countries — like Iran — that have already said that they want to use those bombs against America and its allies, and I think that those who feel otherwise are idiots, and in absolutely no position to strike moral poses.
I imagine a lot of people agree with Glenn, but his recommendation really demonstrates the moral knot caused by George Bush’s insistence that we’re fighting a “war on terror.” After all, killing civilian scientists and civilian leaders, even if you do it quietly, is unquestionably terrorism. That’s certainly what we’d consider it if Hezbollah fighters tried to kill cabinet undersecretaries and planted bombs at the homes of Los Alamos engineers. What’s more, if we took this tack against Iran, we’d be doing it for the same reason that terrorists target us: because it’s a more effective, more winnable tactic than conventional war.
If you think Iran is a mortal enemy that needs to be dealt with via military force, you can certainly make that case. But if you’re going to claim that terrorism is a barbaric tactic that has to be stamped out, you can hardly endorse its use by the United States just because it’s convenient in this particular case.