UPDATE 05/04/06 @ 9:20 pm: Read this, by Peggy Noonan.
UPDATE 05/09/06 @ 11:45 am: Read this, by Mark Steyn.
REVISED 05/04/06 @ 9:45 am
It seems that the jury in Zacarias Moussaoui's sentencing trial has opted to spare the slimeball's life. Nevertheless, he'll be dead meat within a year if a fellow prisoner gets a shot at him.
What really bothers me is that, according to an AP story, "the jury was not convinced that Moussaoui, who was in jail on Sept. 11, deserved to die." The jury's verdict is yet another sign of what Shelby Steele calls "white guilt." Steele, writing recently at OpinionJournal, observes that
[t]here is something rather odd in the way America has come to fight its wars since World War II.
For one thing, it is now unimaginable that we would use anything approaching the full measure of our military power (the nuclear option aside) in the wars we fight. And this seems only reasonable given the relative weakness of our Third World enemies in Vietnam and in the Middle East. But the fact is that we lost in Vietnam, and today, despite our vast power, we are only slogging along--if admirably--in Iraq against a hit-and-run insurgency that cannot stop us even as we seem unable to stop it. Yet no one--including, very likely, the insurgents themselves--believes that America lacks the raw power to defeat this insurgency if it wants to. So clearly it is America that determines the scale of this war. It is America, in fact, that fights so as to make a little room for an insurgency.
Certainly since Vietnam, America has increasingly practiced a policy of minimalism and restraint in war. And now this unacknowledged policy, which always makes a space for the enemy, has us in another long and rather passionless war against a weak enemy. . . .
Today words like "power" and "victory" are so stigmatized with Western sin that, in many quarters, it is politically incorrect even to utter them. For the West, "might" can never be right. And victory, when won by the West against a Third World enemy, is always oppression. But, in reality, military victory is also the victory of one idea and the defeat of another. Only American victory in Iraq defeats the idea of Islamic extremism. But in today's atmosphere of Western contrition, it is impolitic to say so. . . .
Whether the problem is race relations, education, immigration or war, white guilt imposes so much minimalism and restraint that our worst problems tend to linger and deepen. Our leaders work within a double bind. If they do what is truly necessary to solve a problem--win a war, fix immigration--they lose legitimacy.
To maintain their legitimacy, they practice the minimalism that makes problems linger.
The best way to deal with a problem is . . . to deal with it. Being "nice" doesn't make an enemy any less dangerous; it only encourages more acts of aggression against Americans. That should have been the lesson we learned when we ended the war with Japan so decisively.
Moussaoui is an enemy of the United States who was prepared to kill Americans by committing an act of war against them. He should be treated as we used to treat enemies, decisively and terminally. The jury in Moussaoui's case has opted instead to let him linger -- at least until a fellow prisoner decides to do what the jury should have ordered done. Until then, the sentence handed to Moussaoui will be seen, rightly, by our enemies as yet another sign of weakness.