September 3, 2014 by Anders Ingemarson
Wyatt Earp: What makes a man like [Johnny] Ringo, Doc? What makes him do the things he does?
Doc Holliday: A man like Ringo has got a great big hole, right in the middle of him. He can never kill enough, or steal enough, or inflict enough pain to ever fill it.
Wyatt Earp: What does he need?
Doc Holliday: Revenge.
Wyatt Earp: For what?
Doc Holliday: Bein’ born.
From the movie Tombstone (1993)
In the commentary about the savagery of ISIS and its attraction on men of American and Western European origin, the media has given these killers an aura of misguided idealism.
The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan is representative of this view, writing that “Those young men, desperate to belong to something, to be among men on a mission, to believe in something bigger and higher than their sad selves, are ripe for jihadist recruitment.”
I suspect the truth is less flattering. ISIS is attracting Johnny Ringos from around the world. In Doc Holliday’s words “Men with a great big hole, right in the middle of them. Men who can never kill enough, or steal enough or inflict enough pain to ever fill it. [Men who want] revenge [for] bein’ born.” At home, these men are for the most part restrained by law, order, and a culture that on the whole despise violence. In the anarchy of the current “Wild East”—Iraq and Syria—their lust for killing, maiming, raping and pillaging is allowed to roam free, justified by a thin veneer of false righteousness in “the cause.”
When the ISIS killers murder American citizens and issue credible threats of carrying out terror attacks on American soil, we need to call in the Wyatt Earps and Doc Hollidays of the U.S. Military for protection.
The military is one of the few valid functions of government. Long time readers are familiar with my government 1, 2, 3:
A government’s one legitimate function is to protect our individual rights from two potential sources of rights violations, foreign enemies and our fellow men at home, using three institutions: the military, the police and the courts.
The United States should assert its rights to destroy ISIS and other terrorist organizations that have committed acts of war or terror violating the individual rights of our citizens, at home or abroad. We should welcome assistance from our allies but not refrain from taking action if we don’t get it. We should reserve the right to strike as necessary, anywhere at any time, with or without permission or involvement of the countries where the terrorists are active.
Aided by our intelligence, we should deploy a mix of air power, drone strikes and special operation forces – move in, strike and move out. Stealth is our strength. Our goal should be to strike terror in the terrorist until they’re either dead, reduced to babbling mental cases, or so discouraged that they give up. The operation that killed Osama Bin Laden appears to be a good example, as are many of the drone strikes that take out terrorists in different locales around the world.
As enemies come, ISIS is small fish to fry. It is important to realize that such outfits of killers, bandits and thugs can only flourish in the anarchistic vacuum that arise when civilization breaks down and the protection of rights by legitimate governments cease to exist, as we’re currently witnessing in Iraq and Syria.
Although ISIS appears to be somewhat better organized than other similar groups, its effectiveness should not be overstated. With only an ounce of determination the United States would be able to eradicate the threat in short order.
Observe that this is not a call for a consistent presence of troops on the ground, or to promote democracy, or to encourage “nation building” in the Middle East. Hopefully, we have learned from the mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan that this is not the proper role of United States foreign and military policy. No, this is a call to protect the self-interest of United States citizens by eliminating terrorist threats pure and simple. If American citizens are so inclined, the may take an interest in furthering the welfare of Middle East countries on their own time and dime.
Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday in the movie Tombstone was a character with mixed premises and traits, many of which serve better as a warning than a guide. But his spirit in dealing with Johnny Ringo should inspire us in our mission to relieve the ISIS killers of their desire to take revenge for being born.