CLASH OF CULTURES: Harlan Ullman takes the view opposite Peggy Noonan’s, arguing many in the Arab world will take this war as proof America is a bully:

America’s view of the war is not universally shared abroad, however. Opponents of the war criticise its conduct, no matter how humanely the coalition undertakes it. To them, humane warfare is an oxymoron. Lives are lost and property is destroyed.

Indeed, the overwhelming strength of US arms and the relative absence of organised resistance are interpreted as the local tough beating up a defenceless and puny victim. The irony is that, on this reading, Mr Hussein and his thuggish regime emerge as victims not villains.

To anti-war campaigners, the phrase “shock and awe” therefore has become an object of derision and disgust, a rallying cry for criticism of America’s “brutal and inhuman conduct”.

With a reported 3,000 targets to destroy, the attacks are equated with the worst aerial bombing raids of the second world war and considered attempts to terrorise and kill innocent Iraqis. That nothing could be further from the truth in the minds of US war planners cuts no ice.

In short, a clash of cultures is occurring: near-euphoria in the US conflicts with the growing distrust abroad that suspects America’s intention is to use overwhelming force promiscuously.

No doubt he is correct. Of course, as Noonan points out, they already felt that way.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.