An idea that’s so drenched in testosterone that it will likely never be untangled from the military or law enforcement is that you can somehow use disproportionate force to “send a message” to an opponent and thereby dissuade them from fighting you. It’s why a police Department in Florida released this terrifying video of masked policemen “sending a message” to drug dealers. It’s why Portland Police have a hard-on for showing up to peaceful protests boasting both superior numbers to the protesters and military-style riot gear. It’s why the “shock and awe” air campaign that targeted Iraq in 2003 gave every male cable news anchor covering it an immediate on-air erection.
It’s not as if this idea is absent on the left either – there are plenty of people who think that if Richard Spencer just gets punched a few more times, racists will be afraid to leave their homes. It’s why Antifa protesters are showing up at Pro-Trump rallies wearing masks and carrying baseball bats. Fortunately for these folks, the left doesn’t have the power of the state behind them.
Yesterday we were provided two examples of this mindset on the national level: The US Military detonating the largest ever conventional bomb on a supposed ISIS tunnel in Afghanistan, and the Trump Administration mulling a military strike on North Korea if they conduct another underground nuclear test.
What do they think is going to happen here? Are our enemies just going to retreat into a pool of their own tears? Will they put down their weapons and start singing America the Beautiful? Will they admit defeat and walk around with slumped shoulders and eyes facing the ground for the rest of their days?
I suppose I’m making a mistake in assuming that resolving conflict is the ultimate goal of these kinds of exercises. For law enforcement and police, that conflict is what defines them. They want war, and they’ll be happy when they get it. What comes after isn’t so much unanswered as it is unasked. What it means for the people in harm’s way remains to be seen.