The Fall Of Rome In A Single Flash
I've always believed that one of the reasons we invaded Iraq was to convey the idea that we were, indeed, at war. Given the assymmetrical tactics of the enemy, which take the form of periodic attacks on civilian homeland targets, it's easy for the affluent, comfortable Western populaces, after the initial shock, to quickly fall back into their insular complacency. By having significant forces deployed in the "terror masters"' very backyard fighting their minions on an ongoing basis, we, the people, would be more cognizant of the global struggle in which we are engaged.
However, one reads pieces like this one and wonders if it is, or can ever be, enough:
According to a newly leaked Brit intelligence dossier, al Qaeda's recruitment of terrorists is well organized and successful on British campuses. The al-Q recruiters are focused on the affluent Muslims who should be among the best assimilated in British society. But, according to the report, entitled "Young Muslims and Extremism," up to 1% - some 16,000 British Muslims - are actively engaged in terrorist activity in Britain and abroad. Couple that with the statement of Lord Stevens, the former London police chief, who said that up to 3,000 British-born or British-based people have passed through bin Laden's terrorist training camps, and you get some idea of how Britain has allowed itself - by lax immigration policies, political sensitivity, and all the rest in the name of "tolerance" - to become a terrorist haven.
It's probably not that bad in the United States, but if the al-Q recruiters, the radical imams in mosques and the other terrorist sympathizers here aren't watched and - when they break the law arrested and imprisoned - we will have the same problem Britain has. Is this a condemnation of Islam? No. It's only a recognition of reality that should be characteristic of American political speech.
I disagree with Jed Babbin on that last point - I think it is a condemnation of Islam, because our enemies are - what? - Islamic fundamentalists. They're not "hijacking" their religion, but, to the contrary, are carrying out its bedrock teachings. Whereas Old Testament Jews were to set an example for the world to follow, and New Testament Christians are to evangelize the world, the Koran calls for "converting" (or destroying) all of humanity via the sword - aka "jihad," or "holy war."
The tack that we don't want to escalate to the cliched "clash of civilizations" has some prudence to it, since, while all jihadis are Muslims, not all Muslims are jihadis. But we're bending over backwards in this endeavor, such that we are ideologically and philosophically disarming ourselves while allowing the enemy free reign to continue ginning up hatred against us and all we stand for.
And in that, we're even providing them role models to follow:
Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al Qaeda chief in Iraq, sent a thank you note to the Dick Durbins and Ted Kennedys of Congress in a message to his followers and sympathizers on July 5. According to an unreleased translation read to [Mr. Babbin] by a Defense Department source, Zarqawi's message exhorted his terrorists to greater effort, because, Zarqawi said, it is very clear that America was being defeated in Iraq. Zarqawi's proof? His message said that the proof that America is losing is that some American congressmen are saying just that. [emphasis added]
One tries to think of parallels in past wars, and all that can be come up with are people like Tokyo Rose and Lord Haw-Haw. And, notably, they did their propagandizing from enemy territory, rather than smack in our midst - to say nothing of the floor of the United States Senate.
Babbin doesn't stop there, though, asking - as a great many of us have over the years - why the Republicans - you know, the party that is supposedly running the country - don't fight back:
When Dick Durbin compared our people at Gitmo to Nazis, Gulag guards, and Pol Pot's mass murderers, there was a short burst of outrage, quelled by his phony apology. Senate Republicans never demanded - or got - a clear and unequivocal apology from Durbin. By their failure to do so they give credence to Zarqawi's message.
Republicans in the Senate and House are failing in one of their key wartime tasks: to take on the political opposition in the debate. Not to shout people down, but to take them to task. On the floor, we should be hearing one speech after another critical of the irresponsible rhetoric of the left. Why don't we? Because they want comity, to pass laws we don't need, spend money we should save, and give themselves pay raises without voting for them. What they should be doing, instead, is taking on the tough problems they were elected to tackle. Like what do we do about the terrorists who are within our borders, and those who preach violence and hatred to young Muslims here. [emphases added]
Oughta sound familiar to anybody who's been reading this space and/or its predecessors over the past decade and a half.
This raises another troubling question, where the Bush White House is concerned: if we're in Iraq (and Afghanistan) to take on the enemy in his homeland(s) , why are we not finishing the job? The relentless Michael Ledeen, again, brings up that discomfiting query, made all the moreso by last Thursday's attack in London:
I don't know about you, but that bombshell about Iran training Iraqi forces is the mother of all "WTF?!?" spit-takes. If that's the case, then it can not unreasonably be said that the mullahs are merrily unraveling our victory in Iraq before we've even begun to draw down our forces in the expectation of the entrenchment of Iraqi democracy. And never forget that Tehran is either closing in on a nuclear weapons capability or already possesses it.
Unfortunately, the overall situation remains very dicey, precisely because our focus is too narrow. By concentrating compulsively on Iraq, we are failing to take the battle to the enemy, who finds haven, money, weapons, training and intelligence in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran. Over and over again, you read articles about "the Sunni insurgency," with a passing reference to "foreign jihadis," even though Zarqawi himself is a Jordanian who is known to operate with Iranian support.
Meanwhile, Iranian leverage inside Iraq seems to be growing. The recent visit of the Iraqi defense minister to Tehran, which produced a truly frightening agreement by which Iran will be training Iraqi forces, went virtually unnoticed. And there are some scary signs that suggest the mullahs are ginning up a mini civil war in the south, where they are financing both Shiites and Sunnis (the so-called Army of Omar).
I do not know if, as some commentators have suggested, the Iranians were involved in the London bombings, but it really does not matter, for Iran is the most potent force in the terror network, from which the killers in London undoubtedly drew succor. As of 9/11, the terror masters were five: Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Today they are three, which is certainly good work on our part. But it isn’t nearly good enough. We cannot possibly have decent security in Iraq unless we end the murderous tyrannies in Tehran and Damascus, and convince or compel the Saudi royal family to shut down the global network of terrorist brainwashing centers they spend billions of dollars to operate. [emphases added]
It brings to mind the hypothesis about the neo-Bushies that I've had for the past couple of years, to wit, that they never intended any military action beyond Iraq, trusting instead in the subversive effect of democracy in a region that has never experienced it. The domestic corallary to this being that they shot their PR wad on Operation Iraqi Freedom and lacked the stomach to push the necessary invasions of Syria and Iran that, logically, ought to have followed from the liberation of Iraq.
But as Mr. Ledeen points out yet again, to leave the Terror Masters in Damascus and Tehran intact simply provides the enemy with untouched and privileged sources of money, weapons, and sanctuary beyond American reach, by deliberate American policy. It seems inexplicable; we're already at war with these countries - what is gained by denying, or deferring, it? In Vietnam the reason we left Cambodia and Laos alone was, ostensibly, to avoid escalating the conflict by provoking possible Soviet and/or ChiComm intervention; the GWOT has no such rival superpower equivalent. Syria could be overrun in a week and a half by the estimates I've read, while Iran, to hear Ledeen tell it, has a populace ready and waiting to overthrow the mullahs if we'll only lend them moral and material assistance. Yet we do neither.
Meanwhile, the jihadis keep blowing stuff up in Iraq, and every once in a while, Madrid or London or Bali...or New York and Washington.
With the proper sobriety and determination, there's no way we can lose this war. But, as President Lincoln once observed, a house divided against itself cannot stand. And the enemy evidently knows us far better than we even want to know him.
I can't escape the impression that the herculean effort this President has made is America's best shot at beating back the dark tide that threatens to engulf us in its chaos. If the Islamist fanatics, their rogue state sponsors, and whomever else is either backing them or waiting for the right moment to exploit their success (COUGHRedChinaCOUGH) can outlast the Bush Doctrine and see the restoration of its Clintonoid predecessor, then it will all have been for nothing, Afghanistan and Iraq will become Iranian vassals, and the only question remaining unanswered will be which American cities get gassed, which get irradiated, and which get nuked.
Many like to compare contemporary America to the decline of the Roman Empire. That is, of course, a silly parallel. Rome took several centuries to rot from within, even as it was being harried by barbarian hordes from without. Our country, as we have known it, can cease to exist in the space of an afternoon.
And slightly less than half of its citizens wouldn't miss it.
The consolation is that we might not have C-SPAN anymore to chronicle the triumphant floor speeches of Senators Durbin, Kennedy, Boxer, Rodham, Reid, et al.
Assuming the nation's capital was still there.
UPDATE/BUMP TO 7/12: Mark Steyn weighs in:
'There are no Muslim terrorists. There are terrorists," Father Paul Hawkins of St Pancras parish church told his congregation on Sunday. "The people who carried out these attacks are victims of a false religion, be it false Christianity or false Islam."Sounds like an echo of President Bush's repeated insistences that Islam is "a religion of peace." And so it is - when one of its bombs proves to be a dud. Guess by this standard that would also constitute an "act of compassion."
Oh, dear. "Britain can take it" (as they said in the Blitz): that's never been in doubt. The question is whether Britain can still dish it out. When events such as last Thursday's occur, two things happen, usually within hours if not minutes: first, spokespersons for Islamic lobby groups issue warnings about an imminent backlash against Muslims....
In most circumstances it would be regarded as appallingly bad taste to deflect attention from an actual "hate crime" by scaremongering about a non-existent one. But it seems the real tragedy of every act of "intolerance" by Islamist bigots is that it might hypothetically provoke even more intolerance from us irredeemable white imperialist racists. My colleague Peter Simple must surely marvel at how the identity-group grievance industry has effortlessly diversified into pre-emptively complaining about acts of prejudice that have not yet occurred....
Terrorism ends when the broader culture refuses to tolerate it. There would be few if any suicide bombers in the Middle East if "martyrdom" were not glorified by imams and politicians, if pictures of local "martyrs" were not proudly displayed in West Bank grocery stores, if Muslim banks did not offer special "martyrdom" accounts to the relicts thereof, if schools did not run essay competitions on "Why I want to grow up to be a martyr".
Could the Second World War have been won if the Allies had been so self-constrained by this sort of pathological phobia against causing inadvertent offense? Should we have limited our military strategy to surgical strikes against just the Nazi leadership in Germany and the imperial/militarist leadership in Japan because, as we all know, "The vast majority of Germans/Japanese are not fascists but law-abiding peace-loving people who share our revulsion at these appalling events, etc."?
What's worse - possibly hurting some Muslim feelings with good old-fashioned common sense, self-confident culturocentrism, and moral leadership that will save our own lives plus perhaps pull more "moderate Muslims" firmly to the side of right, or sounding like that morally obtuse babbling idiot Paul Hawkins, which is the rhetorical equivalent of putting a "blow me up Osama" sign on our collective backs?
Enough with the questions. Perhaps, though, we'll get an answer to whether left-wing self-loathing really and truly is insatiable - if we live long enough.