Friday, July 08, 2005

What Should Be, And What Will Be

Avoiding the emotional entanglement with the fresh atrocity of what is, inevitably, being dubbed "7/7" for a maintenance of the Big Picture, Victor Davis Hanson takes us through a sober-minded reiteration of the fundamentally psychocultural nature of the GWOT, our grievous vulnerabilities in that regard, and what to expect in the days to come.

Here are the happy lowlights:

In WWII we didn’t care much whether in fighting Bushido some thought we were in a war against Buddhists. We weren’t, and that was enough. We knew the enemy were Nazis, not simply Germans, and didn’t froth and whine to prove that distinction.

But not now.

To criticize Islamic fascism is supposedly to be unfair to Islam, so we allow on our own shores mullahs and madrassas to spread hatred and intolerance, as part of our illiberal acceptance of “not offending Islam.”

It is not that we don’t believe in Western values as much as we don’t even know what they are anymore. The London bombings were only a reification of what goes on daily with impunity blocks away in the mosques and Islamist schools of London.

The enemy knows that and thrives on it. That refuge in religion is why imams shout that “Islam doesn’t condone such things” — even as bin Laden has become a folk hero on the Arab Street. Jihadists sense that even here at home more Americans are more concerned about a flushed Koran at Guantanamo Bay than five Americans fighting for the Iraqi jihadists or Taliban sympathizers in Lodi, California.

As long as there is not any price to be paid for Islamism, either by governments abroad or purveyors of its hatred in the West, the propaganda works and the killing will go on.

A striking echo of yesterday's Belmont Club analysis. Could the survival of modern Western civilization as we have known it hinge on its ability to re-embrace the notion that not all cultures are equal, and that our own, which has venerated freedom, democracy, self-determination, and produced prosperity and technological innovation beyond the human imaginings of even a century ago, is superior to the Islamic competitor that breeds only hatred, intolerance, and bloodlust, and interacts with Western modernity only to the parasitic extent of turning our own technical wizardry to the demonic task of our own mass destruction?

In a word, "yup." And VDH is not sanguine about the direction that "door" is likely to take:

Even though the killers profess revenge equally for Afghanistan (the so-called “right” war), they expect Westerners to scream “Iraq.”

Even though such bombings are predicated on infiltration, careful stealthy reconnaissance, and long sojourns within London, expect cries of anguish and worrying about the stereotyping of Middle Eastern males.

Look for the same scripted crocodile tears and “concern” from the Middle East’s illegitimate leaders, even as much of the Islamic Street takes a secret delight in the daring of the jihadists, and the governments sense relief that the target was Westerners and not themselves.

Anticipate Western leaders condemning the terrorists in the same breadth as they call for “eliminating poverty” and “bringing them to justice” — as if the jihadists and their patrons are mere wayward and impoverished felons.

In the short term, Bush and Blair will appear as islands in the storm amid an angry and anguished public. But as 7/7 fades, as did 9/11, expect them to become even more unpopular, as the voices of appeasement assure us that if they just go away, maybe so will the terrorists.

Distastefully, you can see that happening no matter which circumstances arise. Another long stretch before the next attack and those "voices" will once again preach complacency. A rapid-fire succession of such relatively low-level attacks and the "voices" will demand that we yield to the terrorists to stop the carnage - or, conversely, the "voices" will "normalize" this level of terrorism and argue that, while a "nuisance," it's certainly not worth going to war over, which, of course, is a vast overreaction that only "breeds more terrorism."

And an escalation to WMD-level strikes? Has any question been more rhetorical?

VDH accurately sets forth the enemy's strategic aim: "that Westerners will slink out of the Middle East, allowing fascist fundamentalists to gain control of half the world’s oil and thus buy enough weapons to blackmail their way back to the [global] caliphate." That is, of course, a goal that they will never attain, no matter how suicidal the Western Left becomes.

But it is the path to Armageddon in the sense of Islamism igniting a global war of unrestrained scope and fury over which they will quickly lose control and by which it will be consumed, right along with the "infidels" they detest.

It all comes back, as it always does, to the Autolite Principle: We can fight them now, or we can fight them later.

The more heed VDH's "voices" are given, the more prohibitive the "price" tag will become.