Ultima Thule

In ancient times the northernmost region of the habitable world - hence, any distant, unknown or mysterious land.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

When will they ever learn?

By Aussiegirl

Not much left to add to this excellent analysis. We are in a civilizational conflict. Islam will not be democratized. We cannot win hearts and minds. We can win if only we can find the leaders who are willing to lead and win decisively and not dither. This is a long struggle that will involve strong action overseas, excellent intelligence, and diligence at home. And that means border security and monitoring mosques for violent propaganda.

The American Thinker

Two recent articles on National Review Online demonstrate what I consider to be the two biggest failures to date in thinking about the War on Terror: a studied refusal by most westerners—including American conservatives who support the war—to admit that we are in a clash of civilizations with militant Islam, and a comcomitant failure to recognize that America and her allies have not fought this war with anywhere near the ferocity required to win.

In the first article, “The F Word,” Rich Lowry discusses the “bedrock conviction underlying President Bush’s foreign policy,” to wit, that “freedom is the desire of every human heart.” Lowry laments that this conviction “appears to not be true.” Ever since President Bush transformed the War on Terror from a global military campaign against terrorists and their state sponsors into a Wilsonian exercise in democratic nation-building, conservative commentators of all stripes have questioned the validity of the political and philosophical assumptions behind this idealistic vision. George Will has been the most eloquent and insightful of these conservative critics.

Like Will, Lowry argues that President Bush and his advisors have “forgotten conservative wisdom about the importance of institutions and culture.” According to Lowry, without “appropriate governmental institutions” and a “culture” that does not elevate the annihilation of Israel above all other goals, it will be “excruciatingly hard” to build free, democratic countries in the Middle East. Nevertheless, failing to draw the right conclusions, Lowry endorses “the liberalizing thrust” of the President’s foreign policy and speaks breezily of a “democratizing Middle East” as “the best alternative to the violent, dictator-plagued region of today.”

What Lowry and so many other commentators refuse to acknowledge, however, is that the “institutions and culture” that created, nurtured, and sustain (for now) the free, democratic societies we enjoy in the West are the products of Christian societies. There is a lively historical debate, of course, over the contributions of Christianity (especially Protestantism) to western political ideals of individual rights, personal freedom, and representative government. But this is a debate over how much credit Christianity deserves for these achievements, not whether it deserves any credit at all.

The historical evidence on the connection between Christianity and democracy cannot be denied. On the other hand, it is becoming increasingly clear that Islam, at least in its modern militant form, does not contain any body of thinking from which similar ideals can be derived. Certainly there is no evidence of any “democratizing” forces in contemporary Muslim history, politics, and culture.

[...]This brings me to the second article, “Hawkish Gloom,” by Stanley Kurtz. Kurtz recognizes the deadly seriousness of our present confrontation with militant Islam. He fears “we’re on a slow-motion track” to both world war abroad and nuclear terror at home. But rather than blow the trumpet and rally the troops, Kurtz sighs, shrugs his shoulders, and slumps down in the grip of powerlessness and despair. Or as he puts it, “hawkish gloom.”

Wherefore the gloom, Stanley? Apparently Kurtz has convinced himself that militant Islam cannot be defeated, and so we are doomed to suffer a never ending series of wars and terrorist attacks until, he suggests, the whole conflict is ended in a nuclear conflagration. Why must this be the end game? Because, according to Kurtz, “our Islamist enemy has proven himself implacable.” Kurtz further argues that, due to the nature of modern terrorist organizations, “decisive military victory” cannot be achieved against the forces of militant Islam.Implacable? Incapable of being defeated?

With all due respect, this is nonsense. No different than the myth of the invincible Viet Cong during the Vietnam War.

The truth is, to date, we have not made any effort to destroy the forces of militant Islam. We have only engaged in limited conventional actions in Afghanistan and Iraq and (supposedly) covert ops worldwide. That’s it. We haven’t mobilized the American people for war. We haven’t destroyed Iran and Syria. We haven’t closed radical mosques or shut down the jihadist propaganda networks. We haven’t conducted targeted assassinations of jihadi leaders across the globe. We haven’t made it clear to the terrorists and their supporters that they cannot win and that they will die.


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