Terrorism Works, Even When It Doesn't

We know all this and yet we refrain from taking vigorous countermeasures against a determined foe. The war in Afghanistan plods on without resolution. Iran gets a free pass, sanctions notwithstanding -- unless, of course, the Israelis do the job for us. The Saudis are permitted to sow discord unhindered. Somalian brigands have just captured another tanker, bringing the number of hijacked ships in piratical custody to the round number of ten. CAIR, ISNA, and other Islamic organizations are still flourishing. The mosques are allowed to go their incendiary way. Writers, journalists, NGOs, editors, and government leaders bend over backwards, or rather bend low forwards, to those who hold us in contempt and who work diligently against our very survival.

Former Muhajiroun Hassan Butt in a Daily Mail op-ed explains that both Muslims and their Western apologists are trapped in a “defunct model of the world.” We will be unable to liberate ourselves, he suggests, unless we decide to rewrite “the rules of interaction” and step out of the dogmatic paradigm that controls our actions. (But we cannot expect our Islamic adversaries to oblige; it is we, plainly, who must make the effort.) Butt’s analysis has been corroborated by Ed Husain’s newly released memoir, The Islamist, in which the former recruit to the terrorist creed charts his journey into the bowels of Islamic extremism. The real issue is the obsession of “Islamist” domination which grows in the Wahhabi and “Islamist” mind, a kind of tumor which is paradoxically fatal only to us. And this social and mental pathology, he makes clear, is materially abetted by the naivety and weakness of our governing authorities and their collaborators in the press, the constabulary, the universities, and our national institutions.

Time to face facts. We have lost the battle and we will lose the war unless we muster the courage to become proactive and take the fight to the enemy. The “rules of interaction” must be rewritten. At present, they are the Kapton wiring in our defense system. This is an unpleasant prospect but there is no alternative. It means releasing the military from its shackles to perform the task it was created for. It means demolishing the Iranian nuclear infrastructure and its EMP potential -- the latter perhaps the gravest current threat to the security of the United States -- as well as crushing Hamas and Hezbollah, rather than treating with them uselessly in a comedy of diplomatic fatuousness. It means bringing the Saudis to heel, which can be done despite their immense, Western-derived oil wealth. It means shutting down the mosques in which domestic terrorism is fomented, designating CAIR, ISNA, and their clones as criminal or treasonous organizations, and annulling their license to operate. It means rigorous profiling of obvious suspects regardless of their ethnic or religious backgrounds. It means compelling university administrators to prevent their campuses from becoming radical hotbeds of anti-American agitation and anti-Western propaganda. It means refusing to give public and institutional prominence to leftist or pro-Islamic individuals and groups who labor to undermine our security and our way of life.

But I’m afraid we don’t have the stomach for draconian expedients and will pay a prohibitive cost for our pusillanimity. Is it not obvious that our entire world -- our habits, customs, assumptions, expectations, feelings, relationships, and activities -- has been fundamentally altered since 9/11? That a significant portion of the economy has been diverted from truly productive use? That we are constantly looking over our shoulders, waiting for the next disintegrating office tower, the next Little Rock and Fort Hood, the next Flight 253? Even the next fizzled terrorist attempt will have malign reverberations and as such will already have succeeded. Indeed, as National Post columnist George Jonas speculates concerning the Nigerian apprentice-terrorist, “the young fanatic may have been supplied with dud explosives,” for his sponsors might have considered that “dispatching insufficiently trained and equipped saboteurs would still do the trick, because security officials can be counted on to multiply the effects of terrorism by their anti-terrorist measures. … Ironically, few things discourage travel more than the methods we employ to make it safer.”

It is in this overall sense that terrorism has won the battle. As for new airport regulations and the spate of vapid euphemisms that accompany them, which are only a pathetic response to that which we refuse to meaningfully confront, they are like baby powder applied to an amputation. They will not stop the bleeding or pamper up the wound. Abdulmutallab may now be safely tucked away in jail but we, for our part, remain imprisoned in a mindset governed by fear of offending, the dictates of political correctness, abject cowardice, the rituals of bureaucratic stupidity, and failed strategies of appeasement. To quote Kurt Vonnegut from Slaughterhouse-Five, “So it goes.”