Thursday, July 28, 2005

War -- That's What We're Fighting

Mark Steyn has been a huge proponent of the "fight terrorism as a war" school and detractor of the "fight terrorism as crime" thought process since at least 9-12-01. His column in this week's Spectator (UK), Britain's conservative newsweekly (kind of like the Weekly Standard without the neocons or support for Israel). Steyn routinely runs afoul of Speccie orthodoxy, and this column is no different. Some excerpts:

. . . the Times [of London] includes this background information on one of the thwarted bombers of the 21 July attacks — Yassin Hassan Omar, a Somali ‘asylum-seeker’:

‘Omar, who was last seen vaulting a barrier at Warren Street station, has been the registered occupant of the flat since 1999. Ibrahim, who was last seen in Hackney Road, East London, after his failed attempt to blow up a No. 26 bus, shared it with him for the past two years. Omar received £88 a week in housing benefit to pay for the council property and also received income support, immigration officials say.’

So here’s how things stand: . . . Four years after 9/11, British taxpayers are subsidising the jihad — in Mr Omar’s Bounds Green council flat and in many other places.

* * *
In The Spectator of 29 December 2001, I noted the likes of Zac Moussaoui, the French citizen who became an Islamist radical while living on welfare in London, and wrote:

‘If you’re looking for “root causes” for terrorism, European-sized welfare programmes are a good place to start. Maybe if they had to go out to work, they’d join the Daily Mirror and become the next John Pilger. Or maybe they’d open a drive-thru Halal Burger chain and make a fortune. Instead, Tony Blair pays Islamic fundamentalists in London to stay at home, fester and plot.’

I wasn’t the first to notice the links between Euro-Canadian welfare and terrorism. Mickey Kaus, an iconoclastic California liberal, was way ahead. But, after three-and-a-half years, one would be entitled to assume that a government whose fortunes are as heavily invested in the terrorist threat as [the UK's] might have spotted it, too . . .

Not a good sign. There's worse. For one, most British recoil from calling this situation a war:

I regretfully have to disagree with the editor of this great publication in his prescription of the current situation which appeared in these pages a week or two back under the headline ‘Just don’t call it war’. As you’ll have gathered, the boss objects to the language of ‘war, whether cultural or military.... Last week’s bombs were placed not by martyrs nor by soldiers, but by criminals.’

Sorry, but that’s the way to lose. A narrowly focused ‘criminal’ approach means entrusting the whole business to the state bureaucracy. The obvious problem with that is that it’s mostly reactive: blow somewhere up, we’ll seal it off, and detectives will investigate it as a crime scene . . . A ‘criminal’ approach gives terrorists all the rights of criminals, and between British and European ‘human rights’ that’s quite a bundle. If it’s a war, you can take wartime measures — including withdrawal from the UN Convention on Refugees, repeal of the European Human Rights Act, and a clawback of sovereignty from the EU. But if you fight this thing as a law-enforcement matter, Islamist welfare queens will use all the above to their full extent and continue openly promoting the murder of the Prime Minister, British troops, etc. with impunity.

Sound extreme? A bit. But remember, none of those institutions or covenants (EU, UNCR, EHRA) are built for dealing with an immoral, nihilistic suicidal death-cult approach to war. So what do we try for? More Steyn:

If the jihad has its war aims, maybe we should start thinking about ours. What would victory look like? As fascism and communism were in their day, Islamism is now the ideology of choice for the world’s grievance-mongers. That means we have to destroy the ideology, or at least its potency — not Islam per se, but at the very minimum the malign strain of Wahabism, which thanks to Saudi oil money has been transformed from a fetish of isolated desert derelicts into the most influential radicalising force in contemporary Islam, from Indonesia to Leeds. Europeans who aren’t prepared to roll back Wahabism had better be prepared to live with it, or under it.

Mustering the popular will for that sort of struggle isn’t easy. But the longer you leave it the harder it becomes. Whether or not one accepts the Johnson line that Iraq is irrelevant to the war on terror, it requires a perverse genius on the part of Tony Blair to have found the political courage to fight an unpopular war on a distant shore but not the political courage to wage it closer to home where it would have commanded far more support.

On a couple of very fleeting visits to London and Belfast in recent weeks, I had the vague feeling that Britain is on the brink of a tragedy it doesn’t quite comprehend. America’s post-9/11 muscular nationalism was easily mocked by Europeans, but its absence in London is palpable: try to imagine Mayor Giuliani uttering half the stuff Ken Livingstone said in the last fortnight (‘The bombings would never have happened if the West had simply left the Arab nations alone in the wake of the first world war’). Even if he’s right, the message it communicates is weakness: bomb us, and we apologise — or at the very least go to comically absurd lengths to distinguish terrorism against London from terrorism against Israel. Tony Blair, in his recitation in the House of Commons of nations afflicted by terrorism, couldn’t even bring himself to mention the Zionist Entity. Boris Johnson [The Speccie's editor and a Tory MP -- TKM]], in his call to non-arms, began with an elaborate riff on the difference between Brits and Jews in these matters:
‘If we were Israelis, we would by now be doing a standard thing to that white semi-detached pebbledash house at 51 Colwyn Road, Beeston. Having given due warning, we would dispatch an American-built ground-assault helicopter and blow the place to bits. Then we would send in bulldozers to scrape over the remains....’

The distinction between coarse blundering Israelis and subtle sophisticated Britons depends where you’re standing. If you happen to be the late Jean Charles de Menezes, for example, you might wish fate had selected you instead to be the Palestinian suicide bomber interrupted en route to Tel Aviv that same Friday. The Euro-reviled IDF managed to disarm the Fatah terrorist of his explosives belt, packed with nails, without harming a hair on his pretty little suicide-bomber head. If the demented anti-Zionism of the British and Continental media these last four years ever had a point, it doesn’t now, when you’re in the early stages of the Israelification of Europe — and, in one of fate’s better jests, in this scenario you’re the Jews.

Ultimately, there's little hope that any European government or European polity will have the will to stand up against the jihadists. That's why the Americans must leave, as Steyn notes:

Any one of these issues would require enormous political will — stop funding the intifada, reclaim lost sovereignty from Europe, imprison and/or expel treasonous imams, end the education system’s psychologically unhealthy and ahistorical disparagement of the Britannic inheritance in your schools. But, without a big ambitious war-sized project, what’s left — aside from shooting the occasional Brazilian?

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