Friday, July 08, 2005

Trying To Get Back in the Blogging Grove...

At the urging of some of my colleagues at the Claremont Institute and my own attempt to muster up the motivation to blog and write again, I'm going to try to get back in that blogging groove. Let's hope I can keep up a respectable posting pace. Anyway...to some news.

First a couple of points about the London bombings. One thing I noticed reading through all the coverage and commentaries was the seemingly universal acknowledgment that an attack in London was all but a foregone conclusion. Christopher Hitchens is one of many examples:

My son flew in from London at the weekend, and we were discussing, as we have several times before, why it hadn't happened yet. "It" was the jihadist attack on the city, for which the British security forces have been braced ever since the bombings in Madrid. When the telephone rang in the small hours of this morning, I was pretty sure it was the call I had been waiting for. And as I snapped on the TV I could see, from the drawn expression and halting speech of Tony Blair, that he was reacting not so much with shock as from a sense of inevitability.

The fact that the 3-11 Madrid bombings brought home to Europe the utter horrors of Islamo-fascist terror, putting big cities like London and Paris on notice, the radicalization of British Muslims in Finsbury Park egged on by hideous thugs like Abu Hamza al-Masri, and the U.K.'s partnership with the U.S., especially in Iraq and Afghanistan, all could be cited as evidence of the inevitability of an attack in London. But my question is why did Tony Blair and the Brits and many in the U.S. resign themselves to this supposed fact?

Granted, it is impossible to deter someone so determined to kill others that he will kill himself in process, but I think that the resignation to this inevitability is a sign of who is still playing offense and defense in this war. Do you think the terror masters who are the mullahs in Iran or the Baathists in Syria harbor a feeling that their rule is at the mercy of American firepower? I doubt it. You can be sure those pockets of al Qaeda dispersed all throughout Europe plot and plan in a manner that is definitely not on the defensive. These bastards are playing offense, and they want to drive hard to the basket at any opening they get.

And even despite the offensive we launched in Iraq, we're still on our heels. We resigned ourselves to an attack in London because we know al Qaeda is gunning for us 24/7. When the hell are we - that is, the West - going to say, enough! When will Europe wake the hell up? When will the cranky Left finally put the blame on the killers rather than trying to pin it on Bush? It was good to hear London mayor and left-winger extraordinaire Ken "Red" Livingstone tell the terrorists to flip off. Definitely a good start (George Galloway notwithstanding). So we'll see we go from here. Although Tom Friedman's column provides us an interesting route - even though it's one we, as Americans and Westerners, can't actually take:

...[It] is essential that the Muslim world wake up to the fact that it has a jihadist death cult in its midst. If it does not fight that death cult, that cancer, within its own body politic, it is going to infect Muslim-Western relations everywhere. Only the Muslim world can root out that death cult. It takes a village.

What do I mean? I mean that the greatest restraint on human behavior is never a policeman or a border guard. The greatest restraint on human behavior is what a culture and a religion deem shameful. It is what the village and its religious and political elders say is wrong or not allowed. Many people said Palestinian suicide bombing was the spontaneous reaction of frustrated Palestinian youth. But when Palestinians decided that it was in their interest to have a cease-fire with Israel, those bombings stopped cold. The village said enough was enough.

The Muslim village has been derelict in condemning the madness of jihadist attacks. When Salman Rushdie wrote a controversial novel involving the prophet Muhammad, he was sentenced to death by the leader of Iran. To this day - to this day - no major Muslim cleric or religious body has ever issued a fatwa condemning Osama bin Laden.

Some Muslim leaders have taken up this challenge. This past week in Jordan, King Abdullah II hosted an impressive conference in Amman for moderate Muslim thinkers and clerics who want to take back their faith from those who have tried to hijack it. But this has to go further and wider.

The double-decker buses of London and the subways of Paris, as well as the covered markets of Riyadh, Bali and Cairo, will never be secure as long as the Muslim village and elders do not take on, delegitimize, condemn and isolate the extremists in their midst.

I think this wider point proves that American efforts to promote democracy in the Middle East can only go so far. In fact, if this Muslim problem can only be cured by a Muslim solution, it shows how limited our capacity for transforming an entire region of the world really is. Don't get me wrong; I think it is worthwhile that the U.S. be in Iraq to help set up a democratic beach head in the heart of the Mideast. The effect of the Jan. 30 elections in Iraq was palpable from Beirut to Cairo to Riyadh to Tehran. But the process is ultimately self-actualized (if that's even a word). This is taking Friedman's point to the next level. First delegitimize the terrorists, then let the people decide their future.

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