This is a baffling sort of “containment” we’re seeing.
by Victor Davis Hanson
National Review Online
May was another normal month in the war against Islamism. At home, a delusional Rosie O’Donnell was back at it. She reminded her viewers that the United States has killed over 600,000 innocents in Iraq. And in an impassioned plea, she and her cohorts reminded us dullards that zealous jihadists must have some understandable reason for being so, well, zealous. Perhaps she meant in the same way that the zealous Waffen SS must have had some legitimate reason for its strong feelings?
Jimmy Carter was also plugging another book on his Christian piety by slandering a president at war for mixing religion and politics. He reminded us that evoking God wins approval from the mainstream when it comes from the Left, only outrage when practiced on the Right. But why would Carter jettison his trope when attacking the commander in chief at a time of war had already won him a Nobel Prize? And why refrain from disparaging talk of a “war against terror” when you did the same about an “inordinate” fear of Communism?
Even as scholars, along with politicians like John Edwards, were assuring that the war was “overblown,” more terrorists were arrested for plotting to kill soldiers at Fort Dix, and plots more sinister still were uncovered in the United Kingdom. CAIR kept warning us about our illiberal prejudices against Muslims, while each week or so we uncover another cartoonish effort of some young, “mixed-up” Middle Easterners to aid our enemies or blow us up. That such wannabe killers are usually incompetent or amateurish is apparently supposed to remind us how the threat is exaggerated or our own response disproportionate: we are like the worrywart who can’t just keep calm when someone with terrible eyesight is taking potshots at him with a deer rifle from about a hundred yards away.
Critics who deplored the effort to depose a genocidal Saddam Hussein were urging the United States to do something to stop the genocide in Darfur — but of course always with the U.N. or E.U. (of Rwanda and Kosovo fame); a familiar formula: our Marines, their diplomats.
Democrats who claim we took our eye off al Qaeda when we went into Iraq won’t explain how getting out will allow us to put both our eyes back on them when they’re in a nuclear Pakistan. Democrats who assure us that the war is “lost” and the surge hopeless will not cut off funding for it, damn its architect Gen. Petraeus, or explain how in good conscious they can send more soldiers into harm’s way for a war they assure us we can’t possibly win.
Yet another poll, explained away by multiculturalists and apologists, revealed what most Americans have been led to suspect by the near weekly arrest of some conspirator or jihadist sympathizer: a lot of Muslims in the country are very angry and are sympathetic to those who kill violently. According to the Pew poll, one of four young Muslim Americans expressed approval of the tactic of suicide bombing, while six of ten assured us that no Arab Muslim was involved in September 11. Mr. Atta, you see, still lives in that apartment in Cairo with his loving father. Both findings translate into many hundreds of thousands Muslims living the good life here in the United States — 40 percent of whom have arrived since 1990 — who are either unhinged or favor the ideology of suicide bombing that killed 3,000 Americans.
There were more bombings in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Turkey. Islamists were trying to use their Palestinian bases in Lebanon to destroy the elected government there, as they try everywhere to destroy democracy — whether in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel, or Turkey. It was hard to know whether Syria was happier about Speaker Pelosi’s visit or angrier that the U.S. government keeps pressing it on serialized murder in Lebanon.
More rockets were fired from Gaza to show the world the wisdom of the concessions granted in the Israeli withdrawal. The strategy seems to be, “See, we are incompetent and so can’t really kill too many of these Jews, so why fire back?” Or “Can’t you at least miss most of the time like we do?”
Hamas thugs assassinated Fatah gangsters and vice versa — and won the usual sympathy from the latest British “Lord” who deplored some supposed disproportionate Israeli response and the cruel stance of the United States that cut off aid to a terrorist organization that could not even fake an “Ok, give me your money — I promise I won’t say for a few months that I want to destroy the state of Israel.”
The Iranians offered up the world more braggadocio, even as the U.N. assured us that they had not complied with nonproliferation protocols, even as estimates of the time they need to get the bomb continued to shrink, even as talk continued of how we could live with a nuclear Iran, just as we live so splendidly with a nuclear Pakistan. Mr. Ahmadinejad gets at least something right: While he is parasitic on almost everything Western from his oil industry to his bombs, he at least keeps up his indigenous credentials by not wearing a tie.
Amid Middle East cries of Western injustice, oil hovered near $70 a barrel, sending half-a trillion dollars per year to the supposedly victimized Middle East, desperately in need of Western cash for impoverished Hamas.
In the aftermath of the seizure of the British naval vessel, and with the impending departure of Tony Blair, there are more rumors that Britain will shortly exit Iraq. A play in London by the name of Fallujah presents to its audience swaggering Americans who are terrorizing poor Iraqis in what would otherwise be just a tranquil Muslim community.
After the Danish cartoons, the Van Gogh murder, the hysteria over the pope’s allusions, and the riots in France, a new European leadership is starting to sense that their continent is like a juicy, overripe peach, about to be picked in its fullness by Islamists before it rots completely from the inside.
I could go on, but you get the point.
In spite of all this, given the power and wealth of the United States and its cloning mechanism we call globalization, the world shrugs and goes on. I suppose the idea is that we are in a sort of Cold War containment mode with radical Islam. In other words, we try to ensure that jihadists cannot do too much damage to the world order, and that in time we will simply smother them the way we did the earlier Soviet fraud.
So we fight the worst in Afghanistan and Iraq, try to ensure that Iran doesn’t get the bomb, hope that Israel is alive one more day, and then put out these small brush fires that burst out at weird places like Fort Dix or a London mosque. In the meantime, our own counterassault continues. Oprah, iPods, the300, the Internet, and everything else from jailbait Paris Hilton to the ghost of Anna Nicole just chug on, and do their own small parts in undermining and coopting the 7th-century world of Dr. Zawahiri.
Is it working? In some sense, yes. Poor Dr. Zawahiri, after all, is still ranting about the Kyoto accords from his mud-brick enclave, his cave notes full of cribbed ideas from Al Gore and Noam Chomsky. If he keeps declaiming, Jon Stewart or Bill Maher will do a link-up soon.
But most serious nations, it seems — those in the West, China, Japan, India, and Russia — have come to some sort of unspoken, politically incorrect consensus about the radical Muslim world, its unearned oil profits, and its very practiced terrorism. I guess they think watching radical Islam is akin to watching a nursery full of ill-tempered infants fighting over hand grenades — the key being to keep them in, and you out of, the playpen when their adult toys periodically go off.
So we made it through another month of this war. And we hope another young Islamist has passed up the madrassa call for martyrdom in Afghanistan and Iraq, and instead is watching 24 reruns and fighting over the judging in “Arab idol.”
So is this “containment” and does it count as a strategy? Sort of.
And will it work? Maybe.
At least until the next big something-or-other goes off.
©2007 Victor Davis Hanson