The Folly of Apology

Americans need to muster the necessary grit to win.

by Bruce S. Thornton

Private Papers

The stories about the video of US troops burning the bodies of dead Taliban are disgusting––but not because of anything our troops may have done to the corpses of fanatical murderers. What’s disturbing is the groveling reaction of our government and military officials, who are falling all over themselves to apologize to people who cheer every time an American is killed.

Remember what type of people the Taliban are? Like the jihadists we are fighting in Iraq, they are murderers whose religious beliefs warrant any kind of brutality and atrocity against the “infidel.” These are the people who, when they ran Afghanistan, tortured and murdered their own citizens in a soccer stadium built with Western money. These are the people who behead and murder, the people who kill women and children. And these are the people whose corpses we are supposed to worry about mistreating, whose religious beliefs, the ones that justify murder, we are supposed to be respecting.

I know all the rationales for the apologies and investigations and anxious assertions of how much we respect Islam. We need to win the “hearts and minds” of all those alleged “moderate” Muslims who hate us only because they don’t understand us, don’t realize how much we admire their wonderful religion, don’t quite get everything we’re doing for them, and who are abetted in their misunderstanding by the bad behavior of some of our troops. So the State Department has issued “talking points” to U.S. embassies “to explain to foreign journalists and officials that the alleged misconduct was an aberration that did not reflect American values,” as the New York Times reported.

The idea that all those millions cheering for the terrorists in Iraq, cheering for bin Laden, cheering for the Taliban are all just misinformed is a monumental delusion, and the most dangerous mistake we are making the war against jihad. The millions of Muslims who support jihadist murder do so not because they’re ignorant of our beneficent intentions and enlightened tolerance, but because of spiritual beliefs that validate jihad, beliefs ratified by 14 centuries of Islamic jurisprudence and theology. We need to get over the peculiar arrogant belief that everything the enemy does is a mere reaction to what we do, as though these people don’t have their own motivations for their actions. They know that we rescued the Muslims of Kuwait, the Muslims of Bosnia, and the Muslims of Iraq. They know that we are sacrificing our own citizens to create an ordered society that will allow Muslims to worship in peace and prosper in freedom. They know that Muslims are killing Muslims all over the world, that the greatest threats to the safety and well-being of Muslims are other Muslims, as we currently see in Sudan. They know all these things, but they don’t care, because what’s important is the jihad against the infidel, the divinely sanctioned struggle to compel the people of the world to accept Islam, live as second-class citizens, or die.

This false belief that Muslims only react to Western deeds also puts a powerful weapon into the hands our enemies, who can then deflect their true intentions and manipulate our behavior, as the jihadists of Palestine have been doing for decades. How else explain the bizarre spectacle of the terrorist Mahmoud Abbas being welcomed to the White House, at the very moment we claim to the world that we are at war with those who use and endorse terrorism? When has Abbas ever condemned terrorism as categorically evil and unacceptable in any circumstance, rather than condemning terrorism for being the wrong tactic at the wrong time? How can we keep saying terrorism “won’t work” when we are giving financial and moral support to a Palestinian regime that incorporates terrorists like Hamas that say explicitly they want to destroy Israel and will use any means necessary to do so?

More important, when our enemies compel us to apologize and investigate and assure the world how much we really respect Islam, they validate their estimation of our spiritual weakness and corruption. From their perspective, why else would we apologize, unless we had doubts about the rightness of our cause and the beliefs that drive our actions? The jihadists, after all, are convinced of the rightness of their belief, one validated by Islam and its traditional intolerant and arrogant disdain for the infidel. So why should they ever apologize? They believe they are right, and that Allah sanctions their slaughter. Christians can be brutalized, as is happening right now in Alexandria, where Egyptian Copts are being murdered and terrorized by Muslim mobs. Christian churches can be desecrated, Christians and Jews murdered and mutilated on videotape, and we never hear even from secular Muslim leaders the sort of anxious protestations of regret that the leaders of the most powerful nation on earth indulge in.

We may think we are projecting the strength of our values when we chastise our troops for sometimes resorting to unpleasant actions in order to win against a brutal enemy. But in fact, the message we send is that because we have doubts about our cause and our beliefs, we will second-guess and scrutinize our own behavior in the midst of a hard fight. Wars are ugly and cruel, as all violence is. To think that one can fight a brutal enemy within utopian parameters is to court failure and defeat. This does not mean that anything goes, obviously. But we have to be realistic about where those impassable limits lie, given the sort of irregular war being fought. We can argue about those limits later, but burning the bodies of dead murderers to my mind is a long way from actions completely out of bounds, especially if such actions will save the life of even one American and take us one step closer to achieving our goal. After all, we’ve had ample proof for decades that being nice and tolerant doesn’t cut any ice with those who fancy themselves the warriors of Allah.

All means cannot justify all ends, but some means can justify the right ends. Every war this country has fought employed terrible means that none of us would want to choose, but that were justified by the rightness and goodness of the end. If we truly believe that our goals in Iraq are just enough to kill and die for, then we should stop undercutting and second-guessing our troops in the field who are laying their lives on the line to achieve those noble ends. And if we don’t really believe in those goals enough to grit our teeth and do what must be done, as our fathers and grandfathers did in World War II, then we should pack up right now and go home.

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