July 21, 2005,
The aftermath of the London terrorist bombings has demonstrated that the antiwar Left is severely afflicted by the political equivalent of battered-wife syndrome. With each new beating, the scarred and bruised victims of spousal abuse tend to excuse and rationalize the actions of their tormentors. A stubborn unwillingness to accept the proposition that their partners are violent louts plunges these woeful women into a morass of self-deception that spawns only further violence.
The far Left has similarly proved unable to liberate itself from the web of rose-tinted delusions that it has spun about the nature of Islamic extremism. After each al Qaeda outrage, leftist ideologues are quick to castigate their own countrymen for a catalogue of sins, both real and imagined. With a perverse combination of self-loathing and adoration of the enemy, the radical Leftist mantra preaches that if only we were nicer, the jihadists could not fail to love us. It’s our own fault if Osama bin Laden doesn’t realize what good people we are.
And all the while, these “progressive” academics, pundits, and politicians engage in ridiculous intellectual contortions designed to mitigate the guilt of the terrorist perpetrators. When push comes to shove, some intellectuals believe that Islamism is simply an understandable reaction to what they describe as “Western imperialism.”
The streets of Britain’s capital city were still damp with innocent blood when the same obscene dance of political self-flagellation began. Within hours of the explosions on the Underground, author Tariq Ali was blaming these attacks on George Bush and Tony Blair. The architects of the London bombings were exercising their just entitlement to vengeance for the “violence being inflicted on the people of the Muslim world,” he wrote.
Journalist Robert Fisk rushed to sing from the same song-sheet in the left-wing British daily The Independent. “It was crystal clear Britain would be a target ever since Tony Blair decided to join George Bush’s ‘war on terror,’” Fisk thundered. The true arch-terrorists of our time, he argued, could be found in the White House and 10 Downing Street.
And if the causes of Islamist terrorism were being falsely diagnosed by leftist ideologues, then the policy proposals being advanced by these same voices were morally bankrupt as well. Rather than pursue the fanatics had who visited such death upon the innocent of London, George Galloway, a radical member of Parliament, urged Britain to adopt the Spanish model of crumpling under pressure.
After a terrorist attack last year on Madrid’s rail system, Spain’s socialist government withdrew its troops from Iraq. But Prime Minister Jose Zapatero’s capitulation did not remove Spain from al Qaeda’s target list. In mid-June 2005, CNN reported that 16 members of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s network were arrested in Madrid while planning additional terrorist attacks against that city.
On September 11, Americans became aware that they were facing a war against an enemy of a kind they had never before encountered. And through bombings, decapitations, and assassinations it has dawned upon other democratic nations that, like it or not, they too are part of this same conflict.
Our enemies go by such names as al Qaeda, Jamaa Islamiya, Hamas, and Hezbollah. They belong to a global jihadist movement that considers it a religious duty to wage holy Islamic war against the infidels of the West.
This is a war that we did not start, but that we dare not leave unfinished. We dare not because our foes are fanatics who strap explosives to their bodies and fly airliners into office buildings. We dare not leave it unfinished because our antagonists see the destruction of our civilization as a necessary precursor to the expansion of their own culture.
Our jihadist enemies are fighting to create an ideal society that looks a lot like Afghanistan under the Taliban. And this is a vision that is repugnant to the foundational ideals of free people everywhere. Women forced to be barefoot, burka-clad, illiterate, and unemployed. Christians and Jews barely tolerated as second-class dhimmicitizens. No art, no science. Societies dominated by poverty, oppression, backwardness, and ignorance.
In the world according to radical Islam it’s the jihadist way or the highway, and these 7th-century dogmas represent the only acceptable outcome to al Qaeda.
But the far-left views the world through a political prism that distorts this essential reality. Fixated by a knee-jerk hostility towards all things American, the likes of Ali, Fisk, and Galloway refuse to recognize the existence of this conflict, much less the stakes that are involved. Their primal instinct is to appease bin Laden and his cohorts rather than oppose them.
But Winston Churchill defined an appeaser as “someone who feeds the crocodile in the hopes of being eaten last.” The sooner we accept the fact that this is a war; then the sooner we can get about the task of winning it.
Ted Lapkin is director of policy analysis at the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC), a Melbourne think tank.