August 22, 2003

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON observes:

Indeed, the abhorrent assault on a U.N. complex in Baghdad — taken together with the near-simultaneous murdering of innocents in Jerusalem, the recent attack on the Jordanian embassy, and the bombing of Iraqi oil and water pipelines — may suggest to critics of the Americans that the enemy is recouping and gaining the upper hand.

Far from it. We are indeed entering a third phase. But it is not quite what most people think, since it has brought a brutal clarity to the conflict that the terrorists may not have intended. For those who were still unsure of the affinities between the West Bank killers once subsidized by Saddam, Baathist fedeyeen, the Taliban, and al Qaedist terrorists, the similarity in method, the identical blood-curling rhetoric, and the eerie timing of slaughtering during peace negotiations and efforts at civil reconstruction should establish the existence of a common enemy. It has been fighting us all along — a general fascism, now theocratic, now autocratic, that seeks to divert the Middle East from the forces of modernization and liberalization.

Contrary to the latest round of punditry, the liberation of Iraq did not stir up a hornet’s nest nor create ex nihilo these terrible alliances. No, they are natural expressions of the hatred manifested on 9/11 that will continue until either we or they are defeated.

This seems right to me. Treating them as reasonable people with possibly legitimate grievances has mostly been a matter of Western self-deception. Read the whole thing, but don’t miss this bit:

Our astonishing defeats of Saddam Hussein and the Taliban cannot blind us to the reality — unchanging since 9/11 — that we are in a war to the end with those who wish to destroy Western society and all that it holds dear. Both tactically and strategically this is a conflict that our enemies cannot win — given their military inferiority and accompanying failure to offer an attractive alternative to the freedom and prosperity of the West.

This doom the nihilists grudgingly accept. Thus the past week in Afghanistan, in Baghdad, and in Jerusalem they have once more embraced the tactics of the bomb-laden truck and suicide belt to demoralize civil society and to win the only way they can — as was true in Beirut and Mogadishu — by eroding public support for the continuance of war. Otherwise, they will lose and the virus of reform and legality will only spread.

Either the Middle East will be a breeding ground for terrorists and rogue regimes that threaten sober nations and peoples the world over, from Manhattan to Jerusalem, or it will desist and join the rest of the world. It really is as simple as that.

Yes.

UPDATE: Read this Phil Carter post on MPs. And just keep scrolling — Phil’s been on a hot streak.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Read this response to Josh Marshall, too.

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