The discussion is even more relevant now than it was four years ago...
In a previous post where I explored the musings of Chester regarding the strategic issue of our time--Is Islam compatible with a free society--I wrote:
President Bush has been acting on the basis of a YES answer to the question and our entire strategy in the Middle East is based on it. What is astonishing about this essay is that the author unflichingly looks at the logical consequences that are inherent in answering NO to the question-- and finds them pretty frightening for any civilized person or nation.
This is why Bush has insisted on formulating our strategy based on YES. This is why he has been very circumspect in what he says about Islam and how he characterizes the war. This is why he is so adamantly supportive of the Dubai ports deal -- because the opposition to it does reflect a "tipping point" in which people no longer believe that a moderate, reasonable Islam is possible.
I think the insane reaction of the Muslim world to a bunch of inoffensive Danish cartoons has crossed a threshold; and the free, mostly-tolerant people of the world are finally digging a line in the sand, jutting out their chins, and more or less defiantly daring Muslims to cross it. This explains the inexplicably moderate response of the White House to the cartoons. They must negotiate a path that will still answer YES to the strategic question.
I don't think Muslims will like what they discover about the West if they decide to cross that threshold. They will not be safe behind the PC rhetoric and blustery resort to cries of "victimization" that have protected the extremists thus far in acting out their fantasies of worldwide domination.
Today I read David Warren's column at Real Clear Politics:
In this view -- which I hold to be Mr Bush’s -- we are dealing with what amounts to a planetary civil war, between those who accept the state-system descended from the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), and an emergent Islamist ideology that certainly does not. To Mr Bush’s mind, only legitimately-elected governments, presiding over properly-administered secular bureaucracies, can be trusted to deal locally with the kind of mischief an Osama bin Laden can perform, with his hands on contemporary weapons of mass destruction.
But Mr Bush was staking his bet on the assumption that the Islamists were not speaking for Islam; that the world’s Muslims long for modernity; that they are themselves repelled by the violence of the terrorists; that, most significantly, Islam is in its nature a religion that can be “internalized”, like the world’s other great religions, and that the traditional Islamic aspiration to conjoin worldly political with otherworldly spiritual authority had somehow gone away.
The question, “But what if they are not?” was never seriously raised, because it could not be raised behind the mud curtain of political correctness that has descended over the Western academy and intelligentsia. The idea that others see the world in a way that is not only incompatible with, but utterly opposed to, the way we see it, is the thorn ever-present in the rose bushes of multiculturalism.
And via Atlas Shrugs, this recent MEMRI Report threatening massive destruction and death in the US and other western countries is relevant:
"Despite the fact that the New York, Washington, Madrid, and London expeditions have been carried out a few years back. The search for clues on how they were conducted in such a successful manner is still going on and reports upon reports are still being written about them. However, the next expedition might not find someone who can provide analysis for. The top intellects, strategists, and analysts, will be totally clueless as to how to explain what occurred. Let me also inform you that we are talking about two operations, not one. The scale of one of them is larger than the other but both are large and significant. However, we will start with the smaller, and temporarily put the larger on hold to see how serious the Americans are about their lives. Should you value your own life and security, accept Muslims’ demands, but if you shall prefer death (over giving in to Muslims’ demands). Then, we, by the grace of Allah, are the best in bringing it (death) to your door steps.
You must read the entire MEMRI transcript. Despite it being the braggadocio of some depraved adolescent bully trying to pump up his pathetic ego; one cannot help but reflect that this is a bully who really really desperately wants to kill you and your loved ones. He has something to prove about his manhood, and by Allah, he intends to prove it though it be the last thing he ever does. Thus, it is wise to take him and his fellow punks seriously.
In contemplating these pieces of a larger puzzle, it strikes me that more and more people (from the conservatives who now question the Iraq war; to the ordinary citizens adamant that it is not safe to have any muslim country--ally or no-- manage out ports; to independents like myself who have resolutely supported President Bush) are beginning to inch slowly toward a negative answer to the strategic question. While some muslims are decent, tolerant and yearn to be free; Islam itself does not appear to be compatible with a free society.
This ultimate conclusion is breathtaking--and heartbreaking-- in its implications. And if you doubt the seriousness in which I say this, revisit this post.
If you have not read this post from September, 2003 from The Belmont Club, you should do so. In it, Wretchard lays out three conjectures:
Conjecture 1: Terrorism has Lowered the Nuclear Threshold
These obstacles to terrorist capability are the sole reason that the War on
Terror has not yet crossed the nuclear theshold, the point at which enemies fight each other with weapons of mass destruction. The terrorist intent to destroy the United States, at whatever cost to themselves, has been a given since September 11.
Only their capability is in doubt.
Their capability is no longer in doubt. The British now say that Iran is only months away from nuclear capability; and even if that is overly-optimistic; we know that the day is coming when we can no longer pretend that we have lots of time to stop the mullahs. Even as the international community ineptly moves toward some useless sanctions; there are too many among the world powers whose indifference will thwart any positive benefits such sanctions might have--as they did with Saddam. I would say that the Criteria to exceed Conjecture 1 have been satisfied. The threshold was lowered and terrorists have nuclear weapons or will have them imminently.
Conjecture 2: Attaining WMD's Would Destroy Islam
This fixity of malice was recognized in President Bush's West Point address in the summer of 2002, when he concluded that "deterrence -- the promise of massive retaliation against nations -- means nothing against shadowy terrorist networks with no nation or citizens to defend." The enemy was equally indifferent to inducement or threat. Neither making nice -- Jimmy Carter's withdrawal from Iran, Reagan's abandonment of Lebanon, Bush's defense of Saudi Arabia, Clinton's rescue of Albanian Muslims from Serbian genocide, the payment of billions in aid to Egypt and Pakistan -- nor the gravest of threats would alter the enemy's intent to utterly destroy and enslave America. Allah had condemned America. The Faithful only had to find the means to carry out the execution.
Because capability is the sole variable of interest in the war against terrorism, the greater the Islamic strike capability becomes, the stronger the response will be. An unrepeatable attack with a stolen WMD weapon would elicit a different response from one arising from a capability to strike on a sustained and repetitive basis.
As we see from the MEMRI article from a few short days ago quoted above; this position has continued to be promoted by Islam's radicals, who appear to speak not only for themselves, but growingly form most muslims. You also might want to check out this map from an Islamic website; and this documentation of the bloody borders of Islam's expansion since 9/11.
I think it is fair to say that all bets will be off when Iran's nuclear capability becomes not just a threat, but a reality. I suspect that Ahmadinejad's defiant and bellicose position indicates that they already have some limited capability which they will not hesistate to use if the West attempts to destroy their long-range capability.
The second conjecture posits that there will be an escalating exchange of nuclear attacks that will inevitably result in the destruction of Iran and other muslim nations, possibly Pakistan or Syria; but since the threat of terrorism is transnational, the threat's full eradication of necessity will escalate beyond Iranian borders.
Does Islam care about this possibility? In the almost three years since the conjecture was written there are clear signs that some Islamic countries are concerned and risking quite a bit to prevent this scenario. But the great majority welcome it as "Allah's will" and some even have intentions of precipitating it to give credibility to their own little religious sect. Events are moving too slowly in Iraq (though I grant that they are proceeding far more rapidly than anyone thought possible a few short years ago).
The problem is that for the kind of change envisioned by Bush, decades is not too long a time to hope for some of the seeds to grow; and for rigid Middle Eastern minds to evolve and flourish within a democratic medium.
But time is not on our side as Al Qaeda and their allies rush toward their apocolypse; and as our own internal appeasers are more intent on bringing down Republicans than they are are preventing a devastating clash between the forces of civilization and the forces of barbarism.
Conjecture 3: The "War on Terror" is the Golden Hour -- the final chance
It is supremely ironic that the survival of the Islamic world should hinge on an American victory in the War on Terror, the last chance to prevent that terrible day in which all the decisions will have already been made for us. That effort really consists of two separate aspects: a campaign to destroy the locus of militant Islam and prevent their acquisition of WMDs; and an attempt to awaken the world to the urgency of the threat.
President Bush has bet everything on the hope that Islam can be changed if it is infused with some democratic opportunities and freed from some of the political and religious tyranny that has dominated the Middle East. If such a democratizing process had been started--and carried through-- a decade or two earlier, well who knows how much the situation might have changed by now? But it only began after a devastating attack within our borders finally spurred us to mobilize our resources and fight back both militarily and strategically.
And, as I said in an earlier piece, contrary to the infantile imaginings of the antiwar and so-called "peace" movements, Bush's strategy actually represents the best possible hope for peace; even if it is slight.
It is a strategy that faces the grim reality of Islamic contradictions and historical brutality; yet has enough optimism and goodwill in it to be genuinely worth the price we are paying in Afghanistan and Iraq. If it works--and I haven't entirely given up hope yet-- millions of deaths might still be prevented. And if the peace crowd really cares about peace, then they would do well to reconsider their own perverse antics; and the Democrats their knee-jerk opposition.
Because, if they succeed in their determination to undermine American policy as it is now formulated; or if the extremists succeed in eliminating any voices for moderation and tolerance; then there will be only one strategic option open.
Whether it is appreciated or not, these last few years have indeed been our "Golden Hour" --the short time we have to deal with the threat that is represented by the radical elements of Islam. So much of the last three years has been wasted and frittered away by the left and their carping and undermining of Bush's strategic ploy. The continual appeasement, encouragement and cover given to those who would destroy us without mercy, has markedly diluted what we might have accomplished up to now with our aggressive pursuit of the YES Strategy.
The Golden Hour is down to only a few minutes at most. As the clock ticks down to answering NO to that fundamental strategic question; and as we creep closer and closer to the ultimate confrontation with a medieval, uncompromising and fanatically ruthless religion; there will be no deus ex machina --and no pointless protest march with clever placards--that will be able to save the millions of lives lost in that conflagration.
ANSWER,Code Pink, most of the Democratic Party and all the other leftist nutjobs are already preparing to blame Bush if the worse happens. Others will recognize the truth-- that Bush has chosen a strategy and done everything possible to change the course of history. That the strategy was implemented too far along in the process to be able to wholly succeed; or that the enemy is even more nimble and eager to embrace death than western sensibilities could have possibly predicted-- are painful realities that must be faced.
One ought never to turn one's back on a threatened danger and try to run away from it. If you do that, you will double the danger. But if you meet it promptly and without flinching, you will reduce the danger by half.- Sir Winston Churchill
The Islamic Republic of Iran and its nutjob leaders have gleefully announced to all the world that they are now a 'nuclear state'; A vast number of Muslims (particularly the religion's leaders) continue to be intent on destroying themselves--as long as they can destroy us in the process; the "Golden Hour" has passed and the War on Terror has devolved into "overseas contingency operations."
The answer to 'the strategic question of our times' would seem to be an emphatic "NO!" And so, the world is poised on a precipice and the future of the free world hangs by a thread....Meanwhile, the Obama administration has made flinching the proud foundation of its foreign policy.