August 4, 2005 [LINK]
Al Qaeda's second-in-command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, has warned Americans and British of much worse attacks to come. See CNN.com. It may be empty bluster, or it may be deadly serious. As the 9/11 Commission has warned, it's not a question of whether we get attacked on a big scale once again, it's a question of when. Will Americans show as much courage and defiant resolve as the British have? Will the partisan divide doom us with a plague of defeatism? One thing that is certain, the world will not be at peace as long as any governments tolerate this kind of language. There is no reason for us to make a threat along the lines that Rep. Tom Tancredo suggested (see my July 22 post), but there should be no question that we will reserve the right to launch devastating punitive attacks on any country that gives material or moral support to Al Qaeda or its associates.
One complaint I have had with the Bush administration's conduct of the war is in the vague way it has defined our adversary. Apparently, that problem has been fixed. As explained by Kim Holmes at heritage.org, the enemy is now being defined as "extremists" or "enemies of freedom" by top Bush administration officials. That is a step in the right direction, but it is still too timid, and therefore fails to rally the American people behind the long struggle we are in. The enemy consists of an ultra-ambitious non-state movement spanning the Islamic world: "Islamo-fascism." (Because ethnic identity plays a very large role among most (but not all) of the terrorists, I prefer to emphasize the Arab component of this movement, calling it "Arab-Islamic fascism.") The word fascist calls attention to the essentially aggressive nature of the movement that many critics on the Left ignore. Those who think we could avoid further bloodshed by ending support for Israel are as utterly wrong as those in the 1930s who believed that Adolf Hitler could be appeased by making territorial concessions.
Well, it's about time! The IRA renounced its terrorist ways last week, and the British Army quickly reciprocated the gesture by dismantling some of its guard posts in Northern Ireland. It's nice when separatist groups realize that they have more in common with their supposed oppressors than they had thought, and the clear and present danger posed to the native inhabitants of the British Isles by Muslim extremists certainly played a part in this. Common enemies are what forge alliances even between parties with sharply different values. In Wednesday's Washington Post, Anne Applebaum breaks a taboo in this country by pointing out that many Americans openly sympathized with the Irish Republican Army. It might be called a case of "selective outrage," which is one reason why defining our enemy as "global terrorism" was confusing to many people.
Over 20 American Marines and Army soldiers have been killed in Iraq in the last few days, testing the willpower and determination of the American people. Over 1,800 Americans have sacrificed their lives in Iraq so far, which is bad, but what is even worse is that many millions of American remain tragically clueless about what the struggle is all about. President Bush needs to devote much more effort to explaining to the public what we are fighting for, and provide concrete examples of the improved conditions in Iraq that are so often ignored by the mainstream media.