I had prepared a post for today that was of a more humorous nature. Ironically it is a story which involves a bomb squad and a controlled detonation. In light of the sobering events last night in Manchester I have considered that this would be in poor taste and will post it later.
I have expressed strong opinions on terrorism and how it ought be dealt with before. In this particular instance I am stirred to a more ferocious reaction due to my particular attachment to the city of Manchester. I feel a very strong bond with our mother country. There is a lot of English blood running through these veins. To me Manchester, more than London, more than Southampton, Bristol, Bath or the chalk downs of Wiltshire, represents the spirit of Britain. All of these bombings and Islamist attacks infuriate me, but this one perhaps more than all others.
It has been more than the attacks themselves that anger me. It is the reaction to, or in some instances the lack of reaction, that I find even more disturbing. To some this may seem a rather curious statement so I will explain. What is troubling to me is that after so many times we are still reacting. What will it take to become proactive in addressing this scourge?
There has long been a mindset present amongst the political class of the west to treat this as a matter of law enforcement, which by its very nature is a reaction. Laws are only rules, words written on paper. They do nothing in and of themselves to prevent any act. They only empower the authority of the state to impose the prescribed sanction upon the offender after the crime has been committed. I am of the mind that some basic law and some semblance of order (as spontaneously reached by the participants) is all well and good. I’m no advocate for complete anarchy, but as I have said before as a society we have devolved from “the rule of law” to the “rule of lawyers”. We have so many laws as to diminish the value of any law at all. I don’t mean this in any religious context, but cite a biblical reference as a sound illustration. In the new testament Jesus admonishes the Pharisees for having (I’m paraphrasing here, rather than chapter and verse) become so consumed with adherence to their many laws and customs as to have become blinded to the spirit of the law by the letter of the law. It was suggested instead, and I dare say this is the essential theme of the new testament, that there was given a new law: to do unto others as you would wish done unto you. To love your neighbor as you love yourself. The ideal inherent in this was that if as a people we were to follow this one law all of the others would fall into place behind it. Sort of a roundabout way of admitting that all the laws in the world will make no difference to any who will not follow the prime law. It embodies the concept of the spirit versus the letter.
Even where the west has taken a more proactive approach, the application of military force, it has been done so in many ways by half measures. I do not wish to insult the peril and sacrifice that our fine young men and women in the armed forces have subjected themselves to. They are the instrument, the tip of the spear as is said. I commend each and every one of them for what they have done and are still doing. There is nothing halfway in serving as the boots on the ground. Ever. The half measures statement applies to the policy, the way that political leadership have exercised this power. On the one hand they speak of such resolve and dedication to eradicate the threat, making a great show of our arsenal and deployments to aggressively root out the bad actors. On the other hand, however, they take such great pains to be almost apologetic for it. Constantly uttering public assurances that this is not a war with Islam and defining terms of engagement with more concern to avoid at all costs any collateral damage from occurring from any combat action. Essentially it has been a policy that says this: we want to show that we are actually doing something about this problem, or at least be able to say so, but we don’t really want to piss off anyone in the process of doing it. Well sorry to burst your bubble, but the purpose of a military is to, when required, kill enemies and break their stuff. It’s really not any more complicated than this.
What is treated as a law enforcement policy is a reaction. What should be treated as a defense policy is to be proactive. When one enters a fight, regardless the scale or nature of the conflict, announcing at the outset that you will be pulling punches in the upcoming bout is rather counterproductive to one’s stated objective, isn’t it? It would seem that our leaders in the west have deluded themselves into believing that this war can be prosecuted under a set of terms and rules of our own choosing and that the enemy will abide by the same. Can they not see how catastrophically foolish this is? I believe that they can: they simply refuse to.
This is the direct consequence of politically correct thought and social engineering policy directed by the state infecting every level of government, including our military. Instead of concerning themselves with a military prepared to fight the next war, rather than the last war, they have instead been preoccupied by matters of such profound importance as “don’t ask/don’t tell”. Apparently no one ever bothered to tell these Einsteins that the culture within a military has already long had practices and traditions in place to adequately address any of these concerns. Did they really think that only in the late twentieth century homosexual men would sometimes gravitate towards an all male environment? There have been gay soldiers throughout history, it is not a new phenomenon. And soldiers and officers alike have long been aware of it. One would have to expect that in such an environment there might be some jibing and tasteless remarks about sexuality in general, not just homo-sexuality. We are after all not talking about choir boys. And if a soldier carries his weight and does his duty he will have at least the begrudging respect of his comrades, regardless their sexual preferences.
At least the attitude at the top of the defense department under this new administration has been changed, we can hope for the better. And in what has been said thus far, with regard to policy, is a marked departure from the feckless and misguided direction of the previous eight years. Of course it remains to be seen what will actually be done, but early indications are at least promising. As it pertains to the attack in Manchester it might be reasonably concluded that it comes in reaction to the President’s address to muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia this week. I’ve not actually heard this yet, but I am confident that it will take little time for the likes of the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and MSNBC to assign blame for this attack squarely upon the back of the administration for what they will interpret as the provocation in that address. It may well be a reaction, a statement to challenge the message contained in the Saudi address, but it is disingenuous to suggest that it is the cause.
Part of our difficulty, as with so many other things out of the New York to Washington DC orbit, is that the issue has been defined in the most incorrect language. I don’t mean incorrect in the sense of the language being impolitic. I mean that the choice of words to define what we are engaged in are simply wrong: they do not say what needs to be said. We have heard the term countless times for the past fifteen years now. The war on terror. It is a war on terror, not a war with Islam. No, I’m afraid that is wrong. Terror is a tactic. Tactics are means employed by an enemy to effect their desired outcome, whether that be material enrichment, revenge or the advancement of an ideology. What we are at war with currently is the latter of those three. We are, in fact, engaged in a war with Islam. Not by our choosing, there were no high level international strategic planning sessions to say ” Hey! What about we declare war on the religion of Islam?” Islam is at war with itself and the more aggressive faction of that war has in fact been at war with western civilization since 1979. They began attacking us, not the other way around. It actually reached back a bit further than 1979, but for the most modern iteration of the conflict this serves as a good marker.
The last great clashes of civilizations and/or ideologies were the second world war and it’s byproduct, the cold war. These were conflicts of ideology: democracy versus Nazism first and subsequently democracy versus Communism. In both instances these were battles between “free” societies and totalitarian states. It was possible to assign these to a geographic marker, the ideologies embodied by a geopolitical state. States, like laws, are not in fact “physical” entities in a true sense. They are an abstract. We were not at war with the state of Germany or the state of the Soviet Union in the literal sense. We were at war with the ideology and the barbarism as embodied in and exercised by those states. There was no confusion in determining the distinction. We were at war with the ideology, or again as with Islam they were at war with us. We did not start the conflict. There was a clarity in the purpose of the execution of the war. Rationally we could recognize that not every individual citizen of Nazi Germany were to blame or were willing combatants, but we clearly identified that the German state as controlled and guided by the Nazi thugs was where the ideology “lived”. Thus the instrument of war was rightly directed at the German state. It may well have been regrettable, but our conscience was clear. We did not allow for the distinctions made for the “innocent” Germans to in any way hamper our successful prosecution of the war. Though their lives might have been extinguished by our bombs or bullets their blood was on the hands of the regime that carried them into the conflict.
War is by its very nature an ugly business. As the day approaches it won’t be hard to locate any veteran who can tell you this. Memorial Day is for those who served and more so for their comrades who did not share the trip home. World War two was a war conducted as any war should be: with an eye toward it’s unfettered and victorious conclusion. A victory defined on our own terms and no other. Not of our choosing, but when put upon us resolved to put all necessary means to it’s conclusion at the earliest possible date with an enemy entirely vanquished. Not piecemeal, not by half measures. We entered knowing full well that there would be many casualties. Trying to conduct a war by half measures only ensures more casualties, prolonging the agony and placing the ultimate victory in jeopardy.
In his address to the muslim world leaders this week the President was not offering provocation. Though couched within the most forceful while still diplomatic language the message was essentially this. We all recognize there is a problem. We are no longer going to pretend that it does not exist. It is a problem for us in the west and it is a problem for all of you in the Islamic world. It is in your best interest to aid in eliminating the problem. We are prepared to put forth our stake in this and we expect your active help. And finally understand that absent this it will become entirely your problem when we are left to resolve it on our own. The academics and theorists will wring their hands and proclaim our doom at taking such a bellicose posture with the Arab states. I suspect that their greatest fear is being exposed that their way has not worked, but only made a bad problem even worse.
When there is a bully in a neighborhood, or any other setting for that matter, there are four groups of people who will be engaged with that bully for good or ill. First there are the victims. Next there are those who will join in the bullying. Then there are those who will stand silent and watch it occur. And finally there will be those who will stand against the bully. If all you ever have are the first three categories the bully never goes away, but only grows stronger. When this happens the people are then left with only two choices: join in the bullying or become victims themselves. And it is here, then, that it boils down to the more simplified dynamic: you are either part of the problem or you are part of the solution.
If we expect to defeat Islamic terrorists we must go and destroy them where they live. People from Islamic countries, innocent or no, must be barred entry to our societies until the conflict is brought to a victorious conclusion. Muslims that are already in our societies need to be registered and subjected to constant scrutiny. If they are truly innocent then they need fear nothing. If they truly believe in and support our values of liberty and equality they need fear nothing. This becomes a situation akin to objecting to voter ID laws under the guise that these promote discrimination against minorities. Minorities, the same as any other citizen, are required to present a government issued ID for financial transactions. They are required to have a government issued drivers license to legally drive on public roads. They must present official government issued documents to obtain said driver’s licence. And, if they have the good fortune of appearing youthful enough, they will be required to present a government issued ID to purchase alcohol or cigarettes. Why one even needs to present a government ID at the pharmacy. So what possible objection could there be for being asked to provide an official ID to vote? Unless, of course, your motive is to commit voter fraud. If anyone has any other rational explanation for this I’m all ears. So likewise if you are a muslim or of middle eastern descent living in a western country and you are entirely innocent of any malicious intent then you have no reason to cry foul at the scrutiny. It may be an inconvenience, but no more so than any of the other examples provided above. It is not our fault that people from your culture have chosen to make war on us, and only in the most cowardly of fashions I might add.
The Manchester attack was clearly designed by both timing and venue to target children. Whether the bomber was a lone wolf or attached to ISIS or Al Queda, Hamas, Hezbollah or any other organized terror group makes no difference. The motive and the results are the same. Here is an irony for you. Those who you may hear shrieking the loudest for the protection of muslims’ civil rights are of the same cloth that when attempting to champion any of their other pet causes will gird their position from assault by proclaiming that it is “for the children”. So taking a page from their book I might just as well say that any of the measures listed above, though objectionable to some, are no less valid and permissible because it is in the interest of protecting our children. And in this case, weighed against the horrific juvenile casualties in Manchester last night, I could make this as an honest assertion and bearing a straight face. I somehow suspect, however, that those of that particular political inclination will manage to find some way to disagree.
I would ask that today all Americans set aside for the moment any consideration of the man who holds the office. Whether one happens to approve of the man or not the office of the Presidency represents all of us before the world this week in diplomatic visits to the Middle East, Israel and the Vatican. Take a moment to appreciate the serendipitous nature of an American President conducting an official state visit to the Holocaust Memorial in Israel on the morning after the Manchester bombing. It is a memorial to victims of an hateful ideology that is now rivalled by an equally hateful ideology with a stated purpose the same as the Nazis: the extermination of the Jewish people. Islamic radicalism has taken on an even bigger mantle to include all of western society. It is an evil that must be treated the same if it is to be defeated. As Americans we should all be proud to be represented by a Presidency expressing solidarity with all those who would resist barbarism and tyranny in whatever form it may take. All the more so as it is done in the shadow of a monument remembering not just Jewish suffering, but all human suffering.
It used to be said that politics end at American shores. The political left, academic establishment and the networks and major news outlets shredded this maxim and tossed it into the dustbin long ago. They are more concerned with protecting their bankrupt ideology than they are with protecting American lives. The same might be said for their counterparts in Britain with respect to British lives. This morning I pose this question to all of them: Have you had enough now?