July 10, 2005


Facing Jihad, Recalling the Blitz (PHILIP BOBBITT, 7/10/05, NY Times)

[I]f we consider the apocalyptic goals of Osama bin Laden and the practices of the Taliban when they were in power, we ought to know that we are not dealing with Gerry Adams's Sinn Fein.

Another trap we must avoid is thinking that because the scale of the London attacks did not approach those of 9/11, they are somehow less worrisome. The execution of simultaneous attacks requires sophisticated planning, because with each team the risk of exposure and mishap increases exponentially.

It seems likely that the perpetrators were themselves low-level local operatives following orders from more sophisticated leaders who financed the enterprise, secured the timers and explosives, and planned the attacks with a shrewd political sensibility. This effort to affect political events makes the London attacks more like the Madrid bombings last year than like 9/11, and it indicates that further attacks can be expected.

We must also be careful not to take comfort in the relative modesty of the number of fatalities. The objectives of these attacks were political and economic, and the point has been made. Just because a mugger with a gun doesn't shoot you when he takes your wallet doesn't mean he couldn't if he wanted to. In the 21st century, terrorism is the extension of diplomacy by other means - which are unlikely to diminish in lethality in the near term - and these means will be calibrated to the political objectives sought by terrorist networks and to the availability of weapons. Neither the goals nor the means can be said to be modest.

Last, we must avoid the apparently irresistible temptation to conclude that our views on the war against terror, whatever they are, have been vindicated by these awful massacres. What happened on Thursday was not about Iraq or even Afghanistan. Even if Saddam Hussein had continued his despotic rule in Baghdad, Britain would not have been given a free pass from a global terrorist network that seeks to remove Western cultural, economic and political commerce entirely from much of the world.

And yet, in a sense, the London attacks were about Afghanistan and Iraq. They are part of the terrible price we are paying for resisting terror - whether it is in the form of a theocratic regime that rules by terror, or a global network that outsources its atrocities, or a wealthy dictatorship that clandestinely and unlawfully seeks to purchase weapons of mass destruction.

Of course, in the end there's no meaningful difference between Nazism, Communism and Islamicism. The IRA's ultimate goals were little different than al Qaeda's. The one important difference here is that Marxism has a seductive quality for Europeans that Islamicism does not. The one danger is that there are fewer and fewer Europeans and those who remain don't believe in much of anything, other than themselves.

MORE (via Jim Yates):
Rules of conflict for a world war (Efraim Halevi, 7/07/05, THE JERUSALEM POST)

We are in the throes of a world war, raging over the entire globe and characterized by the absence of lines of conflict and an easily identifiable enemy. There are sometimes long pauses between one attack and another, consequently creating the wrong impression that the battle is all over, or at least in the process of being won.

Generally speaking, the populations at large are not involved in the conflict, and by and large play the role of bystanders. But once in a while, these innocents are caught up in the maelstrom and suffer the most cruel and wicked of punishments meted out by those who are not bound by any rules of conduct or any norms of structured society. For a while, too short a while, we are engrossed with the sheer horror of what we see and hear, but, with the passage of time, our memories fade and we return to our daily lives, forgetting that the war is still raging out there and more strikes are sure to follow.

It cannot be said that seven years after this war broke out in east Africa, we can see its conclusion. We are in for the long haul and we must brace ourselves for more that will follow. The 'Great Wars' of the 20th century lasted less than this war has already lasted, and the end is nowhere in sight.

That's absurd--the great war against Communism lasted over 70 years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at July 10, 2005 12:00 AM
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