The hour of courage has struck on our clock.
I was trying to catch up on my blog reading today, in order to produce something for the weekend, and stopped by at The Glittering Eye
. The Eye is on vacation, but a post there from a few days back regarding the latest by Juan Cole
lead me on a merry chase around the blogosphere, following links to fiskings and comments galore. The gist of the Cole piece is that there is no way to wage war on terror, since we can’t be sure who, exactly, is the enemy:The terrorists don't have an ethnicity in common. Richard Reid and Lindsey Germaine were Caribbean. Others are Arabs. Some have been Somali or Eritrean or Tanzanian. Others have been South Asia (India/Pakistan/ Bangladesh). Still others have been African-American or white Americans. They don't even have to start out Muslim. Ayman al-Zawahiri was particularly proud of an al-Qaeda operative in Afghanistan who had been an American Jew in a previous life. Ziad Jarrah, one of the September 11 hijackers, appears to have been a relatively secular young man right to the end. It isn't about religion, except insofar as religion is a basis on which the recruiter can approach his victim. Islam as a religion forbids terrorism. But then so does Christianity, and that doesn't stop there being Christian terrorists. They are a fringe in both religions.
This is an interesting passage, as it does indeed demonstrate one of the major problems we have in combating our enemies- they could literally be anyone. There is, however, one indicator in that paragraph that we can grab hold of:They don't even have to start out Muslim.
The good Professor is 100% correct, they don’t have to start off that way. But it sure does seem that they end up that way, doesn’t it? I am not going to spend too much time fisking Cole here, it has been done many times, and much better than I can do it- check out Dean’s World
for a great response to Cole, and Michael Totten’s photo-fisking
of Cole as well, and be sure to peruse the comments of both blogs, lot’s of good stuff there. No, I am more concerned today with a point that Cole made in regards to the semantics of the “Global War on Terror”- Cole takes the fact that the GWOT term has fallen out of favor as a sign that we should for all intents and purposes abandon the struggle. I have long been apposed to the term GWOT, preferring to see instead a reference to the real enemy- radical Islam. The Bush administration has decided, apparently, that the term “global struggle against violent extremism" makes more sense- and it does, a little, but it is still not accurate. As we posted here last fall
:OK, I’ve said this before and I am going to say it again. There is no war against terrorism. We are not hunting down the FARC or ETA or Shining Path. We are not chasing the vestiges of the IRA. We are fighting Islamic extremism. I know this is not a ground shaking original thought, but it needs to be repeated. Islamic jihadists are the enemy, and terrorism is simply their weapon of choice.
It is imperative that we have the courage, as a nation, to shrug off the PC shackles that keep us from identifying the real enemy, and taking proactive measures to isolate and destroy those who would see the end of our very lives, as well as our way of life.
As Charles Krauthammer put it in the Wall Street Journal this week (long quote follows as it is not possible to link to the article):The American response to tightening up after London has been reflexive and idiotic: random bag checks in the New York subways. …It recapitulates the appalling waste of effort and resources we see at airports every day when, for reasons of political correctness, 83-year-old grandmothers from Poughkeepsie are required to remove their shoes in the search for jihadists hungering for paradise.
The fact is that jihadist terrorism has been carried out from Bali to Casablanca to Madrid to London to New York to Washington by young Muslim men of North African, Middle Eastern and South Asian origin. This is not a stereotype. It is a simple statistical fact.
… Yet we recoil from concentrating bag checks on men who might fit this description. Well, if that is impossible for us to do, then let's work backward. Eliminate classes of people who are obviously not suspects. We could start with a little age pruning -- no one under, say, 13, and no one over, say, 60. Then we could exempt whole ethnic populations, a list that could immediately start with Hispanics, Scandinavians and East Asians. Then we could have a huge saving, a 50 percent elimination of waste, by giving a pass to women, except perhaps the most fidgety, sweaty, suspicious-looking, overcoat-wearing, knapsack-bearing young woman, to be identified by the presiding officer.
You object that with these shortcuts, we might not catch everybody. True. But how many do we catch now with the billions spent patting down grandmothers from Poughkeepsie? You object that either plan -- giving special scrutiny to young Islamic men, or, more sensitively, just eliminating certain demographic categories from scrutiny -- will simply encourage the jihadists to start recruiting elderly Norwegian women. Okay. We can handle that. Let them try recruiting converts, women and non-usual suspects for suicide missions. That will require a huge new wasteful effort on their part. And, more important, by reducing the pool of possible terrorists from the hundreds of millions to, at most, the tens of thousands, we will have reduced the probability of an attack by a factor of 10,000. Those are far better odds at far less cost to us in money and effort. And infinitely less stupid.
The word “profile” has become something that we simply do not discuss- although we do it all the time. When you are walking down the street and realize that you forgot your watch and need to know what time it is who do you ask? The group of hip-hop young black men with hats on backwards and baggy pants around their hips, or the old white lady waiting for a bus with a basket on her arm? Do you ask the old lady then feel guilty all day? If you are reading this blog probably not- but I bet you know someone who does. Profiling may not have the best image in America for very real reasons- the Japanese interment camps of WWII, or the LAPD, but it is only a tool to be used for good or ill by those who practice it. In this day and age we have plenty of oversight to make sure that profiling is not carried to an extreme. It will offend Muslims, you say, and drive them to extremism? Why on earth would it do that? You must be a racist to think that. Why would it not prompt the Muslim community to police itself, to turn over those who besmirch the name of their religion and cast suspicion on all who practice it? Alas, I fear that the day will not come anytime soon where we will take a sensible stance in identifying and targeting our enemies.
“Why?” you ask. I am glad you asked. Let’s start with this:
"The bureau is against—has been and will be against—any form of profiling [of Arabs or Muslims]." —FBI Director Robert S. Mueller
Those who should know best that we need to have a good idea of who we are facing are in complete denial. The above quote is taken from the web site of Paul Sperry, author of Infiltration: How Muslim Spies and Subversives have Penetrated Washington. (Note: I have not read the book yet, but I have ordered it). In an interview regarding the book Sperry makes some hard to swallow claims:
Director Bob Mueller is so politically correct he's cut a deal with Muslim pressure groups to never use "Islamic" and "terrorism" in the same sentence.
(and)…the president has made the same pledge to never describe terrorism as Islamic -- you'll never hear him say "Islamic terrorism" either. Mueller's just taking his cue from the Oval Office. The tone is set from the top. The president never fails to remind us Islam is a "religion of peace" and one that we have to "respect." He even suggested at the last inaugural that the Qur’an is somehow part of our American heritage and culture.
I do not say this is hard to swallow because I do not believe it, but rather because it sticks in my craw. It leaves a bitter taste precisely because I believe it. Sperry is not a radical right-wing war monger, he doesn’t call for all out war with Islam, only for a reasonable look at who the enemy truly is. For example he asks that we listen to the words so-called Muslim moderates use when condemning terrorism:
Muslim leaders play an elaborate word game to hide the dark side of Islam to gain wider acceptance in Washington. They condemn all acts of "terrorism against innocent people," but they don't necessarily view Americans or Israelis as "innocent" or acts of violence against us as "terrorism." Many secretly view it simply as justice. You'll never hear them condemn "all acts of violence against non-Muslims."
That passage really gave me pause. Sperry has identified the Muslim extremists as “the perfect enemy”, and a worse threat than the Soviet Union ever was. This is a threat that is both internal and external, and is working it‘s way deep into the political and legal infrastructure of the nation:
It's worse than the communist threat. Bad as the Cold war threat was, the communists never attacked us. And their spies were atheists who were relatively easy to distrust, easy to bribe over to our side. But we're now dealing with religious zealots -- the Green Menace, green being the color of Islam -- who are not only passionate in their hatred for us, but are using our religious tolerance as cover to infiltrate our security agencies and steal our secrets as agents and sympathizers for the bad guys. They're using our tolerances and freedoms against us. They operate with virtual political and religious immunity, and are therefore much harder than the Red spies to ferret out. They are the perfect enemy. Washington needs to wake up to this new spy threat. It's not just about fighting terrorists anymore. It's also about fighting their spies and sympathizers.
I can’t say for certain that Sperry is correct in all his assertions, but I am certain that we are doing a great disservice to our national security by playing PC games. If the pan-Islamofascist movement adopted uniforms and a banner tomorrow that allowed us to single them out and engage in traditional warfare I would embrace the “war” analogy. Until that happens we need to demand of our leaders, and the leaders of our allied nations, that we be granted the protection of common sense. We know by and large who the soldier of choice of the enemy is- he is a young Muslim male, and that is where we need to start looking. That, Mr. Cole, is the common background.
I’ll close with a bit of the Russian poem "Courage" by Anna Akhmatova, written during the siege of Leningrad, that I find very apropos:
We know what now lies in the balance,
What is now coming to pass we know.
The hour of courage has struck on our clock
And courage will never abandon us.