- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 22, 2007

IN THE WORDS OF OUR ENEMIES

By Jed Babbin

Regnery, $24.95, 274 pages

REVIEWED BY LARRY THORNBERRY

Yes, Virginia, there is Evil in the world. Americans — and many other Westerners — don’t do well with evil. We don’t understand it. We often don’t recognize it when it stares us in the face, or even when it kicks us in the ribs.

Affluent, congenial, welcoming America — a country flush with soccer moms with “Just be Nice” bumper strips on their SUVs — has trouble even accepting that evil exists. Many of us try to live as though it doesn’t. We’ve paid, and are paying, a terrible price for this failure to face reality.

Jed Babbin’s new book is about that price. And it’s an attempted wake-up call. He shows us evil as a growing concern, chapter and verse, in evil’s own words. We should read and heed. Our future depends on how well we deal with the threats that face us.

Mr. Babbin, and others of his cast of mind, can’t help but be surprised that Americans are surprised by what our current enemies, Islamo-fascist jihadists, are capable of doing. It’s not like they haven’t told us over and over what they are about and what they are bound and determined to do. Yes, these people want to kill us, unless we bow to Allah, and they are willing to give up their own lives and their children’s lives to accomplish this. They believe God has given them every right to do this.

In a forward to “Words,” Newt Gingrich says those who think we don’t face a crisis need to read what our enemies are saying. “Jed Babbin has compiled an invaluable record of what America’s enemies, from Osama bin Laden to Hugo Chavez to the radical regimes of North Korea and Iran, are saying about their intentions toward us. We’ve been warned.”

These warnings came before and after September 11. Most had to be translated from other languages, but the messages in “Words” are clear, and the speakers have made no attempt to conceal what they were saying from us.

These examples are from Osama bin Laden:

“Our youths believe in paradise after death … They have no intention except to enter paradise by killing you … The ruling to kill the Americans and their allies — civilians and military — is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it … The terrorism we practice is of the commendable kind for it is directed at the tyrants and the aggressors and the enemies of Allah … I have to stress the necessity of focusing on the Americans and the Jews, for they represent the spearhead with which the members of our religion have been slaughtered … It is far better for anyone to kill a single American solider than to squander his effort on other activities … We don’t have to differentiate between military or civilian. As far as we are concerned, they are all targets.”

Any ambiguity here?

Here’s similar stuff from Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the “spiritual leader” of Hamas, already in paradise thanks to an Israeli strike in 2004:

“Tell the world — especially the U.S. and Israel — that Saudi Arabia supports the path of jihad … Allah willing, this unjust state will be erased — Israel will be erased; this unjust state, the United States, will be erased, this unjust state, Britain, will be erased … Blessings to whoever put a belt of explosives on his body or on his sons’ and plunged into the midst of the Jews.”

Lovely. Any chance to conclude that just a little better understanding will clear it up between us and guys like this?

“Words” also includes speeches, sermons and interviews with the leaders of Iran, Russia, China, North Korea and Venezuela. In one way or another, all these nations and their leaders wish us ill, and they are prepared to act on their wishes. The national anthem of the soon-to-be-nuclear Iran seems to be entitled, “Death to America.” China, which will not wait for America to deal with the Islamo-fascists, is fast becoming a superpower.

And, Mr. Babbin tells us, they are arming “at a pace unseen since Germany of the 1930s.” Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, whom Mr. Babbin calls “Castro on steroids,” told the U.N. General Assembly in 2006 that George W. Bush is literally the Devil. Mr. Chavez wants to use oil as a weapon against the United States.

Americans, carrying the baggage of some very bad post-everything ideas that make it almost impossible for them to make moral judgments, and burdened by a mainstream media that either ignores evil (to have more time for the latest from Paris Hilton) or denies its existence, are ill prepared to understand that they live in a privileged place in a hostile world.

The misunderstanding is fundamental. It has to do with the way so many Americans believe the world works. In the conclusion to the book, Mr. Babbin says too many Americans, and others in the West, believe that “wars begin by mistakes that are usually avoidable.” The famous “failure of communication.”

Mr. Babbin says history teaches a different lesson. Nations, or civilizations in the present case, don’t go to war because they don’t understand each other. Our radical Islamist enemies of today certainly wouldn’t like us more if they understood us better.

Warring nations usually understand each other pretty well. They go to war with each other because of irreconcilable differences, and “because one nation believes that war is more advantageous than peace, and thus plans and commences hostilities.”

There have been errors of understanding in the past, with U.S. resolve often being sold short. We rose to the occasion in World War II after being underestimated by both the Japanese and the Germans. Will we rise to the occasion in the present instance? We have the might. As Mr. Babbin points out, we have no excuse for not knowing the problem. But do we have the will?

Larry Thornberry is a writer living in Tampa, Fla.

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