After the July 7 London bombings, some in the United Kingdom wondered if the bombing was in retaliation for Britain having troops in Iraq. Perhaps, they suggested, a withdrawal, emulating the Spanish appeasement after the March 2004 bombings in Madrid, would prevent further attacks. Now there has been another series of explosions in London.
There are two flaws in such thinking.
First, after the Spanish ordered their soldiers home, the emboldened jihadists plotted further murders — most notably, the foiled plot to assassinate members of the Spanish High Court in Madrid.
Second, after the London bombings, the al Qaeda-linked group that took credit for the carnage threatened, “We continue to warn the governments of Denmark and Italy and all crusader governments that they will receive the same punishment if they do not withdraw their troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.”
Note the reference to both theaters.
In the West, the new orthodoxy is that removing the theocratic Taliban in Afghanistan was the “correct” war that enjoyed widespread European and American support. In contrast, George W. Bush, in a “unilateral” and “pre-emptive” fashion, unnecessarily attacked the “secular” Saddam Hussein.
The terrorists, unlike us, make no such distinctions. Both actions, they insist, were equal affronts to radical Islam.
Somehow even Israel gets pulled into the story of the London bombings. The murderers decry the “Zionist crusader government” of Britain.
Speaking of Israel, shortly after the London attacks, a suicide bomber in Netanya, perhaps in sympathy with his kindred spirits in Britain, walked over to a group of women and blew them up.
He killed five persons, including two 16-year-old girls. This slaughter, in Israel proper, not the West Bank, took place during a mutually agreed “cease-fire” — and on the eve of Israeli withdrawal from Gaza.
The supposedly more “moderate” Hamas refused to condemn the attack by Islamic Jihad. That was logical given the recent statement of a senior Hamas official. Mahmoud al-Zahar said he would “definitely not” settle for co-existence with Israel — even if it withdrew to it 1967 borders. As he put it, “[I]n the end, Palestine must return to become Muslim, and in the long term Israel will disappear from the face of the Earth.”
Americans and others in the West should not be surprised at the Islamicists’ determination to wage all-out war because of who we are rather than what we do.
When the killer of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh confessed last week, he boasted, “I can assure you that one day, should I be set free, I would do exactly the same.”
If many progressives in the Netherlands expected the Dutch-Moroccan Mohammed Bouyeri would cite past ill-treatment by Westerners, they were sorely disappointed.
Instead, the psychopath icily advised the mother of the murdered van Gogh: “I have to admit I do not feel for you, I do not feel your pain” and “I cannot feel for you. … because I believe you are an infidel.”
Thousands of innocent civilians such as van Gogh have been murdered by Islamic extremists — in Darfur, Gaza, India, Israel, Lebanon, London, Madrid, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Thailand, Tunisia, Turkey and the United States. The carnage gives credence to the adage that while the vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists, the vast majority of global terrorists most certainly are Muslims.
The killers always allege particular gripes — Australian troops in Iraq, Christian proselytizing, Hindu intolerance, occupation of the West Bank, theft of Arab petroleum, the Jews, attacks on the Taliban, the 15th-century reconquest of Spain, and, of course, the Crusades.
But in most cases — from Mohamed Atta, who crashed into the World Trade Center, to Ahmed Sheik, the former London School of Economics student who planned the beheading of Daniel Pearl, to Magdy Mahmoud Mustafa el-Nashar, the suspected American-educated bomb-maker in London — the common bond is not poverty, a lack of education or legitimate grievance. Instead it is blind hatred instilled by militant Islam.
Civilization has only two choices. It can continue appeasing these murderers, looking in vain for “root causes” of the mayhem. Maybe Mohammed Bouyeri did not have equal opportunity in the Netherlands? Maybe $50 billion in past American aid to Mohamed Atta’s Egypt was too little? Maybe Britain was too insensitive to its Muslim minorities? Maybe the price paid for Middle East oil really is too low?
Or the United States and its allies can deny suspect Middle Eastern males entry into the West while distancing themselves from all Middle East dictatorships, which neither punish nor even shame thousands of their citizens whose money and psychological support fuel murderers across the globe.
We wait for a Western leader with the intellectual integrity and guts at last to say, “Enough is enough.”
Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and a nationally syndicated columnist.