Tony Blankley, editorial page editor of The Washington Times, calls for a sweeping response to the threat of militant Islam in his book, “The West’s Last Chance: Will We Win the Clash of Civilizations?” (Regnery Publishing).
Last of three parts
When President Bush declared war on terrorism, he did not, legally, put the country on a war footing.
Up until now, we have never accurately named the enemy or the danger. If the government can’t speak the real name and nature of the enemy, it becomes impossible to explain, or even design, a policy for victory.
This is why Mr. Bush — who has tried to talk around the problem of radical Islam — has seemed (to his critics) foolish or deceitful, neither of which he is.
What we need is a clear congressional declaration of war, as prescribed by the Constitution. Congress should declare war on the Islamist jihadists.
Naming the formal enemy limits the focus of our war effort to the militant Islamists who have declared jihad against the West. There are many terrorist groups in the world. Many are no threat to the United States. The current danger is the Islamist one.
Naming the threat also expands the scope of our war effort to all the networks of radical Islam, including mosques, schools and radical sites on the Internet. It is not only terrorist acts that we are confronting, but the propaganda and organizations that make them possible.
Some people would argue that we would be declaring a religious war against more than a billion Muslims. But this is not true. We would be declaring war on a particular, violent, political ideology within Islam that threatens the West and the health of Muslim societies themselves.
By declaring war on the Islamist jihadists, we can underline why we stand side by side with peaceful and democratic Muslims and are opposed in Afghanistan and Iraq only by those Muslims who believe in car bombs, terrorism and murder.
It is also important to declare war on the Islamist jihadists because we are a nation of laws.
When Congress declares war and passes enabling legislation, the president can accept the full authority delegated to him under the Constitution and by Supreme Court precedents that establish presidential powers in wartime.
Some such powers that barely were used by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, such as the sedition laws, are necessary to fight our war against Islamist terrorism.
Muslim extremists on the Internet and in mosques openly call for jihad against the United States and Europe. In May, Muslim organizations gathered in front of the American Embassy in London to protest against the United States and Britain.
They burned British and American flags and threatened violence, including another September 11 attack. They chanted, “USA, watch your back, Osama is coming back” and “Kill, kill USA, kill, kill George Bush” and “Bomb, bomb New York” and “George Bush, you will pay, with your blood, with your head.”
If this protest, with its threats of violence and assassination, had been conducted within our own borders, the protesters would have been ripe subjects for sedition prosecutions — and rightly so. Sedition laws do not outlaw dissent; they outlaw advocating the violent overthrow of our government and violent opposition to our war effort.
The likely prolonged nature of this war should be a concern to everyone who values civil liberties. As long as we are inventing a new form of war declaration, put a sunset provision on it. Every two years, all exclusively wartime powers would be extinguished and need to be renewed by the next Congress.
Ethnic and religious profiling is a specific war power that must be available to our government.
Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta has declared that any profiling that takes race, religion or nationality into account is forbidden in airport security.
Under current policy, our government cannot take action or make judgments on the basis of ethnicity, religion or nationality. Our government severely fined airlines that barred suspicious-looking young Muslim men from flights.
Back to common sense
Obviously, such policies are not based on reason but on political correctness run amok.
Muslim organizations are quick to hold press conferences and take legal action to intimidate the government. They put pressure on magazines by trying to persuade advertisers to withdraw ads or face charges of subsidizing racism. They try to intimidate authors and publishers.
During World War II, the internment of German, Italian and Japanese aliens (and American citizens of Japanese ancestry) was found to be constitutional by the Supreme Court on the explicit basis that it was reasonable to suspect them of loyalty to a hostile country.
Today, the question is not incarceration, but merely extra attention in sensitive settings, such as boarding an airplane.
Our policy must follow the dictates of common sense and national security.
For example, since September 11, our government has had a critical shortage of Arabic translators. But according to the testimony of Sibel Dinez Edmonds, a former Arabic translator for the FBI, ambiguous loyalties in the FBI translation office compromise our national security.
The FBI should not be intimidated into politically correct behavior that endangers security. But this is the natural outcome of policy that puts political correctness before common sense.
To give extra scrutiny to Muslims in sensitive situations is not bigotry. If America went to war against England, I would fully expect that as a former Englishman (now a naturalized American citizen), I would receive a thorough background check if I applied for government work or if I wanted to buy a gun or board an airplane.
In time of war, no loyal American citizen or peaceful resident should resent precautions taken for the common defense.
Essentially, senior government officials admit that al Qaeda plans to illegally sneak terrorists across our borders and that we have no plan for dealing with that likelihood.
In World War II, we safely shipped more than 10 million troops through submarine-infested seas, built 100,000 combat planes in a single year and invented and deployed the first atomic bomb.
We are at war again and need to treat border security as a necessity. We need to meet the challenge with the same can-do spirit.
Here is one hard truth: We no longer can afford the luxury of not requiring national identification cards. Without biometric cards for every person living or traveling in the country, even secured borders will be insufficient.
Complacency also rules in the government’s search for reliable translators of Arabic and related languages. The FBI admits to a backlog of 120,000 hours of potentially valuable intercepts. The State Department admits that only one in five of 279 Arabic translators is fluent enough to manage the subtlety of the language. The military has similar problems.
Aside from classified material is a much larger domain of what intelligence officials call open sources — newspapers, Internet sites, magazine articles, television and radio broadcasts — that are not even submitted to our translators. And yet Arabic-language Internet sites are the primary medium for spreading Islamist doctrine — and communicating operational information for terrorists.
What we obviously need are tens of thousands of non-Muslim Arabic translators.
Challenge and strategy
The challenge for America and the West is that we must try to more or less simultaneously shield our nations from the Islamists; strengthen our own cultural vigor, laws and military capacity; and shrewdly intervene in the Islamic world to establish healthy economic and political connections.
These connections include creating a free and self-sufficient Iraq and Afghanistan, and perhaps, if the Israelis and Palestinians establish a lasting peace, pouring capital investment into the West Bank to promote mutual prosperity.
The best strategy to fend off and reverse the Islamist threat is to strengthen the alliance between the United States and Europe.
Of course, Christian Southern Africa (390 million of Africa’s approximately 850 million people), Hindu India, non-Muslim Southeast Asia, Christian Latin America and Russia all have important roles to play in defeating the Islamist jihadists.
But a defense of the West without the birthplace of the West — Europe — is almost unthinkable. If Europe becomes Eurabia, it would mean the loss of our cultural and historic first cousins, our closest economic and military allies, and the source of our own civilization. This is a condition Americans should dread and should move mountains to avoid.
It bears repeating: An Islamified Europe would be as great a threat to the United States today as a Nazified Europe would have been in the 1940s.
Even before Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt understood that a Nazi-dominated Europe would be more than a fearsome military and industrial threat. It would be a civilizational threat.
Now we face another such threat in insurgent Islam.
Needed: Old war spirit in a new war
Copyright (c) 2005 by Tony Blankley. Published by arrangement with Regnery Publishing Inc.