Mark Steyn explains why appeasement a la Spain won’t work. (Thanks to Nicolei.)
“THE bombs dropped on Baghdad exploded in Madrid!” declared one “peace” protester in Spain. Or as Australian Federal Police Commissioner Mick Keelty put it, somewhat less vividly: “If this turns out to be Islamic extremists . . . it is more likely to be linked to the position that Spain and other allies took on issues such as Iraq.”
By “other allies”, he means you – yes, you, reading this on the bus to work in Australia. You may not have supported the war, or ever voted for John Howard, but you’re now a target. In other words, this is “blowback”. This is what you get when you side with the swaggering Texas gunslinger and his neocon Zionist sidekicks.
There are three responses to Commissioner Keelty:
1) Not necessarily.
In his penultimate public appearance, the late Osama bin Laden, broadcasting from his cave in the early hours of the Afghan campaign, listed among his principal grievances “the tragedy of Andalusia” – that is, the end of Muslim rule in Spain in 1492. That’s 512 years ago, but the al-Qa’ida guys are in no mood to (as the Democrats used to urge Republicans in the Clinton impeachment era) “move on”. After half a millennium, even Paula Jones would have thrown in the towel. But not these fellows. They’re still settling scores from the 15th century. They might not get around to Johnny-come-lately grievances such as Iraq until the early 2600s.
2) Commissioner Keelty could be right.
The question then is what does a nation have to do to avoid being targeted by the Islamists. Canada refused to take part in the war on Iraq, but whoever makes Osama’s audio tapes these days still named the disinclined dominion as one of al-Qa’ida’s enemies. Ireland did no more than allow American aircraft to continue their practice of refuelling at Shannon but that was enough for Robert Fisk to volunteer them for a list of potential Islamist targets.
Turkey refused to let the US attack Iraq from its territory, but they made the mistake of permitting the British to maintain consular and commercial ties, so a bunch of Muslims in Istanbul got slaughtered anyway. France was second to none in the creative energy and elegant deviousness they brought to the undermining of Bush and Blair vis a vis Iraq, and the only thanks they got was the detonation of their oil tanker off the coast of Yemen.
Maybe you could avoid all that by overthrowing the Bush poodles and installing John Pilger as prime minister. But I wouldn’t advise it. Before he became a born-again Baathist urging on the Iraqi resistance, Pilger’s big pet cause was independence for East Timor, which seemed like a smart move at the time but has since been cited by the Islamofascists as one of the reasons they blew up Bali.
And that brings me to the best response to the commissioner:
3) It makes no difference.
Even if you’d avoided Iraq or Andalusia or British banks or Pilger or any other affront to Islamist sensibilities, you’d still be a target. As the PR guy for the Islamic Army of Aden said after blowing up that French tanker: “We would have preferred to hit a US frigate, but no problem because they are all infidels.” Commissioner Keelty is confusing old-school terrorism – blowing the legs off grannies as a means to an end – with the new: blowing the legs off grannies is the end. Old-school terrorists have relatively viable goals: They want a Basque state or Northern Ireland removed from the UK. You might not agree with these goals, you might not think them negotiable, but at least they’re not stark staring insane.
That kind of finely calibrated terrorism – just enough slaughter to inconvenience the state into concessions – is all but over. Suppose you’re an ETA cell. Suppose you were planning a car-bomb for next month – nothing fancy, just a dead Spanish official plus a couple of unlucky passers-by. Still want to go ahead with it? I doubt it. Despite Gerry Adams’s attempts to distinguish between “unacceptable” terrorism and the supposedly more beneficial kind, these days it’s a club with only one level of membership. That’s why so many formerly active terrorist groups have been so quiet the past couple of years. In that sense, Bush is right: It is a “war on terror”, and on many fronts it’s being won.
If Islamic terrorism were as rational as Irish or Basque terrorism, it would be easier. But Hussein Massawi, former leader of Hezbollah, summed it up very pithily: “We are not fighting so that you will offer us something. We are fighting to eliminate you.” You can be pro-America (Spain, Australia) or anti-America (France, Canada), but if you broke into the head cave in the Hindu Kush and checked out the hit list you’d be on it either way.
So the choice for pluralist democracies is simple: You can join Bush in taking the war to the terrorists, to their redoubts and sponsoring regimes. Despite the sneers that terrorism is a phenomenon and you can’t wage war against a phenomenon, in fact you can – as the Royal Navy did very successfully against the malign phenomena of an earlier age, piracy and slavery.
Or you can stick your head in the sand and paint a burqa on your butt. But they’ll blow it up anyway.