But it is no disrespect to the victims of 9/11, or to the men and women of our armed forces, to say that, by the standards of past wars, the war against terrorism has so far inflicted a very small human cost on the United States. As an instance of mass murder, the attacks were unspeakable, but they still pale in comparison with any number of military assaults on civilian targets of the recent past, from Hiroshima on down. — David Bell in this article
Apparently the author, though having nothing piercingly original to offer, nonetheless felt he had to have his say on the Pressing Matter of the Day, and did so. He contented himself with the banal observation that what we see before us — the entire Baby-Huey operation of “boots on the ground” in Iraq, determined to prevent those very fissures, sectarian and ethnic, that we should welcome — is an “overreaction.”
He did not wait to find the right word: it is not an “overreaction” but a misguided reaction. It is a reaction of the kind that will come if we persist, like Bush (or like David Bell), in thinking that this is a “war on terrorism.” In that case there is no need even to begin to think of all the other instruments of Jihad, the more effective and dangerous instruments, such as the money weapon, Da’wa, and demography. For if Jihad proceeds with instruments other than terror, and Infidels are only engaged in a “war on terror,” then we should be content with any analysis that focuses on that. And so the disagreement between the Bush Administration and David Bell is merely over the size of that “terror” threat, and the proper size of our military and security steps to meet that “threat.”
Nothing here about the islamization of Europe. Nothing here about the systematic long-term attacks on Christians in Indonesia (thousands of churches destroyed in 2003 alone), on Hindus in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Kashmir, and deep into India. Nothing here about attacks on Christians over the past few decades in Nigeria (the Jihad that Col. Ojukwu, head of Biafra, was fighting against), nor in southern Sudan, nor within a great number of sub-Saharan countries. Nothing about the worldwide activities of the World Muslim Congress or the financing of mosques and madrasas, for which the Saudis have spent $100 billion in the last two decades. (The Soviet Union, in all the years of its existence, never spent abroad on pro-Soviet propaganda and agents more than $10 billion.) Nothing about the takeover of academic departments, or at least the use of Arab money to endow Centers (Durham, Exeter, Georgetown), or expensively-upholstered chairs (University of California, Harvard Law School, and a great many other places), where the King Abdul Aziz Professor of this, and the Guardian of the Two Holy Places Professor of that, can make sure that neither they nor the successors they choose ever enlighten the students about Islam. Thus, for example, does Frank Vogel help pick, with a little help from Roy Mottahedeh and John Esposito, Noah “After Jihad” Feldman to continue to misinform Harvard Law students about Islam, providing a guide to nothing and to nowhere, for the next 35 years. But how would the faculty members, innocent of Islam and of what is going on in the field, be aware of that until long after Feldman arrives, trailing clouds of glory?
Perhaps David Bell is merely disturbed at the colossal waste: the squandering in Iraq of men’s lives, of vast sums of money ($700 billion in past and committed future costs), and of war materiel. Then there is the damage to American morale, military as well as civilian — all to pursue a will-o’-the-wisp of “freedom” and “democracy” in a united, stable, prosperous Iraq that will be a Light Unto the (Sunni Arab) Muslim Nations. That, readers of this site understand, is both impossible and exactly the wrong goal to pursue.
He might merely have written: a response that is purely military, based on a misunderstanding of the nature and scope of the menace, is the wrong response and the wrong type of response, insufficiently various, effective, ruthless, and cunning. For that menace, David Bell might have referred readers to others: See, for example, Bat Ye’or, Oriana Fallaci, Ibn Warraq, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Magdi Allam, Anne-Marie Delcambre, Alain Finkielkraut, Alain Besancon, Ali Sina, Bassam Tibi, Wafa Sultan, and a thousand others — not one of whom, I suspect, David Bell has yet read, digested, thoroughly assimilated.