|Tuesday, March 16, 2004
09:54 - A callous moment
You know what my feelings are right about now, regarding the Spain debacle?
I'm thinking, Good. Go ahead and give up. You see what you morons get.
Is that wrong of me? Does that make me a bad person?
I'll decide later whether I regret saying this. But right now, my gut's telling me something, and I'd better just get it out before it gives me heartburn. It's telling me that If Europe is determined to play this role, let 'em play it to the hilt. It makes things easier, and it might shorten the war.
Why? Well, here's what I'm thinking. Everybody's all concerned that the Europeans are determined bewilderingly to capitulate, apparently having learned nothing from the Sudetenlands of their own history-- or, worse, not regretting it. It could be that Europe actually regards the Chamberlain approach, with open eyes, to be the best path forward. They know where it will lead, and they don't care; it could indeed be that their senses are dulled by time regarding the horrors of what results from fascism, or that a good number of them actually rather enjoyed having the trains run on time and the big colorful banners fly on the ramparts. Fascism is designed to be pleasing to the crowds, after all; maybe the Europeans just have this thing for fascism. Maybe it's just in their bones.
Maybe they feel like it's about time for another Big Nasty Event to happen among the hallowed halls of the ancient redoubts of Carolingia, something-- anything!-- to spice things up and provide a little diversion on a scale they can tell their kids about. If it's Islamofascism instead of Hitlerism, well, potato, potahto. They've been through it before, right? And who really suffered but the military and some Jews?
I'm feeling like the Europeans regard America as a bigger worry and a bigger threat than resurgent fascism in their own backyards. Sure, you say-- that goes without saying; it's what everybody's been saying for months. But think about exactly what it means. Think about how perfectly all the events line up with this model. The Europeans are more concerned with spiting the Yanks than they are about fighting terrorism aimed at the direct overthrow of their own governments. They'll happily capitulate to the terrorists if it means poking a stick in the eye of America.
I didn't want to believe it had gotten this bad, but apparently it has. And there's nothing left, it seems, but to just play along. It's the only way to get this thing over with as quickly and cleanly as possible.
See, here's the thing: We've been making all these noises about how worried we are that Europe won't act like America when attacked. Sure, al Qaeda hasn't gone after America since 9/11, because we fight back-- they know that now. Now they're going to attack Europe, the "soft underbelly" of the West (as we ourselves called Spain and Italy way back when), and Europe isn't going to fight back the way we did. Well, so what? Sure, it'll encourage al Qaeda to attack more of Europe-- but the faster that happens, the closer we get to the inevitable war that will drag in the whole world once again. If Europe were to act like America and fight back, then al Qaeda would just take longer to rebuild, longer in between attacks, just long enough to keep the blows coming as a series of low-level wounds that we never quite can keep pace with. The war would be a police action, fought through diplomacy and special ops and infiltrators, and it would take decades and cost tens of thousands of lives.
But if Europe's going to encourage more and faster attacks against soft Western targets, then those attacks will come. And with each one, America's resolve will harden. Let Andalusia fall. Let Lyon impose shari'a. Let the Vatican burn. How many of these things will it take before Europe decides to get serious? It'll happen eventually. But all the while, America would still be fighting. We'll remain in Iraq even if every other nation withdraws. Whatever other lesson al Qaeda draws from this, they won't conclude that attacking America directly again is worth it. They've got a honeypot now: Europe.
Western pundits speak in horrified terms of a coming war, on the scale of WWII, as though it's to be avoided at all costs. We seem to believe that this whole "terrorism" thing can just be smoothed over, solved diplomatically, even by those people who understand the necessity of force. There's an unwillingness to confront the possibility that the only way this war will end is in the trenches. But I'm starting to think that anything short of that will be absolutely insufficient; the enemy will always just rise back up again unless they're burned out by the roots.
War and Tyranny are both awful. But here's the difference: Americans believe Tyranny is worse, whereas Europeans believe War is worse. (We're used to War, and Europe is used to Tyranny.) I think War is coming, because Tyranny is coming first.
Of course I don't want al Qaeda to blow people up. It would be great if they just stayed home and passed resolutions like the UN, remaining pleasantly bland and feckless just like the Europeans. But if they're going to attack, if it's part of their nature that can't be excised any more than a wasp can be trained not to sting, then these attacks each need to teach us more how to defend against them, lest the victims die pointlessly, in vain.
Imagine what would have happened if Chamberlain hadn't appeased Hitler-- if Churchill had been in office at the time and had told him where he could stick his Sudetenland. Would it have averted war? Hardly-- it would have sent Hitler back to Berlin in a fury, determined more than ever to win. He'd have built up his army to an astonishing power within his borders, and the blitz through Poland might have come in 1940 or 1943-- but it would have happened. Hitler would have fought more patiently, more methodically. And who knows-- by 1950 he might have been Führer of all Europe. Could even America have challenged him then?
Instead, Chamberlain served to bait Hitler into war before he really had a sustainable advantage. He attacked thinking he'd face no opposition-- as indeed he didn't in France in 1940. But remove Pearl Harbor from the picture, and Europe could have gone another three years before anyone seriously tried to take Hitler down. I don't think we would have had a chance.
These attacks in Europe-- Madrid, and whatever is bound to come next in Britain or the Netherlands or Germany-- are the Pearl Harbors of this war. They're what's going to whip up a sudden wave of reaction, whether from America and Australia and Britain or from (as if) the attacked European countries themselves. This reaction will be what's necessary to stamp out Islamofascism before it's really had a chance to form an unbeatable infrastructure. The sooner the better, after all. If Europe remained safe for another five years, though, imagine the public attitudes toward the WoT. Would it even be in the news? Only as a matter of derision. Terrorism? the people would sneer. Don't make me laugh! That's soooo 2001! Nobody on Earth would have the mandate or the funds to pursue the war effectively. And it would drag on like that, timed ideally for al Qaeda to whittle away at the infidels, helping their below-replacement-rate population decline along, for decades. Leaving us in a much worse position than we're in today.
We need to get this done now. And as horrible as it sounds, the more attacks in Europe right now, the more vividly al Qaeda makes its point that it's not going away, the better our chances of mustering the courage and the wherewithal to take them out, swiftly, decisively-- in a way we can commemorate by flashing V-signs at the cameras.