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Friday, June 18, 2004

"That many of us are willfully closing our eyes to a global danger worries me."

Daniel Pipes at FrontPageMagazine Symposium: How Are We Doing?
. . . the focus is on the totalitarian ideology of militant Islam, regardless of whether its proponents are Sunni or Shi‘i, Pakistani or Parisian, male or female, violent or not. (Indeed, I believe the greater long-term threat comes from the non-violent Islamists, for we know better how to deal with terrorism than with subversion.)

We have moved so slowly against terror-sponsoring regimes because, as Afghanistan and Iraq show, the results of such actions are messy and potentially debilitating. Assuming that the Iranian regime can be contained, I am against American steps to overthrow it, for the simple reason that the Iranian populace is on track to doing this itself, and that will be a far better conclusion than if done by U.S. forces. If it cannot be contained, then military action might well be necessary.

As for your general question, how goes the war on terror, I judge this not by how many Al-Qaeda operatives have been killed, networks disrupted, or other such calculations. I judge it rather by the state of mind of the adversaries. Are the forces of militant Islam encouraged or despondent, unified or divided? And the same goes for the forces fighting militant Islam, Americans in particular – what is their condition?

Looked at this way, militant Islam was gaining in force through the two decades “when America slept,” 1979-2001. Then it took a severe battering post-9/11, when Americans woke up to this danger in a unified manner. Two and a half years later, substantial numbers of Americans have not just returned to a pre-9/11 lethargy, but have done so in an ideologically-driven manner. (I documented this five months ago in a column titled “Democrats Unlearn 9/11.”) That many of us are willfully closing our eyes to a global danger worries me. If this continues, the price will be steep in lives, treasury, and duration of the war.

We ultimately will prevail, but at a much greater cost to ourselves than need have been the case.