If the West wants to survive, it could destroy this threat with a small amount of physical exertion. The moral and intellectual energy are what is missing. Or, missing from most of Europe, much of Britain and far too much of the United States.
I think the energy is there, but the activation threshold has not, for a large part of our population, been crossed. All it would take to cross that threshold would be another one or two big attacks a la 9/11, or several years of smaller attacks in which many people are killed and westerners become demoralized and cautious about daily life. Either way it is likely that voters would eventually insist that their leaders deal with the problem no matter what, which is essentially what happened in Israel. And either scenario is ominous for the Muslim world in general and Arab Muslims in particular.
On this last point I agree with what I take to be the positions of Wretchard and of Jim Bennett. By responding forcefully abroad to terrorists and their patron states, and by sincerely encouraging development in those states of robust new democratic political cultures, George Bush has substantially weakened our enemies. Ironically, by doing so he has also reduced domestic political pressure for a radical response to terror to such a low ebb that many Americans refuse to accept that we are at war. However, as I suggest above, further jihadist attacks could provide the political impetus for a much more brutal response on our part.
It is a mistake to assume that the proportion in our population of “Jacksonians” who favor annihilating our enemies is static. In reality, further terror attacks would probably radicalize many Americans who now consider themselves moderate accommodationists, just as the Intifada and bus bombings transformed many Israeli leftists into Sharon voters. Indeed the irrepressible prevalence in our society of speculations about nuking Mecca and the like shows how close the Jacksonian undercurrent flows to the surface of our polite discussions. So whose society is in mortal danger? I don’t think it’s ours.