The decapitation of Mr. Bigley at the hands of the jihadis in Iraq has provoked remarkable angst among the news media and other enlightened persons.
David Warren wrote:
[A] friend, who watches TV, notes some expostulation by a CNN correspondent, who said that with the death of Mr. Bigley, the British prime minister, Tony Blair, “has blood on his hands”. This, my friend adds, is the moral and intellectual equivalent of asserting that Winston Churchill started the Holocaust.
Similarly, the routinely awful Andrew Greeley recently wrote:
If you support the war; if, with the president and Kerry, you want to ”stay” the course, the next time you see the bodies of children strewn about a street in Iraq, ask yourself if their blood is not on your hands
Note well: Fr. Greeley says that you, dear reader, murdered those children, if you support George Bush, if you won’t admit defeat and advocate abandoning Iraq. Fr. Greeley needs a refresher course in moral theology. But he is alarmingly typical.
Watch for more of this. If you oppose the jihadis, if you don’t give in to their demands, you have blood on your hands.
This is not just moral cretinism. It is the Left’s new approach to seeking the defeat of their political enemies at home, and whether intentionally or not, in the process, the defeat of the West. All crimes committed by the Jihadis will be defined as the fault of those who resist. All crimes of the jihadis will be held to be the fault of the West and its leaders because we have not surrendered fast enough. The suicidal impulse at the heart of modern liberalism, long ago diagnosed by James Burnham, in the Cold War context, is still there, a dark festering sore at center of the soul of too many people in the West. More than that, it is a weak spot in our defenses, an opening to our enemies which threatens us all.
I look at Zarqawi’s face. I don’t see derangement. I see commitment, asceticism, intellect, self-sacrifice, even courage. He is willing to take on the United States, the Superpower, in his view, the Great Satan. He is not a coward, or a fool. I don’t think he is even irrational, as Wretchard calls him. Zarqawi is calculating means to ends very astutely.
Zarqawi wants the West driven out of the House of Islam, first, and then he wants the West conquered in its turn for his God. The first of these ends is achievable and he is working to bring it about. He may succeed. The second I’m sure he believes is as inevitable as the turning of the seasons, and will come in its due time.
Zarqawi’s ends are evil, but he clearly and sincerely believes that God himself is on his side. So, like the martyrs of old, he fears nothing and will dare all as a result. Faith-like-iron is a force multiplier. “Give me ten men who are stout-hearted men / and I will soon give you ten-thousand more.” Men like Zarqawi, and Osama bin Laden, have the power to draw to themselves many, many followers.
I tried to ask myself an honest question. I thought, what if I were still basically myself, but a Muslim? Would I would support these men? Would I try to join them, even? If I loved Islam as much as I love America and Catholicism, and I saw them repeatedly defeated and degraded and humiliated, and I thought this was the only way to vindicate and defend what I loved against its enemies, would I be with them? I had to answer yes, probably I would.
The only hope we have to prevail in this struggle in some reasonable amount of time and at some cost less than catastrophic, is to utterly crush these men, and visibly, and permanently, and soon. That is the only way that the faith of their followers in them and their cause will be broken. This course will require abject ruthlessness. We aren’t there yet. We are not yet waging war. Not really. Not in our minds and hearts, or not most of us anyway. To most of us it is still all a spectator sport. The war is a “war”, a metaphor. Even Bush is not yet where he needs to be. Don’t get me wrong, I’m voting for Bush. Kerry is hopeless. Kerry thinks this is like rounding up a gang of drug dealers. He’s a fool. Zarqawi and those like him will always defeat weak and deluded men like John Kerry. Bush, at least, is aware there is a war of some kind going on. That is something. It is a lot. It may be enough.
Zarqawi may prove to be a foe worthy of the mantle of Vo Nguyen Giap or Mao Zedong or even Saladin. He may yet deal America a humiliating defeat. He may yet turn Iraq into a monumental-scale Mogadishu. We may yet see those who trusted us, and whom we have betrayed to their fate, clinging to the helicopter skids as we pull out of Baghdad.
Zarqawi is playing the West like a violin with these media displays, like Bigley’s murder. He knows our weaknesses. He understands us well. But we don’t understand him yet. He is successfully exploiting divisions within his enemy’s house. These events are tactical victories for his cause. They may yet add up to strategic victory.
Zarqawi and those who fight and murder with him may yet win.