Liberals Face Unpleasant Choices on Terrorism Question

Exactly the sort of idiotic thinking that can elect Trump!
Remember the Rolling Stones line: You can't always get what you want? Liberals face the possibility of inadvertently electing a Republican president in 2016 through out-of-touch thinking on terrorism. The GOP has called for a “lockout” on Syrian refugees in the light of the bloody terrorist attack on Paris and information that some of the planners slipped into Europe by posing as humanitarian refugees. The French and the Russians have declared war on ISIS. A call for a broader international coalition against Muslim jihadists is sure to follow. These things will happen and liberals really have just two choices: formulate viable (and realistic) alternative policy, or enjoy irrelevance as the world passes them by.

It goes by a German name, folks: realpolitik–that which is deemed practical and realistic (in power and material terms). It is often the antonym of idealistic. Principles are rooted in idealism, actions in realpolitik. I hear all the liberal concerns: nervousness over religious profiling, fear that harsh actions will breed terrorists, the need for the equivalent of a Marshall Plan for developing nations, and suspicion that Western policies are largely to blame for terrorism. Better go easy on the last of these; nothing justifies the slaughter of innocents and such a pitch abrogates the moral high ground. The other three principled concerns need to be aired, but not today and probably not until retribution runs its course.

Here’s the reality: today's cries for restraint are analogous to those in the days following 9/11. In political terms it is simply inconceivable for France not to retaliate for its 130 terror victims, or for Russia simply to mourn the 219 who died in October when ISIS planted a bomb on a plane. Retribution is happening now and will continue. Democrats need to get on board with this and they'd better articulate plans for better screening of refugees instead of foisting them upon unwilling states. It doesn't matter if liberals don't like it. Check out the numbers: 56% of the American public finds Islam "at odds" with American values, 67% of the working-class feels that way, 40% of Americans think Muslims want to impose Sharia law on America, and almost no one is comfortable with accepting Syrian refugees. Ignore this data and it becomes thinkable we will sing "Hail to the Chief" to Donald Trump in January of 2017.

Liberals need to do some soul-searching on the question of when they became such knee-jerk softies and defeatists. Dialogue is the preferred option for mediating disputes, but a minimum requirement is that that both sides must be willing to talk. NPR, the New York Times, and President Obama have all argued persuasively that ISIS and other jihadist groups are "death cults," not negotiating teams. If they are correct, dialogue is off the table. There is a strain of oft-aired thought that claims the war on terror cannot be won. Really? I wonder what the world would be like now if the Western world had taken a similar position on fascism. We should not confuse what makes us uncomfortable with what cannot be done. 

There may a case to be made for isolation over war, but let's see the plans and let's be willing to make some hard choices–those grounded in realpolitik rather than abstractions. A good start would be a moratorium on bad analogies. Those on the left have been quick to make comparisons between today's close-the-borders call and past hysteria toward European immigrants, Jews, and Asians. I understand the reluctance to profile, but let's get some history straight. What made acts such as the Chinese Exclusion Act, the 1924 National Origins Act, Japanese internment, Jewish quotas, and current fear over Latino immigration–yes, lots of egg on GOP faces too­–such miscarriages of justice is that they were directed against those who did no and posed no harm. This is categorically not the case when applied to radical jihadists. Have we forgotten Lockerbie, 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and the beheading of Daniel Pearl and at least five other Americans? The website Fusion tells us that homegrown terrorists have killed more Americans than jihadists since 9/11, but is anyone feeling good about that narrow 28 to 26 victory? More to the point, do you think voters are keeping score?  Want to make liberals seem like total jerks? Mock those who fear Muslim terrorists. Do you think voters haven't heard about shopping mall bombings in Kenya, bombings in Beirut, hotel slaughters in Mali, and travel bans to Belgium? Take this tack and it's you who plays the Fool.

Here's another vote-loser: blame-the-West. Whatever the root causes of terrorism might be, it's at best an eye-for-an-eye response and attempts to excuse it are morally repugnant. In plain terms, it's hard to cast victimizers as victims. Each year thousands die at the hands of jihadists, a global perspective that needs to be considered. In a world of 1.6 billion Muslims those thousands might seem a small number, and the argument that other religious fanatics have blood on their hands is certainly true. Tell that to voters who recognize groups such as these: al-Qaeda, al-Shabaad, Abu Sayyaf, Boko Haram, Fatah-al-Intifada, Hamas, Harkat-il-Jihad-Islami, Hezbollah, ISIS, Islamic Jihad, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Jamaat-ul-Mujahedeen, Lashkar-e-Taiba, and the Taliban. And this is the short list! 

Everyone should welcome a frank discussion on the root causes of all terrorism–once the death cults are neutralized. The first discussion, though, is what role the United States will play in neutralization. Look at pictures from the Paris bombings and the above list again. Now ask how hard it will be to use fear of another 9/11 for political gain. You can make any argument you wish about how marginal these groups are vis-à-vis the world’s Muslim population and be correct, but ask also if the globe would be better if the above list were shorter. Until it is, a lot of people will worry about Muslim immigrants and calling them bigots isn't going to make them feel more charitable.

I do not welcome the war on Islamic terrorism, but it’s coming. The only real question is whether you want the commander-in-chief to be a right-wing Crusader or someone (at least slightly) more rational. There is no third option.

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