This article, from this morning's Chicago Tribune ... Face to face with jihad ... has been focusing my thoughts a bit more over this whole war scenario.
As I have written elsewhere (in comments in others' journals, primarily), the way this conflict is shaping up is VERY much like the "Democracy vs Fascism" conflict of the 30's and 40's ... and the current atmosphere is quite a bit like the pre-war period when Hitler was pushing the Nazi doctrine of Lebensraum ... in the face of the German annexation of Austria and Czechoslovakia there were the Neville Chamberlains of this world seeking to appease a personality and a culture which just did not accept the premise of "peace in our time". The whining leftists and the Fifth Column "Islamist apologists" are playing the Neville Chamberlain role today ... they are applying entrenched neo-Marxist concepts of "multicultural" ideals to a people who have NO INTEREST in this, and telling the rest of us that if we would only "play nice" with Mr. BinLaden et al, that things would be fine.
Let's face the facts. While "Muslims" may be "peace-loving people guided by the Koran", the "Islamists" are a growing force that seeks the OBLITERATION of Western Civilization, and use the Muslim religion the way that the Jerry Falwell, the abortion clinic bombers, and the extreme homophobes use the Christian Bible to justify their lusts for destruction. Many, if not most, of the leading "Islamist" figures appear to long for a "golden era" of the Medieval period, and espouse a model which for all intents and purposes is a return to the primitive and theocratic culture of that age. Needless to say, the secular and techological world of Western Civilization is anathema to these people.
In addition, there is the factor of the "paradise for martyrs" lure which posits a high reward for those who die while "defending Islam". This creates a level of hazard not previously seen, where Islamist agents can infiltrate into our societies and lie in wait until "the glorious moment" when they can carry out their suicide attacks.
Of course, complicating matters is the fact that the "Islamist extremists" do not operate in a vacuum ... as The Onion's recent piece of sarcasm put it: "U.S. Urges Bin Laden To Form Nation It Can Attack" ... the terror-merchants live amidst the greater Muslim world, the same way the Southern Baptists and other extreme Christian sects (who would love to be able to form their OWN version of the Taliban if they could!) exist in the midst of America. As I have written previously, the substantial majority of ANY religion is simply "culturally affiliated" with it, and this sort of cultural affilaition creates very strong, yet subtle, bonds. While this is NOT only a matter of religion (try talking up the virtues of the Chicago Bears in Green Bay sometime for an example), religion plays more upon the un-analysed emotions of a people than does almost any other concern. There is a natural urge to say "well, he may be a sonofabitch, but he's OUR sonofabitch!" ... and defend even OBVIOUS CRIMINALS against what are perceived as outside threats. We see this nearly every day in Chicago where criminals are harbored by minority communities ... how can we expect the people of Saudi Arabia or Pakistan to "finger" the Islamist extremists so they could be "dealt with" by the Western alliance when we have communities among us who won't hand over a cop killer, just because he's perceived to be part of the community and, for whatever reason, the forces of law are not.
So, what are we faced with:
1) Radical Islamist ideologues spewing a doctrine of hatred towards the West which will not accept any result short of our destuction.
2) The Islamists' ability to successfully twist around the Muslim religion to justify their actions, either in the context of "any attack on them is an attack on Islam", or to provide the lure for suicide terror missions.
3) The unlikelihood that the average "Muslim in the street" has any inclination to oppose the Islamists (see the above-cited Tribune article for the quote: "In Pakistan alone, 12,000 boys were named Osama last year"), from both the perspective of the Islamists being "their sonsofbtiches" and from the perspective of cultural acceptance of Islamist extremism within the over-all cognitive spectrum of the Muslim world (the same way that extreme Baptists churches are not openly shunned here).
4) The unpleasant fact that there could be THOUSANDS of "sleeper agents" in place across the Western world, awaiting their orders to attack our interests.
and, lastly ...
5) A dedicated "Fifth Column" of Leftists and Statists who have entrenched hatred of the Western Culture (see THIS for a report on a disgusting, if archetypical, example) who will go to any lengths to try to support our enemies.
So, what do we do? Well, first of all, accept the fact that this is the start of a WORLD WAR. Unless we are so weak that we succumb to the Medieval Islamist world view, we must be willing to FIGHT for our secular lifestyle.
Secondly, understand the SCOPE of the threat ... Muslims make up 20% of the world's population, and constitute the majority in much of Africa, the Middle East, and substantial areas of SouthWest and SouthEast Asia ... all areas which are typically "Third World" and in which "Universities" are more likely to be along the lines of the Islamic equivalent of "Moody Bible College" than "Northwestern University" (i.e. you're more likely to find "religious indoctrination" than "education" ... producing the likes of the Taliban). Just because the "head terrorists", the folks like BinLaden or the leaders of the other major terror groups, may merely number in the hundreds, they have VAST "reserves" of people primed to share their views and act on their commands.
We must be ready (and, please understand the difference of being "ready" and being "eager" before you start calling me names) to take EXTREME actions if we are going to defend our way of life. Each of the five points above must be addressed. While we CAN take steps to deal with #1 (kill as many of the bastards as we can find), #4 (set up internment camps, if necessary), and #5 (work to weed out the traitors), the others are FAR more difficult. To deal with #2 and #3 it would be IDEAL to have some "Moderate, Secular Muslims" step up to the plate and be willing to SAY that BinLaden, the Taliban, and the whole SYSTEM that produces people LIKE the Taliban is WRONG, is "Anti-Islamic", and should be cut out of the Muslim world. Unfortunately, rabid Fundamentalist rabble-rousing plays better in the slums of Jakarta and the Souks of Islamabad than do calls for Reason. We must be PREPARED, thereby, to deal with #2 and #3 with more traditional, if less palatable, methods.
This is more than just WAR ... this is World War, with the clash of incompatible world paradigms coming to a head. As long as the Islamists hold sway on the Muslim world and are allowed to operate, they WILL attack the West; and as long as we are unwilling to "live like the Taliban" we must be ready to defend ourselves.