"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Sunday, September 03, 2006

A birthday invitation from Ayman

As I finally cross the point where my age is rounded up to 30 rather than down a youthfully exhuberant twentysomething, I received an invitation on the Internet on what to do with my birthday. Ayman al-Zawahiri has apparently invited me and the rest of my infidel friends to convert to Islam before one of his followers a) blows up my plane, b) blows up my subway car, or c) dresses me in the latest in desert robes and forces conversion at rifle-point. I won't belabor his point, because it's not anything we haven't heard before. I just think it's instructive to consider the demands that these particular enemies make. They're not interested in simple negotiation, in finding a common ground as equals, in the give and take of concessions (who really believes they'd leave us alone if we vacated Muslims lands and issued a public apology for the Crusades?). As Zawahiri's tape and the ordeal of the abducted Fox News reporters shows, they demand nothing less than complete submission to their way of life. God help us if they ever get the power to back that demand up with a mushroom cloud.

Bill Cosby has become famous for his cry of "Black community, heal thyself." A
similar cry, long overdue, is now being heard from within and without the Muslim community. I hope they start to listen.

Footnote: We're hearing more comparisons these days between radical Islam, Nazi Germany, and World War II in general. In some ways, such comparisons are accurate: both Nazism and radical Islam seek to dominate every aspect of life, and extend their reach beyond the borders of the nation they poison. On the other hand, Nazi Germany was an advanced, industrialized nation-state that possessed a well-trained, disciplined, superbly equipped army. The Wehrmacht could project force across borders and oceans, and it took the combined might of the Western world and Soviet Russia to bring Hitler's legions to heel. Radical Islam's adherents have yet to develop a nation-state or a military comparable to that of the Third Reich, and right now their force projection is limited to suicide bombers. Until we see a second Wehrmacht, mutterings of a Third World War will remain so much hyperbole. Of course, that makes the danger of a nuclear holocaust no less real. Whether or not the Western world has the ability to reduce Iran to rubble after such an attack is hardly a question; the real question is, do we have the will that our grandparents did sixty years ago?

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