Skip to comments.Mark Steyn: A War Without Polkas
Posted on 05/11/2005 9:59:03 AM PDT by Constitution Day
A War Without Polkas
Is Western civilization up for the battle?
A week and a half after the VE Day anniversary, heres a date that will get a lot less attention: May 19, 2005. On that day, the War on Terror will have outlasted Americas participation in the Second World War. In other words, the period since 9/11 will be longer than the period of time between Pearl Harbor in December 1941 and the Japanese surrender in August 1945.
Does it seem that long? For the most part, no. The War on Terror has involved no major mobilization of the population at large. In contrast to Casablanca, Mrs. Miniver, Ill Be Seeing You, Dont Sit Under the Apple Tree (with Anyone Else but Me), The Last Time I Saw Paris, Victory Polka, Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition, and Therell Be a Hot Time in the Town of Berlin, American popular culture has preferred to sit this one out, aside from Michael Moores crockumentaries and incoherent soundbites from every Hollywood airhead who gets invited to European film festivals. And the response of U.S. government agencies hasnt been much better: In his testimony to the 9/11 commission, George Tenet said blithely that it would take another half-decade to rebuild the CIAs joke of a clandestine service. In other words, three years after 9/11, he was saying he needed another five years. Imagine if FDR had turned to Tenet to start up the OSS. In 1942, hed have told the president not to worry, well have it up and running by 1950.
So, while this war may have started with the first direct assault on American territory since Pearl Harbor, its clearly evolved into a different kind of conflict, one in which after three and a half years its hard for many Americans to maintain the sense that its a war at all. By now, National Reviews British, Commonwealth, and European readers will be huffing that the Second World War wasnt three-and-a-half years long, you idiots; it was six years, except for certain latecomers who turned up halfway through. Fair point. But if the Americans were late getting into World War II they were also late getting into the War on Terror: Al-Qaedas bombers, Saudi moneymen, and Wahhabi clerics had been trying to catch Washingtons eye for years only to be dismissed, as then-defense secretary Bill Cohen said of the attack on the USS Cole, as not sufficiently provocative. Youll have to do better than that, Osama!
So he did. And you have to wonder whether, despite the increased T-shirt sales among the impressionable young men in the Egyptian and Pakistani bazaars, that was such a smart move. When bin Laden started yakking on about his war aims taking back Spain, the restoration of the Caliphate it was easy to scoff, yeah, dream on, loser. But a cursory glance at demographics quickly made it clear that, insofar as Europe has a future, its likely to be an Islamic one. That being so, why louse things up by flying planes into buildings? Why not just lie low and in the fullness of time everything you want will come your way? The Wahhabists have successfully radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Albania to Indonesia; theyve planted their most radical clerics as in-house padres throughout U.S. prisons and even the armed forces. Why screw things up by doing something so provocative it meets even Bill Cohens criteria for a response?
Heres why. Its always useful to test the limits of your adversaries, and, though it cost them their camps in Afghanistan and much of their leadership, the 9/11 attacks exposed many useful tidbits about the decadence of the West the worthlessness of the post-modern NATO alliance and the active hostility of many of its key members to the United States, the immense deference accorded not just to Islam but to the most radical Islamic groups, especially when it comes to immigration and other aspects of national security. Many Islamists might have suspected all this, but its heartening to have it confirmed: If the sleeping giant is hard to wake up, his European pals arent sleeping so much as in irreversible comas.
Thus, if this war is, as existential struggles go, much closer to the Cold War, theres one key difference. The Cold War was fought mostly by proxies and clients out on the periphery: Vietnam, Yemen, Chile, Afghanistan, Grenada . . . This time round the peripherys falling into place rather easily: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Lebanon moves in the right direction throughout the Middle East, swathes of Central Asia falling under U.S. influence . . .
But the real battleground is the West itself, the heart of Europe, where bombs in Spain, murders in the Netherlands, honor killings in Germany prompt only shrugs or preemptive capitulation from the political class. Perhaps in the end the comparison isnt World War Two or the Cold War, but the one that created the modern Middle East in the first place the First World War, which began with one specific act of violence and unraveled all the great European empires before it was done. Four years after 9/11, a war that started with a bang seems to have fizzled to a whimper whiny Dems, bureaucratic Homeland Security, nothing much on the horizon. Not so. Theres plenty ahead.
Jimmy Stuhr Ping
We ain't seen nothing yet. Europe will be a cauldron of fire.
The war "ended" in 1945, but we were in Japan and Germany for many years after, and there was sporatic shooting too.
Osama will be along shortly to pull their feeding tubes.
looks that way!
Thank you for the ping. This is a fantastic article. Steyn gets it.
The National Post just isn't the same without him.
If the sleeping giant is hard to wake up, his European pals arent sleeping so much as in irreversible comas.
PVLS Persistant Vegetative Liberal State.
Time to pull the plug on the lot of them.
the 9/11 attacks exposed many useful tidbits about the decadence of the West the worthlessness of the post-modern NATO alliance and the active hostility of many of its key members to the United States, the immense deference accorded not just to Islam but to the most radical Islamic groups, especially when it comes to immigration and other aspects of national security.
It also more clearly exposed the lightly camouflaged hatred of their own country by the American left.
It is no joke that they are seriously rooting for Islamic fundamentalists to triumph gloriously over freedom and democracy won under an American flag.
They wont get their wish.
Steyn gets it! Keep your head down and your powder dry.
Another great piece here. An excellent job of distilling a huge issue.
Unfortunately, it appears that Steyn is right about Europe, or at least Old Europe.
There's a chance that new Europe, the eastern block countries along with the UK might ultimately prevail in their thinking. It appears that it's terminal for France, Germany, and the Benelux countries.
Demographics will get them long before they regain their sanity.
The Netherlands may have woken up, same with Denmark.
I thought the Netherlands woke up a couple of years ago when the assassination of Pim Fortuyn occurred. But with a brief fling with a conservative government in reaction to that killing, they've resumed their leftist ways.
Mecca, nuclear bomb, problem solved.
Someone who truly gets Democrat (or in the case of Europe, Social Democrat) policies!
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