That's the question raised by Paul Cella in this excellent piece at Tech Central Station (hat tip to Erick-Woods Erickson). I can't go quite as far as Paul on some of his suggestions; for example, I think he goes too far in weakening the First Amendment. Still, he frames the debate starkly, as it should be:
The answer we should give is this. We - whatever other free nations choose to do or not do - are going to put certain considerable obstacles in the way of totalitarian Islam; we at least are not going to encourage its development on our shores; we at least are going to say, in the manner republics "say" things publicly, such that it is clear to the leaders of this movement, its sympathizers and facilitators, both here and abroad, to the world at large, and most importantly to ourselves, that we will not tolerate totalitarian Islam. Rather, we will place very substantial burdens and abridgements, of varying social, political and legal character, upon those holding the beliefs associated with totalitarian Islam. We will make the price for sympathy with it very high indeed.Now, if Paul perhaps goes a little far, what are we to make of London Mayor Ken Livingstone, a perfect example of the 'excuse-making' squad, those who would have us sympathize with our murderers? Imagine if the great Rudy G. had said something like this in the aftermath of 9/11:
"If at the end of the First World War we had done what we promised the Arabs, which was to let them be free and have their own governments, and kept out of Arab affairs, and just bought their oil, rather than feeling we had to control the flow of oil, I suspect this wouldn't have arisen."Not exactly Churchillian, is it? Livingstone goes on:
Mr Livingstone said he did not just denounce suicide bombers.
He also denounced "those governments which use indiscriminate slaughter to advance their foreign policy, as we have occasionally seen with the Israeli government bombing areas from which a terrorist group will have come, irrespective of the casualties it inflicts, women, children and men".
He continued: "Under foreign occupation and denied the right to vote, denied the right to run your own affairs, often denied the right to work for three generations, I suspect that if it had happened here in England, we would have produced a lot of suicide bombers ourselves."
Appalling, that is...using the occasion of a suicide bombing to denounce the tactics of...Israel, victim of more suicide bombings than any nation. From Livingstone's comments, you can see that we have two enemies to engage; one, militarily, and that is the Islamo-fascists, and two, intellectually, we must defeat the defeatists. Leon H, who has posted on the Livingstone comments (and please read the entirety of his excellent post), puts it well:
...If the governments of the United States and the United Kingdom come to be dominated by those who think that we are to blame for the slaughter of our own civilians, and who draw moral equivalencies between liberal democratic governments and reactionary theocratic dictatorships, the war for Western Civilization will have been lost.Just so...and that brings me to my final consideration here, the comments of Tom Tancredo, who you just may have heard suggested that perhaps a disincentive to the use of nuclear weapons by radical Islamists might be the threat to take out Mecca (in so many words). As Leon H points out, the response was meant to indicate the most draconian reaction that we might have if faced with a nuclear strike, and not a preferred policy option.
Nevertheless, I'm not as shocked by Tancredo's comments as I am by my own reaction: I don't think even that would do the trick. Indeed, I can see no credible pre-attack threat by the United States that would have any effect at all on a radical Islamic group in the possession of nuclear weapons. When your enemy places no value on life, yours or theirs, you are at a distinct disadvantage if you, as we do, belong to a society dedicated to the propositions of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
The divide could not be any greater, the choice any starker; we simply cannot allow the scenario to even develop. If nothing else was accomplished (and much else was) by our deposition of Saddam Hussein, then even forestalling the eventual acquisition of nuclear materials was well worth it.
Against all the challenges, all the worries, all the threats, we carry one distinct, and quite large, advantage: we have the right on our side. I don't mean the political right, but the moral right; simply put, we are on the winning team. Only we can defeat ourselves, by convincing ourselves otherwise. Those who would use hatred of George W. Bush or Tony Blair or John Howard to oppose our efforts in defeating radical Islam have bloody hands, indeed; they are just as much a danger as the terrorists, and while we can't and won't deny them the freedom of speech and the freedom to be wrong, we must challenge them at every opportunity, taking the offensive in the war of words, until we are as equal to the challenge mentally as we are militarily. There is no alternative.