Judging from the polls, a weary, inward-looking American public has long stopped caring much about what used to be called the “war on terror. What began as one horrific attack resulted in a simple, 60-word Authorization for the Use of Military Force three days later.
“That the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United Stated by such nations, organizations, or persons.”
We Have Forgotten Much
I well remember the sentiment that cascaded across this country, width, and breadth, 13 years ago. It was long ago. It was yesterday; we’ve forgotten much.
We now wonder how to end a war with an enemy that is fanatically determined to attack all things Western, in any country, at any time, and without regard to the victims of its attacks. In fact, they think the more heinous the attack; the more horrible the act, the better purpose.
Consider the resources it takes to monitor communications channels, national borders, food and water supplies, those venues where large bodies of people assemble, air travel, and on and on. Our societies, our lives, are forever changed. We will not in the imaginable future experience the coming and going, the moving through the events of our lives, without facing these security issues, without submitting to a military search and scrutiny meant to assure us that there is not a mindless assassin in our midst.
What affiliation do we owe these people whose credo is to kill and terrorize wantonly and indiscriminately, the more shocking the better? How do we reason with this enemy? We don’t. How do we find and destroy this enemy? We cannot. We’re 13 years into this. But let’s not forget what has happened and let’s not flag in our resolve to resist this dogma of destruction.
The Medieval Mindset
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Prime Minister of Israel, once called those of this mindset “medieval,” and he was right. A modern society, build morals, rules, and laws, cannot ever be entirely secure when its enemy cares only to destroy. Destruction is mindless, random, and can be spawned from any of a million different means. It wants regression into the abyss, into the blackness and sameness of One Thing and One Thing only.
Throughout violence-torn Middle Eastern, African, and Central Asian countries, al-Qaida operatives appear from the dust like warriors spawned by the mythical dragon’s teeth. Their volition is to destroy, that’s all. They are against growth, against progress, against industry, and against the human spirit. They want to return the world to the dark ages and enslavement.
How ironic that these terrorists in our world claim to have a law; they claim to have an objective; they are bent on pushing everyone in the world to kneel to that ideal. And they have no problem whatever with the indiscriminate murder of as many men, woman, and children as it takes until that idol is enthroned.
There is no freedom there, no liberty, no light. There is only the neutered obedience to the interpretation of their mutated law. There can be no deviation to the left or the right. Anything outside the line is caught and squashed like a bug, with no more thought. There is no respect for any other idea, no appreciation of any other institution, no room for any expression except the One. There is no sense of history, no regard for the truths that have kept and governed other nations for millennia.
How simple and how foolish to think that al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations will cease and desist if we will pull away and ignore them. The fights worth being in life, whatever their bruises and bumps, are the ones worth being in. And this war on terror is one of them.
In our day, we watched for a moment what this ideology looks like when in power. We saw it in Afghanistan under the rule of the Taliban. We saw in stark fireworks against a night sky how it acted and how it governed. We saw how it thought, how it moved, how it ruled.
Should al-Qaeda prevail anywhere, the establishment of radical Muslim law will be one thing. Then the policing of that law and the execution of its penalties for those caught acting contrary will be left to the twisted cruel hearts and minds of those whose only purpose has ever been destruction and whose only methods have ever been terror, repression, and fear.
It takes no imagination to see to the end of this road.