Killing of Bin Laden: an act of justice
The killing of Bin Laden is a tremendous act of justice — for the victims of 9/11, for all Americans. An overdue act of justice, but a necessary and expertly conducted one nonetheless. In the last 12 hours, on lots of radio interviews, I’ve been asked: “Can we now bury the ‘war on terror’?”
No. Although Bin Laden was the the most recognized face of Islamist terrorism, al Qaeda is one, relatively recent, faction within a larger ideological-political cause: the Islamic totalitarian movement. That movement’s origins date back to the 1920s with the founding of
the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; its standard-bearer since 1979 has been the totalitarian regime in Iran. The Islamists wish to establish a global regime that subjugates all under sharia. There is disagreement within the movement on how to achieve that goal—terrorist attacks, revolutionary overthrow, lawful political subversion, running for elected office, or some combination of these.
But whatever the means adopted, their common vision necessitates expunging the freedom of individuals and negating the political principles of secular society.
It was essential that we capture or kill Bin Laden, in the name of justice, but that step alone cannot put an end to the movement. We can hope that it will demoralize some of Bin Laden’s many admirers and followers, for a while, but we should also expect someone else to emerge, hydra-like, to serve as a leader of the jihad. For the last few years, in fact, we’ve seen others jockey for prominence as instigators of the jihad: note how Anwar al Awlaki was an inspiration for the Fort Hood shooter and for the Christmas Day underpants bomber.
In Winning the Unwinnable War I discuss at length what I believe we must do to achieve victory in this conflict. To put it briefly: we need to recognize the nature of the enemy, and then break its will to fight. That means using military coercion to fully demoralize the enemy so that all who share and seek to impose the Islamist ideals believe their cause is lost. We cannot begin to do that without confronting its leading exponents, notably the Iranian regime.
(P.S. ‘war on terror’ is not a term I favor; it muddles the issue.)
image: wiki commons