Senator Kerry has been receiving a drubbing in the New Media for his gaffe in yesterday's New York Times to the effect that he wants to see terrorism reduced to the level of a nuisance. The statement was at best stupid and Power Line does a fine job of explaining why it is so egregious. Even so, I don't think that that is the worst thing he says in the interview. Elsewhere in the article he's quoted as saying that:
This statement reveals a shocking lack of understanding of our enemy. Kerry sees terrorism as a problem of diplomacy, of economics. This is incredibly naive and almost guarantees worse strikes against our country than we experienced on 9/11. The jihadis are not trying to kill us because we have inept diplomats. Nor are they trying to destroy us because they resent our exploitation of their oil. They are trying to murder us because they see us as enemies of God who must be converted or exterminated. In their eyes we are infidels who are guilty of two major crimes.
The first is that we serve as a guarantor of Israel's continued existence. The only diplomatic strategy we could adopt which would (temporarily) appease the Islamists would be to pull out of the Middle East completely. Not only would we have to abandon Iraq and our bases elsewhere in the Persian Gulf, but we would also have to abandon any and all commitments to Israel's security. Nothing short of this will mollify the terrorists, and this will only assuage their hatred in the short term.
The second crime of which we are guilty is that we are, in their eyes, spreading a corrupt, decadent culture throughout the Muslim world. It's not just our sexual permissiveness that upsets them, it's the freedom we have to believe and say what we wish, it's the equality we give to women, it's the idea that church and state should not be entangled. Each of these is abhorrent to Muslims and their religion, or their interpretation of it, calls upon them to wage tireless, unceasing jihad against the corrupting influences of the West which threaten to undermine the Faith.
As long as we're strong, however, their efforts are unlikely to prosper so they must defeat us by destroying our economic power base. They must conquer us by wearing us down, by striking at our homeland in order to dispirit us. As long as we're a politico-cultural presence in the world they will strive relentlessly to bring us low, and terror is the only means they have at their disposal to accomplish this. They certainly are not prepared to wage a war of ideas nor can they persuade us through diplomacy to commit cultural suicide. Thus for Kerry to suggest that better diplomacy will reduce or eliminate terrorism reveals an alarming naivete on his part. The Islamic hatred for the West does not lend itself to diplomatic ameliorations.
What diplomacy would accomplish, however, is an illusory lessening of conflict. The jihadis would doubtless give the impression that they were succumbing to whatever inducements or bribes a Kerry administration held out to them. They would attempt to lull us to sleep with assurances that now that the cowboy Bush is out of office it is possible to discuss our differences reasonably. Tensions would ease. Americans, always willing to delude ourselves, would become complacent.
To show our good faith, and to keep negotiations moving along, a Kerry administration would likely relax our prosecution of the war against Muslim terrorists abroad. With the reduction of military operations would come a simultaneous relaxation of vigilance which would almost surely result in making our borders even less secure than they are now. It would be just a matter of time before a WMD was smuggled into the U.S. and detonated in one of our cities. The resulting death and chaos would be unprecedented.
The terrorists would then announce through their media outlets to a stunned nation that there are similar weapons planted in other cities throughout the United States and that unless we meet their demands, i.e. get out of the Middle East and abandon Israel, they will begin to set the others off as well. They don't have to really have the weapons, they only have to have had the first one, and have used it, and the ensuing panic would be seismic in scale. No administration which refused to accede to these demands would survive. The result would be a paralyzed, panic-stricken America, and this would be catastrophic for the entire globe.
With a United States helpless to impose its will, war would almost certainly break out between Arabs and Jews, between China and Taiwan, and on the Korean peninsula. It would probably also erupt between India and Pakistan and Iran and Iraq. In each of these cases it would no doubt be nuclear. Tribal warfare in Africa would rage unnoticed against the global conflagration that would result from a United States crippled by a terror strike such as we've envisioned. Civil strife would plague our cities as well, especially in locales with Muslim populations.
This is the world John Kerry's thinking and approach could very likely create. It is the most plausible consequence of believing that the war on Islamic terror can be fought by diplomats and deal-making.