In a time of terror and war, when the demands of security seem sometimes in tension with freedoms we've enjoyed for over two centuries, it's good to take a moment to reflect on what is at stake in the conflict in which we find ourselves.
The Islamic world, or at least that part of it that has embraced Wahhabism, is comitted to an eternal war against those whom they believe to be infidels. They see this as a war that Allah commands them to wage, and they believe themselves enjoined by God to fight until either the infidels are no more or until we have all converted to Islam. The Islamists believe that Allah has blessed them in this struggle and that he will ultimately give them victory. They have the resolve of men convinced that they walk in the will of God.
There is then no negotiating with them, no persuading them that they should give up the fight. Our only options are to fight them or surrender to them. Our choice is between constant vigilance and more 9/11s.
There are those who think that the Islamists are driven by oppression, or poverty or grievances against the United States for its policies in the Middle East, and they argue that if we could mitigate these conditions the Muslims would relent. This is a grave mistake.
The Islamic terrorists are driven by an amalgam of religious fanaticism, an inferiority complex, and hatred for Western societies which have historically surpassed them in every way. They see the war they are waging as the continuation of hostilities that failed at Tours in France in 732 and again at Vienna in 1683. After each unsuccessful invasion the Muslim tide receded in order to regather its strength for another assault. In other words, for them this is the resumption of a 1300 year long war that began within a century of the death of Mohammed and will continue as long as there are infidels left on the earth. We can be thankful that President Bush seems to understand this even if many who oppose him do not.
In light of the long struggle in which we are engaged, and the alternatives which are set before us, it is appropriate on this July 4th that we pause to reflect upon what it is we hold precious, what it is we fight for, and who it is that we fight against.
On a somewhat more serene note, Here's a Fourth of July card for all of our readers. You'll need your speakers on.