The brutal terrorism in Paris demands more than the usual (and quite predictable) outrage from politicians and commentators who will never be called to sacrifice much in the eternal battle for freedom. Mass rallies and a stiff upper lip are fine, but the fact is the terrorists are willing to die for their religious fervor. The question for everyone else is: are you?
No amount of ‘indignation’ or demonstrations of ‘solidarity’ will change the perception among Islamists that the West is out to destroy them. Right or wrong, adherents believe that the invasion of Iraq, Libya & Syria are merely the latest manifestation of colonization by foreign powers. No amount of reason will change their view that the collateral damage from the Obama administration's drone strikes is no different than what they have perpetrated upon innocents in New York or Paris.
So we are really left with two choices: to combine international forces, as Obama plans to do in an upcoming “Global Security Summit” (NSA? You ain’t seen nothing yet..), and declare a global war or to simply acknowledge the carnage in France makes clear that while multiculturalism doesn’t work within nations, it might between them.
That is, Homeland Security ought to be just that. Preserving the peace here in the United States and jettisoning once and for all the failed Wilsonian notion of ‘making the world safe for democracy.’ It means putting troops on OUR borders, not Iraq’s or that ‘graveyard of empires,’ Afghanistan's. It means NOT taking sides in religious conflicts where there is quite clearly no exit strategy from expending American blood and treasure.
It’s more than a bit ironic to witness the 'Golden Globe liberals' who've imposed college speech codes or banned “The Bell Curve” on campus marching for freedom of thought. What was it their hero, NASA’s global warming guru, James Hansen said of the climate change deniers? Oh yes, hold them institutionally 'accountable’ for their ideas. The fact is most American newspapers already refuse to publish material (including cartoons) that is “needlessly offensive,” according to the Washington Post. Yet no amount of self-censorship will extricate America from the religious war it has entered between Jew and Arab, or for that matter, between Islamic factions. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah, the putative leader of the Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah (which the U.S. has designated a terrorist group), accused the Parisian perpetrators of insulting Islam more than “even those who have attacked the messenger of God through books…or drawing cartoons of the Prophet.”
The inconvenient truth is that outside intervention in Syria has indeed prevented the Shi’a government there (which has spared Christians from attacks, according to the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan) from crushing Sunni radicals such as ISIS.
American devotion to freedom of expression must never wane. But she cannot impose those values abroad. Moreover, the nations of Europe--who find themselves in the cultural crosshairs due to their own misguided polices of open borders--must learn to defend themselves. The reality is as long as the United States intervenes, it will find itself a target of fanatics who are willing to die for a ‘cause,’ however misguided.
The question for American policymakers, as it was a generation ago in SouthEast Asia, can be put succinctly: is it worth it?