For such a solemn occasion, it really was a sight. George W. Bush, Gerhard Schroeder, Jacques Chirac; all the G8 leaders standing side-by-side in condemnation and solidarity in the face of what has once again shown the indiscriminate brutality of terrorisms standard operandi, the murder of innocent civilians. Once again, the world can see the barbarism, the recklessness, and the cruelty of what we have come to refer to generally as terrorism. The question however is, “what has changed?”
For the terrorists, thankfully, the answer is nothing. The attack on guiltless Londoners inspires fear, this is true; but it also appears to have inspired that most noble of British values: a stiff upper lip and a steely resolve. Winston Churchill is famous for smoking his nightly cigars while lying out on the roof of his bomb shelter at the height of the blitzkrieg while German bombers desecrated his city all around him. Britons, and freedom loving people everywhere, are once again displaying this type of fortitude for exactly the same reasons. “We will not be terrorized,” Prime Minister Tony Blair noted in his response to the attacks, and the flowers and messages of hope and camaraderie that have so far been laid outside the British embassy here in America’s capital are testimony to that fact. “Today,” one sign reads, “we are all British.”
For the world, with any luck, what has changed is that it has once again become eminently clear that what we are fighting truly is a global effort against a vicious ideology. It will not be won easily or without bloodshed and sacrifice, but it must be won none the less. This is not a right/left issue; this is a right/wrong issue. Could we forgive ourselves if we failed to act in the face of such feckless barbarism? I couldn’t.
Even still, there are those crying retreat. This, to me, is both incomprehensible and indefensible. A group endorsing a murderous ideology blows up several public transportation networks, killing scores of people and injuring hundreds more who are guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and some people still have the audacity to say that these savages are right and we should retreat in our effort to rid the world of such fanaticism? Such people should be run out of town. But alas, this is a free country, and they can say what they want, no matter how idiotic.
Osama bin Laden himself noted that “[America] left Somalia carrying your humiliation, your shame, and your dead with you. A few soldiers are killed and you fall back. At your cowardly retreat your impotence became very clear.” The perception of weakness is what inspires Islamo-fascists to perpetuate their “holy” war. To grant them their wish and make it appear as if their barbarism is working is to stand in opposition to everything that civilized society and peace loving people are supposed to stand for. Sadly, sometimes the true pacifist must chose war.
The world needs to stand up (I’m looking at you France and German) and throw down. We find ourselves in the midst of a singular struggle. Pray for those who have fallen, pray for those who will fall, and pray that we will never lose our resolve. Providence appears to have chosen this generation to confront a global threat. We can’t stop until we answer that call.