There is always the chance that the next attack will knock the scales from our eyes. Always the chance that we will realize the enemy is at war with us, even as we foolishly believe we can end the war by not fighting it, by surrendering.
As this is written, the death count in Paris is 158. That number will grow higher, and very many more will be counted among the wounded and terrorized.
“Allahu Akbar!” cried the jihadists as they killed innocent after French innocent. The commentators told us it means “God is great.” But it doesn’t. It means “Allah is greater!” It is a comparative, a cry of combative aggression: “Our God is mightier than yours.” It is central to a construction of Islam, mainstream in the Middle East, that sees itself at war with the West.
It is what animates our enemies.
Barack Obama tells us – harangues us – that he is the president who came to end wars. Is that noble? Reflective of an America that honors “our values”? No, it is juvenile.
In the real world, the world of aggression – not “micro-aggression” – you don’t get to end wars by pronouncing them over, or mistaken, or contrary to “our values.”
You end them by winning them . . . or losing them.
If you demonstrate that you are willing to lose, then you lose. If you sympathize with the enemy’s critique of the West on the lunatic theory that this will appease the enemy, you invite more attacks, more mass murder.
France is hoping the night’s bloodshed is done as it counts its dead. And perhaps it is for now. But the atrocities are not over, not even close.
In Paris, it has been but the blink of an eye since the Charlie Hebdo massacre, after which Western nations joined together in supposed solidarity, supporting the fundamental right to free expression.
That lasted about five minutes.
Intelligentsia on both sides of the Atlantic rationalized that, while we of course (ahem) champion free expression – “Je suis Charlie!” and all that – columnists and cartoonists who dare lampoon a totalitarian ideology are bringing the jihad on themselves.
It was a familiar story. In 2012, jihadists attacked an American compound in Benghazi, killing our ambassador and three other officials. The president responded by . . . condemning an anti-Muslim video that had nothing to do with the attack, and by proclaiming that “the future must not belong to those who slander the prophet of Islam.”
Islamic supremacism killed Americans, and America’s president validated Islamic supremacism.
How did the French and the rest of the West react when jihadists attacked Charlie Hebdo in Paris?
After a fleeting pro-Western pose, they condemned . . . themselves.
What happened when American commentators who had spent years studying Islamic-supremacist ideology warned that mainstream Muslim doctrine was fueling jihad against the West?
The Obama administration – the president and his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton – reacted by targeting the messengers, not the aggressors.
Jihadist terror would be obfuscated by euphemisms like “violent extremism” and “workplace violence.” The critics of jihadist terror would be smeared as racist “Islamophobes.” Mrs. Clinton led the administration’s effort to portray examination of Islamic doctrine as hate speech, to brand commentary about radical Islam as illegal incitement.
Wouldn’t that be a betrayal of First Amendment free expression? If so, Mrs. Clinton declared, the government had other ways to suppress it. The administration, she said, would resort to extra-legal extortion: “old fashioned techniques of peer pressure and shaming.”
American government intimidation, not against the jihad but against opponents of the jihad. Could we tell the enemy any more clearly that we don’t think we are worth defending? Could we tell the enemy any more clearly that we are ripe for the taking?
Hard experience has taught us that when jihadists have safe haven, they attack the United States and our Western allies. But as ISIS and al Qaeda expand their safe haven in Syria and Iraq, we tell the world it is everyone else’s problem – the Kurds have to do the fighting, or the Yazidis, the Iraqis, the “rebels,” anyone but us.
As hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the region – many of them young, fighting-fit men whose potential terrorist ties cannot possibly be vetted – we encourage Europe to open its arms and borders to them, promising to open our own as well.
After all, to do otherwise would be to concede that the war is against us – and Obama is the president who “ends” war.
The enemy is not impressed. What Obama calls “ending” war the enemy sees as surrender, as the lack of a will to fight, much less to prevail.
So, as night follows day, the enemy attacked Paris tonight, yet again. Jihadists brazenly proclaimed that they were from Syria, spreading their jihad to France.
Obama responded by soft-peddling the atrocity as a “tragedy,” the acts of war as a “crime.”
A “crime” that tonight killed 158 people (and counting). A “crime” by “criminals” who vow more jihadist acts of war against Paris, Rome, London, Tel Aviv, and New York.
We did not ask for a war with jihadists. Years ago, they commenced a war of aggression against us. Pace Obama, you can’t end such a war by withdrawing, or by pretending it is just a crime. You end it by winning it or losing it.
The enemy senses that we are willing to lose it. Tonight, they pressed their advantage. It won’t be the last time.
A version of this piece previously appeared on National Review Online.