TCS Daily

Stateless Heads

By Jay Currie - March 26, 2004 12:00 AM

United States a commission is digging into the intelligence and administrative issues and failures which lead up to 9/11. Testimony is being heard on the most basic question: "Why didn't we kill Osama bin Laden when we had the chance?" Meanwhile, with the exception of America, the world's statesmen and press are condemning Israel for killing "Sheikh" Ahmed Yassin, the founder of Hamas, when it had the chance.

These debates reflect the uncertainty and discomfort many people are feeling as they come to realize that the war against terror is unlike other wars fought in the last forty years.

Writing in the Telegraph Janet Daley underscores the difference:

"Unlike the forces we are up against now, everybody had pretty much the same answer to the most basic question of all: is life worth living? The disagreement was about how this life should be lived -- collectively or individually -- and not whether it was worth having at all. There was, for all the deadly ideological enmity, a certain common ground....

"...the serious threat to our lives comes from an entirely new global force which is scarcely political at all. At least, this is not politics in the modern sense of a systematic, and optimistic, programme for improving the quality of life."

The premise of the Cold War, and the proxy wars it spawned, was that there could be negotiated settlements. The question was how the negotiations could be conducted and how much each side was willing to concede to the other.

From that premise flowed at least one critical, if unwritten, rule -- the leadership of the opposition would not be directly targeted. This was simple prudence. After all, if the leadership was killed who would negotiate the peace?

That calculus has changed for Israel and for the world. The loosely bunched Muslim terrorists fighting under the banner of Al Qaeda do not have consistent goals. One moment they are fighting to re-establish the Caliphate, the next to remove the Infidels from Saudi Arabia, the next to punish the Spaniards for their support of the coalition in Iraq. Nor has Al Qaeda ever remotely suggested negotiation. In Israel Hamas, as a matter of principle, will not negotiate with the Jewish state.

Peace marchers and diplomats, seeped in the traditions of rationality and appeasement are cognitively unable to grasp the possibility of a force which is neither rational nor appeasable. Talks must be held, negotiations commenced, unilateral withdrawals made as gestures of good faith: this is the rhetoric and the mindset of the diplomats and the peaceniks.

A writer at the invaluable Belmont Club casts the Yassin assassination and the Madrid bombings into a much needed larger context:

"The struggle against terrorism now threatens to become a fight to the finish instead of a Cold War ballet of competition circumscribed by deterrence. Since Jihadistan has shown no inclination to settle for less than total victory, it invariably led to symmetrical American goals. September 11 proved that terrorism could not be contained. It had to be finished."

This is the last thing the appeasers want to hear or to understand; but there is no room for negotiation with the likes of Al Qaeda or Hamas. There is no business to be done so it really does not matter if there are no headmen to fail to do it with.

Over at Winds of Change Joe Katzman puts it in the Israeli context:

Israel kills Hamas leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in an airstrike. In return, Hamas vows bloody revenge.

Which means what, exactly? Ruthlessly murdering men, women, children and old people in calculated strikes? Committing to a goal of genocide and cleaning against Jews, regarding them as sub-human? Doing everything in their power to annihilate the Jewish state and its inhabitants?

As opposed to what would have happened if Israel had left Hamas and its leader alone, of course...

In which case Hamas would continue to ruthlessly murder men, women, children and old people in calculated strikes, remain committed to its long-standing goal of genocide and cleansing against sub-human Jews ("sons of apes and pigs"), and do everything in their power to annihilate the Jewish state and its inhabitants."

When war ceases to be "diplomacy by other means" the possibility of negotiation ends. What is left is the question of how best to defeat the enemy. Killing bin Laden or assassinating Yassin will not stop the war any more than the capture of Saddam ended the terror in Iraq. What will stop the war is the complete and abject defeat of Islamofascism on all of the multiple tiers of a worldwide battlefield. Creating a democracy in Iraq, freeing the women of Afghanistan, monitoring and arresting jihadis in the West, creating ever better security for citizens of Western and Muslim nations and standing together in a refusal to capitulate to terror are all critical to the defeat of the extremists.

"Given the nature and reach of our enemies, we will win this conflict by the patient accumulation of successes, by meeting a series of challenges with determination and will and purpose." So said President Bush as the invasion of Afghanistan commenced.

The end result of those successes, and the setbacks which will accompany them, will have nothing to do with body counts or territories secured; rather it will be a shift in the consciousness of the Muslim world. A shift away from the extremism which creates Al Qaeda and Hamas and a shift towards accepting the possibility of the Muslim world co-existing and flourishing in the modern world.

Jay Currie is a Galiano writer whose writing and blog is at


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