The Corner

We Seem to Have Learned Nothing from 9/11

I thought we had learned long ago on 9/11 that radical Islam hates the West not because of troops in Saudi Arabia, or Danish cartoons or Mr. Rushdie, or even, as Dr. Zawahiri and bin Laden once wrote, global warming and an absence of campaign-finance reform—or, this week, a low-rent, do-it-yourself crackpot video—but out of a deep sense of its own inferiority in a globalized world, whose causes run throughout traditional Middle Eastern society (e.g., tribalism, gender apartheid, statism, anti-intellectualism, a lack of freedom and transparency, religious intolerance, anti-Semitism, fundamentalism, and on and on). These things cannot be freely analyzed and discussed—and ameliorated—without apparent loss of face. Hence, the pathetic scapegoating and blame-gaming.

We also need to pause and reflect that we may well be in a descending revolutionary situation in both Egypt and Libya, in a way analogous to Iran between 1979 and 1981 in which we were a day late and a dollar short through fooling ourselves that the fall of the shah was the product of liberal dissent and that Khomeinists would fade before European-like social reformers. In other words, we should think hard about continuing relationships with the Muslim Brotherhood, and accept that Libya is a mess like Lebanon circa 1981—3. This is all occurring amid a depressing backdrop of snubbing Netanyahu, the looming Iranian bomb, and the suspicion that the Arab Spring is not a Democratic Enlightenment, but a revolutionary pause, in the manner of the French and Russian Revolutions, on the way to something as authoritarian as what was overthrown—and far more hostile to U.S. interests. Since the U.S. military cannot birth another consensual government as in Iraq, there will probably be no more consensual governments in the Middle East for the immediate future.

At the very least, the Obama administration needs to drop the politically-correct euphemisms, stop the Cairo-speech banalities, and remind its diplomatic team that radical Islam’s hatred of the West is not placated by loud American outreach, soaring mytho-history about Islam, or the particular politics, race, pedigree, or charisma of the occupant of the White House, but that Islamic expressions of that hatred most surely are predicated on the degree to which America appears diffident, apologetic, and unsure—or confident, occasionally dangerous, and unpredictable. It also might be wise to remind Egypt that it has given the world Mohamed Atta, the Zawahiri brothers, serial anti-American rioting—and taken from the U.S. over $50 billion in U.S. aid. We are told ad nauseam that Egyptians really do not want the aid, or that it goes to the military mostly and is of little utility, and so we should give them their wish to see it end.

In this regard, after four Americans are murdered and embassies attacked, a loud campaign rally in Las Vegas last night seems an unfortunate place for the president to offer serious commentary on Tuesday’s violence.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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