I just read Mark Steyn’s piece in the current NRODT (did I mention that I wrote the cover story?) and, as usual, it’s outstanding. But I think he gives the wrong answer to one of the questions he poses: Given that Europe’s looming demographic implosion meant that the Islamists were on track to take over anyway, why 9/11? In his words, “Why screw things up by doing something so provocative it meets even Bill Cohen’s criteria for a response?” He answers that “It’s always useful to test the limits of your adversaries” and to confirm the extent of their decadence.
This gives the enemy too much credit for strategic planning. The same question was asked of the Nazis–once they’d taken France and Czechoslovakia and Poland and Denmark and Norway, why invade Russia and declare was on us? Why not consolidate their gains and wait for new opportunities for easy victories? The real answer is the same for both–the very characteristics that led to initial success for the Nazis and the Islamists–the glorification of violence and constant struggle, the sense of holy mission, the fanaticism – and the very characteristics that led them to make reckless decisions. Bismarck wouldn’t have invaded Russia, but he probably wouldn’t have remilitarized the Rhineland, either. Cunning, farsighted Islamists wouldn’t have launched 9/11, but then such people also wouldn’t be willing to blow themselves up for Allah.
The Communists were a more serious long-term threat because they burned steadily, like a candle (and like the candle, eventually burned out); the Islamists are a firecracker whose echo will soon pass. The goal of the war against militant Islam needs to be to make sure we don’t get blown up along with the firecracker.