It is about more than just Fallujah

Victor Davis Hanson

"We are presently engaged in a world war for our civilization and its vision of a just and humane society. Our values will either endure this present struggle and indeed be invigorated by the ordeal, or like once great civilizations of the past we will stumble in the face of barbarism and lose all that we hold dear. Across the world in places as diverse as Madrid, Fallujah, Kandahar, Thailand, Amman, and Bali agents of intolerance and religious fascism seek to terrorize and thereby eventually destroy the promise of a free and tolerant mankind. We must be as determined to defeat them as they are to destroy us.

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"Make no mistake: As we learned on September 11, our enemies do not merely disagree with us. They demand our very destruction for what we believe and who we are. Against savages who knock down skyscrapers and blow up innocents, we understandably speak of a war against terror. Indeed we are fighting against cowardly and cruel people who behead, desecrate, blow up, and know only how to harm and torture the innocent — never to create or build a just society.

"Yet terror is only a method that our enemies employ out of cowardice and weakness. We do not battle the car bomb, suicide belt, or roadside explosive, but rather the people and their patrons who use them. In truth, their creed emanates from radical and lawless groups in the Middle East who have hijacked a sacred religion, imbued it with hatred, and now seek to direct the frustrations of thousands against the United States because they are terrified of our success at home and our global power and influence abroad. To the degree that we seek to lead the world into the 21st century, bin Laden, al Qaeda, their kindred terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, and their sympathetic supporters residing in Syria, Iran, and Lebanon kill to bring us all back to the 8th.

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"But let us not delude ourselves either. This present struggle cannot be won entirely through material largess and moral support. Tragically, victory will come only when fanatical killers such as the al Qaeda terrorists and their supporters in Iraq are either eliminated or routed and their odious ideas exposed and discredited for the pure hatred they purvey.

"So this brutal war is worldwide. And it is not an insurrection, not a police matter, and not just a terrorist incident. In places like Afghanistan and Iraq, we have battled against regimes, whether theocratic or autocratic, fundamentalist or secular, that have brutalized their own people, aided and abetted terrorists on their soil, and sought to harm the Untied States and its interests through such surrogate forces. All these extremists and their state patrons must be identified and then defeated militarily if their ideas are to lose currency and their adherents credibility.

"This global war may be lost in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it cannot be won there. It is a struggle to the death with Islamic fascists and their patrons, pitting, on the one side, the majority of those who believe that a modernizing and liberal Middle East can be enriched and ennobled by Islam, against, on the other, a small but zealous group of dedicated killers who would destroy Islam by claiming that it seeks only to destroy non-Muslims.

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"...Islamic fascist, the terrorist, and the mass murderer cannot be talked to, parleyed with, or appeased, but only defeated — for they view magnanimity as weakness, and conciliation as decadence. Indeed their mantra is not merely that the West cannot fight, but that it won't. To those critics who claim that we started this war too early, I fear instead that we have replied far too late. Thousands of Americans, Afghans, Kurds, and Shiites killed in the last two decades would agree."

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