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March 6, 2005
War On Terror Bolstering Moderates, Not Radicals

One of the arguments from the Left after 9/11, and especially in the build-up to the Iraq invasion, was that George Bush and Tony Blair's prosecution of the war on terror would only result in further extremism. Many argued that Bush became al-Qaeda's best recruiter, and that the US had blundered into following Osama bin Laden's playbook. Predictions of massive shifts towards radical Islamism in previously moderate populations abounded, complete with allusions to a global uprising of Islam against Western civilization -- Armageddon.

Unfortunately for the Chicken Littles, those predictions have suffered the same fate as those proclaiming disasters in the Iraqi desert or Afghani mountains for American military forces. The New York Times reports that the forward engagement of Islamofascists have empowered Muslim moderates and liberals to marginalize the radicals as never before, even within the mosques themselves:

Inayat Bunglawala had just finished his talk on "Islamophobia and the Media" at the London Muslim Center when a man stood and berated him. "Where is your beard and your thobe?" Mr. Bunglawala said the man shouted, referring to the long garment worn by some Muslim men. "How dare you come to the mosque without them. How dare you preach about the new Koran."

Then something unusual happened on that day in January, said Mr. Bunglawala and others who were there. The several Islamic militants in the room were chased outside by the crowd, and a fistfight broke out. The militants, followers of Abu Abdullah, a firebrand imam, quickly retreated. "These jihadis are like schoolhouse bullies," said Mr. Bunglawala, the communications director for the Muslim Council of Britain, the country's largest Muslim organization. "We sense a feeling of enough is enough now."

If the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks plunged the Islamic population in Britain and elsewhere into a state of alarm and dread, then the Iraq war and its aftermath have had an unforeseen consequence here: they have helped galvanize and embolden a core group of mainstream British Muslims to find its voice and make demands.

Mainstream Muslims have lined up against the war and Prime Minister Tony Blair, opposed new restrictive antiterror laws and warned of the dangers of Islamophobia. But they are also speaking out with uncharacteristic fervor against Islamic militants, making sharp moves to isolate them, and working to strengthen ties between moderates and the British establishment.

Prior to the outbreak of World War II, two extreme and related forms of government appeared to be ascendant: fascism and communism, with Western democracies appearing decadent and failing. After all, the democracies hadn't had the energy or the inclination to stop Italy from invading Ethiopia, issuing worthless declarations in the League of Nations but taking no action to stop Mussolini or force him to withdraw. They stood by while Germany rearmed, and even worse, carved up one of their own allies without their consultation (Czechoslovakia) to appease Hitler and his Nazi government. Stalin used communism to commit bloody purges and to acquire border nations by the handful. Even within the democracies, people looked to these "new" forms of tyranny as historical inevitabilities.

For all their faults as free-market democrats, Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill refused to surrender to the forces of tyranny, even when they appeared to have momentum within the democracies themselves. They fought the bloodiest war in history to end fascism and then touched off a forty-year Cold War to contain communism until another visionary and forward-engaging world leader, Ronald Reagan, seized the chance to kick the last rotting struts out from under communism. In all of these cases, ankle-biters abounded to predict our defeat if we fought for freedom and liberty as well as our own security, and that we should learn to live with the ascendancy of tyranny. In its way, this pattern reminds one of Jimmy Carter's infamous and embarassing "malaise" speech, an ingrained defeatism that pretends to hold out a promise of a brighter day as long as we accept our defeat as inevitable and accept second-tier status for ourselves.

Once again, those who would defend freedom and fight for liberty have been proven right, as has been the case for almost a century now. One wonders how many times this has to happen until the defeatists learn and understand the lesson.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at March 6, 2005 11:18 AM

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Tracked on March 6, 2005 11:12 PM

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