Thursday, October 25, 2007

There Is a War

There is a war between the ones who say there is a war
and the ones who say there isn't.
Why don't you come on back to the war?

--Leonard Cohen, “There Is a War”

As I see it, the greatest danger we face is not from the jihadists at all.

It’s not from the Iranian nuclear program, the al Qaeda cells festering here and abroad, the madrassas, the Arab language programs disseminating Wahhabism, the weak press, the appeasing politicians, the treacherous foreign ministries, the insane imams, the hobbled intelligence agencies, and most certainly not the thoughtless, feckless anti-Americanism of the radical Left.

The danger is all those millions of us who don’t believe there even is a war.

I say again, I’m not talking about the danger of CAIR or the other open apologists for jihad, nor the bitterly anti-American leftists, nor about the silly, spoiled, self-hating anarchists who’ve been the public face--and most useful idiots--of our jihadist enemies. We know they long for this country’s defeat, for whatever reasons, or lack of reasons, and in that war they've willingly chosen to side with our enemies.

But the real struggle we’re in right now is to wake up to the reality that we are in a war. As certain as most of our readers and I believe that we’re in a war, many of our countrymen are convinced that we are not.

And if we aren’t in a war, then doesn’t that make so much of what we’re trying to do in Iraq and in Afghanistan, with Iran and Syria, in the NSA and with the Patriot Act and Guantanamo Bay seem like so much unnecessary loss of life and cruelty?

Recently, Herbert E. Meyer at American Thinker had this to say about what’s been going on:

The 9-11 attacks did more than start a war; they started a war about the war. No sooner had the World Trade towers collapsed and the Pentagon burst into flames than two perceptions of the threat began competing for the public's support:

What he calls “Perception One,” that “we’re at war,” and “Perception Two,” that “we’re reaping what we’ve sowed” through our own unjust policies, which provoke occasional acts of violence against us by our many frustrated victims around the world.
(“The War About the War”).

The problem with the two perceptions is that they can’t communicate with each other.

As Meyer explains:

There is no middle ground between these two perceptions….Either we're at war, or we've entered a period of history in which the level of violence has risen to an unacceptable level. If we're at war, we're in a military conflict that will end with either our victory or our defeat. If we're in an era of unacceptable violence stemming from our values and our policies, we are faced with a difficult but manageable political problem.

Meyer goes on to explain what many of us already know: in the war about the war, the holders of “Perception Two are pulling ahead”:

Here in the US, virtually every poll shows that a majority of Americans want us ‘out of Iraq’ sooner rather than later, and regardless of what's actually happening on the ground in that country. Support for taking on Iran - that is, for separating the Mullahs from the nukes through either a military strike or by helping Iranians to overthrow them from within - is too low even to measure. There isn't one candidate for president in either party who's campaigning on a theme of ‘let's fight harder and win this thing whatever it takes.’ Indeed, the most hawkish position is merely to stay the course a while longer to give the current ‘surge’ in Iraq a fair chance. Moreover, just chat with friends and neighbors - at barbeques, at the barbershop, over a cup of coffee - and you'll be hard-pressed to find a solid minority, let alone a majority, in favor of fighting-to-win.

However it's phrased, just about everyone is looking for a way out short of victory.

That’s what makes this such a dangerous time. The jihadists who are making war on us have absolutely no doubts that they’re in a war. And they’re fighting their war to win.

So when they begin to lose battles they shore up their defenses and call for more soldiers, money, and bombs. I doubt you’ll find an editorial anywhere in the Islamic press calling for al Qaeda to get out of Iraq because of their failed strategy.

I myself can’t credit the average American who discounts the war on terror as just a “so-called” thing with bad faith: look at what he’s been told by the popular press, and for how long he’s been told it. Our national ADD works against us here, too. 9/11 got our attention--but immediately the clock on that started ticking, and within 3 months the Democrats were right back to challenging the legitimacy of the 2000 election, and saying we deserved the hatred of the terrorists.

So are the Left and the Democrats all acting in bad faith, or are they just stupid?

I don’t know, but I’m inclined to believe the latter. To me it’s telling that since 9/11, with the exception of Senator Lieberman, the Democrats have consistently been incapable of identifying the focus of this war, or the scope of radical Islam, always reducing their idea of the “real” war on terror to catching bin Laden, or only fighting al Qaeda (just not al Qaeda in Iraq), or only fighting the “root causes” that force desperate, impoverished Arab males who can find no other meaning in a world than to become suicide bombers. They really just do not get this.

But our enemies are well aware of the war we’re having about whether there is a war, and they’re doing their best to keep those who don’t know there’s a war firmly stuck in that delusion.

The primary goal of CAIR, the ADC, and the other Islamic public advocacy groups defending jihad is not to plant IEDs in Peoria or Minneapolis, or to fire Kassam rockets into West Dearborn. It's to rush out after every media report of jihadist conspiracy or violence denying vehemently that the perpetrators’ actions had anything to do with Islam. There is no war! Islam is peace! Anyone who tells you that Islamic radicals are more than a tiny marginal group of hijackers of our religion is an Islamophobic bigot and a right-wing warmonger!

Now, Americans under the age of 67 happen to be hard-wired to no tolerance for being called any name ending in either -phobe or -ist. And where people believe it’s discretionary whether or not to see themselves as living in a time of war, or not, it’s only natural that so many opt out of war-thinking, especially if it’s a long and discouraging war. What was psychologically inescapable on 9/11 had become, by 11/11 or 12/11/2001, (like so many other American things), merely a matter of personal choice.

When Leonard Cohen wrote his song, “There Is a War,” he was exploring, I have always believed, the fundamental and pretty much unavoidable conflicts of fallen mankind: the wars between the man and the woman, the black and white, the left and right, the odds and the evens.

But it’s no peace song, it’s no antiwar anthem, which is why I love it. He gets his share of peaceniks applauding at all the wrong places when he performs, but I think Leonard sees farther than that. There is a war, he says. And so the only way forward is to fight it, not flee it, and not to pretend it isn't there. So why don’t you come on back to this war?

Running deep within the Christian imagery upon which Leonard Cohen heavily relies is the Pauline concept of spiritual warfare, of a soul battle in which every believer is engaged, not against flesh and blood, but against principalities and powers and the world rulers of this present darkness. The irreducible strategy of prevailing in this war is not necessarily to win it, but often just "to stand," and never, ever to be lulled into the foggy delusion that there is no war.

As Cohen understands, ignorance of the war means subjection to the enemy, to weakness, to losing the war:

You cannot stand what I’ve become,
you much prefer the gentleman I was before.
I was so easy to defeat,
I was so easy to control,
I didn’t even know there was a war.

And when you don’t know there's a war on, your enemy going to gain a lot of ground before you know what's hit you.

Years later, when Leonard Cohen wrote about the 9/11 attacks in “On That Day,” he wasn’t buying the lazy self-blame and weak excuses, finding himself instead reacting with a sense of an almost martial loyalty, and duty:

Some people say
It's what we deserve
For sins against g-d
For crimes in the world
I wouldn't know
I’m just holding the fort.
Since that day
They wounded New York.

And later still others try to explain the attack in that: “They hate us of old/Our women unveiled/Our slaves and our gold.” But still he disclaims knowing that for the truth, and continues “just holding the fort.”

Still he won't leave it there. Because there’s a war, and where there’s a war, there are sides, and 9/11 means no one can be neutral any more.

But answer me this
I won’t take you to court
Did you go crazy
Or did you report
On that day
On that day
They wounded New York?

Go crazy, or report? Those are awfully stark choices for a Buddhist poet from Montreal.

A few years back leftist intellectuals were entertaining each other with books and articles explaining conservative opinions they disapproved of as symptoms of mental illness. I don’t feel right about returning the insult. I really don’t believe that everyone (but yes, some, definitely), who refused to “report” after 9/11 had gone crazy.

But I do believe that many people, naturally aroused after 9/11, scared themselves with their own anger, or maybe got scared for their, or their children’s, well-planned futures, and simply couldn’t face the reality of this particular enemy, fleeing for refuge right back into their own heads again.

Which isn’t exactly an example of complete mental health, either. It was tried before by many a war-weary Frenchman and Briton in the 1930s, leading inexorably to the deaths of many French and British during the 1940s. The mistake they made was believing they could simply will themselves at peace after a determined, armed, and ruthless Reich long since made its blood oath for total war.

This is Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week. On campuses and in media all across the USA people are being told that Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is being organized by racists, and that its purpose is to foment hatred of Arabs and Muslims. Both statements are lies. The lies are intended to discount the reality that we are at war.

The purpose of Islamo-Fascism Awareness Week is to bring to people’s minds the fact that there is a war, that we have an enemy, and who our enemy is. The particular emphasis of the organizers is the brutality and injustice visited by Islamo-Fascist regimes upon women. As such, it is laying a heavy challenge of hypocrisy on the allegedly feminist and peace-loving pretenders of the American universities. Naturally, they aren't responding well.

Yeah, and if you didn’t know it already, the news that we're at war isn’t good news. But this is one of those times when what we don’t know might kill us.

As Mark Steyn wrote just before this year’s anniversary of 9/11, “Where’s the War?”:

In his pugnacious new book, Norman Podhoretz calls for redesignating this conflict as World War IV. Certainly, it would have been easier politically to frame the Iraq campaign as being a front in a fourth world war than as a necessary measure in an anti-terrorist campaign. Yet who knows? Perhaps we would still have mired ourselves in legalisms and conspiracies and the dismal curdled relativism of the Flight 93 memorial’s “crescent of embrace.” In the end, as Podhoretz says, if the war is to be fought at all, it will “have to be fought by the kind of people Americans now are.” On this sixth anniversary, as 9/11 retreats into history, many Americans see no war at all.

What do you see?


Anonymous said...

"So are the Left and the Democrats all acting in bad faith, or are they just stupid?"

Definitely, bad faith!

The Left is internationalist and seeks to demonize all wars where national (particularly American) interests are at stake. They want all conflicts resolved by "international institutions" (e.g. - the UN). By declaring this a "non-war" they can claim it should be resolved by these int'l institutions.

The Dems know that security issues favor Republicans. So, by declaring this a "non-war" they can demonize Republicans for the cost in lives and dollars. For the Dems this is a deliberate attempt to gain political power.

Panday said...

Good morning.

I'm a fellow resident of Southeast Michigan, and I've been a regular reader of yours for months.

Is there any chance I could convince you to align your script to the left instead of using the center-align format? It would make it much easier on the eyes.

Either way, I'll still be reading your blog.

T.R. Clancy said...


I agree there is definitely some obvious bad faith on the Democrat side. But I think there is also some genuine philospohical confusion, especialy among the rank-and-file.


Thank you so much for reading. About the center alignment--in fact on my system, and in my posts, I have the blog set up for left alignment, which is how it appears to me. For some reason, on some systems our blog comes across as center-aligned--a typogaphic crime I would never willingly commit! I'm not much of a techno-geek, and I will try to get someone at Blogger to help me to solve this problem.

Thanks for reading in spite of this.

Papa Frank said...

Very insightful post here! I do certainly believe there is a war. The problem that I see is that our warriors are out front and have only cowards to face them. If the jihadists had the nerve to face us on a field of battle then all would see that there is a war. We didn't know how good we had it when our enemy was Russia.

T.R. Clancy said...

Frank Family:

Thanks for reading. One day we'll all know there's a war for sure, I just hope it isn't too late. BTW, Nice looking family!