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Subtexts Of The War On Terror

GENERIC Iraq hostage, hostages, prisoner, terrorist, terror, terrorists
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This column was written by Victor Davis Hanson.

Throughout this war there are various truths generally recognized, but rarely voiced.

First, before 9/11 the Western hard right-wing allowed radical Islam a pass — and then afterwards the Left did worse. That fact helps to explain the strange exemption given radical Islam in the West even today.

In the 1980s some conservatives saw the jihadists in Afghanistan or the Wahhabis in the Gulf as valuable bulwarks against global Communism. On the Western domestic front, even extremist Muslims — in their embrace of family values and resentment against modernism — were considered bedrock conservatives. Supposedly, they shared the same understandable concern about Western "decadence," such as promiscuity, homosexuality, crass popular culture, and family dissolution.

So, despite clear evidence that many conservative mosques in the West were promulgators of a sick backward extremism, many social reactionaries hardly wished to upset their fellow travelers. Add in common distrust of Israel, and no surprise that the pages of The American Conservative will still sometimes resemble those of the Nation.

But with the fall of Communism, and the subsequent revelation that Islamists did not worry about the unfortunate direction of contemporary Western culture so much as they wished to destroy it, culpability then mostly fell to the Left.

Multiculturalism (no culture is worse than the West's) and its twin of cultural relativism (those with power have no right or ability to judge others) gave a wide pass to radical Islam and its 7th-century primitivism. Apparently, most Leftists thought the dearth of women in the clubhouse at the Masters Tournament at Augusta National was far worse than the Arab world's honor killings, burqas, and coerced female circumcision.

Indeed, a radical Leftist always faces a dilemma when a fellow anti-American sounds fascistic. The usual course, as we have seen since September 11, is either to keep silent about such embarrassing kindred spirits, or to weasel out by suggesting our own hegemonic tendencies pushed a once reasonable "Other" in lamentable directions.

The result? Killers and terrorists have been able to operate openly in European capitals. Here in North America, in the 58 months after the Twin Towers fell, numerous cadres of terrorists still continue to be rounded up — without a peep of condemnation from mainstream Muslim groups, who have instead crafted an ingenious cult of victimization, predicated on sympathy from the Left. Ask yourself: In the fifth year since September 11, is it more likely that Islamic associations in Canada or the United States will condemn global Islamic extremism or complain about purported Islamophobia and the sins of "Zionism?"

Another undercurrent to this war is the abject failure to do anything about imported petroleum — the hundreds of billions that accrued to the Middle East and Gulf when petroleum skyrocketed from $30 to $70 a barrel. Without such excesses of free-floating and impossible-to-trace petrodollars, bin Laden, Zawahiri, and Al-Zarqawi would have remained clownish portraits on the pathetic street posters of a Jericho or Zarqa. Instead, we are indirectly paying for their IEDs.

The truth is that as long as American petroleum demand, coupled with restrictions on our own energy development, helps drive the world oil price up, we are simply funding psychopaths who otherwise would have no viable economic means of support. Without Saudi petrol money, Wahhabism, the godhead of Islamic fascism, devolves into just another localized lunatic sect. So we talk seriously about new alternative energy, and seriously do nothing — in the vain hope that the price soon collapses or, barring that, we can stop the guy on a motorbike in Damascus or Ramadi from delivering millions in cash satchels from Saudi financiers to al Qaeda killers.