How many more attacks, how many more children killed, how many more Western ideas of tolerance will be trampled on before the leaders of the biggest nations say enough and stamp out the sources of these horrific acts?
As we wail for the dead and wounded of Nice, as we become inured and hardened to almost daily acts of terrorism and the threat of more, as we accept more and more restrictions owing to the threat of terrorism, we keep waiting for the leadership that never comes.
Meanwhile, Western values, the rule of law, free elections, equal rights, women’s rights, and freedom of religion—and the freedom not to be religions, to mock any and all religions if that is your belief—are all under attack by jihadists. And they have nothing but contempt for a free way of life, with all its imperfections, a tradition of freedom that has taken thousands of years to achieve.
The Failures of Leaders
Yet President Obama and many other Western leaders don’t seem to believe that war is being waged against all of us. President Obama, for example, can’t even say the words Islamist terrorism.
What is needed?
In a few words, inspired, enlightened leadership to mobilize billions of decent men and women across the world. Men and women who can see these nihilists hiding behind religion for what they are: The new Nazis; the new amoral Communists who, like Lenin and Stalin, justify any heinous actions by saying it furthers their cause.
A Coalition of the Just
To combat this, we need a leadership that can explain and unify, not just in one nation but in most nations around the world. It requires the president or prime minister of a great power who can start constructing a coalition of nations that will jointly declare war on Islamic extremism.
The idea is to pool the resources of great nations—-including some nations that often don’t like each other such as Russia, the United States and China—to end terrorism. This is a task that will require much more than defending at a million points around the world. It will require an alliance, a group of united nations. These nations must go to the roots of Islamic terrorism, wherever they are, and stamp them out.
The goal is not the Americanization of the world. It is not to impose democratic values as we Americans see them, since many countries are neither ready for them nor want them. The latter was the mistake of George W. Bush’s war of 2003. He actually believed that the United States, in the war against Iraq and Afghanistan, was going to export democracy to the entire Middle East.
George W. Bush ignored an essential fact of history: Democracy is a fragile plant that can take centuries to develop in any country.
The Goal of the Alliance
Instead, this alliance of different nations should seek one goal: The end of the dens of terrorism wherever they are. This alliance should say to nations, where terrorist groups are operating: “We will help you destroy these killers, these amoral religious fanatics. But, if you don’t do it or can’t ‘do it, then you risk diplomatic isolation. Our armed forces will come into your county and hunt down these murderers who behead and kill innocent people. We do not come into your nation to change your culture and government. We are merely ensuring that your nation is not used to destroy our culture and government, which is as precious to us as yours is to you. It’s up to you.”
How will we know the problem of worldwide Islamic terrorism now has been effectively targeted? You will see a new alliance born. It will be one in which possibly an American president makes common cause with Russian president Putin, not a “nice guy” or a paragon of democratic values.
But so be it. If he is someone who shares common cause with the West in ending terrorist attacks across the globe—and I think Putin might be willing to join given the huge real and potential terrorist problem that Russia has—then his nation should be part of the coalition. Actually, to be effective, Russia and China must agree to work together with the United States on terms all three, along with their allies, can accept. Why would three very different countries with different interests, countries that have often clashed, agree to work together? We all face the same monstrous problem.
For this coalition to be effective, you will see an imaginative Western leader bring the Chinese into the anti-terrorist alliance The Japanese, as a major economic and increasingly a military power, will also join the alliance as would almost every civilized nation. The effectiveness of any such alliance would require that Japan and China, the United States and Russia, nations that recently had bitter relations, put aside their differences this time.
A Very Difficult Task
This a tall order. The odds are stacked against it ever happening. That’s because it requires a great power pushing for it, a great power led by a man or woman with remarkable diplomatic skills as well as economic, historical and national security knowledge. It must also be someone who leads a major power and is willing to take chances because every nation that doesn’t bend to radical Islam is in danger. No nation, no matter how powerful or not, is immune from this scourge of the early 21st century.
But this difficult and very necessary task begins when the civilized nations of the world admit that it is a huge problem, that no one county by itself, no matter how powerful—-not a Russia, not a China, not a United States—can solve alone.
It requires a U.S. president who takes the problems seriously and will not use a lame sports analogy to describe it. (I’m thinking here of President Obama who said ISIS going against the U.S. military was “like the junior varsity going against Kobe and the Los Angeles Lakers.”).
That wasn’t even a good sports analogy. Kobe and Lakers, once great, were both awful when President Obama made that ill-considered comment.
Battling jihadist terrorism has nothing to do with playing basketball. It is a life and death situation for billions of people from Delhi and Dhaka to Paris and Tampa. Just as an alliance of all sorts of different nations came together to defeat Hitler in the 1940s, today the scions of that greatest generation must come together to blot out the greatest evil of our time.
Are we ready to do it?
Every moment we tarry means more and more terrorist attacks could kill more and more people, further endangering freedom around the globe.
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