Hey all, and a happy Islamofascism Awareness Week to you! Yes, that’s right, an entire week devoted to America’s most overblown foreign policy concept. Just think what might happen if we forgot that we’re all only a heartbeat away from falling under the iron boot of the sinister Muslim hordes. We might… (I shudder even as I type it) start thinking rationally about fighting terrorism! The horror.
As much fun as it is to take cheap shots at this (and oh, is it fun), it’s important to try to understand it, if for no other reason than it goes to the heart of the whole “war on terror” concept. Put simply, if the 9/11 attacks were the act of a terrorist organization with minimal aims other than mass destruction, then the proper response would have been limited operations within Afghanistan to destroy their headquarters, along with worldwide police work to prevent future attacks and roll up terrorist cells.
On the other hand, if they were the opening salvo in a global jihad bent on destroying Western civilization and replacing it with a militant Muslim superstate? Well, then we’d be totally justified in shredding the Constitution, torturing prisoners kept in a permanent extralegal limbo, and invading countries that haven’t attacked us, wouldn’t we? And so we get “Islamofascism,” the idea that al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hizbullah, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and every other group or country that doesn’t particularly like America and can be considered vaguely Islamic are all part and parcel of a unified front seeking Middle Eastern, and possibly world, hegemony.
It’s not the first time US policy has operated under this sort of delusion. For decades, we fretted about Communism as though it were a monolithic opponent, despite the fact that the Soviet Union and China despised each other, Vietnam kept invading its Communist neighbors, and so forth. Still, at least the Soviet Union could realistically be seen as an existential threat to the United States, if for no other reason than their nuclear arsenal. The prospect of al-Qaeda destroying the American nation-state is… well, let’s just call it unlikely.
So why the hell have we overreacted like this? Part of it is that some people saw the post-9/11 days as an opportunity: to remake the Middle East in a way that expanded American power, to enhance Presidential powers, or simply to settle old scores. But I think most of it is fear, plain and simple. People who’d come to see the United States as all-powerful, impregnable, and triumphant in the wake of the Cold War suddenly had that certainty stripped away from them. For America to be hurt by a small band armed with nothing but knives and anger was just unthinkable, it had to be something bigger. So we get people publishing wild-eyed articles about “Islamofascists” as though there were an army massed at the border, just waiting for the signal to overrun our defenses, burn down the Capitol, convert us all at gunpoint, and throw burqas on our womenfolk.
It would be laughable if it weren’t so obviously destructive. By letting our fear run wild, we’ve fulfilled our own prophecy, and turned a dangerous but manageable threat into a crisis that threatens our way of life. We’re actively considering an Attorney General nominee who isn’t sure if waterboarding is torture. Our highest court has decided that the Administration can’t be sued by a man whom they kidnapped and tortured. And not content with having invaded Iraq, our Vice President is pushing for a war with Iran.
So thank you, you noble armchair warriors who seek to defend us from the eternal threat of Islamofascism. Without you, we might still have been burdened by habeas corpus, the Geneva Conventions, and an intact military. And who can afford such luxuries when our freedom is at stake?