Another historian comprehends the danger of fanatical Islamoterrorism:
- Walter Laqueur – a deeply learned polyglot historian, whose expertise ranges from 19th-century Germany to 20th-century Egypt – has for decades stood out as one of the very few sober and intelligent voices in this undistinguished crowd. His latest book, “No End to War,” which surveys trends in terrorism throughout the world but which concentrates on Islamist terrorism, is bolstered by his characteristic strengths and suffers from his few characteristic flaws.
Mr. Laqueur’s wide-ranging intellect demolishes many of the shibboleths that plague discussions of terrorism generally and Islamist terrorism specifically. While some on the left rather mushily urge policymakers to address the root causes of terrorism, Mr. Laqueur helpfully points out that such an approach won’t yield the desired results, since what are commonly identified as the wellsprings of terrorism – poverty and political oppression – fail to account for the terrorism that most threatens the United States. After all, as Mr. Laqueur makes clear, almost no terrorism occurs in the world’s poorest 49 countries, and of course the Sept. 11 terrorists all came from middle- and upper-middle-class families.
….by the late 1980’s a new religious-motivated terrorism, which embraced millennialist goals, was unconstrained by the same political, moral and practical considerations. In his most astute (and densest) chapter Mr. Laqueur traces with authority the roots and development of Islamist fanaticism, illuminating above all – in an analysis echoing Bernard Lewis’s – what he sees as its truly uncompromising hatred of the West.
….what now makes fanatical Islamist terrorism so dangerous is the marriage of its unrestrained goals with a highly adaptable, loosely structured international network that can increasingly kill very many people with relative ease.
There is a bright spot in his analysis. Mr. Laqueur hardly views the Arab world as static. Eventually, he says, modernity will transform it. But until it’s complete, that process will exacerbate the very forces most antagonistic to the West. The greatest national-security question ever to face the United States may well be: Will that transformation occur before religious fanatics acquire biological and nuclear weapons? If Mr. Laqueur’s analysis is right, the West is in a race for its life. [NY Times]
No matter how weary and frustrated we become, we have no choice but to unyieldingly kick Islamoterrorist ass around the globe until “modernity” does “transform it.” We cannot relent – we have only begun.