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Reader comment on item: Are We Safer?

Submitted by Sage McLaughlin (United States), Apr 30, 2002

Unfortunately, you are right on target. Since September I have often found myself pondering some of the lessons of the last century, particularly with respect to Cambodia, Vietnam, Bosnia. Conflicts do not simply resolve themselves, particular when there is a clearly defined aggressor bent on victory. That's what we face with radical Islamism. The Viet Cong was successful precisely because they showed a willingness to go to incredible lengths in order to WIN. American resolve does not yet reflect this passion for victory.

The general public still does not percieve the events of September as a part of a larger pattern. There is the wide perception that in our response to Islamism around the world, September 11th ought to be regarded as a mere catalyst, different somehow from the other abominable acts you describe. But in truth, it's a difference of degree, not kind, and of geographic location, not intent. Attacks on America could soon become the rule, and unfortunately most of us are willing to wait until that happens to take the threat seriously.

From the air-conditioned confines of our academic cloisters, it is easy to understand the most threatening enemy of human civilization (and that's what radical Islamism really is) as an abstraction, a sort of sociopolitical byproduct that can be habilitated out of the world by the right combination of charity, ingenuity, and acquiescence to Arab dictatorships. The mawkishness of this line of thinking is self-evidently foolish, and only an an intellectual could possibly ignore the lessons that recent history has to offer us in this respect.
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