Rattling the Cage: Mumbai is the exception

Jihad is failing miserably in its attacks against the world.

larry derfner 88 (photo credit: )
larry derfner 88
(photo credit: )
I was trying to think of the last major international terrorist attack before Mumbai - it was 7/7, the London subway-and-bus bombings, wasn't it? Did that happen last year? No, then they would have called it 7/7/7, and anyway it wasn't as recent as that, it had to have been the year before, in 2006. That would make two years and five months since the last massive Islamic terror attack on an international target, which is a pretty long time. So maybe Mumbai isn't really a "wake-up call" about the rising threat of Islamic terrorism, but rather the exception that proves the rule, the rule being that the jihad is failing miserably in its attacks against the world. Just to make sure about 7/7, I checked to see that it was in 2006. Turns out I was wrong - it happened in 2005. That's three years and five months between London and Mumbai. Not a bad record for our side. For all the horror and fury and grief of this past week, there should also be a recognition, here and in the rest of the democracies, that the likes of Lakshar e-Taiba and al-Qaida are not, in truth, at the world's throat. The truth is that they're losing badly. Since 9/11, the war on terror has been going amazingly well. AS JOHN Kerry said when he ran for president, the war on terror is mainly a matter of police work - about national and international intelligence and security agencies cooperating with one another to prevent attacks. That's the main reason why 9/11 has not been repeated in the US, and why al-Qaida-style attacks on Western targets since then have killed a total of about 1,000 people, not the hundreds of thousands or millions that everyone expected seven years ago. Bad intelligence and security is the only reason why the Mumbai attack succeeded. That's the only lesson, the only "wake-up call" from the event - that India was unbelievably vulnerable and that it now has a lot of holes to plug, which is something India seems to realize better than anyone else. For the rest of us, there's no reason for paralyzing fear, or for canceling trips abroad, or for becoming resigned to total war with Pakistan and/or Iran. Just the opposite - the rarity of an attack like the one in Mumbai is a reason for confidence. It's a reason for believing that if we, the enemies of jihad, go on doing more or less what we've been doing for the last seven years, Islamism will eventually collapse of its own weight. MILITANT ISLAM is usually compared to Nazism because of the way its adherents shriek openly for genocide, and because of its particular enmity toward Jews, which was made as stark and plain as could be in Mumbai. But while the movement shares Nazism's spirit, I don't see it going the way of Nazism, but rather that of communism. It's not going to be defeated by armies - it's going to be rejected, in time, by its would-be constituency, the world's 1.3 billion Muslims, as a hopeless disgrace and failure. I believe the overwhelming majority of Muslims want more than anything else to live decent lives, and militant Islam doesn't give them such a life - it gives them tyranny, violence and poverty. This is an ideology that has failed everywhere it's been tried. The Sunnis in central Iraq got a taste of life under al-Qaida, and decided to throw in with the Americans - not out of love for America, but out of hatred for al-Qaida. The Iranian regime, the Taliban, Hamas and other jihadist movements have a lot of popular support, but they also have a lot of popular opposition. Their main selling point is eternal war against the enemy - the US, Israel, India, modernity - but they're steadily losing. Even with its current economic troubles, the democratic world is leaving the world of revolutionary Islam further and further behind. Ultimately, I think that Muslims - like the people who lived under communism - are going to pitch Islamic totalitarianism onto the dustbin of history. In the long run, it is not an answer to the problems of their societies. For its part, the democratic world can hasten the end of jihad by fighting a better war on terror - by balancing military force and diplomacy more wisely, and by avoiding unnecessary provocations to Muslims at large. Ending Israel's occupation would remove one such provocation. As for balancing force and diplomacy - and maybe even for ending Israel's occupation - I find it hard to think of a more promising leadership for the democratic world than Barack Obama as US president, Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, Robert Gates as secretary of defense and James Jones as national security adviser. This is another reason for confidence - despite the horror at Mumbai.