About the 1991 Gulf War and America's strategy to oust Saddam Hussein's army from Kuwait, Gen. Colin Powell famously said: "First, we're going to cut it off, then we're going to kill it."
The successful operation against al-Qaida leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, resulting in his unlamentable death, cut something off, but what was it? It wasn't the head of terrorism. It may not even have been an arm or a hand. It possibly was a finger that was severed, but the evil virus of islamofascism has a way of re-growing any extremity. In the days immediately following Zarqawi's death, some of his associates were on Web sites calling for unity and warning Sunni Muslims not to collaborate with Shiites in support of the new Iraqi government.
While the United States and Britain rejoiced that Zarqawi would not be able to behead anyone again, an epidemic is not ended when one infected person dies. As with any plague, if the rest of us are to be protected, all who carry the virus must either be eliminated or quarantined.
This was a welcome victory in a war that is too often fought on one side with bombs, guns and no rules, and on the other with too much diplomacy and too many constraints. Evil understands only defeat and humiliation. The way to win this war is by defeating and humiliating the enemy in such a way that it will be a thousand years before they try something like this again.
This means there needs to be more action like that taken against Zarqawi. This war should be stepped up and fought like World War II. The way not to fight it was demonstrated last week by the once-feared Israelis. The Israeli government apologized for the deaths of seven Palestinian civilians killed on a Gaza beach by an errant Israeli artillery shell. The civilians were 400 yards away from a terrorist launching pad where Palestinians have fired dozens of crude rockets at southern Israeli towns. Israeli military officials believe the Palestinians may have been responsible for the killings, but the Palestinians are refusing to cooperate in the investigation because blaming the Israelis is more politically advantageous.
Instead of apologizing, Israel should have said that, while it does not purposely target civilians; Palestinian terrorists regularly target innocents. Terrorists deliberately place themselves in locations that increase the likelihood that civilians will be killed in an Israeli retaliatory strike. The Israeli response, not the Palestinian attack that precipitated it, then becomes the dominant media story. Israel should say that if terrorists launch another attack, Palestinians would have 24 hours to turn in those responsible or face obliteration of the neighborhood where the terrorists hide out.
That's the path to victory. Such a policy wouldn't take long to change the dynamic of this war. But as long as one side seeks "surgical" strikes and pursues diplomacy, while the other blows up anything and everything it can, evil will always have the advantage.
There is something else that must be cut off if the West hopes to defeat possibly the worst enemy it has ever faced. While Americans worry about large numbers of Mexicans crossing the southern border, we should also do something about the Muslim invasion and the sedition that is taught in some Islamic schools. Mosques and Islamic schools are multiplying in the West. Those that teach and preach hate and sedition should be closed and their clerics arrested or deported. Even those that profess to be proponents of "peaceful" doctrines can be fronts for terrorist activities.
The recent arrest in Toronto of some alleged terrorist conspirators and their suspected links to terrorists in Georgia shows that the virus is spreading. Why do the United States, Canada, Britain and much of Europe admit radical Muslims and their clerics from countries where this virus has flourished? Why do they let schools proliferate that have as their goal the overthrow of their host country (the alleged Canadian terrorists apparently were homegrown Muslims)?
When I travel internationally, I am prohibited from bringing home plants and animals. U.S. Immigration asks if I have walked on farmland or been near livestock. The same principle should apply to islamofascists. Why are we letting one virus in and keeping out plants and animal bacteria?
If we don't figuratively (and perhaps literally) cut off their heads, we have seen ample evidence of their intention to cut off ours.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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