Tony Blankley

Of course, rumors of terrorist attacks have become the background noise of our times -- to such an extent that they are largely discounted by most of the public. Also in that background noise of civic life is the growing assertiveness of many Muslims in the West. The year 2006 began with the Danish cartoon publications, the alleged blasphemy of which drove violent Muslim demonstrations around the world. Later in the year, Pope Benedict's lecture on reason, violence, Islam and the West also generated worldwide violent demonstrations by some Muslims -- including the murder of a Christian nun.

The year also saw the provocative acts of the "flying Imams," which were used by various American-Muslim "civil rights" advocates to try to persuade airlines and law enforcement officials to not challenge Muslims whose conduct would naturally arouse suspicion and fear. Were these assertions legitimate expressions of concern for unfair treatment of Muslims, or are they part of a calculated campaign of intimidating both our government and the public into exempting Muslims from normal and legitimate law enforcement scrutiny? And if the latter -- to what end?

This fall, an article in a scholarly military journal analyzed the doctrine behind the increase in American Special Forces troops to about 50,000 currently -- toward a target of about 65,000 troops. This unprecedented increase in Special Forces is premised, pointed out the article, on the probable need to fight radical Muslim terrorists in rough country such as -- but not limited to -- Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia. But the burden of the article was the assessment that the Special Forces build up was premised on the assumption that such places would be where terrorists would gather and work. However, the article pointed out, there is increasing evidence that the terrorists are also likely to assemble in the urban cities of Europe -- a terrain in which we would need different fighting (and legal and diplomatic) tactics which would require either re-trained Special Forces or other military/intelligence/law-enforcement-type American forces and doctrines.

Let me emphasize, to my knowledge it is not currently American military doctrine to plan and train for European urban warfare between American and Islamist terrorist forces. But serious scholars and analysts are beginning to wonder whether it should be. Of course specialists have to think about even remote contingencies. Whether such a contingency is remote, nonexistent or likely is at this point speculative.

Indeed, there is little about the threat from radical Islam that is not speculative. Those of us who find the darker potentialities sufficiently plausible to require active American and Western preparation are considered alarmists by those who expect the future to vary only by degree from the present state of relative inter-civilizational peace. I hope they are right.

But as we come to the end of the difficult year 2006, nothing has emerged to refute these darker fears, and in fact, evidence -- admittedly ambiguous -- continues to assemble to support them. Certainly from Iraq and Afghanistan to Africa, Europe and America, 2006 has been a good year for the forces that may be out to destroy our way of life.

Tony Blankley

Tony Blankley, a conservative author and commentator who served as press secretary to Newt Gingrich during the 1990s, when Republicans took control of Congress, died Sunday January 8, 2012. He was 63.

Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.

In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.

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