Tony Blankley

The world seems to be divided into people who see the silver lining in a darkly clouded sky, and those who are transfixed by the slightest bit of cloud in an otherwise azure sky.

Last week's terrorist events in England and Scotland have certainly brought out the silver lining spotters. Exemplifying such giddy optimists is the Washington Post's Anne Applebaum, writing from London. While not in the group of people (usually intense Bush-haters) who even deny the reality of the terrorist threat, nonetheless, Ms. Applebaum concluded her article with the proposition that this week's terrorists events are "an excellent reminder that we -- and our open societies, and our liberal values -- are still winning [the terrorist war on the west]."

She based her belief that we are "winning" on the response of the open British society and the levelheadedness of the British people: "the London bomb plot failed because open western societies are more resilient than we sometimes think they are That Britain has functional ambulance services and working traffic wardens (the people who reported the cars to the police) all of whom are civic minded enough to call the police when they suspect something is amiss, may not sound extraordinary. But these are precisely the kinds of institutions that are missing in many places, among them Baghdad "

Now, as a former Englishman, I certainly share Ms. Applebaum's admiration for the phlegmatic and sensible British disposition. And I also agree that Western democratic societies (particularly the English speaking ones) are deeply resilient. But I strongly reject her conclusion that we are currently winning; and, more importantly I am not yet convinced that our open, liberal democratic culture is necessarily an unalloyed competitive advantage in the struggle against culturally aggressive and violent radical Islam.

As to the first point about winning, I would remind Ms. Applebaum of the careful words Winston Churchill used to celebrate the return of 300,000 Allied troops from under the Nazis' guns and warplanes at Dunkirk in May and June 1940. He reminded a relieved British people not to confuse such a deliverance with a victory. Victories are not gained by moving backward -- even successfully backward (a point those calling for retreat from Iraq might want to keep in mind).

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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