A Clarifying Moment

Posted: Aug 10, 2006 9:46 AM

Once in a while, we are provided with a clarifying moment in the jumble of news we have to sort through on a daily basis. This morning, we had one.

Earlier today we learned British authorities broke up a plot by Islamic terrorists that was designed to inflict "mass murder on an unimaginable scale," according to British police. It is a vivid reminder that we are engaged in not just a war, but a civilizational struggle. It has many fronts --from Afghanistan to Iraq to Bali to international financial centers to Heathrow Airport. The goal of our enemies is to establish a radical Islamic empire that spans from Spain to Indonesia -- and "anyone who stands in the way of our struggle is our enemy and target of the swords," said Abu Musab al Zarqawi, the late leader of al Qaeda in Iraq.

Our enemies have declared their intentions over and over again, and those intentions have been written in white-hot hatred. We know what fate they have in mind for all of us. Their goal is to kill as many Americans and Jews and non-radical Muslims as possible. They want to set off car bombs and fly jet planes into buildings and use weapons of mass destruction. They want to kill women and children and the elderly and the innocent. They want rivers of blood to flow from American cities and foreign capitals and other nations.

This is a war Islamic fascists started -- and it is a war they intend to prosecute to the end. In the face of that, "Come Home, America" is not a sufficient response. Retreating from Iraq and "redeploying" to Okinawa is not a sufficient response. Criticizing the surveillance of terrorists' calls into and out of America is not a sufficient response. And weakening the Patriot Act is not a sufficient response.

Islamic terrorists will pursue a "weak horse" (to use bin Laden's phrase describing weak nations) to the ends of the earth if they have to -- and then they will slit its throat and watch it bleed and watch it die. We better recognize all of this -- and gird ourselves for a long war, protracted and fierce, and upon which so much that we know and love depends.

George W. Bush, for whatever complaints some may have about him, understands, with extraordinary clarity, the great struggle of our time. Here is what the President said at the end of his September 20th speech to a joint session of Congress, delivered almost five years ago:

"I will not forget this wound to our country or those who inflicted it. I will not yield; I will not rest; I will not relent in waging this struggle for freedom and security for the American people."

The President has stayed true to his word, in the face of enormous pressure to let up and to give in. In the hours immediately after September 11th, our nation, under his leadership, drew up the shield and drew the sword. We have stayed on the offensive ever since. And if other paths were now to be followed, if we were to lose our will and nerve and go wobbly, then death and grief will follow. But if we ride out the storm of this war, then Islamic fascism will end where Nazism and Soviet Communism did: "in history's unmarked grave of discarded lies."

Peter Wehner is deputy assistant to the President and director of the White House's Office of Strategic Initiatives.