Drifting toward the Brink

Monday, October 30, 2006
this is an image
this is an image

It is hard to think of a time when a nation—and a whole civilization—has drifted more futilely toward a bigger catastrophe than that looming over the United States and western civilization today.

Nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran and North Korea mean that it is only a matter of time before there are nuclear weapons in the hands of international terrorist organizations. North Korea needs money and Iran has brazenly stated its aim as the destruction of Israel—and both its actions and its rhetoric suggest aims that extend even beyond a second Holocaust.

Send not to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee.

This is not just another in the long history of military threats. The Soviet Union, despite its massive nuclear arsenal, could be deterred by our own nuclear arsenal. But suicide bombers cannot be deterred. Fanatics filled with hate cannot be either deterred or bought off, whether Hezbollah, Hamas or the government of Iran.

The endlessly futile efforts to bring peace to the Middle East with concessions fundamentally misconceive what forces are at work. Hate and humiliation are key forces that cannot be bought off by “trading land for peace,” by a “Palestinian homeland” or by other such concessions that might have worked in other times and places.

Humiliation and hate go together. Why humiliation? Because a once-proud, dynamic culture in the forefront of world civilizations, and still carrying a message of their own superiority to “infidels” today, is painfully visible to the whole world as a poverty-stricken and backward region, lagging far behind in virtually every field of human endeavor.

Israel’s very existence as a modern, prosperous western nation in their midst is a daily slap across the face.

Nothing is easier for demagogues than to blame Israel, the United States, or western civilization in general for their own lagging position. What kind of people provide a market for videotaped beheadings of innocent hostages? What kind of people would throw an old man in a wheelchair off a cruise liner into the sea, simply because he was Jewish? What kind of people would fly planes into buildings to vent their hate at the cost of their own lives? These are the kinds of people we are talking about getting nuclear weapons.

Fanatics filled with hate—whether Hezbollah, Hamas, or the government of Iran—cannot be either deterred or bought off.

And what of ourselves?

Do we understand that the world will never be the same after hate-filled fanatics gain the ability to wipe whole American cities off the face of the earth? Their treatment of hostages, some of whom have been humanitarians serving the people of the Middle East, shows that what the terrorists want is to inflict the maximum pain and psychic anguish on their victims before killing them.

Once these fanatics have nuclear weapons, those victims can include you, your children and your children’s children. After we, or our children and grandchildren, find ourselves living at the mercy of people with no mercy, what will future generations think of us?