“The unmentionable odor of death
Offends the September night…”
-W.H. Auden, “September 1, 1939”

As we head into the weekend that brings the third anniversary of America’s terrible day in September, the Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol, setting the stage for questions about the world’s response to Beslan, quotes Auden. 

Kristol notes that the response to Hitler’s barbarity was late, and for Stalin’s, it never came. Will we fail to fight jihadist terror until it’s too late?

As Kristol notes:

“Leaders around the world claim to be united in vowing to deny the terrorists victories. And yet. In the immediate wake of the Beslan slaughter, one might have expected editorials in top U.S. papers simply to express grief, anger, and solidarity, and a commitment to winning the war on terror. Instead, they tended briefly to denounce the terrorists and then focus on the incompetence of the Russian security forces, and on rehashing the dismal history of Russian-Chechen relations.

“The New York Times, for example, concluded its editorial by urging a ’bold Russian reach for compromise’ with, needless to say, ’diplomatic nuance.’ It took Ralph Peters, a military analyst, writing in the New York Post, to state the simple, unfashionable truth: ’The attack in Beslan wasn’t about Russian’s brutal incompetence in Chechnya–as counter-productive as Moscow’s heavy-handedness may have been. It was about religious bigotry so profound that the believer can hold a gun to a child’s head, pull the trigger and term the act divine justice.’”

Three years after that dreadful day in September, there is still a reluctance to admit what we’re up against, even in conservative quarters. Liberals are more confused about the nature of the enemy, whom they often describe not as butchers but as insurgents.

There are those who would like to return to the pre-Sept. 11 of view the world–which is understandable but dangerous. A piece in the American Spectator addresses this “pre-emptive appeasers” crowd, who would seek a diplomatic solutions to problems that, sad to say, require the use of force.

From the Spectator piece:

“’Would you invite Osama bin Laden to the White House or to Brussels and hold talks with him and let him dictate what he wants?” Vladimir Putin asked his critics in the Western press this week.

“The answer is yes, they would.”