The U.S. Department of State has issued a statement deploring the blood-curdling beheading of a British soldier on a London Street by two butchers shouting “Allhu akbar” as “senseless violence.” Next thing you know, they’ll be searching for a motive.
Senseless is the one thing this act of barbarity wasn’t. It made perfect sense to the two butchers who were followers of radical Islam, and, if our leaders allowed themselves, it would make sense to them. This horror in a civilized city has specific and enormous meaning. Last time the barbarity occurred on a sunny day in Boston. We’d better stop pretending that these acts don’t make sense.
Douglas Murray, writing in the Wall Street Journal, knows that the London terror attack was an act with huge significance for Islamic radicals—even if most politicians are loath to come to terms with that meaning:
Islamists have been saying for years they would do this. They have planned to do it. And now they have done it.
The attack itself is not surprising. What is surprising is that British society remains so utterly unwilling not just to deal with this threat, but even to admit its existence. Politicians have called the Woolwich killing "unforgivable" and "barbarous." But expressions of anger should not really be enough.
Attempts to attack military targets in Britain go back to before the millennium and even before, it is important to note, the war on terror. In 1998 Amer Mirza, a member of the now-banned extremist group al Muhajiroun, attempted to petrol-bomb British army barracks. In 2007, a cell of Muslim men was found guilty of plotting to kidnap and behead a British soldier in Birmingham. The plan had been to take the soldier to a lock-up garage and cut off his head "like a pig." They wanted to film this act on camera and send it around the world to cause maximum terror.
The State Department’s senseless “senseless violence” statement dovetails nicely with President Obama’s speech yesterday on the “Future of our Fight against Terrorism.” It was a speech with the typical Obama hallmarks—a gratuitous dig at George W. Bush (he wasn’t named but it was unmistakable), recognition of the glorious achievements of the current occupant of the White House, and a sense of unreality.
The president informed us that the “war on terror” is winding down. It’s a memo all too many Islamic radicals aren’t getting. Charles Krauthammer, who (unlike me) gave the president credit for moral seriousness in the speech last night on Fox, noted that wars don’t end just because you say they do.
Ahmad Majidyar writes on The American of President Obama’s speech as “an exercise in wishful thinking.” He said the president’s notion that the Afghan War is coming to an end would be great news—if true. If the administration withdraws precipitously, without leaving a residual force, Afghanistan will very likely become a terrorist hub where plots against the United States are plotted.
Max Boot also commented on the speech:
Obama blandly noted that “unrest in the Arab World has also allowed extremists to gain a foothold in countries like Libya and Syria,” while conspicuously failing to note that it is his own administration’s lack of support for moderate forces—in the government of Libya and among the rebel factions of Syria—that has allowed extremists to come to the fore. Obama eloquently and rightly defended the need for foreign aid spending, but he announced no new steps to help embattled, pro-democratic forces in Libya or Syria.
Boot, who praises the president for keeping Bush era policies in place (while at the same time knocking Bush), is also critical of the president’s declaration that U.S. drone strikes will decrease. But the thing I found most disheartening was the president’s refusal to recognize that, to put it bluntly, Islamic radicals still don’t like us. He will not make a distinction between violence inspired by Islamic radicalism and other forms of violence. The president said:
Finally, we face a real threat from radicalized individuals here in the United States. Whether it’s a shooter at a Sikh Temple in Wisconsin; a plane flying into a building in Texas; or the extremists who killed 168 people at the Federal Building in Oklahoma City – America has confronted many forms of violent extremism in our time. Deranged or alienated individuals – often U.S. citizens or legal residents – can do enormous damage, particularly when inspired by larger notions of violent jihad. That pull towards extremism appears to have led to the shooting at Fort Hood, and the bombing of the Boston Marathon.
The “pull towards” extremism at Fort Hood—well, that’s one way to characterize a massacre. The president also focuses only on “radicalized individuals” because he can’t be blamed for them. If their acts can be seen as isolated and “senseless,” then he can’t be blamed for losing the war on terror. Nile Gardner of the London Telegraph also notes that “senseless violence” is how the president described the lethal September 11 Benghazi attack in his Rose Garden press conference on September 12. Gardner writes:
Why does the use of this language matter? The Obama administration initially hesitated to describe the Benghazi attack as an act of terrorism, not least because it undermined the US administration’s narrative that al-Qaeda was a diminishing threat. It ludicrously attempted to blame the killings on an anti-Islamic video that hardly anyone had seen. The White House’s bungling over Benghazi and its failure to act to save the lives of US personnel in danger is now the subject of Congressional hearings, and is proving a major embarrassment for this administration. It was blatantly obvious from the start that the Benghazi atrocity was a terrorist attack carried out by Islamists, yet President Obama and his team were unwilling to acknowledge it as such.
Yesterday’s attack in London was also clearly an act of terrorism by Islamists, yet, the State Department made no mention of either, despite the fact there was widespread coverage of the nature of the attack in the US media yesterday.
There was something Kiplingesque in the photos of the murdered Drummer Lee Rigby, 25, of the 2nd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Fusiliers. I saw one picture of Drummer Rigby holding his bearskin hat, which British soldiers wear on ceremonial occasions. His family paid tribute to him as "a loving son, husband, father, brother and uncle", adding that "he always wanted to be in the Army, live life and enjoy himself."
He sounded like a typical British bloke—and that is why he died his horrific death on a street in London.
It made perfect sense to the barbarians who slughtered him, and I am sorry—and just a little frightened—that my own government can't seem to make heads or tails of the killing.