Victor Davis Hansen thinks the patience of the Western democracies is wearing thin, and that -beyond a certain point- efforts to placate Islam are bound to end and be replaced by a very different approach: old-fashioned total war.
Yet for all their threats, what the Islamists — from Hezbollah in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley to the Iranian government in Tehran to the jihadists in Iraq’s Sunni Triangle — don’t understand is that they are slowly pushing tired Westerners into a corner. If diplomacy, or aid, or support for democracy, or multiculturalism, or withdrawal from contested lands, does not satisfy radical Islamists, what would?
What then would be the new Western approach to terrorism? Hard and quick retaliation — but without our past concern for nation-building, or offering a democratic alternative to theocracy and autocracy, or even worrying about whether other Muslims are unfairly lumped in with Islamists who operate freely in their midst.
Any new policy of retaliation — in light both of Sept. 11 and the messy efforts to birth democracies in Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and the West Bank — would be something of an exasperated return to the old cruise-missile payback. Yet in the new world of Iranian nukes and Hezbollah missiles, the West would hit back with something far greater than a cruise missile.
If they are not careful, a Syria or Iran really will earn a conventional war — not more futile diplomacy or limited responses to terrorism. And history shows that massive attacks from the air are something that the West does well.
So in the meantime, let us hope that democracy prevails in Iraq, that our massive aid is actually appreciated by the Middle East, that diplomacy ultimately works with Iran, that Syria quits supporting terrorists, and that Hamas and Hezbollah cease their rocket attacks against Israel — more for all their sakes than ours.