Victor Davis Hanson reflects on the Al Qaeda leadership’s strategic dependence on the West’s internal culture of treason.
I remember reading the accounts of a smiling bin Laden, fresh off from buying his fifth wife for $5,000 (a 15-year-old girl no less). At that very moment in Afghanistan, always the inveterate liar, he was haughty after his recent cowardly murder of the far better fighter Massoud.
That day bin Laden snickered to the radio reports of his 9/11 jihadists, now holding up a finger for each planeâ€™s impending crash to his adoring acolytes in Afghanistan â€” and soon to be alternately denying culpability in his fear, then boasting of it in his hubris.
Then there were the incomprehensible statements of our own that followed â€” of Michael Moore, the later darling at the Democratic Convention, claiming that a Democratic cityâ€™s blue-state, anti-Bush voters ipso facto should have won an exemption from the killersâ€™ target list.
We heard too from the now apparently warped novelist Norman Mailer, at last relieved that his aesthetic skyline was cleared of the bothersome looming towers (â€œtwo huge buck teethâ€) â€” and with them, for Ward Churchill at least, the ashes of the â€œLittle Eichmanns,â€ of his â€œtechnocrats of empire.â€ …
It was the particularly evil genius of bin Laden to see not that we are militarily weak as he alleged â€” indeed the United States is more powerful than ever â€” but that we are apologetic over the source of our bounty and the reasons for our success, to the point of a collective stasis.
The more we push for democratic change abroad, the more the democracy-hating terrorists slander us that we do not. The more we accommodate the religion and culture of detainees, the more the beheaders and bombers cry to the world that we are savage while musing among themselves that we are weak. The more that we tolerate the great asymmetry of reciprocity between Islam and the West; the more we are supposed to apologize for just that tolerance and liberality. The more we pay for outrageously priced oil, the more we are to concede that we are stealing it.
Our shock, and again their insight, is not that they level such absurd charges, but that they do so in such utter confidence that they will find a receptive audience in the West, an audience that has the desire and ability to curtail the American response.
We laugh that on this sixth anniversary a clownish Bin Laden, in dyed chin-whiskers no less, urges us from a cave in Waziristan to read more Chomsky and Scheuer. We laugh that radical Islam hates us for global warming, corporate profits, and high-priced mortgages. We laugh that its jihadists, as a result of these American â€œsins,â€ were forced to kill us for the Neocons, and Richard Perle, and Hiroshima, and the 19th-century Indian wars, and all the other American crimes that Hollywood and the universities have globally peddled into a lucrative industry. But the laugh is not that fascists would so clumsily crib our Left to justify their killing, but that they are convinced that they could do so in such amateurish fashion to such great effect.
So is the joke on them or on us?
Bin Laden and his evil Rasputin Dr. Zawahiri were confident on September 11 that such guilt and self-loathing in our hearts could be seasoned, and that it could then be harvested through their own arts of revisionism, victimization, and lies. And consequently within a brief six years of his murdering, our own voices â€” indeed the very elites of the West â€” in the luxury of calm before the next attack, are often emboldened to proclaim that the government of America, not the terrorists abroad, is the real danger.
The great lesson of September 11 was not that the jihadists ever believed that they could kill us all. Rather, they trusted that enough of the West and indeed enough of us here in America, might at the end of the day declare that we had it coming.
In this long war, that belief was â€” and is â€” far deadlier even than an unhinged murderer at the controls of an airliner.