Glenn Reynold writing at MSNBC wonders aloud whether a public opinion tipping point has been reached in the war on terror. But it's not the tipping point you think.
With the Cartoon Wars giving way to the ports imbroglio, Jim Geraghty, blogging from Turkey, wonders if we're seeing a tipping point in Western attitudes toward Islam. Geraghty collects a lot of quotes, and writes of "my sense that in recent weeks, a large chunk of Americans just decided that they no longer have any faith in the good sense or non-hostile nature of the Muslim world. If subsequent polls find similar results, the port deal is dead."
One of the keystones of President Bush's strategy has been to distinguish very carefully between Islam, the religion of peace, the mass of whose adherents we want on our side, and extremists with whom we are really at war. Geraghty is suggesting that public opinion now sees the clash as one of a more general nature: between "us" and "them". Although no one is suggesting the West is yet at war with Islam, twelve public figures have issued a Manifesto calling "Islamism" the new totalitarian threat of our time. Atlas Shrugs has the text of the declaration which says in part:
After having overcome fascism, Nazism, and Stalinism, the world now faces a new totalitarian global threat: Islamism.
We, writers, journalists, intellectuals, call for resistance to religious totalitarianism and for the promotion of freedom, equal opportunity and secular values for all.
The recent events, which occurred after the publication of drawings of Muhammed in European newspapers, have revealed the necessity of the struggle for these universal values. This struggle will not be won by arms, but in the ideological field. It is not a clash of civilisations nor an antagonism of West and East that we are witnessing, but a global struggle that confronts democrats and theocrats.
The Manifesto has been signed by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Chahla Chafiq, Caroline Fourest, Bernard-Henri Lévy, Irshad Manji, Mehdi Mozaffari, Maryam Namazie, Taslima Nasreen, Salman Rushdie, Antoine Sfeir, Philippe Val, Ibn Warraq.
This represents a substantial -- but not a total -- departure from the strategic idea of treating Islam as a religion of peace and focusing on a narrow group of miscreants within it as the true enemy. The Manifesto shifts the definition of the enemy from a group of people to an ideology. If Jim Geraghty is right the threat to the President's original strategic focus comes not from a single party or even from the his traditional opponents on the Left, but a kind of populist mood swing engendered by a cumulative disenchantment.
Gateway Pundit points to a new ad campaign being undertaken in Poland by an organization called the "Foundation of St. Benedictus" which calls attention to ordinary men and women being killed for religious reasons all over the world by a militant Islam. They are plastering posters on Polish public transportation. Some examples are shown below.
George Shahata, thirteen years old, killed by Muslims in Egypt
Nache Achi was killed by Muslim fundamentalists in Africa.
The Cartoon Wars are not dead; they are just mutating in form at an increasing rate.
If the Left had not been so relentlessly politically correct it might have been able to shape the debate according to its avowed (or should I say "so-called") principles. But they gave that chance up in exchange for the cheap thrill of anti-Americanism. Now even they find themselves decrying the Dubai Ports World deal because -- although they will never put it that way -- President Bush is a fool to trust these people with the gateway into America. They may even be conscious of the tightening of the logical rope around their necks even as they pull on it. But though they've hit bottom they keep digging. The New York Times has announced that it will sue the DOD to force the federal government agency to turn over classified material in connection with its NSA surveillance stories. At one level they may think this is clever, but strategically it is (in my opinion) very, very stupid.
Time will tell whether the war on terror remains within the bounds of limited confrontation with rogue elements within the "religion of peace" or whether -- due to some conceptual fault in the campaign or the persistent obstruction by the politically correct -- it morphs into a more general confrontation between belief systems and civilizations.