Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, had this to say on the eve of President Bush’s visit to Britain,
“I actually think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we’ve most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction.”
So the man in charge of the city that survived Hitler’s blitz thinks Bush is the, “greatest threat to life on this planet that we’ve most probably ever seen?” Here is a man who looks at monsters like Stalin and Hitler and sees them as less of a threat than George Bush who’s fighting to defend civilization from terrorists who’d undoubtedly celebrate for days if they were able to blow up half of London with a nuclear bomb. Is that not ironic?
Were Livingstone just some lone oddball, his comment would hardly merit taking an entire column to address. But regrettably, Livingstone is part of a thrall of pols and pundits across the world who have only the most tenuous grasp of the threat that we face. As matter of fact, Livingstone’s lack of understanding of the conflict we’re in reminds me of Washington Senator Patty Murray’s comments about Osama Bin Laden,
“We’ve got to ask, why is this man (Osama bin Laden) so popular around the world? Why are people so supportive of him in many countries … that are riddled with poverty? He’s been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building day care facilities, building health care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven’t done that.”
Of course, that’s a load of flapdoodle, but it exemplifies one of the biggest problems we face in the West; the false belief that our enemies largely share our values. What Patty Murray doesn’t seem to understand is that if Al-Qaeda blew up her house with a car bomb, it would do much more for their popularity than building 100 daycare centers. Al-Qaeda is not popular because they’re a bunch of Mother Theresas, they’re popular because they’re good at killing people…people like us.
They’re not shy about letting the world know what they stand for either. For example, back in June of 2002, Al-Qaeda spokesman Suleiman Abu Gheithsaid,
“We have not reached parity with (the Americans). We have the right to kill 4 million Americans – 2 million of them children – and to exile twice as many and wound and cripple hundreds of thousands. Furthermore, it is our right to fight them with chemical and biological weapons, so as to afflict them with the fatal maladies that have afflicted the Muslims because of the (Americans’) chemical and biological weapons.”
More recently, as MEMRI reported on November 14th, Al-Qaeda commander Abu Salma Al-Hijazi talked of an upcoming attack that would kill more than 100,000 Americans.
Now unfortunately, we have a lot of people in America and across the world who write these sorts of comments off as empty threats. These people believe we should repeal the Patriot Act, they don’t want to take on state sponsors of terrorism, and only the need for political cover can compel them to take the most cursory precautions against terrorist attacks. Those who think that way are fools of the worst sort. Al-Qaeda and other hostile terrorist groups with worldwide reach have millions of dollars, thousands of men, possible access to weapons to mass destruction. After 9/11, treating them as anything other than the deadly menace that they are is extremely reckless.
Bush understands that and is trying to stop these terrorist groups for the sake of America and the world. What Ken Livingstone and his ilk do not understand is that Al-Qaeda is currently focusing its attacks on America, not because Europe isn’t their enemy as well, but because if America can be defeated, Europe cannot stand up to them alone. Even if Europe had the will to fight against terrorism worldwide without America, they don’t have the capability to do so anymore. Remember that Europe can’t even deal with a tyrant like Milosevic in their own backyard anymore without America’s help. So how could they possibly deal militarily with a terrorist group that has set up shop in a faraway Middle-Eastern state? The sad reality is that they no longer can.
That’s why if the left in Europe (and in the US for that matter) were more rational, we’d have near universal support for going after Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups with worldwide reach, to target the nations that support them, and to stop the spread of weapons of mass destruction. Doing anything less than that is almost an open invitation for tragedies of unprecedented scale across the US and Europe one day.
But sadly, the Ken Livingstones of the world don’t understand why we have to take action. Edmund Burke was right when he said that,
“All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
These days, not only are many of the “good” men doing nothing, they’re attacking the one man who more than any other is trying to fight evil as the, “greatest threat to life on this planet that we’ve most probably ever seen”. For that, they should be ashamed.