"The war on terror is over," or so claims an unnamed senior State Department official, as reported by National Journal's Michael Hirsh in his recent article "The Post Al Qaida Era."
If the war is over, I must have missed the peace treaty signing ceremony. I also haven't noticed a decline in incendiary rhetoric, or the disarmament -- or at least laying down of arms -- that usually accompanies the end of war. Does this mean we can do away with full-body scanners and TSA pat-downs?
Those who believe the war against radical Islamists is over never really believed we were fighting one. Each time they have been proven wrong in their denial -- the land-for-peace formula between Israel and her enemies is just one example among many -- they have simply moved on to the next level of denial. Now they have reached rock bottom with nowhere else to go and are telling us we can live with Islamism.
Hirsh references Reuel Marc Gerecht, senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan institution focusing on national security and foreign policy, calling him one of the "smarter hardliners on the Right." Hirsh says Gerecht is among an emerging group of policymakers and analysts coming to realize that "the Arab world may find another route to democracy -- through Islamism."
This is preposterous. It is like saying the route to women's rights is through patriarchy. Radical Islamists have made it perfectly clear they have no interest in joining the democratic process. They are at war with the West. No amount of "make-nice" will stop them from trying to destroy as Western infidels the proponents of democracy.
Gerecht's thinking is beyond self-delusional. It is suicidal. Any hope that the Arab Spring and resulting Middle East elections will change the way radical Islamists deal with or perceive the West is misplaced. Elections are meaningless without a framework guaranteeing individual rights. History is full of examples where elections brought to power dictators who, once in power, made sure there were no more meaningful elections.
Closer to reality is a report in the April 15 London Sunday Times. Reporter Hala Jaber writes from Cairo about the forthcoming Egyptian elections: "Voters fear the imposition of the veil and a harsh penal code if radicals win the election."
Just because the leadership of al Qaeda has been killed, imprisoned or forced to run does not mean that the fighting stops. In fact, though the "war on terror" may be over as a concept, White House spokesman Tommy Vietor assured Hirsh, the war against al Qaeda rages on. But the war is much broader than al Qaeda. Terrorism flows from a belief system and worldview that will not be crushed just because a few al Qaeda leaders are gone.
The secular Left refuses to understand this. Terrorism is not the only tool in the arsenal of radical Islamists. Infiltration, Islamic schools, the building of mosques in the midst of the "Great Satan," the running of Muslim candidates for public office, the demands for more "rights" and civil liberties, while Islamists deny such things to the nations they dominate -- all of this and more prove that the war, by whatever name one wishes to call it, is not over. In fact, it is just beginning.
Radical Islamists are attempting to unify the Muslim world under Shariah law and other dictates of the extremist wing of the religion. If they succeed, they will most assuredly redouble their efforts to eliminate Israel and come after America.
The war on terror continues. We need to fight it to win it.
Examiner Columnist Cal Thomas is nationally syndicated by Tribune Media.