The New York Post
May 24, 2017
In his speech in Saudi Arabia, President Trump called on his Muslim audience to unite “in pursuing the one goal that transcends every other consideration. That goal is to meet history’s great test — to conquer extremism and vanquish the forces of terrorism.”
That challenge could have been drama enough for the occasion, but Trump didn’t stop there. He went on to frame the great test as a “battle between good and evil.”
As if to concede the point, evil responded quickly with the savage attack in Manchester, England, targeting innocent children and teenagers, most of them girls, with a nail bomb. Evil is as evil does.
The sickening, celebratory claims of responsibility by Islamic State underscore the stakes. While it is important to investigators whether the suicide bomber, Salman Abedi, acted alone or had help or even direction from Islamic State, those are not the most important distinctions in the larger picture.
Whatever the details, it is vital to see the battle exactly as Trump described it. Good versus evil. There is no other way to fight and defeat this enemy.
And since we’re being honest, let’s admit that evil won the day in Manchester.
Using evil as an explanation for malevolent human behavior has gone out of fashion in much of the West, with the religious underpinnings making secularists uncomfortable. Yet Trump was correct, and has been consistent, in describing the battle against contemporary terrorism in fundamental terms.
Anything else is misleading mush or a version of the sophistry favored by President Barack Obama. His determination to divorce Islam from terrorism wasn’t limited to splitting semantic hairs. His denial took political correctness to a new level, misshaping American policy and public debate, and the result is a disaster of wasted time and lives.
For eight years, Obama insisted that any acknowledgment that terrorists were acting in the name of Islam was to condemn all Muslims. It didn’t matter to him that many Muslims, including Islamic scholars and leaders from around the world, said he was wrong and that the obvious link had to be confronted to be defeated.
The president who always knew best wouldn’t budge, and after every domestic attack, law enforcement was sent on obligatory searches for other motives, leading to such ridiculous claims that the Fort Hood massacre was a case of “workplace violence.”
Even before the toll was known in San Bernardino and before the husband-and-wife terrorists were killed by police, Obama spoke from the Oval Office about the need for stricter gun control, urging Congress to pass “common sense gun safety laws.”
Later, it was revealed the murderous couple, Syed Rizwan Farook and Tashfeen Malik, carried out the attack, killing 14 of his colleagues and wounding 22, in the name of Islamic State.
Similarly, following the attack in a gay club in Orlando, Fla., where Omar Mateen killed 49 people in the largest mass shooting by an individual in American history, Attorney General Loretta Lynch said Mateen’s true motive “may never be known.”
In the real world, Mateen’s motive was crystal clear. He may also have hated gays, but he stopped his rampage long enough to call 911 and declare his allegiance to Islamic State and its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Yet Lynch was so stubborn in her denial that she had the Justice Department redact al-Baghdadi’s name and the mention of Islamic State from a transcript of Mateen’s three calls that night. After an uproar, Justice released the full transcript, saying it had acted to avoid giving the terror group additional publicity.
In fact, it acted to avoid revealing inconvenient truths.
Trump, of course, is nothing if not the anti-Obama, and he is reversing his predecessor’s policies in word and deed. Instead of the pinprick airstrikes which Obama used to contain Islamic State, Trump is unleashing the military to destroy it, with one report saying the number of attacks is up 50 percent.
The president also used the word “evil” five times in his Saudi speech, including calling jihadists “the foot soldiers of evil.”
Nor did he shy away from religious references, saying terror’s victims were Christians, Jews and Muslims, and that “Terrorists do not worship God, they worship death.”
Later, he said, “If we do not stand in uniform condemnation of this killing — then not only will we be judged by our people, not only will we be judged by history, but we will be judged by God.”
The horrible attack in Manchester illustrates why Trump’s effort to more honestly define the enemy and crush it is a necessary break from Obama’s halfhearted evasion. Trump is acknowledging the religious context and offering a potential solution by helping to create a Muslim version of NATO.
In theory at least, it is a global response to a global problem and challenges Muslims to take the lead in defending their own societies and religion. Bluntly telling his audience of representatives from 50 Muslim countries that they must decide which kind of future they want, he said, “it is a choice America CANNOT make for you.”
As it stands now, the terrorists are shaping the battlefield by launching spin-off groups in a number of countries. They pick when and where to attack, putting isolated governments in the position of always playing defense.
One result is that weak Mideast and African governments are in danger of being overthrown, or watching helplessly as terrorists carve out vast territories of control. From Islamic State to Boko Haram, the consequence is a sea of suffering and death.
Another result of the franchising of terror is that law enforcement and intelligence agencies in North America and Europe cannot keep pace with the mounting number of threats and plots. There are simply too many jihadists in the pipeline.
Abedi, the Manchester bomber who was born in the UK to Libyan refugee parents, fits the pattern. Neighbors told reporters he had grown a beard and taken to reciting Islamic prayers loudly in the street in the weeks leading up to the attack.
Unfortunately, he fits another pattern as well. Reports say he was known to law enforcement, which is consistent with virtually every major attack carried out in Europe and the United States.
It is long past time for authorities to accept the fact that jihadists such as Mateen and Abedi and the Boston Marathon bombers cannot be stopped by the same police tactics that work with burglars and car thieves. “The foot soldiers of evil” must be dealt with accordingly.
The sooner we acknowledge that reality, the sooner the forces of good can prevail. And only then can parents send their children off to concerts without fear of unspeakable horror.
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