Peace Is War By Other Means

by Nidra Poller (Jan. 2009)


Wednesday November 26, 2008: Thingamijig struck in Mumbai, leaving close to 200 dead, 300 maimed or injured, and the public mind, once more, in tatters. “They have not yet expressed their demands,” said perspicacious reporters, as if waiting for the cold-blooded gunmen to call room service. As the dead were dying in pools of blood (caution: graphic images) the pundits were wondering exactly what conflict had propelled the killers into the train station, a hospital, the Leopold Café, the Taj Mahal and Oberoi Trident Hotels and a building described, at the worst, as the center of an ultra-Orthodox missionary sect, but more often not even mentioned. Who were those young men in t-shirts and combat pants? Disgruntled Kashmiris, oppressed Indian Muslims, or perhaps Anglo-Pakistanis born in Britain? The real question should be: how many more are there where those came from? What central force is driving them? When will we stop taking a piecemeal approach to these sporadic episodes and recognize that we are at war?  

When I was a girl we were taught to hate Hirohito, Mussolini, and Hitler. We despised Japs, Krauts, and Wops.  Unashamed caricatures of our enemies abounded in posters, comic books, shooting galleries, and serious political cartoons. We lived and breathed WWII every minute of our lives. It was called “the duration.” Our pride in cousins, fathers, brothers, uncles and aunts in the service was displayed by Stars on silky banners in our windows, photos in dress uniform on the mantelpiece. We collected tin cans, labored victory gardens, gracefully accepted rationing. My father, with three children and a fourth on the way, joined the Marines, went through the rigors of basic training on Parris Island at the age of 33—close to middle-age in those days. Back in the old country, Jews were being systematically atrociously exterminated. And all we could do, we the new Americans, was to fight with American might to defeat the enemy.

My grandparents fled Central Europe before WWI. My mother’s parents arrived from Hungary as young adults and founded their first American generation. My father was two when his mother and four siblings left the shtetl of Przemysl (Austro-Hungarian at that time, now Polish) to join my grandfather who had established a foothold in the new world. Today, one century after these refugees landed at Ellis Island, most of their grandchildren and great grandchildren hate George W. Bush. They do not hate Osama bin Laden, Hassan Nasrallah, Ismail Haniyeh or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad—all of whom are devoted to the new improved plan to exterminate the Jews—they hate George W. Bush, they are fed up with his “illegal war in Iraq” and they have replaced him with a political crooner named Barack Hussein Obama. Nothing I might have said would have convinced them that they were selling their birthright. In fact, I was not allowed to say anything. In this free world that their fathers and grandfathers risked their lives to defend, it was forbidden to question their faith in the Prince of Change You Can Believe In.

What do they know of heated discussions at the pinochle table by a lake in the Poconos? What have they learned about the dangers bearing down on Jews everywhere, including the United States? Why don’t they want to hear about European surrender that is undermining the foundations of the Western world? Europe could collapse under our feet, tumbling us headlong into disaster but they voted to defend gay marriage, abortion rights, universal health care, diversity, international harmony…and peace. Seeing through the windowpane of John McCain they vowed to defeat the evil Bush and Cheney who “dragged us into war for oil and Halliburton.” War has been compacted into a supernova and stuffed into the outlines of George W. Bush. Replace Bush, war disappears. They want peace. Jewish survival was not factored into the equation; they don’t believe it is endangered.

Neither did I when I left the United States in 1972,  a third worldy leftist disgusted with America’s sins-- the Vietnam war, lingering racism, flagrant capitalism, exploitation of the wretched of the earth, and general lack of finesse. Steeped in black-is-beautiful mythology I was heading for Africa but my plans crashed against a seawall of “neo-colonialist” obstacles. Stranded in Paris, I pursued my love affair with Africa, hung out with the Black Diaspora, reveled in the black aesthetic, soaked up a litany of complaints against the West, and amen- choired the rhetoric of amplified self-glorification that now makes a halo around Obama’s head.

Standing today in Paris at an autobiographical and geopolitical crossroads between the U.S. and the Middle East, midway between those early 20th century refugees who rescued a strand of Judaism from Europe’s maw and the healthy, prosperous, abundant—most often mixed—generation reaching adulthood at the dawn of the 21st century, I refuse to accept the fatality of another round of exterminationist Jew hatred.

European Jews in the 30s and 40s were virtually defenseless. Today, we have a strong Jewish state and well-armed allies, but misguided yearnings for peace undermine our will to survive. Awareness—and experience-- of existential danger and responsibilities for our defense are unevenly shared. Jewish youths in Israel bear arms; most American Jews believe it is not necessary; and European Jews, once again, are virtually defenseless in the face of simmering persecution.

 “I’m going to kill you.” Jews should know that, sooner or later, these promises are kept. Instead of mobilizing rapidly and fighting to win, Jews along with Christians, atheists, feminists, progressives, journalists, academics and the majority of citizens of the free world, faced with relentless worldwide genocidal war, retreat into irrational yearnings for peace.

What’s wrong with peace? How can anyone be against it? This seductive, insidious peace stance is based on confusion between the peace we all yearn for and the peace that can be obtained as an outcome of conflict with hostile forces. That confusion has been locked down and removed from scrutiny. Critical analysis of peace movements, processes, and plans is met with stern rebuttal; the word “peace” is above suspicion. In fact, it can cover shameful acts of cowardice and treachery, disguise wishes for surrender and defeat, make shabby pacifism look like a brilliant new strategy, and doll up cruel enemies as smiling peace partners. While attacks against the free world spread and intensify, the harbingers of peace cling grotesquely to their illusions.

War as my generation knew it is outdated, and the archaic barbaric assault bearing down on us hides behind myriad veils. Jihad stretches in an uninterrupted flow from the beginning to the end of time, flaring up or lying low according to circumstances. By its limitless scope in time and space, it dwarfs the two great 20th century totalitarian movements, Nazism and Communism. But our citizens do not believe we are at war. They see ill-defined conflicts -- asymmetric warfare, guerilla fighting, national liberation struggles, territorial disputes--and isolated acts by “a minority of extremists who have hijacked a religion of peace.” How should we get that inherently decent religion back onto the right road? By making peace with it wherever it attacks us! Lo and behold, this is exactly what jihad dictates: Infidels are given the choice to convert, die, or submit to dhimmitude, which is a temporary respite leading back ultimately to the final choice: convert or be killed. Our “peace” is their “dhimmitude.”

We cannot win a war that we cannot see. This global jihad, a totalitarian project based on timeless laws and tactics established with the birth of Islam in the 8th century is difficult to grasp because it acts on so many different levels to deform our institutions, influence political decisions, and undermine the rationality that is fundamental to Western civilization. The designated victims of jihad, exposed to graphic images of the heartless murder that is in store for them, neutralize the evidence. Misled by the media, political leaders, “experts,” and the jihad forces themselves, they mistake an uninterrupted continuum for a grab bag of miscellaneous issues. High profile paramilitary attacks—bombings in Manhattan, Bali, Madrid, London; hostage-taking, beheadings, and varied mass murder plots, including the recent jihad assault on Mumbai—are labeled “terrorism” and dissociated from the civil strategies implemented to impose Islamic values. Our precious freedoms are stomped and hacked. The Mohamed cartoon riots lead to the imposition of international anti-blasphemy laws. The proliferation of mosques, veiled women, and public recognition of Muslim holidays is granted in the name of religious freedom. Creeping imposition of halal rules in schools, offices, and factories is accepted on the grounds of civil rights. Sharia courts are insidiously introduced in Western democracies, sharia compliant finance is promoted as “ethical investment,” and surrender is praised as respect for a minority.

Because this worldwide conflict is inextricably associated with Islam, attempts to elucidate it within the precepts of jihad clash with Western precepts of religious tolerance. Contemporary authors who break with a tradition of Islamic apologetics (e.g. Bat Ye’or, Andrew Bostom, Robert Spencer, Laurent Murawiec, Brigitte Gabriel, Joel Fishman, Efraim Karsh, Raphael Israeli…) are rejected as Islamophobic extremists guilty of disturbing the peace.

The populations within whose hearts and minds the jihad mentality might flourish are vast and mobile; they do not display unmistakable outward signs of their intentions to act on their Quranic obligations. Measures designed to ferret them out are rejected as throwbacks to shameful practices of the past. The “never again” of the Shoah serves now as protective cover for those who spread genocidal Jew hatred.

Paradoxically, the advocates of concession argue that a handful of terrorists cannot be considered a legitimate threat and, simultaneously, that our powerful armies cannot defeat patriotic insurgents. Why, in fact, do strong Western nations negotiate from a position of weakness on crucial issues everywhere from the release of hostages to the curtailment of rogue state nuclear programs?  Is it not because our military superiority is artificially hampered by the rhetoric of negotiationism?

Instead of getting credit for thwarting attacks, the outgoing Bush administration was accused of infringing civil liberties. President Bush is held responsible for squandering the capital of sympathy accrued from the WTC and Pentagon attacks and blamed for “the war” that ensued. In fact, the alleged loss of sympathy was part and parcel of the 9/11 attacks; airplanes were hijacked to commit mass murder and rationality was hijacked by a “lethal narrative” that framed the attacks as legitimate payback for America’s sins. This lethal narrative strategy chips away at the rational thinking that is fundamental to Western civilization and draws us into the mythical magical world of jihad conquest. Subsequent jihad attacks all over the world and into the heart of European cities were met with frantic gestures of multicultural understanding and cowardly surrender to unacceptable Islamic demands. Lethal narratives are not propaganda that could be countered by good PR. They are weapons in a war we have not yet learned to fight.

Confusion about a war that is not localized geographically is compounded by peace confusion. Pacifism can be disguised as superior tactical acumen. Some opponents of “the war in Iraq” agree that there is an enemy but insist he is somewhere else. We should be concentrating on Afghanistan, looking for Bin Laden, negotiating with Iran, seeking the underlying causes of worldwide hostility against our current government or—supreme argument-- we should force Israel to give the Palestinians whatever their heart desires.

Israel, standing on the ideological border between the Muslim world and the West, is the first and enduring victim of peace processing. There is no authentic give and take in the endless bargaining that is supposed to lead to the harmonious two-state solution because Palestinian “suffering” is treated as if it were an absolute concession, outweighing everything that is demanded from Israel. Process trumps peace in alternating cycles of aggressive Arab wars followed by demands—from the defeated-- for unconditional surrender by the victor. Every concession, every retreat, is a step on the way to the absolute concession that would be the turnover of the whole land of Israel to its “rightful” Muslim owners. Individual Israelis would be allowed to stay on as dhimmis in an Islamic Republic. That is the peace they would get in exchange for their land.

Europeans, convinced they have discovered the antidote to their own disgraceful history of wars and persecution, use peace as leverage against the United States and Israel. While violent Islamic Jew hatred flourishes in European streets and in the shadow of Shoah memorials, European institutions fund Israeli peace movements, European intellectuals boost their American counterparts, and power-hungry European governments compensate the absence of credible military force by positioning themselves as peacemakers. Whereas the United States and Israel could warn Iran that all options are on the table, Europe has only one option: negotiation. Not content to preach the virtues of negotiation, defenseless European nations attacked from within by hostile mass immigration, threatened on all sides by jihad forces, self-righteously condemn military action.

Russia’s August invasion of Georgia was a startling irruption of old-fashioned 1940s war scenes in Western Europe’s own back yard. But the reality of brute force imposed on a militarily weak nation with hands-off allies was effaced from the public mind by instant peace making. President Sarkozy presented his two-phase cease fire agreement as a sterling example of negotiation to be admired and applied elsewhere…if not everywhere. In fact, it was surrender to the fait accompli -- pillage, rape, murder, massive destruction of infrastructure, and the annexation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia—that opens the way to similar actions against the Ukraine and other former Soviet satellite states.

In all fairness it must be said that President Sarkozy has been urging EU members to take some responsibility for defense of the free world. His decision to reinforce the French contingent in Afghanistan and move troops into danger zones met with strong opposition on the home front. Since 2001 the French had been the right kind of peace-keeping soldiers who drink tea with village chiefs, dig wells, and repair schools. A wail of despair arose from the media when ten soldiers were killed in an ambush, soon after the shift into battle. How dare we send these young men on such a perilous mission, what are we doing in Afghanistan anyway, it’s a lost cause and, furthermore, there is no military solution. A slim blond Paris Match photographer conveyed a message from the Taliban: “We will have excellent relations with France if all the French troops are pulled out before the end of Ramadan. If not we will kill every last French soldier.” Historian Emmanuel Todd solemnly declared that those French boys died in a “proxy war for the Americans.”

During the Presidential campaign, former le Monde editorial director, Jean-Marie Colombani, dismissed McCain--who would strike out at “what he perceives as enemies to be defeated”-- and praised the suave Obama who would negotiate. This is perfect European-think: The U.S., particularly under the reign of G.W. Bush and the neocons, mistakenly imagines that the game is raw power politics whereas Europeans perceive a subtle play of nuance that should be orchestrated by a masterful conductor who fine tunes foreign relations in search of sublime harmony. European cocktail party diplomacy seduces public opinion in the U.S. and Israel, contributes to the popularity of peace-label candidates, butts into the troubled Middle East, weighs on critical foreign policy decisions of the U.S. government, and saps the only military power that could stand up to global jihad.

Peace hawks cannot be called to account for the disasters they precipitate—e.g. the Oslo Agreement—because they operate on the premise that we are at fault; whatever we do, it is too little too late. Our enemies, eternal victims, can never be guilty of breaking the peace. Their evil acts and intentions are projected onto us, the atrocities they commit are explained away, but no military operation undertaken by our democratically constituted armies can possibly satisfy the stringent requirements of peaceniks. And no rational geopolitical analysis can counter their hallowed beliefs. Infinitely patient when it comes to negotiating with an Iranian despot who promises to wipe Israel off the map, eager to chat with a North Korean dictator who is helping him arm for the final solution, avid to hear the opinions of Hamas and Hizbullah chiefs, they draw the line at civilized debate with a fellow citizen who contends that we are under attack and must fight to win. Surrender is camouflaged as noble peace making. Those who have the will to fight are accused of sending innocent youngsters to die in vain. Peace campers recognize no tyrannical designs … except in our own government. Every other group or nation is sincere. Conflict is caused by misunderstanding. Peace, they believe, is the solution to war!

Peace was a major issue in launching Barack Hussein Obama’s Hope and Change campaign in the Democratic primaries. The issue was subsequently obscured by blinding focus on the financial crisis, which was blamed on unbridled capitalism. The campaign attracted massive international enthusiasm based on the paradigm G. W. Bush = war / B. H. Obama = peace. Rejecting McCain’s determination to fight the enemy and win, voters bought Obama’s effete promise to “end the war in Iraq.”  Postwar generations raised in the psychedelic glow of peace & love sloughed off the burden of power. And before they could breathe a sigh of relief, the jihad boys pounced on Mumbai, guns blazing and glazed eyes beaming with blood lust. Bellowing “Allahou akbar,” they delivered messages to all concerned: anonymous voyagers at the train station, hospital patients and personnel, military and police officials, guests at landmark hotels, anyone else who got in their way, and Jews. Nine of the twenty-six Westerners murdered in that modest foray were Jews. The Jewish victims were viciously tortured and every inch of the Chabad center was attacked with murderous fury.

When I was a child, under-armed democratic nations caught off guard by Hitler’s onslaught mustered the determination and the might to defeat Nazism. Today, those who have the courage to defend the free world must also fight a civil war against the premature peacemakers who mistake the white flag of surrender for the white toga of wisdom.


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