Mark Steyn reminds us to focus on the forest rather than the trees:
In the 10 months before this atrocity, Muslim terrorists killed more than 200 people in India, and no one paid much attention. Just business as usual, alas. In Mumbai the perpetrators were cannier. They launched a multiple indiscriminate assault on soft targets, and then in the confusion began singling out A-list prey: Not just wealthy Western tourists, but local orthodox Jews, and municipal law enforcement. They drew prominent officials to selected sites, and then gunned down the head of the antiterrorism squad and two of his most senior lieutenants. They attacked a hospital, the place you're supposed to take the victims to, thereby destabilizing the city's emergency-response system ....Be sure to read the rest of Steyn's piece, for this is about as clear-eyed a take on events as you'll find.
What's relevant about the Mumbai model is that it would work in just about any second-tier city in any democratic state: Seize multiple soft targets, and overwhelm the municipal infrastructure to the point where any emergency plan will simply be swamped by the sheer scale of events. Try it in, say, Mayor Nagin's New Orleans. All you need is the manpower. Given the numbers of gunmen, clearly there was a significant local component. On the other hand, whether or not Pakistan's deeply sinister ISI had their fingerprints all over it, it would seem unlikely that there was no external involvement. After all, if you look at every jihad front from the London Tube bombings to the Iraqi insurgency, you'll find local lads and wily outsiders: That's pretty much a given.
But we're in danger of missing the forest for the trees. The forest is the ideology. It's the ideology that determines whether you can find enough young hotshot guys in the neighborhood willing to strap on a suicide belt or (rather more promising as a long-term career) at least grab an AK-47 and shoot up a hotel lobby. Or, if active terrorists are a bit thin on the ground, whether you can count at least on some degree of broader support on the ground. You're sitting in some distant foreign capital but you're of a mind to pull off a Mumbai-style operation in, say, Amsterdam or Manchester or Toronto. Where would you start? Easy. You know the radical mosques, and the other ideological front organizations. You've already made landfall.
It's missing the point to get into debates about whether this is the "Deccan Mujahideen" or the ISI or al-Qaida or Lashkar-e-Taiba. That's a reductive argument. It could be all or none of them. The ideology has been so successfully seeded around the world that nobody needs a memo from corporate HQ to act: There are so many of these subgroups and individuals that they intersect across the planet in a million different ways. It's not the Cold War, with a small network of deep sleepers being directly controlled by Moscow. There are no membership cards, only an ideology. That's what has radicalized hitherto moderate Muslim communities from Indonesia to the central Asian 'stans to Yorkshire, and co-opted what started out as more or less conventional nationalist struggles in the Caucasus and the Balkans into mere tentacles of the global jihad.
In fact, contrast Steyn to the nihilists at Down With Tyranny, who argue that the terrorists in Mumbai are no different from Mormons in California (meaning those who contributed to a political initiative campaign in a democratic election):
Whether it's hate-infused, self-righteous Mormons or Muslims or Hindus or Christians or Jews, there really is no place for religionist fanatics in a civilized community. These primitive, barbaric belief systems are something that will have to be dealt with if mankind is going to survive as a species. It's long past time we stop coddling and even honoring these dangerous fanatics among us. Their path will only bring on repression and regression to their own barbarism. Religionist fanatics should be treated as the mentally deranged and sick people that they are - and should be treated, compassionately, for their illness.I want readers to sit for a few minutes and take in the meaning of this: If Down With Tyranny is correct, we are to understand logically that Marjorie Christoffersen, the Mormon restaurant manager at El Coyote in Los Angeles, who gave $100 dollars in support of California's Proposition 8, is no different from the gunman who took seige of the hotels and Jewish centers to kill hundreds in a reign of terror this week.
That is to say, people like Marjorie Christopherson, or Mitt Romney, for that matter - who is also Mormon - are "dangerous fanatics," "religionists" who will unleash "repression," "regression," and "barbarism."
I can't say this enough: Here we can see the moral difference between conservatives - who identify and repudiate evil unequivocally - and leftists, who not only refuse to denounce evil, but combine anyone who resists their program of hegemonic neo-Stalinism as "mentally-degraded" and "sick."
And it is not just the folks at Down With Tyranny (who, not surprisingly, have no problem with demonizing neoconservative gays).
Take a look around the blogosphere: Yesterday Digby slammed the press because U.S. journalists had the temerity to report on AMERICANS who were killed in the terror: "Not everything is about the United States."
Firedoglake took this logic further:
We're told that Westerners - Brits and Americans - were singled out, and tragically some have been listed among the dead. That's one way of extending the coverage in Western news media beyond the initial attacks: isolate and focus on specific victims with whom the American audience may, for better or worse, more easily identify ....The point for Digby and Firedoglake is to champion international solidarity with the downtrodden and oppressed. Screw the Americans who were the ultimate target of the nihilist mayhem.
It wasn't simply a single terror attack - it is an ongoing effort to engage our media's attention at a time they had very little else to talk about. Were our cable stations really going to air more mindless speculation about which hypoallergenic dog would be best for the Obama girls when there was blood spilled, Americans dead, and hostages still at risk? ....
Again, we're not at the center of this terror. The horror-stricken people of Mumbai are. But we are a critical part of its masterminds' very carefully selected audience.
Of course, the leftists are full of pure bull. The Los Angeles Times ran a front-page article yesterday on the globalization of the death and dislocation, looking at the victims of the attacks from all corners of the globe, Britain, Spain, Germany, and Israel - and the piece was careful to note:
The prize for the gunmen may have been Westerners, but as in past attacks, locals bore the brunt of the violence. Most of the dead were Indians.But just visit any of the top blogs across the leftosphere, in any case. There's little, if any, condemnation of the terrorists, only astonishment that an attack on the West would be reported as such. See, for example, Daily Kos, Newshoggers, Open Left, or Steve Clemons, especially, who can't resist using the Mumbai attacks to denounce "U.S. forces" who kill "innocent people" ... "breeding blowback and rage."
This is how democracies perish, folks. By refusing to identify evil when it looks us right in the face.
Let us pray to God the new Obama administration repudiates the netroots hordes, who would utterly destroy the United States faster than you can say Gavriel Holtzberg.