Will the West Reunite Against Its Common Enemy?

(Wall Street Journal) Editorial - * That was an impressive sight Thursday, in Gleneagles, Scotland, of British Prime Minister Tony Blair responding to the London terror attacks flanked in solidarity by all the world's major leaders. Now let's hope those leaders react with the resolve President Bush showed after 9/11, rather than retreat the way Spain did after the Madrid bombings last year. * The best response would be for G-8 leaders to immediately expand their commitments to Iraq and Afghanistan. Islamists are most dangerous when they sense weakness. And they can be forgiven for detecting it as they've watched debates in Europe and the U.S. in recent months. * Certainly we should have learned by now that appeasement wins no reprieve. The terrorists don't hate what we do as much as who we are, so there is no safe place to retreat to. Spain's post-Madrid departure from Iraq hasn't spared that country from further terror attempts. * That al-Qaeda's tactics have changed to smaller bombings is notable, though of little comfort. As in Madrid, the London explosions lacked the diabolical audacity of flying planes into the Pentagon. But as allied defenses against major targets have been strengthened, the terrorists are striking soft targets with bombs that are very hard to detect. While each explosion is smaller, the cumulative death toll can still be terrible. * America may be less vulnerable than Europe to this Israelization of terror, but it is hardly immune. The U.S. Islamic population is less radicalized than Europe's and, unlike in Israel, the terrorists lack the safe haven of Palestine. But it is virtually impossible in a free society to stop a fanatic willing to kill himself with a backpack full of explosives. That Islamists haven't mounted such an attack in the U.S. suggests not that they aren't willing but that they haven't been able to. And one reason has been the forceful American response in the wake of 9/11. * The solidarity that existed after 9/11 splintered all too easily in the wake of Iraq, and it hasn't returned even though both Mr. Blair and President Bush have been re-endorsed by their electorates. France has been especially unwilling to let NATO play a larger role in Iraq, as if the main security threat to Europe isn't the terrorism that has its wellspring in the Middle East. The terrorists believe Iraq is the central battlefield in the war on terror, even if some in the West still don't.

2005-07-08 00:00:00

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