A few weeks after Japan’s attack on the United States caught our fleet napping at Pearl Harbor, killing 2,400 Americans on a sleepy Sunday morning, our reeling nation, which up to that point had been a grudging ally to beleaguered Great Britain, was paid a surprise visit.
“What kind of people do they think we are?” Winston Churchill said to a joint session of Congress, of our attackers. “Is it possible that they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them?”
Of all the stirring phrases that Churchill uttered, that one question, for me, echoes most over the years: “What kind of people do they think we are?” It rang out on 9/11, and came to mind again this week when the brutal Islamic State entity that has occupied a third of Iraq and slain thousands posted a video of a black-clad terrorist standing beside the kneeling figure of James Foley, an American journalist. He was forced to mouth condemnations of America, demanding we halt our airstrikes against the Islamic State forces. The video then shows his decapitated head resting on his body.
And their thinking is . . . that this brutality will cause America to stop fighting them?
What kind of people do they think we are?
Yes, sometimes we cut and run. Bill Clinton did after the Black Hawk Down deaths of 18 American Rangers in Somalia in 1993. Though in his defense, diving further into an African civil war was not a success strategy. Nor is sending our troops back to Iraq. “You break it, you bought it” might be a good policy for china shops, but it makes lousy foreign policy. We were right to withdraw. Pummelling the would-be caliphate from the air is the best of our bad options, and it must be working, or the Islamic State wouldn’t be demanding we stop.
Speaking of which: The Islamic State is neither Islamic nor a state. The second point of the video was to attempt, as terrorists often do, to tie brutality with Islam
“As a government, you have been at the forefront of the aggression toward the Islamic State,”Foley’s murderer says. “You have plotted against us and gone far out of your way to find reasons to interfere in our affairs. Today, your military air force is attacking us daily in Iraq. Your strikes have caused casualties amongst Muslims. You are no longer fighting an insurgency. We are an Islamic army and a state that has been accepted by a large number of Muslims worldwide.”
Uh-huh. It’s a religious thing. Who believes that? Have Muslims worldwide been leaping to endorse the Islamic State? No. These terrorists believe it, and, ironically, the usual cast of American haters do, too, in an odd kind of international symbiosis.