Causes and Responsibilities


Tony Blair says, "This terrorism isn't our fault. We didn't cause it. It's not the consequence of foreign policy. It's an attack on our way of life." It's disappointing to see Blair, who I really used to respect a lot, just peddling the same old demagoguery you might see on NRO or wherever else. It goes to show, I think, that there are only so many plays in the political playbook. Initiators of unpopular, doomed wars either need to fall on their swords or else start running the obfuscation end-around and you don't get to become Prime Minister without having the sort of instincts that make you disinclined to fall on your sword.

This notion that in order to preserve the terrorists moral culpability for their atrocities we need to believe that their actions are somehow uncaused is daft. I'll read now and again Rich Lowry or someone else talking about how, yes, we're in a kind of global counterinsurgency situation but then you see the leaders they love so dear don't understand the first thing about it. Their pundits don't, either. David Brooks accuses his adversaries of falling prey to a Grand Delusion "that if we just leave the extremists alone, they will leave us alone." But that is not what I meant, at all. That is not it. At all. To be sure, there are some implacable opponents out there who we'll have to do our best to kill. But there are also lots of other people out there -- placable opponents, young kids with unformed views, fence-sitters, whatever -- and our actions do, indeed, play a role in whether or not they become implacable opponents. This matters. It probably matters more than anything else. And the domination of western politics by people who don't understand that is going, one day, to get an awful lot of Americans killed.