These words were spoken by French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy during the ISIS attacks on Paris. "Charlie était un symbole. Là, c'est une guerre," he said. Several hours later, French President François Hollande finally repeated what few world leaders have stated. "This is war," he declared. France's response would be "ruthless" he promised. There are lessons for every free nation in this.
ISIS has, over the past few weeks, demonstrated the capacity for military operations on multiple fronts in multiple operations against multiple nationalities. It is a different kind of war, but war nontheless. Those who would advocate soft power in the face of an enemy that has clearly declared its intent to create a 14th century religious Caliphate over the world, are guilty of what John Robert Gallagher called "intellectual violence" against the concept of freedom.
Those who still doubt, need only ask the friends and families of the 200 plus victims of the Russian airliner blown out of the sky over the Sinai; the 400 plus dead and maimed in the bombings of Beirut; and those close to the 500 plus victims of the massacres in Paris. Yes the numbers keep growing from these ISIS attacks over the past two weeks alone.
The impotence of the west's "surgical" military strikes against ISIS is now clear. What is far more dangerous is the naïveté of western leadership. One day - one day - before the Paris attacks, and on the same week as the ISIS attack on central Beirut, President Obama declared that ISIS was militarily "contained" and Canadian Defence Minister Sajjan stated in an interview that though the battle against ISIS must continue, Canadians "had nothing to fear at home because of our security services." It is as if the deaths of two Canadian soldiers on our soil last year at the hands of radicalized Islamists had not happened. Friday, November the 13th, put the lie to all that.
Lulling a citizenry into complacency for the sake of political expediency wedded to bankrupt notions of political correctness does not meet the duty of leadership. It borders on treason to the responsibility to protect liberty. We are in a time of existential crisis, and it calls for courage and hard truths. One of those who spoke such truths was French Senator Nathalie Goulet. She is the chair of the French Senate committee on radical Islamization. She stated bluntly that as good as French security services are, the real number of identified jihadists in France is close to 5000 and to properly follow them would require a force of 50,000. Goulet also became the first official to place the blame squarely on loose immigration and stunned reporters by admitting that most of the killers in Friday's attacks - as in the Charlie barbarism - were known to Police but the resources were not there to follow them. It was later revealed that one of the Paris killers had his French visa processed through the Greek island of Leros, a major transit point for the current wave of Syrian refugees.
No leader - no people - can hide from the ugly realities of what Yair Lapid called "total evil." This is an enemy that beheads hostages, burns pilots alive in cages, sexually enslaves thousands of women and runs over children with tanks. And in Nazi-like fashion, butchers thousands of minorities as it did with 5000 Yazidis and throws their corpses into mass graves. The New York Times' Thomas Friedman called them "demented." More to the point, Bret Stephens, deputy editorial page editor of The Wall Street Journal, warned in a speech in Montreal days before the Paris attacks against adopting the "ostrich" syndrome. "You may not be interested in the Middle East," he said, "but the Middle East is interested in you."
Most of us grew up in a time where there was a shared understanding of right and wrong. Particularly in the post Holocaust era. Now it is the fanatical and evil - aided by those who practice moral relativism and political equivalency - who daily attack a shrinking Alamo of common sense, reason and sanity. There is no need to look for "root causes." There is a need to eradicate evil. With our fullest measure of military might.
We can have victory over terror and we can have victory despite the terror. We can rebuild our coalitions of conscience that - together – will overcome the mightiest wellsprings of hatred and oppression. Because together people find courage. But we must all have the courage –even the audacity - to do more than we have dared so far. The status quo is not an option.
And more than ever we need to remind our leaders of Churchill's admonition that, "An appeaser is someone who feeds the crocodile hoping he will eat him last. But eat him he will.”