Victor Davis Hanson is one the few American public intellectuals who does genuine historical context when he tackles the current struggle with Islamic terrorism. In this article, published today at NRO, he continues to focus on the historical parallels between bin Ladenism and the fascists of World War II. Here’s an excerpt:
[J]ust as it was idle in the middle of World War II to speculate how many Germans, Japanese, or Italians really accepted the silly hatred of Hitler, Mussolini, or Tojo, so too it is a vain enterprise to worry over how many Muslims follow or support al Qaeda, or, in contrast, how many in the Middle East actively resist Islamists.
Most people have no ideology, but simply accommodate themselves to the prevailing sense of an agendaâ€™s success or failure. Just as there werenâ€™t more than a dozen vocal critics of Hitler after the Wehrmacht finished off France in six weeks in June of 1940, so too there wasnâ€™t a Nazi to be found in June 1945 when Berlin lay in rubble.
It doesnâ€™t matter whether Middle Easterners actually accept the tenets of bin Ladenâ€™s worldview â€” not if they think he is on the ascendancy, can bring them a sense of restored pride, and humiliate the Jews and the West on the cheap. Bin Laden is no more eccentric or impotent than Hitler was in the late 1920s.Yet if he can claim that his martyrs forced the United States out of Afghanistan and Iraq, toppled a petrol sheikdom or two, and acquired its wealth and influence â€” or if he got his hands on nuclear weapons and lorded it over appeasing Westerners â€” then he too, like the Fuhrer in the 1930s, will become untouchable. The same is true of Iranâ€™s president Ahmadinejad.
[F]ascism springs from untruth and embraces lying. Hitler had contempt for those who believed him after Czechoslovakia. He broke every agreement from Munich to the Soviet non-aggression pact. So did the Japanese, who were sending their fleet to Pearl Harbor even as they talked of a new diplomatic breakthrough.
Al-Zawahiri in his writings spends an inordinate amount of effort excusing al Qaedaâ€™s lies by referring to the Koranic notions of tactical dissimulation. We remember Arafat saying one thing in English and another in Arabic, and bin Laden denying responsibility for September 11 and then later boasting of it. Nothing a fascist says can be trusted, since all means are relegated to the ends of seeing their ideology reified. So too Islamic fascists, by any means necessary, will fib, and hedge for the cause of Islamism. Keep that in mind when considering Iranâ€™s protestations about its â€œpeacefulâ€ nuclear aims.