“You Have Awakened a Sleeping Giant and Filled Him with a Terrible Resolve”

By | April 25, 2019 | 3 Comments

Sri Lanka church, Easter 2019

The title is a quote attributed to Admiral Yamamoto, commander of the Imperial Japanese Fleet, after his successful surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. He realized that in attacking a somnolent though powerful giant, he may have brought disaster on his nation. His prediction proved correct. But is this relevant today?

First it was 9/11. Then came the London, Madrid, Paris, and Mumbai terrorist attacks. Now comes the latest attack in Sri Lanka, where Easter Sunday bombings of churches and hotels killed at least 359, and injured countless others. The question is, what now? But not only where will the next attack occur, but also what will our response be? Or should I say, what if any will our response be? That is, will we be the strong horse, the weak horse, or the gelding?

When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature they will like the strong horse.‒ Osama Bin Laden

Allow me to indulge in the favorite indoor sport of all armchair generals and would-be heroes: What if. If I were in President Trump’s shoes today, I would arrange a conference call with Prime Minister May of the UK, President Macron of France, Chancellor Merkel of Germany, and Pope Francis ‒ assuming the pope would agree.

I would urge concerted action against extremist Islamist terrorism. I would hope for a joint statement, though I would fear that to please all the participants, it would have to be watered down severely. But even if I could not obtain a joint statement, I would go on TV with my own brief, blunt message:

My Muslim brothers and sisters: We have remained largely silent and inactive after repeated attacks on our people by extremist Islamist fanatics. Attacks on London, Madrid, Paris, Mumbai, and many other places have gone unanswered.

Our patience is great, but it is not unlimited.

The Easter Sunday attack on churches and hotels in Sri Lanka has strained our patience past the breaking point. We have tolerated our people being murdered, our churches and synagogues being desecrated, and our worshipers being slaughtered. We have tolerated an 85-year-old priest having his throat cut as he celebrated Mass in his parish church. But no more.

If there is another attack on our places of worship and our people, launched from your nations, and more innocent, peaceful people are slaughtered, or if weapons of mass destruction are used, you will be subjected to a vengeance too terrible to contemplate. You will no longer be able to enjoy the delusion that you are immune from retaliation.

We refuse to descend to the debased level of murder and destruction that is practiced by the terrorists. But we will no longer feel ourselves bound by the Marquess of Queensbury rules, while the terrorists fight with the rules of the back alley, or no rules at all. I will not specify what forms our retaliation may take. I leave that to your imaginations. But know this.

You have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve. Attack him again, and the full weight of his wrath will descend upon you. If you insist on being barbaric, be barbaric with your own people, but stop killing our people. This is your final warning.

Sonic booms at midnight over selected targets? Kidnapping terrorist leaders, their associates, and their financiers, with all-expenses-paid vacations at Guantanamo? Unexplained accidents to key equipment? Unexplained computer crashes? Unexplained draining of financial accounts? False messages from terrorist leaders, subjecting them to ridicule? Photoshopped images and videos of terrorist leaders in compromising positions? Who knows how creative we can be?

The opposite approach has not worked. Ever since the first World Trade Center attack in 1993, we have been careful not to offend Muslims. We, and especially the Europeans, have been reluctant to say the words “Muslim,” or “extremist Muslim,” or even “terrorism.” Even after the Sri Lanka attack, both former President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refrained from calling the victims “Christians,” but instead referred to them as “Easter worshippers.” Not “Christians,” not “Catholics,” not even the word “churches.”

Similarly, when a fanatic Islamist shot up a kosher delicatessen in Paris and killed Jews, then-President Obama referred to the crime as “…randomly shoot a bunch of folks in a deli…” First we couldn’t name the perpetrators – now we can’t even name the victims. Ignoring a civilizational conflict won’t make it go away. We will succeed only in confusing ourselves into suicidal inactivity.

We waited patiently for Islam to reform itself from within.

We hoped that Muslims living in Europe, and especially in America, would develop a more modern, tolerant version of Islam. We were wrong. Muslims born in Western nations may be more radical than their parents. Did growing up and going to school in Minnesota make Ilhan Omar less anti-Semitic (the Jews and their “Benjamins”) or less contemptuous of Western values (“some people did something” on 9/11)?

At some point, waiting patiently merges into self-destructive apathy and cowardice.

Yes, I know. It is just a fantasy. Like our movies, we are passing from the realm of real heroes to the realm of imaginary superheroes, whom young people cannot emulate. But it is my fantasy, and I can shape it to suit myself. What about you? Do you have any fantasies? Is there any chance that they might become realities? Stay tuned.

Wish you were here

Author’s Note: For a bitter smile, read this Tweet. It’s incomplete but revealing:

Chowkidar sanjeet singh @sanjeettt Apr 21
Replying to @IlhanMN

I am #SriLanka
I am Pulwama
I am Charlie
I am Paris
I am Orlando
I am Brussels
I am Nice
I am Munich
I am Berlin
I am Barcelona
I am Colombo
I am London
I am Norway
I am Manchester
I am Kabul
I am Uri
I am Mumbai
I am Madrid
I am New York
I am Ankara
I am Exhausted

One addition: I am mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.

Contact: dstol@prodigy.net. You are welcome to publish or post these articles, provided that you cite the author and website.


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