The terrorists also understand that their overtly fascistic ideology — intolerance for other religions, execution of the apostate, subjugation of women, killing of gays, and theocracy — will never earn the proper Western revulsion once reserved for a similar reactionary Nazism, since it butts up against the pillar of multicultural tolerance; no non-Western people can be any worse than the present-day West.
How do you arrange a marriage, insist on a beheading for adultery, conduct a proper honor killing of your daughter, or calmly call Jews “pigs and apes” when the wider Westernizing world broadcast into your living room, car, and workplace thinks you are some groveling zombie? Can an Airbus or Compaq be constructed according to the principles of Sharia? How can you demand amoxicillin as your birthright, but hate the system of free thinking and rationalism that created it?
A Cindy Sheehan or Noam Chomsky still resonates with a minority of the public because he can; thanks to Western capitalism and freedom, both jet at will around the globe, live comfortably, and count on the tolerance of the Western bourgeoisie society that they so roundly condemn. But should the Islamist endanger that comfortable embryo — as they almost did on 9/11 — then folks like these would be as quickly forgotten as were Neville Chamberlain and Charles Lindbergh by 1941.
As for Iraq , while the post-Saddam reconstruction may not have started out as the new ground zero in the war against Islamist terrorism, it has surely devolved into that, as the Islamists themselves concede. In the short term, because they understand that the juggernaut of Western capitalism, freedom, and choice will spell their death knell, the jihadists have imported and adopted as their own every conventional Western munition, repackaged every Western self-critique, manipulated every Western media outlet, and tried to boomerang every Western liberal virtue and humanitarian protocol back at its creators. And, if the polls on Iraq are any indication, such a strategy has worked, for a time, brilliantly.
But these are ultimately not acts of confidence, but of desperation. As an al Zarqawi knew, the world is evolving; if for the present we can keep our heads, then for eternity the Islamists will eventually lose theirs.