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Europe’s "Concern" for Al Qaeda By: Bruce S. Thornton
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 25, 2002


ALL THOSE SENTIMENTALISTS in Europe fretting over the al Qaeda terrorists imprisoned in Cuba remind me of the "committee of sappy women" in Tom Sawyer, who are petitioning the governor to pardon the murderous Injun Joe. "If he had been Satan himself there would have been plenty of weaklings ready to scribble their names to a pardon petition, and drip a tear on it from their permanently impaired and leaky waterworks."

Concern for murderers and indifference to their victims apparently has a long pedigree. Partly it reflects the therapeutic imperative dominating the affluent West: any suffering, even of those who have earned it by their heinous acts, is an abomination to be clucked over and avoided. Thus psychopathic felons in our prisons have whole phalanxes of monitors and activists protecting their right to watch television, receive orthodontics, and buff themselves up with weights.

This attitude is in turn generated by the deterministic superstition that the murderers are not responsible for their crimes. If these detainees are "terrorists," then there is a ready list of usual suspects (global capitalism, America, Zionism, colonialism, poverty, etc.) who are really responsible. These poor fellows are just victims too, and surely we don't want to "blame the victim," one of the most horrible crimes to the sensitive.

The Europeans, of course, profess their own reasons for this "concern," but they are ridiculous. The demand that these fanatics who do not wear uniforms and who target innocent non-combatants be treated as prisoners of war is absurd. If these thugs are to be considered an army subject to the Geneva Conventions, then any armed gang is an army. Doesn't the mafia have "soldiers"? Or do the Europeans buy into the terrorists' rationalization that they are "freedom fighters" struggling to liberate their homeland, making them some kind of quasi-soldiers? I don't think it matters to the innocent dead--or to justice--whether a brutal killer's motive is lucre or religious hatred.

The fact is the al Qaida terrorists are suicidal bigots and fanatics redolent of Hitler's SS. The uprising at Mazar-I-Sharif, in which American Johnny Spann was killed, is evidence enough that these people recognize no "conventions" or "protocols." They will kill at the first opportunity, as they have repeatedly reminded the American soldiers guarding them. They will regard any concession to their comfort as a sign of weakness. As Bin Laden himself said, no one respects a weak horse.

All that aside, these prisoners simply have not been at all maltreated. Indeed compared to their own record of torture, mutilation, and skinning of their enemies, they've been treated like princes. They're receiving better nutrition and health care than they've probably ever enjoyed in their lives. Any restrictions on them are just common sense, given their murderous intentions. After all, the whole bunch isn't worth the life of one American soldier.

But we all know the real motive of this European "outcry"--rank anti-Americanism. European resentment and envy of American power has been a festering sore for fifty years. It's time we realized that power is never loved, only feared, hated, or respected. The European elite, chafing at American military, economic, and cultural dominance, and mourning their lost empires, is no different. Let's politely tell them to mind their own business--and if they're worried about prisoners in Cuba, to go inspect Fidel Castro's jails.


Bruce Thornton is the author of Greek Ways and Decline and Fall: Europe’s Slow-Motion Suicide (Encounter Book}. He is 2009-2010 National Fellow at the Hoover Institution.


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