For more than a week now, American friends have asked me why 3/11 wasn't 9/11. I think it comes down to those two words you find on Holocaust memorials all over Europe: "Never again." Fine-sounding, but claptrap. The never-again scenario comes round again every year. This very minute in North Korea there are entire families interned in concentration camps. Concentration camps with gas chambers. Think Kim Jong-Il's worried that the civilised world might mean something by those two words? Ha-ha.James Joyner at Outside the Beltway comments on Steyn:
How did a pledge to the memory of the dead decay into hollow moral preening? When an American Jew stands at the gates of a former concentration camp and sees the inscription "Never again", he assumes it's a commitment never again to tolerate genocide. Alain Finkielkraut, a French thinker, says that those two words to a European mean this: never again the führers and duces who enabled such genocide. "Never again power politics. Never again nationalism. Never again Auschwitz" - a slightly different set of priorities. And over the years a revulsion against any kind of "power politics" has come to trump whatever revulsion post-Auschwitz Europe might feel about mass murder.
That's why the EU let hundreds of thousands of Bosnians and Croats die on its borders until the Americans were permitted to step in. That's why the fact that thousands of Iraqis are no longer being murdered by their government is trivial when weighed against the use of Anglo-American military force required to effect their freedom. "Never again" has evolved to mean precisely the kind of passivity that enabled the Holocaust first time round. "Neville again" would be a better slogan.
Among all the foolish apologists for the murderers of Madrid, it was the Reverend Mark Beach who happened to catch my eye. Preaching at St Andrew's Church, Rugby, nine days ago, Mr Beach said: "The people of Madrid are reaping the fruits of our intolerance towards those of different races and religions. The war in Iraq was never going to solve the problems of that region but instead inflamed Arab people all over the world to new heights of anger towards the West."
God Almighty. The sooner the Potemkin Church of England is sold for scrap the better. Almost every word of Mr Beach's is false; there are mosques in the English Midlands, but no Christian churches in Saudi Arabia. Its official tourism commission lists among prohibited categories of visitor "Jewish persons".
It is precisely because the West is so open to different races that Islamist bombers can blend in on Madrid commuter trains, and the Tube and the Paris Metro, in a way that, say, a team of blond, blue-eyed Aryan bombers certainly couldn't in Damascus. The war in Iraq has actually solved quite a few problems in that region, and Arab people all over the world aren't inflamed - the allegedly seething Arab street is as somnolent as ever.
While perhaps a bit overstated, this is essentially right. Western Europe, with the exception of British Tories, emerged from WWII with a reflexive pacificism. For them, almost anything is more tolerable than the horrors of war. Americans—who, to be fair, entered the war late and suffered far less devastation—emerged from the war with a renewed sense that military power is the only effective way to deal with tyrants.
We Americans haven’t exactly been heroes in the cause of “never again.” Yes, we ultimately intervened in the former Yugoslavia—but only after years of killing. And we turned a blind eye to genocide all over the Third World even after the Holocaust—Rwanda, then-Zaire, Uganda, Biafra, Burundi, and Cambodia come quickly to mind.