On February 27, 1933, the Reichstag building, the assembly location of the German Parliament, was set on fire by an arsonist. Hitler and Goring appeared on the scene shortly thereafter, blamed the Communists, and used the event as a pretext to seize power. Most of the evidence suggests the Nazis themselves staged the fire to create a crisis, although some suggest the Communists were behind the fire and the Nazis made skillful use of it in an opportunistic manner. The day after the fire, German democracy was essentially ended; it was all done legally and allowed Hitler, who had been elected with a minority of the vote, to seize dictatorial powers:
President Hindenburg and Chancellor Hitler invoke Article 48 of the Weimar Constitution, which permits the suspension of civil liberties in time of national emergency. This Decree of the Reich President for the Protection of the People and State abrogates the following constitutional protections:
Free expression of opinion
Freedom of the press
Right of assembly and association
Right to privacy of postal and electronic communications
Protection against unlawful searches and seizures
Individual property rights
States' right of self-government
A supplemental decree creates the SA (Storm Troops) and SS (Special Security) Federal police agencies.
Today we see orchestrated demonstrations and riots in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. This has led to some bloggers who I highly respect counseling restraint (which is similar to what our State Department suggested as well.) I would suggest that while restraint makes a great deal of sense, it is doubtful it will have much of an impact on the current state of affairs.
The debate begins with these questions: Are we at war with Islam? Do you want a war with Islam?
He had already written on the weekend,The Cartoons, Weekend Edition Part 2, about the need to discern whether our response helps or harms moderate Muslims. Since I have already written that I think one of the key motives for invading Iraq and spending lives and treasure to help the Iraqis build a democracy is to avoid this war deteriorating into a "Clash of Civilizations", it should be obvious that I agree with Jim Geraghty, Hugh, AJ Strata, et al, that we need to maintain the kind of nuanced approach that he supports. The Anchoress puts it into perspective:
...I am - for maybe the first time - in agreement with the State Department. Cooler heads must prevail - it would be a damn shame to lose the advances we have made with moderate Muslims because we have pushed too far.
I cannot see how going out of our way to add fuel to a fire can make a good ending. Some diplomacy is needed, right now, I think.
The Anchoress then approaches an important part of the problem:
Interestingly, the Muslims are threatening to attack Europeaon Churches. Since Europe is basically post-Christian, it will be interesting to watch the EU response.
While I think diplomacy, meaning tact, is wise right now, I do not think that our behavior will be determinative. A few days ago I pointed out that The Inexorable Logic of Terror requires terror to escalate over time. This applies to domestically sourced terror as well, which is what France experienced recently, and what Muslims in the UK have threatened.
Alexandra makes the point that we have the luxury of exercising restraint because we have troops on the ground fighting the fascists with weapons and can leave it to the Europeans to fight domestically by reproducing the newspaper cartoons and using their best weapon, words.
Michelle Malkin has two posts today which approach the core of the problem. She reports CHECHNYA JOINS THE CARTOON JIHAD and PAKISTANI DOCTORS: NO MORE EUROPEAN MEDICINE. Radical groups have always needed to keep pace with their competitors to prove their bona fides. Any Islamist group in the world will need to stage protests against such "atrocities" as the Danish cartoons or risk being marginalized in the great Jihad of the age. To this end, Hamas and Hezbullah have been increasing their attempted attacks against Israel (competitive murder, perhaps?) and Hamas seems to feel the need to continually repeat that their goal remains the destruction of Israel.
This is Islamic escalation. While the Islamists did not draw the original cartoons we now know that they were used by radical Imams and augmented with three additional, more noxious, cartoons in order to inflame passions in the Muslim world. Unfortunately, it does not take many thugs to crowd out the moderates. The problem is exponentially worsened when the thugs receive support from their state sponsors. In Syria, the riots were the creations of the state. For those who do not remember the Tehran embassy take-over in 1979, attacking an embassy, which is sovereign territory belonging to another country, is an act of war. Jimmy Carter's magnificent non-response to the hostage affair should serve as sufficient warning that a weak response emboldens thugs; it is unclear if the British, their minds clouded by multi-culturism, have learned the lesson just yet.
Finally, like the Reichstag fire, which allowed the Nazis to usurp power from the (weak) Moderate German democrats, the cartoons are merely a pretext, a vehicle that the Islamists can use to usurp the streets, press the more "moderate" Arab governments to the extremes, and stir up anger among their constituency.
The "Cartoon War" will escalate or diminish by the actions of the Islamists. They are perfectly capable of finding other insults or inventing them, if necessary, if they want to keep the fires burning. SC & A approaches the question from a different point of view but arrives at the same place when he points out:
It is absurd to believe that if the demands du jour of the Muslims protesting the publication of the now infamous cartoons are met, the blackmail of violence directed at civilized society the protesters have employed will not be used again. It is only a matter of time before some other perceived 'injustice' will serve as the catalyst for the next round of violence- and blackmail.
This is the point that needs to be kept in mind by those who correctly counsel restraint. While there is no need for any Americans to purposely provoke the Islamists and their thugs and cannon fodder on the street, we should not for a minute believe that our behavior of restraint will have any influence on how this plays out. I suppose one could argue that we could make things worse but we have no ability to make things better. That is up to the governments of Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran, along with such ugly actors as Hamas, Hezbullah and Fatah. To believe these types will do anything more than offer a "hudna" is to delude oneself.