The Limits of Diplomacy

In 2004 a Dutch filmmaker named Theo Van Gogh helped Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a member of the Dutch parliament, produce a 10-minute film about the oppression of women in Muslim communities. Ali, an immigrant from Somalia, was herself a Muslim and had done a number of scholarly papers on the subject; the film was a continuation of that project. Because of the film, fatwas were issued calling for the assassination of Van Gogh and Ali. Ali was hounded out of parliament and evicted from her apartment because her neighbors felt her presence put them in danger.

On Nov. 4, 2004, Theo Van Gogh was bicycling to work when Mohammed Bouyeri, a Dutch-born son of Moroccan immigrants, shot him. The first shot did not kill Van Gogh. He pleaded with his assailant: "Don't do it! Don't do it! Mercy! Mercy! He said: "Surely we can talk about this:" Mr. Bouyeri (who at the time was living on welfare payments from the Dutch government) had a response. He fired 20 additional shots into Van Gogh's body, stabbed him several times, and slit his throat. Then he pinned a five-page letter to his chest with the knife. The letter was addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali and foretold the destruction of America, Europe and the Netherlands.

Sen. Barack Obama (and former president Jimmy Carter) subscribes to the Western elite's most unshakeable article of faith — the belief in peace and reconciliation through dialogue. He has said diplomacy is the way to solve the problem of terrorism and that he will meet with the leaders of states that sponsor terrorism without preconditions. But Europeans have been trying peace and reconciliation for generations. It is not working.

Why does he present this failed strategy as a change we should embrace? All this strategy has done for Europe is convince the terrorists that Westerners are doormats who will participate in the destruction of their own countries. As John Bolton has noted, diplomacy is a tool, not a strategy. Surrender is not an option. We are fighting for our lives and the continuance of Western civilization. Should we elect a president whose response to the most serious threat of our time is appeasement?

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