The Cartoon Riots, the War, and the Dubai Ports deal

We have said that the Cartoon Riots were as important in their way as 9-11 and that they were responsible for killing the ports deal. The overwhelming unpopularity of the ports deal — 70% of all Americans — was likely not, however, an emotional spasm by the American people, but a turning point. The fundamental nature of the war has changed in the minds of many Americans. This is no longer is Global War on Terror, but World War IV: the War against Radical Islam. The political class would do well to figure this out.

If the ports deal had come up six months ago, it probably would have gone through. There was no opposition to the deal for the first two months after its annoucement in November 2005. If the Cartoon Riots had not occured during the approval process, the deal likely could have concluded quietly.

At the end of January (us or MM), the Cartoon Riots began, and continued unabated (us or MM) up through and beyond February 13, when the ports deal approval was reported. The visceral disgust at the Cartoon Rioters provided the emotional power that fueled American opposition to the ports deal. The Cartoon Riots changed Americans’ perceptions of the fundamental nature of the war; no longer was it simply a war of “insurgents” and “al Qaeda” against US soldiers. The image of our enemy became this — people in London and the world over who wanted to kill us or convert us:


Muslims from all over the globe reacted to little cartoons — which they had never even seen — with threats to “behead” this one and “annihiliate” that one. They burned buildings and killed people. In London, they shouted strange Arabic chants, and even stranger English chants (“take Danish wives as war booty“). As we said recently: “the Islamists have contrived to make themselves and their religion look repugnant…mobs with primitive bloodlust killing people over drawings, like something out of anthropology class. These riots, making Islamist rioters look like savages, and making the mute among their co-religionists look even worse in their silence, have also brought renewed focus to the atavistic and revolting beliefs of the Islamists about art, the status of women, and their real plans for the Infidels. Many Americans have begun to ask: who would want to have anything whatsoever to do with Islam after watching such violent, threatening, irreligious behavior?” People who riot over drawings are either evil, primitive or mentally unstable; people who riot over drawings for “religious reasons” are all that and deadly dangerous too.

(Meanwhile, the MSM took one look at the violent Brownshirts of our time and their neo Nazi book burnings, and couldn’t begin to bow and scrape fast enough before them, making every kind of excuse for the mobs and their violence and threats; but the people are not as craven or obtuse as the elites.)

In a pre-Cartoon Riot world, the rationale for the ports deal was a plausible one: we need good allies in the Arab and Muslim world to help us defeat insurgents in places like Iraq, and Al Qaeda terrorists worldwide. In a post-Cartoon Riots world, this rationale doesn’t cut it anymore; it is insufficient. Americans now see that Islamists worldwide are arrayed against them, and these Islamists seem vastly more interested in killing Americans than converting them. In such a world, silent Muslims are potentially viewed as unindicted co-conspirators. Places such as the UAE and Dubai suddenly have come to be judged by a higher standard: prove to us Americans that you are on our side, and that you are not sympathetic to our enemy.

Worldwide radical Islam has been at war with the United States at least since the events in Iran in 1979. With the Cartoon Riots, it may be true to say for the first time that Americans have begun to understand and reciprocate.


For a more pessimistic view of what conclusion the America people may have silently drawn from the Cartoon Riots, see David Warren in RCP. He says that there may be a fundamental flaw in the WWII template seemingly applied by the Bush administration to our current conflict. According to Mr. Warren, in President Bush’s view,

we are dealing with what amounts to a planetary civil war, between those who accept the state-system descended from the Treaty of Westphalia (1648), and an emergent Islamist ideology that certainly does not. To Mr Bush’s mind, only legitimately-elected governments, presiding over properly-administered secular bureaucracies, can be trusted to deal locally with the kind of mischief an Osama bin Laden can perform, with his hands on contemporary weapons of mass destruction.

But Mr Bush was staking his bet on the assumption that the Islamists were not speaking for Islam; that the world’s Muslims long for modernity; that they are themselves repelled by the violence of the terrorists; that, most significantly, Islam is in its nature a religion that can be “internalized”, like the world’s other great religions, and that the traditional Islamic aspiration to conjoin worldly political with otherworldly spiritual authority had somehow gone away. It didn’t help that Mr Bush took for his advisers on the nature of Islam, the paid operatives of Washington’s Council on American-Islamic Relations, the happyface pseudo-scholar Karen Armstrong, or the profoundly learned but terminally vain Bernard Lewis. Each, in a different way, assured him that Islam and modernity were potentially compatible.

The question, “But what if they are not?” was never seriously raised, because it could not be raised behind the mud curtain of political correctness that has descended over the Western academy and intelligentsia. The idea that others see the world in a way that is not only incompatible with, but utterly opposed to, the way we see it, is the thorn ever-present in the rose bushes of multiculturalism. “Ideas have consequences”, and the idea that Islam imagines itself in a fundamental, physical conflict with everything outside of itself, is an idea with which people in the contemporary West are morally and intellectually incapable of coming to terms. Hence our continuing surprise at everything from bar-bombings in Bali, to riots in France, to the Danish cartoon apoplexy.

If David Warren is giving voice to what those repelled by the Cartoon Riots have come to silently believe, then the sea change in American attitudes we have observed is far greater even than we have written.

2 Responses to “The Cartoon Riots, the War, and the Dubai Ports deal”

  1. larwyn Says:

    Dear Jack,
    Over at JustOneMinute, inspired by the Left’s annointed Karl Rove with almost mystical powers, every Friday night commenters record the secret life and manipulations of the wizard-like Rove. The Dems think they are riding high – but they have really backed up what those terrible neo-cons have been telling us – it will
    be a “Long War”. And as I write in the fantasy below, the elites in the Arab world now have been told “the jig
    is up” and “you are off our LEFT’S APPROVED VICTIMS

    Here is my FRIDAY NIGHT LIVE entry:

    Writing in the secret double encrypted program that protected his personal
    journal, he shook his head. Oh, he was being called much worse then “turd
    blossom” by many, but not by the “boss”. The “delegator” gave him the goals, the outcome he wanted. It was understood that HE didn’t want to know the hows that would be used to:

    1) Stop Islam from gaining a foothold in America as it had in Europe without appearing to be discriminating against a religion.

    2) Show the Arab/Muslim world that our tolerance does include toleration of intolerance.

    3) Prove to the American people that this GWOT is a “long war” against a very serious and determined enemy worming its way into our society and using our freedoms and laws against us.

    4) Destroy the multiculturalism doctrine of moral relativity

    5) Force the Judeo-Christian community to stand up against all the forms of secularism.

    Almost finished, he reached first for a pile of clippings and blog entries on the drop in viewers for Sunday’s Academy Awards with a synopsis of the nominated films plot lines. The actual films were already downloaded into”Operation Clooney” “Tell Them How To Vote” subfile. He hummed “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp” as he fed these into the scanner.

    Next, the clipping from yesterday’s WaPo sat at hand, it would just about complete tonight’s entry.

    As the war in Iraq grinds into its fourth year, a growing proportion of Americans are expressing unfavorable views of Islam, and a majority now say that Muslims are disproportionately prone to violence, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

    The poll found that nearly half of Americans — 46 percent — have a negative view of Islam, seven percentage points higher than in the tense months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, when Muslims were often targeted for violence.

    Finally, the note from
    Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al- Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai:
    Never have I felt that my country is more secure from the mad Iranians and their Islamist dogs. We who want modernity will be greatly helped when our elite read that the American people have pulled the wool from their eyes.”

    The PS would be a great title for a historian allowed access to this journal in 2058. It read:

    T.B. You’re not as dumb as you look!
    Click here: JustOneMinute: Libby To Get The Presidential Daily Briefs

  2. pbswatcher Says:

    Warren tiptoes right up to the edge and then backs away. See The Heart of the Matter

Leave a Reply