Defense policies are not created in a vacuum. They are designed to meet threats. Over time, threats change in ways that are difficult to predict. In the past, America’s enemies generally wore uniforms and confronted American soldiers on a foreign field of battle. Today, America’s enemies may wear backwards-facing baseball caps and attack marathon runners along with the men, women and children cheering for them on a sunny April afternoon in New England.
What happened in Boston last week was terrible and terrifying — precisely the outcome terrorists seek to achieve. But it could have been worse. It was worse on Sept. 11, 2001, and it will be worse again if we let down our guard, if we stop taking the fight to those sworn to destroy us, if we refuse to understand who they are, what they believe and what they want.
They have told us — over and over — that they are waging what they call a jihad. The policy of the current administration, and to a great extent the previous administration as well, has been to avoid such terminology. One notable exception: Just before she stepped down as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton spoke with rare candor: “We now face a spreading jihadist threat,” she said, adding: “We have to recognize this is a global movement.”
Yet so many people — in government, the media, academia — refuse to believe this, or at least refuse to acknowledge it. I was on C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal” this week debating Hina Shamsi, director of the ACLU’s National Security Project. She declared: “There is no global war ... There is no global jihadist movement.”
About the massacre in Boston there is much we still do not know. But the evidence available so far points to the conclusion that two young men from Chechnya committed an act of terrorism on American soil in support of what they believe is a global jihad.