Cal Thomas: Enough soft talk, time to get tough on terrorists

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The attack on a cafe in Sydney, Australia, by a self-described Islamic cleric with a long police record, left two hostages dead, along with the cleric, one Man Haron Monis. He was an Iranian refugee who enjoyed the hospitality and protection of the Australian government.

That incident, which was televised worldwide, was quickly eclipsed by the murder of 145 people at an army-run school in Peshawar, Pakistan. Many of the dead were children. Press reports said Pakistani Taliban fighters burned a teacher alive in front of children and beheaded some of them. A Taliban spokesman said they were exacting revenge for a major operation by Pakistan’s Army to clear Taliban strongholds in the North Waziristan tribal area near the Afghan border.

How is the West responding to these and other atrocities? More importantly, how is the Muslim world responding?

In the United States, we have been preoccupied with a one-sided and incomplete report by Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee that details some of the enhanced interrogation techniques used in the aftermath of 9-11 to extract information from prisoners confined to Guantanamo prison and other facilities run by the U.S. government. Supporters of those techniques assert they saved lives by thwarting more terrorist attacks; detractors assert the opposite.

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In Britain, the Army has issued new guidelines for interrogating suspected terrorists. They include no shouting, no banging of fists on tables and no “insulting words.” If Britain had employed those techniques during World War II, Hitler’s face might be on the British pound note, instead of the Queen’s. When I was in the U.S. Army, drill sergeants frequently yelled at me and they pounded more than tables.

Are we fighting a war, or trying to win “Miss Congeniality”?

Every time we witness these attacks, the apologists here and abroad are quick to issue the familiar excuses. This doesn’t represent true Islam, which they say is a religion of peace. These are “lone wolves” (lone rats would be a better designation; wolves at least have some nobility attached to their species). ISIS openly campaigns on the Internet to attract more “lone wolves.” In the end, it doesn’t matter whether one person or an army of Taliban terrorists kill you. You are still dead.

When the next attack occurs in America — as it surely will — will the Obama administration issue the predictable denunciations and apologies for Islam, or will we do what needs to be done to stop the killers? Civil liberties are worth protecting until they are used by our enemies — along with the constitutional protections we enjoy — to commit murder. If we are attacked again, as on 9-11, and many thousands more of us are killed, what then? Will we eventually go back to business as usual, thus ensuring more attacks?

Why aren’t the world’s estimated 1.1 billion Muslims forming an army of their own to take out those they claim misrepresent their religion? Why must America face most of the financial and human burden? These killers claim to be acting in the name of Islam, so how about members of the “peaceful religion” doing themselves and the world a favor by taking the lead and neutralizing the threat of Islamic radicalism?

Or would that be an “enhanced technique” that might offend the sensibilities of Democrats on the Senate Intelligence Committee? Apparently, those senators have forgotten that the one hijacked plane American heroes forced down in Pennsylvania might have been headed for the Capitol Building.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist and author. Readers may email him at: tcaeditors@tribune.com.

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