Bernard-Henri Lévy, the French philosopher, points out that with Benazir Bhutto, they killed ‘a spectacularly visible woman’ who, whatever her flaws as a political leader, was astonishingly brave in fighting — uncovered, unveiled — for politics ‘and refusing the curse that, according to the new fascists [the jihadists], floats over the human face of women’.
Lévy suggests that Benazir’s name should now become another password ‘for those who still believe that the good genius of Enlightenment will win out over the evil genius of fanaticism and crime’. But the Enlightenment will be lost unless we all realise that we have to fight for it.
First of all we have to give up the luxury of pretending that the war with Islamism is our fault. It is not. It is a deadly serious attempt by reactionary theocrats, Sunni and Shia, to enslave as much of the world as possible. It is powerful — it has the resources of a rich state, Iran, behind its Shia arm, and oil wealth gushes into the coffers of its Sunni side.
‘The war on terror’ may not be the best of phrases, but it is a reasonable shorthand. Islamist terrorist murderers don’t kill decent and brave people because of mistakes made by President Bush or Tony Blair or President Musharraf or anyone else. They do so to destroy the chance of millions of Muslims and ‘infidels’ all over the world to live decent lives.
Secondly, the murder of Bhutto should also demonstrate — yet again — that this war is not the fault of the Israelis. The Islamists did not kill Benazir Bhutto because of concern about the West Bank. They killed her because they feared her power to give the Pakistani people more than the Islamists want them to have, and because they seek to push Pakistan into total chaos and unlimited carnage.
Third, Iraq is not the cause of this war — it is part of it. Remember one of the first terrible suicide murders committed in Iraq: in August 2003 al-Qa’eda killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, one of the UN’s most gifted officials, and many of his colleagues. De Mello was Kofi Annan’s special representative in Iraq and, like Annan, was opposed to the US war effort there. But al-Qa’eda denounced Annan as ‘America’s criminal slave’ and abused de Mello as ‘diseased’. They hated him in particular because he had helped Christian East Timor win independence from Muslim Indonesia — a heinous crime to al-Qa’eda.
Read the rest of this excellent essay here.