The Dubai Ports affair underlines a growing sense of unease we have been feeling for some time. Coupled with the Cartoon War - and the fierce reaction against it in the blogosphere - it seems to the Posse that Western "tolerance" is slowly reaching its limit.
Even among the anti-American left, there is a slow, almost grudging realization that radical Islam isn't interested in coexistance; that it is fundamentally imperialist and reactionary. Its tools are terror and its methods merciless. The fact that they will issue death sentences to any and all that offer even the mildest criticism is enough to penetrate even the foggiest multicultural worldview.
At the same time, many Western institutions - particularly the Catholic Church - are slowly rousing themselves for the coming struggle. In Poland, a new campaign reminds people that even now, Christians are being martyred by radical Islam for nothing more than their faith. (Via the less hated Instapundit)
What is noteworthy is that these victims are utterly innocent: children in developing nations; parish priests - and, perhaps most ominiously - people who were killed for refusing to convert to Islam.
The War on Terror has always been based on two fundamental questions:
1. Could the war be narrowly focused on only "radical Islam"?
2. Does the West have the stomach for any sort of military confrontation?
The Cartoon War, more than anything else, has suggested that the answer to the first question may be "no." Despite extraordinary pains to show tolerance and respect for moderate Islam, despite unprecendented shows of compassion toward mainstream Muslims, the Cartoon War illustrated that the "Muslim street" remained a source of ready anger at the West. All of the lives and treasure sacrificed to free Afghanistan and Iraq, to aid Indonesia and Pakistan - all of this goodwill - appeared to evaporate because of a handful of mild caricatures.
At the same time, war-weariness in the West has taken on a new dimension - an increasing desire to "finish the job" by using less focused but more overwhelming force. The West always possessed the capacity to demolish the Islamic world provided it was willing to accept a huge loss of noncombatant lives.
The antiwar left has always been indifferent to casualties so long as they served their purpose. Now that they once again taste the fear of jihad and begin to realize that flight cannot bring safety, they are more willing to revert to type and support killing people they don't know.
Let there be no mistake, there are still huge swathes of the West willing and eager to accept dhimmitude. But for many, there is a growing backlash and sense of determination that in the end, this must come to a fight. That the Abyss must be faced down and destroyed, whatever the cost.
Privately, the new Pope believes this may be the case. Islam has been a source of war since its founder decided to take up the sword rather than submit to injustice as Christ did.
Speaking among other Christians, there is a growing (and often very hesitant admission) even among pacifists that true war, total war is coming. Islam cannot reform and it cannot be safely ignored.
While commenters have talked about the "Arab Street," the Western Street is slowly rousing itself.
For years they have been told to be tolerant, to redirect their anger and distrust and now their patience is about spent.
The Church has faced down Islam before, and the prayers, teachings and indeed some of the Orders that did so are still there.
Will it come to a final struggle? The Posse does not know. But we know that the likelihood of the War on Terror expanding to something more wide-ranging is greater now than at any point since 2001.
UPDATE: Similar thoughts over at Blackfive.