Ever since I first heard that many of the would-be bombers caught in Britain and Scotland and Australia were doctors, something preyed at the back of my mind. There was a significance there, an essential truth that needed to be put to words. I wrestled with it for some time, then happened to read a novel where two medical professionals in the Service were questioned why they were sharing medical techniques with an “enemy” doctor. They responded by quoting an oath they had sworn before enlisting:
I swear by Apollo Physician and Asclepius and Hygieia and Panaceia and all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will fulfil according to my ability and judgment this oath and this covenant:
To hold him who has taught me this art as equal to my parents and to live my life in partnership with him, and if he is in need of money to give him a share of mine, and to regard his offspring as equal to my brothers in male lineage and to teach them this art – if they desire to learn it – without fee and covenant; to give a share of precepts and oral instruction and all the other learning to my sons and to the sons of him who has instructed me and to pupils who have signed the covenant and have taken an oath according to the medical law, but no one else.
I will apply dietetic measures for the benefit of the sick according to my ability and judgment; I will keep them from harm and injustice.
I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody who asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect. Similarly I will not give to a woman an abortive remedy. In purity and holiness I will guard my life and my art.
I will not use the knife, not even on sufferers from stone, but will withdraw in favor of such men as are engaged in this work.
Whatever houses I may visit, I will come for the benefit of the sick, remaining free of all intentional injustice, of all mischief and in particular of sexual relations with both female and male persons, be they free or slaves.
What I may see or hear in the course of the treatment or even outside of the treatment in regard to the life of men, which on no account one must spread abroad, I will keep to myself, holding such things shameful to be spoken about.
If I fulfil this oath and do not violate it, may it be granted to me to enjoy life and art, being honored with fame among all men for all time to come; if I transgress it and swear falsely, may the opposite of all this be my lot.
To these people, their obligation to freely teach others who practiced medicine superseded all else, and they were honoring that oath.
But to these alleged terrorists, that oath — had they even sworn it — meant absolutely nothing when they had the opportunity to kill countless innocents. Indeed, they used their positions as physicians to gain entry to the United Kingdom, and their positions in the British National Health Service — government employees — to expedite their plans.
A while ago, after Muslim terrorists destroyed a school in Beslan, Russia and killed 344 civilians, over half of them children, I speculated on the next terrorist target that would raise the stakes in atrocities. I guessed hospitals, and shortly thereafter a Palestinian woman traveling into Israel for free medical treatment to remove her horrific burn scars was caught wearing a suicide bomb vest that she intended to use against those who were planning on helping her.
Now, we see another logical extension of that plan — to keep escalating the horror, the terror, the atrocities. Now the terrorists are not disaffected poor or religious fanatics, but doctors — highly-trained, highly-educated professionals who, by rights, should be able to “write their own ticket” anywhere in the world.
This comes on the heels of other reminders of the nature of our enemy. In Afghanistan, Taliban forces tried to trick and coerce a six-year-old boy into becoming a suicide bomber. And in Iraq, US and Iraqi forces have discovered a village that did not adequately support the local branch of Al Qaeda in Iraq, and paid for it with their lives — every single man, woman, child, and animal was butchered.
This is what we face in the world today. A foe who literally respects no boundaries — moral, ethical, geographic, political. A foe that recognizes them as artificial, only binding on his enemy — us. The goal is conquest by the sword — and the bomb, and the bullet, and the rocket, and the missile, and anything else that will feed their insatiable bloodlust.
The arguments about how this came about, and whether it is the fault of appeasers like Jimmy Carter or aggressors like George W. Bush are a luxury that we can ill afford. The indisputable fact remains that this is the situation we find ourselves in, and we need to deal with it NOW.
The goal of our enemy does not end in Iraq, or the Middle East, or anywhere on earth. If we simply grant their demands and withdraw from that region, the best we can hope for is a respite while they consolidate their gains and amass a new list of demands and grievances.
Further, we would be condemning countless more innocents to the same fate as those from that village outside Baqubah.
Another fun consequence of withdrawing our forces and support from the region could very well be the first use of nuclear weapons in over 60 years. Israel — the sole functioning democracy in that region, filled with people whose contributions to the world cannot be underestimated and who literally made the deserts bloom — would be the next target. Without our support, she would most likely invoke the “Samson option” and unleash her long-known but never formally acknowledged nuclear arsenal, attempting to bring down her enemies with her.
We are fighting them in Iraq because that’s where they are, and they are fighting us there because that’s where we are. There is nothing sacred about Iraq to either side, despite the proclamations of many. We chose it as the battleground for a variety of reasons: it was ideally placed, geographically, being smack dab in the middle of the Middle East, adjacent to Iran, Syria, and Saudi Arabia; it had a large, well-educated populace that had been brutally oppressed for far too long; it had a healthy dose of Kurds, a group that (despite past shabby treatment) was favorably inclined towards us; and we had over a decade of provocations and justifications that gave us the legalistic “fig leaf” that some felt were necessary before we could do what needed to be done. And enough lawmakers from both sides of the aisle — 77 Senators and 296 Representatives — agreed and put their own names to the resolution.
That is the shape of the world today. We are fighting them now. If we stop fighting them now, then we will surely fight them tomorrow — and at a time and place and manner of their choosing. They are already trying to take back the initiative, as their recent attempts in London and Glasgow show — and prior successes in London, in Madrid, in Bali, in many other places around the world.
I don’t know how we can win this struggle. I don’t even know how we will know when we’ve won. But I do know what it means if we lose. It means more villages like the one Michael Yon visited outside Baqubah, Iraq. It means more tyrannies like Afghanistan under the Taliban. It means the savages already wreaking havoc possessing — and using — nuclear weapons. It means the end of Israel. It means the riots that wracked France will return and the flames of hundreds of cars will grow to inflame the entire nation. It means that Thailand, the Philippines, large portions of Africa, and countless other places will be brought to Islam by the sword. It means that Muslims all around the world will demand — and get — the protection of Shariah law, and even non-Muslims will have to abide by the strictures regarding blasphemy, dress codes, codes of conduct, codes that govern all aspects of life, out of fear of “offending” the Muslims among them.
I don’t believe that will come to pass. I don’t believe that militant Islam can conquer America and the rest of the world. I don’t fear that I — or future generations — will be brought to Islam by the sword.
But I do believe that the price we will pay to secure that inevitable victory will be high — and if we don’t pay that price now, it will only be higher in the future.