The American Interest

One Hell for All

In Sartre’s grim play No Exit, a man and two women are in Hell, which, in this case, is a brightly lit drawing room furnished in the style of deuxième empire.  At one point, the man, Garcin, famously quips that “hell is other people” (“l’enfer, c’est les autres”) One of the women, Inès, eventually responds with the lesser-known but equally disturbing admission that she needs the suffering of others in order to exist.

In the schizophrenic “War on Terror,” enfeebled Westerners keep hoping that “other people” will be the ones to bear the brunt of unpleasantness (Serbs today, Greeks tomorrow, Israelis eventually) and that the enemy may be appeased with ever-greater immigration privileges and anti-“Islamophobic” legal codes.  The enemy, in the meantime, remains perfectly frank in his admission that the suffering of “others”—infidels, that is—remains not only a tool of policy but a worthy and pleasing goal in and of itself.

A timely reminder of this state of affairs came on April 23, with a new audio tape from Al Qaeda’s elusive leader, Osama bin Laden.  He spoke on a variety of topics, but his words will be—or at least should be—remembered because, for the first time, he told ordinary Americans and Europeans point blank that they are all...

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