Only a display of uncompromising strength — including, most importantly, strength of resolve — has any chance of being a deterrent. The Algerians understand this very well. The West does not — instead assuming that everyone on the planet thinks like it does and is thus similarly governed by self-interest.
But in dealing with Islamist fanatics who regard themselves as the army of God, and for whom death is the highest calling, this is a catastrophic mistake.
The most devastating consequence has been the West’s refusal to acknowledge that it is not fighting a series of brush fires based on local political grievances, but a war of religion being conducted against the free world in order to destroy it.
This fundamental misjudgment has meant not merely that Western governments failed to grasp the threat that would be posed by the dispersed Al-Qaeda franchise in the Sahel region of west and north-central Africa. It has also caused them to make a series of dreadful errors which have led Islamic extremists to conclude that victory is within their grasp.
Failing to deal firmly with terrorist regimes such as Syria, Iran or North Korea, which pose a mortal threat to peace and freedom, Western governments instead helped remove admitted tyrants in the Muslim world who were nevertheless allies (however fragile) of the West.
Blundering about with their asinine belief that elections are the antidote to holy war, they have merely produced chaos in which Islamic fanatics and terrorists have been the main beneficiaries.