“They smell the fear,” a friend of mine once remarked in an email about current events, most of which were directly connected to the incoherent, irrational foreign and domestic policies of the U.S. and of the West in general. To which I would add, “And they relish the retreat.”

“They” are all the enemies of the U.S., of the West, and of civilization. And the fear they smell is the natural effervescence of panic, vacillation, and indecision in the face of a dedicated enemy, exacerbated and made more potently detectable by an absence of confidence, self-interest, and principle. In nature, the odor of fear invites the attention of alert carnivores and emboldens them to stalk and attack. It is no less so in international relations.

Read history. Appeasement and unprincipled pragmatism can explain the seemingly unstoppable advancement of barbarism. Ayn Rand enunciated the principle of evil’s “potency” in her essay, “The Anatomy of Compromise”: “The spread of evil is the symptom of a vacuum. Whenever evil wins, it is only by default: by the moral failure of those who evade the fact that there can be no compromise on basic principles.” The snarling predators, parasites and religious moralists of a variety of inimical suasions are circling in ever tightening circles for the kill. And few things are more disturbing than watching rival predators fight over a carcass. One should hope that it is not too late for the U.S. to act and spare itself that fate.

The minor whiffs of surrender are almost laughable. Former President Bill Clinton, posing as a globetrotting humanitarian and apologist for the West, just like Jimmy Carter — he condemned the Danish cartoons of Mohammed and was paid a lot of money to excoriate American policies in speeches he gave in Riyadh and the U.A.E. — helped to arm-twist beverage companies into agreeing to withdraw their sugary soft drinks from public schools in a fascist “fight against fat.”

Well, what’s a retired anti-American embezzler, liar, and philanderer, living the high life under the umbrella of a tax-exempt foundation and collecting a presidential pension with full benefits, to do but pitch in to make sure that Uncle Sam’s future tax-cows are fit enough to submit and serve and pay for their own slavery? Their bodies are no longer their own, but the government’s or the nation’s. If they won’t voluntarily abstain from soft drinks, they must be forced to.

Not for Clinton to oppose the fat that burdens American taxpayers, such as pork barrel legislation, federal and state taxes collected at the gas pump, or the frauds of Social Security and Medicare. No, those forms of obesity are sacrosanct.

Does anyone recall the full-page photograph in the New York Times over a decade ago of 18-year-old Bill shaking hands with President Kennedy? It is no accident that Bill Clinton revered Kennedy. I still have that page. I call it, “Passing the Torch of Totalitarianism.” Clinton in his own political career may not have been as “idealistic” about it as was Kennedy, but then an amoralist is not particular about the brand of collectivism he adopts, so long as he is seen promoting it and stands to gain something from it. For the relevance of this comment, see Ayn Rand’s various articles on American political trends, particularly “The Fascist New Frontier.”

Not representative of Hillary’s favorite reading material, to be sure. She went through her superficial Rand “phase” to marry Bill, and, in a classic instance of the selflessness of power-seekers, clung to him and his White House ambitions despite his debauchery. Bill was her ticket to power. She always had her own dominatrixic plans to whip the country into shape. If you think this is a gratuitous characterization of her obvious power-lusting persona, I recommend that you put Adolf Hitler on the psychiatrist’s couch and compare the notes you take from his confessions with the ones you take from hers. Apart from differences in stridency and form, they’ll match. He was a man-hater, too, and enjoyed breaking and enslaving men in a quest to realize his own conception of a “global village.” Gender is irrelevant.

Truth, however, neither retires nor ages. It would be interesting to speculate on the distinction between the various forms of treason committed by Bill Clinton, such as when he chose not defend this country when he should have (see Leonard Peikoff’s “Iraq: The Wrong War,” on Capitalism Magazine, from January 28, 1997), and that committed by Jane Fonda, who gave aid and comfort to the enemy during the Vietnam War, when she shouldn’t have. Her autobiography, “My Life So Far,” ought to be retitled, “My Life So Far from the Truth,” chiefly because it also lies and poses the question of what is “is.” Or, rather, of what was “wasn’t.”

Apart from the omissions and memory lapses, her life story, as she or her ghostwriter tells it, is otherwise a narration of blameless determinism. She couldn’t help but pose on an anti-aircraft gun, read communist-written speeches, dine well with her hosts while American POWs starved, and contribute to the defeat of America at the hands of collectivist paupers. She claims to be a victim of circumstance and an exemplar of cluelessness. She just went with the flow, not meaning any harm, acting as Tom Hayden’s Barbarella doll.

But, the French, who pioneered determinism in nature and in man, did it to us again. Fonda’s most recent reward for moral irresponsibility and culpability came in the form of a $700,000 contract from the Paris-based cosmetics firm L’oreal to promote an anti-ageing cream.

The American press and news media must be breathing a collective sigh of relief, now that the Danish cartoon imbroglio is no longer newsworthy. Thanks to the Internet, however, Americans can learn that Islam hasn’t dropped the matter. The most recent episodes of the Islamic jihad against freedom of speech occurred at Michigan State University, where a professor of engineering posted a letter that, among other things, urged Muslims to move to a country where Sharia law is supreme, instead of demanding its acceptance in the U.S., and was roundly criticized for it. And at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, Saudi students protested a letter in the local Times Leader written by a dentist, Stephen M. Lawrence, who in it blasted Saudi Arabia, the role of Saudis in 9/11, honor killings, and the treatment of women and Christians in Islamic states.

“It is said we are having a clash of civilizations,” wrote Lawrence, “but as we can plainly see, only one side is civilized.”

Europe continues its spasmodic “civilized” submission to Islam, that is, to the demands of its resident Muslims that it accommodate and integrate with minority aliens whose theocratic premises are antithetical to Western ideas of liberty. Observing Europe’s conversion into a caliphate is as unsettling as observing the reverse metamorphosis of a butterfly into a lowly worm. Denmark apologized for the Mohammed cartoons, and Sweden is diligently shutting down websites that carry any images that might be offensive to Muslims.

Muslims in Sweden and Germany are demanding that Sharia law be granted equal status with those countries’ secular legal codes. One must wonder when Europeans will grasp that “separate but equal” moral codes inevitably prove to be incompatible, and that one must eventually absorb the other, that is, the more assertive, consistent and uncompromising one must nullify the less assertive and more accommodating one. Very possibly many Europeans now regret having invited so many “guest workers” over the decades to perform menial labor, but one will never hear them curse the welfare states that necessitated inviting them to perform it. They’d rather riot and destroy property than give it up, as they did recently in France over the proposed labor law that gave employers some control over their employees.

In the meantime, the Danish cartoonists are still in hiding, and the Muslim Brotherhood, based in Egypt, has issued its own fatwahs on Arab intellectuals who implicitly question Islamic values by upholding some Western ones, including one on Wafa Sultan, who bravely repudiated Islam in its entirety on Al-Jazeera television. To question the validity, veracity or morality of the Koran or the Hadith, of course, is to commit apostasy, whose penalty is death. Islam tamed and made palatable, Islam gutted of its numerous jihadist imperatives and injunctions, would no longer be Islam.

How many Arab intellectuals will live long enough to reach that logical conclusion, if ever, remains to be seen. But you won’t hear their dilemma reported on the national news; bird flu and the latest Kennedy car accident are deemed more newsworthy. Note the news media’s hypocrisy of gleefully reporting the legal troubles of Rush Limbaugh over his painkiller addiction, and offering sympathy and understanding over the Rhode Island senator’s affliction.

Dictators who last long enough in power begin to grow bizarrely senile and increasingly irrational. Witness Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Less frequently, they become lucid. Muammar Qadhaffi of Libya is a case in point. On April 10th, on Al-Jazeera, sniffing the West’s confusion, and forgetting that he admitted that it was his regime’s terrorist agents who were responsible for the bombing of a fully-loaded 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland in 1988, and for which he paid compensation (but not with his life), proclaimed that Europe and the U.S. ought to just consent to become Islamic, or declare war on Islam. Would that Western leaders, such as President Bush and Prime Minister Blair, suffer from such episodes of either/or.

But the public polls of those two leaders are plummeting. Liberal and collectivist pundits and news anchors smell the defeat and are snapping at their heels.

Other predators smell the fear from as far away as South America. President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela is preparing to stick it to the U.S. by nationalizing all oil production in that country and by supplying oil virtually free to communist Cuba, while Evo Morales, president of Bolivia, will nationalize that country’s natural gas production in the name of “the people.” The U.S. had a chance to oust Chavez and his Gestapo when Venezuelans protested his dictatorial presidency, but passed it up in favor of equivocation and paper admonitions. It was too busy fighting the wrong war and promoting democracy in countries whose citizens wished to vote themselves their preferred brands of religious tyranny. And insisting that God was one of the Founders, his invisible signature is evident on the Declaration of Independence, and only an infidel couldn’t see it.

One must wonder just how dumb are the likes of Chavez and Morales. Surely they know that nationalized, government controlled industries invariably fail and require the eventual reintroduction of hated foreign technicians to maintain the value of their loot. The record is quite clear. Perhaps they do know it, and this is their way of deliberately destroying values in order to destroy a greater value, such as the U.S. Perhaps, like James Taggart in “Atlas Shrugged,” they want to hear us scream.

And President Ahmadinejad of newly nuclear Iran continues to give the U.S. and the West his version of the Bronx cheer.

The howling, yelping and growling you hear in the darkening night are the signals of creatures of the West’s own making. We daren’t hunt for them or even think of setting traps. That might upset PETA, the Animal Liberation Front, and environmentalists in the persons of Al Gore and the terrorists of Earth First.