I’ve watched with dismay the events of the last week as the Middle East has erupted in flames.

I’ve watched with even greater dismay the response, or lack thereof, from the U.S.

The continued insistence on blaming a — bad — movie for the region-wide, indeed world-wide, “protests” is disingenuous at best.

The attack on the Benghazi consulate was well executed, involved heavy weapons and was obviously well timed as the attackers knew the ambassador would be there and would be only lightly defended.

That the administration continues to kowtow to the “Arab Street” and it’s perpetual victimhood is to be expected. While this administration’s record of dealing with the whackjobs in the Middle East is pathetic, the record of previous administrations dating all the way back to Carter is hardly better — with rare exceptions such as Reagan bombing Libya into submission in the 1980s — indeed Western Civilization’s record with radical Islam is execrable ever since we decided those crusade things were a bad idea.

I’ve said it before, we’re dealing with a 12th century mindset in the 21st century.

Islamic culture does not make so fine a distinction between noncombatants and combatants as we do. Nor do they worry overmuch about “civilized tactics,” particularly when dealing with “infidels.”

To the radical Muslim, anything done to an infidel is permissible. The restrictions on warfare in the Koran apply only to fellow believers.

Moreover the radicals — and make no mistake they are the ones really in charge — have no fear of us.

In Arab culture loyalty is to family first, clan second, then tribe and finally — and only notionally — to something as abstract as a nation. Anyone who is not a member of your tribe, clan or family, is a potential enemy — and taking advantage of enemies is simply good sense. Indeed there is no concept of the peculiarly Western and particularly American idea of “fair play.”

Weakness is not something to be protected but despised — and taken advantage of.

We have seen this over and over again. Any perception of weakness on the part of the West has been ruthlessly exploited. From the weak responses to the first World Trade Center and USS Cole bombings to the unilateral pullout of troops after we took minor casualties in Somalia, and on to laws across the Western world criminalizing anyone who speaks out against radical Muslims we have repeatedly shown the radicals we are weak.

Despite their rhetoric, if they truly thought we were as evil, as ruthless, as bloodthirsty as they say we are, they would not dare to attack us.

And here, finally, I come to the point.

We must finally wake up and realize we are in a war. Have been in a war for decades. Indeed this is simply the latest phase in a war which started in the 7th Century when Muhammad and his followers boiled out of the Arabian Peninsula a’conquering and to conquer.

Islam as currently extant and Western Civilization are simply incompatible.

Over the weekend I watched again Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. In it is perhaps the best — and starkest — description of the difference between Islam and Christianity I’ve ever heard “Allah says ‘Submit’ and Jesus says ‘Choose.’”

Until we understand that stark difference. Until we stop showing weakness, we will face an ever escalating series of attacks, both violent and rhetorical.

Until one civilization or the other changes — and in so doing ceases to exist.

All IMHO, of course.

(Patrick Richardson is the managing editor of the Cherokee County News-Advocate. He can be emailed at pat.richardson@sekvoice.com.)