It's not true that the only good terrorist is a dead terrorist. Even dead terrorists aren't good. But at least they're dead.
And that helps.
But political correctness has possessed Washington. It's so bad that even Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who's done a great job in many other respects, parrots the cliché that "we can't kill our way out of this."
Well, folks, there's no other way out of this all-or-nothing struggle with fanatics. Three thousand years of history teach that there's no alternative -- none -- to killing fanatics in large numbers when your enemies are ablaze with religious zeal.
We tell ourselves that one more charm offensive, one more inept aid program, one more surge of troops who aren't allowed to fight will persuade terrorists on a murderous mission from their god to lay down their arms and run for alderman.
We refuse to see the world through terrorist eyes. Instead, we superimpose liberal-arts-faculty values on bloodthirsty zealots, asking what we've done to make them so angry.
The result? We grant captured terrorists more rights and better treatment than nonviolent offenders in a US county jail. We cater to them at the gentrified prison at Guantanamo (yet the global media insist that Gitmo's just a big torture chamber).
We tell ourselves we'll impress our enemies with our humanitarianism. But how many Gitmo prisoners have turned pacifist or expressed regrets? If you were convinced that you were doing God's will, would you be budged by a captor who gives you priority health care, a religiously correct diet, special worship privileges and free legal counsel? Allah has made his enemies weak .
The laws of war provide for the battlefield execution of illegal combatants -- those who refuse to wear uniforms or identifying insignia or who commit atrocities. Instead, we give them flu shots before American citizens can get them.
When a madcap ideologue such as Attorney General Eric Holder tells Congress we mustn't be afraid to try terrorists in our judicial system, he gets it exactly wrong. The terrorists believe we're afraid to kill them. And they're right.
So we'll get the upcoming propaganda bonanza of the trial of 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his terrorist barbershop quartet. And we'll squander hundreds of millions of dollars on special security precautions in Manhattan. The inevitable outcome? We'll make heroes of the terrorists throughout the Muslim world.
Meanwhile, down in Texas, terrorist assassin Maj. Nidal Hasan's lawyer is already making a mockery of our judicial system. Hasan will become a terrorist icon, too.
And even if Hasan, KSM and the boys are all convicted of multiple counts of premeditated murder, they won't be executed for many years to come -- if ever.
How does this deter fanatical enemies? Our insistence on treating terrorism as shoplifting that got a little out of hand does not protect Americans.
Terrified of the new global reality, Washington refuses to accept that we're no longer dealing with the political terrorists of the 20th century -- some of whom could, indeed, be won over or bought off. We're now dealing with religious madmen hungry for an apocalypse. And our government and the media scramble to deny that Islam has anything to do with it. The poor terrorists just have grievances.
If Khalid Sheik Mohammed has a heart attack during his trial, he'll get better health care than most Post readers. Paralyzed from the waist down, Maj. Hasan will get priority on rehab treatment over our vets from Iraq and Afghanistan.
Bring terrorists to Manhattan? They should never have made it to Gitmo.
Ralph Peters' latest book is "The War After Armageddon."