For most of human history people have been afraid of being powerless, rather than of having power. Being powerless meant having no rights and no defense. It meant being a slave in name, or all but in name.
Today however millions of people in First World countries worry intensely over having too much power. This mindset causes them to abandon the traditional defensive and offensive mechanisms, and instead argue that the solution lies in giving up power, rather than in increasing power.
Where traditionally people were afraid being powerless, today the citizens of the civilized world are taught to be afraid of having power.
The core of the problem lies in the intellectual and cultural dominance of liberalism and the various left wing political strains, which have as their common denominator the idea that the country and its social system are oppressive and must be reformed.
As self-identified reformers, liberals identify attempts to conserve the system which they have identified as oppressive, as inherently oppressive. Therefore they identify conservatism with oppression and personally identify far more with "outsiders", including enemies, than with "insiders" who are their fellow citizens.
The monochromatic progressive worldview causes them to presume that power in the hands of someone equally progressive, or more progressive than them, is never being abused, since it is in the hands of a "reformer". While power in the hands of someone more conservative is naturally being abused, because it is in the hands of a "reactionary" which enables the current oppressive system.
Liberals do not define oppression in terms of prison camps, political repression or mass executions. They define it by how far a country is along the Conservative-Progressive axis. The more progressive a country is, to a liberal it is by definition less oppressive. By contrast a more conservative country is by liberal definitions more oppressive.
This explains why liberals can claim that Castro's Cuba is an oasis of freedom, while Bush's America was a brutal tyranny. Liberal definitions of tyranny have nothing to do with freedom of speech or not being put in front of a firing squad for criticizing the government. The only honest liberal barometer of tyranny is how conservative is the government.
Liberals then do not fear power, they fear power in someone else's hands. While liberals preach the gospel of non-violence, and warn against the use of power, they rarely ever mean it. Liberals willingly accept the use and abuse of power by a leader equally or more progressive than themselves.
Democrats did not have a problem with Clinton bombing the hell out of Serbia. The press which went stark raving mad at the Abu Ghaib detainees wearing women's underwear on their heads, had nothing to say when a commuter train and the Chinese Embassy were bombed.
Liberals protested any US action against Nazi Germany, up until the USSR went to war with Nazi Germany. Then the protests turned into denunciations of the US for not joining the fight. Trotskyist labor unions that attempted to go on strike during the war were suppressed in the US by Liberals and Communists.
Of course if it was this simple, then Western countries with liberal governments could defend themselves against Islamic terrorism. But there are complications.
First of all, the left has a virtually infinite amount of gradations, and military action taken by a moderate liberal will still be viciously denounced and campaigned against by those further on the left. Only an extreme left wing tyrant, the likes of Stalin or Castro can enjoy the unqualified support of most liberals and leftists.
Secondly, liberal cultural and intellectual influence throughout the 20th century has traditionally been disproportionate to the actual political power they hold. That tension between a conservative society and a more left wing academic and artistic elite in the West has made their preaching of the ideology of "Fear of Power" into something routine, in turn indoctrinating generation after generation with those same ideas.
While the West has moved to the left, it has never moved far enough and quickly enough to suit them. While the left originally foresaw the rise of worker's and peasant's states in the West, instead socialism has spawned well fed and entitled workers living the good life-- not ideal ingredients for revolutionary outrage. Instead the left under the guidance of the USSR turned to the Third World and came to view the West as "decadent" its prosperity, while the Third World had the potential for revolution.
While one dogmatic Trotskyite did have a habit of beginning his speeches in New York City with the address, "Workers and Peasants", the left has come to view the class struggle geographically, rather than demographically. Their new "Workers and Peasants" are more likely to be Mexicans, Africans, or particularly Muslims, who make up a large number of Europe's imported laborer and engage in such "revolutionary activities" as holding violent protest rallies and blowing up buses.
This has made liberal governments, particularly socialist ones, incapable of fighting against Islamic terrorism.
Thirdly, liberals have spent so long preaching "Fear of Power" that it has become a part of their mindset. While these fears tend to fall away with an appropriately progressive leader, such leaders are more becoming difficult to find, and the ideology nevertheless persists, tainting the idea of any kind of national self-defense.
Fourthly, liberals today distrust the military as a conservative institution. Transforming the military into a liberal institution would require taking it apart and putting it back together in ways that would make it mostly ineffective. This has made liberals far less capable of employing military power, and increased the cycle of mistrust of power. Instead liberals prefer to rely on more traditionally liberal institutions of power, such as the diplomatic corps, which thanks to its academic background, allows them to far more effectively leverage intellectual control over it.
These factors have seriously undermined the ability of liberal leaders to oppose Islamic terrorism, while also promoting the liberal support for Islamic terrorism. As the current cycle comes to a close, liberals must choose between maintaining a non-revolutionary liberal society, or allowing Islamic fascism to destroy their liberal societies in the name of a theocratic revolution. And all too few liberals seem to even understand the choice, let alone demonstrate any ability to make it.