In Fallujah, where they're pining away for the return of the Hussein thugocracy, the US is putting together a measured response to the atrocities perpetrated on those civilian contractors last week. The main theme seems to be, "Let's not make the situation any worse by responding too harshly," perhaps killing some innocent civilians. If the idea is to save American soldiers' lives, by avoiding ambushes and traps, then it might be a sound policy in the end, as long as they end up going house-to-house and putting a toe-tag on every one of those pricks who was dancing in front of the cameras. We'll see about that, but the idea of not wanting to rile up the natives, is a very bad joke. The natives are riled, already. They need a serious dose of "pacification," at this juncture.
In Baghdad and elsewhere yesterday, supporters of the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr went nuts, killing a bunch of soldiers while attempting to take over a few areas that have been receptive to the Shiite cleric's ravings. They were angry over Saturday's arrest on murder charges of one of al-Sadr's aides, Mustafa al-Yacoubi, and the closure of a pro-al-Sadr newspaper, which had been calling for violent insurgency against the coalition forces for months.
The coalition is obviously wary of angering the Shiite majority, but these fundamentally crazy zealots are NOT going to embrace the "western-style democracy" we have been trying to install, in place of the horrific Hussein regime. Like their Sunni counterparts, they want the whole enchilada, and are willing to fight a civil war to attempt to achieve their religious hegemony. Never mind the Kurds, up north, who are girding for a war of their own, to protect the slim collection of assets they've managed to secure.
The zealots are our enemies, and they will always be our enemies, especially if they sense weakness on our part. It's time for a few violent reprisals of our own, and a serious crackdown on the organizations and clerics who are fomenting trouble. The majority of Iraqis are still on our side, but they are justifiably afraid of the terrorist-faction in their midst. They, too, need to see that we are not afraid to take drastic action to quell the violence. And no, violence does not beget violence, in this kind of situation. Appeasement and mollycoddling of terrorists begets violence, and more terrorist-activity, as the Israelis have learned over the past decades.
Below, Weiss points out the absurdity of paying attention to, and deferring to, the angry mobs of Islamofascism. We have every right and duty to defend ourselves from these crazies, just as Israel has the right to defend herself from being annihilated by the groups whose sole raison d'etre is just that difficult task.
Below that, Hanson worries that we might have been wrong, about the Arab capacity for democratic self-government. The next couple of years in Iraq will answer that question, but right now, it's not looking too good.
The Bush Administration has always stated, and rightly so, that the final say on the future of Iraq lies within the people of that traumatized country. All we are doing, is giving them a fighting chance to escape the medieval thuggery of their past, which continues to engulf the entire Gulf region. At some point, they have to take full control of their destiny. It's ridiculous to think the moderate, democratic faction will be ready to assume that function in June of this year, as the timetable currently stands.
So the question remains did Saddam create Fallujah or Fallujah Saddam?--Hanson
A thorny, politically-incorrect question, but one about which the West needs to think very seriously.
A world obsessed with Arab anger
by Craig Weiss
Apr. 4, 2004 12:00 AM
Israel landed a devastating blow at Palestinian terror by assassinating Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, the leader of Hamas, two weeks ago. Yassin was responsible for directing terror attacks that claimed the lives of hundreds of Israelis and tens of Americans.
In a too-familiar scene, the United Nations Security Council swiftly voted to condemn Israel's focused response to Palestinian terror. Although the United States vetoed this preposterous resolution, the Bush administration admonished Israel for escalating tensions in the region.
The purported justification for these criticisms is that Israel's action threatens to increase Palestinian rage, and thus to promote further acts of terror.
Both the Security Council vote and the U.S. criticism reveal a dangerous mind-set that threatens American and Israeli lives. The accepted worldview is that when fighting terror, one must avoid actions that are liable to enrage the Arab world, however effective and justified those actions might otherwise be.
Under this principle, however, Muslim extremists have veto power over any effective counterterrorism policy. After every successful Israeli strike against a Palestinian terrorist, we are accustomed to seeing television images of angry Palestinians firing AK-47s in the air and chanting "Death to Israel" and "Death to America." Hamas' new leader recently labeled George W. Bush an "enemy of God."
The United States was not deterred by the threat of Arab rage after 9/11. The result was the dismantling of two despotic regimes.
Far from increasing Arab rage, America's victories have inspired fear among those who wish to cause us harm. Lybia, which once sent terrorists to bomb Pan Am Flight 103, is now voluntarily dismantling its nuclear arms program.
Similarly, a serious look at the numbers shows that Israel's policy of targeted assassinations has had the effect of decreasing, not increasing, terrorism. Israel began a serious campaign of targeting terrorist leaders in early 2003, resulting in a 50 percent decrease in the number of Israeli victims of terror as compared with the previous year.
Israel's policy has also saved Palestinian lives, as the number of Palestinian dead decreased by 30 percent over the same period. Without terrorist ringleaders around to send unwitting Palestinian children and adolescents to murder Israeli civilians, the region will continue to become less tense and more peaceful.
Yet, the world maintains its obsession with Arab anger. The most common tactic used by those who wish to legitimize Arab rage is to stress the need to explore the "root causes" of terrorism.
According to this view, terrorists who murder children have some reason for doing so, which, after investigation, will lead the rest of us to better understand them. Of course, no perceived or actual wrong can justify the targeted, mass slaughter of innocent civilians.
In the case of Israel, the accepted view is that Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are the root cause of Palestinian terrorism. This position not only legitimizes terrorism, but it condones racism and genocide. We should not respect or cater to the emotions of people who are moved to kill because they do not like the religious persuasion of their neighbors.
Tellingly, while world leaders are preoccupied over rage in the Arab world, there seems to be no concern whatsoever about the emotional stability of Westerners. Is anyone worried that if there is one more suicide bombing in Israel, Jews will start blowing themselves up in Palestinian pizza parlors? Was the world concerned that after 9/11, enraged Americans would fly planes into Saudi Arabian buildings?
A more sensible evaluation of Arab anger should consider those things that do not rile Arab emotions. We should ask why Palestinians do not seem to mind that while their economic situation is desperate, Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat has embezzled more than a billion dollars. (Just last month, French authorities discovered that Arafat had wired $10 million to his wife so she could rent an entire hotel floor for herself at $16,000 a night).
We must ask why Palestinians are angry enough to blow up Israeli children, yet unperturbed that local terror leaders seduce their young sons into committing murder with the absurd promise that such acts will grant them 72 virgins. The lack of Palestinian anger over self-inflicted crimes highlights the dysfunction of Palestinian anger directed at Israel's efforts to defend itself.
By catering to the murderous rage of Arab terrorists, we only promote more rage. Arab anger is an internal Arab problem that we cannot tame, and that only they can solve. They must free themselves from a murderous fury that, in the case of the Palestinians, prevents them from building positive communities based on laudable values. We cannot do this for them.
If the West is going to win the war on terror, we need to stop becoming distracted with what may or may not enrage Arab radicals, and start focusing on the most effective way to defeat Arab terrorists. Israel's targeted killings of terrorist masterminds is a good start.
April 4, 2004
The Mirror of Fallujah
No more passes and excuses for the Middle East
Victor Davis Hanson
What are we to make of scenes from the eighth-century in Fallujah? Random murder, mutilation of the dead, dismemberment, televised gore, and pride in stringing up the charred corpses of those who sought to bring food to the hungry? Perhaps we can shrug and say all this is the wage of Saddam Hussein and the thirty years of brutality of his Baathists that institutionalized such barbarity? Or was the carnage the dying scream of Baathist hold-outs intent on shocking the Western world at home watching it live? We could speculate for hours.
Yet I fear that we have not seen anything new. Flip through the newspaper and the stories are as depressing as they are monotonous: bombs in Spain; fiery clerics promising death in England, even as explosive devices are uncovered in France. In-between accounts of bombings in Iraq, we get the normal murdering in Israel, and daily assassination in Pakistan, Turkey, Morocco, and Chechnya. Murder, dismemberment, torture—these all seem to be the acceptable tools of Islamic fundamentalism and condoned as part of justifiable Middle East rage. Sheik Yassin is called a poor crippled “holy man” who ordered the deaths of hundreds, as revered in the Arab World for his mass murder as Jerry Falwell is condemned in the West for his occasional slipshod slur about Muslims.
Yet the hourly killing is perhaps not merely the wages of autocracy, but part of a larger grotesquery of Islamic fundamentalism on display. The Taliban strung up infidels from construction cranes and watched, like Romans of old, gory stoning and decapitations in soccer stadiums built with UN largess. In the last two years, Palestinian mobs have torn apart Israeli soldiers, lynched their own, wired children with suicide bombing vests, and machine-gunned down women and children—between sickening scenes of smearing themselves with the blood of “martyrs.” Very few Arab intellectuals or holy men have condemned such viciousness.
Daniel Pearl had his head cut off on tape; an American diplomat was riddled with bullets in Jordan. Or should we turn to Lebanon and gaze at the work of Hezbollah—its posters of decapitated Israeli soldiers proudly on display? Some will interject that the Saudis are not to be forgotten—whose religious police recently allowed trapped school girls to be incinerated rather than have them leave the flaming building unescorted, engage in public amputations, and behead adulteresses. But Mr. Assad erased from memory the entire town of Hama. And why pick on Saddam Hussein, when earlier Mr. Nasser, heartthrob to the Arab masses, gassed Yemenis? The Middle-East coffee houses cry about the creation of Israel and the refugees on the West Bank only to snicker that almost 1,000,000 Jews were ethnically cleansed from the Arab world.
And then there is the rhetoric. Where else in the world do mainstream newspapers talk of Jews as the children of pigs and apes? And how many wacky Christian or Hindu fundamentalists advocate about the mass murder of Jews or promise death to the infidel? Does a Western leader begin his peroration with “O evil infidel” or does Mr. Sharon talk of “virgins” and “blood-stained martyrs?”
Conspiracy theory in the West is the domain of Montana survivalists and Chomsky-like wackos; in the Arab world it is the staple of the state-run media. This tired strophe and antistrophe of threats and retractions, and braggadocio and obsequiousness grates on the world at large. So Hamas threatens to bring the war to the United States, and then back peddles and says not really. So the Palestinians warn American diplomats that they are not welcome on the soil of the West Bank—as if any wish to return when last there they were murdered trying to extend scholarships to Palestinian students.
I am sorry, but these toxic fumes of the Dark-Ages permeate everywhere. It won’t do any more simply to repeat quite logical exegeses. Without consensual government, the poor Arab Middle East is caught in the throes of rampant unemployment, illiteracy, statism, and corruption. Thus in frustration it vents through its state-run media invective against Jews and Americans to assuage the shame and pain. Whatever.
But at some point the world is asking: “Is Mr. Assad or Hussein, the Saudi Royal Family, or a Khadafy really an aberration—all rogues who hijacked Arab countries—or are they the logical expression of a tribal patriarchal society whose frequent tolerance of barbarism is in fact reflected in its leadership? Are the citizens of Fallujah the victims of Saddam, or did folk like this find their natural identity expressed in Saddam? Postcolonial theory and victimology argue that European colonialism, Zionism, and petrodollars wrecked the Middle East. But to believe that one must see India in shambles, Latin America under blanket autocracy, and an array of suicide bombers pouring out of Mexico or Nigeria. South Korea was a moonscape of war when oil began gushing out of Iraq and Saudi Arabia; why is it now exporting cars while the latter are exporting death? Apartheid was far worse than the Shah’s modernization program; yet why did South Africa renounce nuclear weapons while the Mullahs cheated on every UN protocol they could?
No, there is something peculiar to the Middle East that worries the world. The Arab world for years has promulgated a quite successful media image as perennial victims—proud folks, suffering under a series of foreign burdens, while nobly maintaining their grace and hospitality. Middle-Eastern Studies programs in the United States and Europe published an array of mostly dishonest accounts of Western culpability, sometimes Marxist, sometimes anti-Semitic that were found to be useful intellectual architecture for the edifice of panArabism, as if Palestinians or Iraqis shared the same oppressions, the same hopes, and the same ideals as downtrodden American people of color—part of a universal “other” deserving victim status and its attendant blanket moral exculpation. But the curtain has been lifted since 9-11 and the picture we see hourly now is not pretty.
Imagine an Olympics in Cairo? Or an international beauty pageant in Riyadh? Perhaps an interfaith world religious congress would like to meet in Teheran? Surely we could have the World Cup in Beirut? Is there a chance to have a World Bank conference in Ramallah or Tripoli? Maybe Damascus could host a conference of the world’s neurosurgeons?
And then there is the asymmetry of it all. Walk in hushed tones by a mosque in Iraq, yet storm and desecrate the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank with impunity. Blow up and assassinate Westerners with unconcern; yet scream that Muslims are being questioned about immigration status in New York. Damn the West as you try to immigrate there; try to give the Middle East a fair shake while you prefer never to visit such a place. Threaten with death and fatwa any speaker or writer who “impugns” Islam, demand from Western intellectuals condemnation of any Christians who speak blasphemously of the Koran.
I have purchased Israeli agricultural implements, computer parts, and read books translated from the Hebrew; so far, nothing in the contemporary Arab world has been of much value in offering help to the people of the world in science, agriculture, or medicine. When there is news of 200 murdered in Madrid or Islamic mass-murdering of Christians in the Sudan, or suicide bombing in Israel, we no longer look for moderate mullahs and clerics to come forward in London or New York to condemn it. They rarely do. And if we might hear a word of reproof, it is always qualified by the ubiquitous “but”—followed by a litany of qualifiers about Western colonialism, Zionism, racism, and hegemony that have the effects of making the condemnation either meaningless or in fact a sort of approval.
Yet it is not just the violence, the boring threats, the constant televised hatred, the temper-tantrums of fake intellectuals on televisions, the hypocrisy of anti-Western Arabs haranguing America and Europe from London or Boston, or even the pathetic shouting and fist-shaking of the ubiquitous Arab street. Rather the global village is beginning to see that the violence of the Middle East is not aberrant, but logical. Its misery is not a result of exploitation or colonialism, but self-induced. Its fundamentalism is not akin to that of reactionary Hinduism, Buddhism, or Christianity, but of an altogether different and much fouler brand.
The enemy of the Middle East is not the West so much as modernism itself and the humiliation that accrues when millions themselves are nursed by fantasies, hypocrisies, and conspiracies to explain their own failures. Quite simply, any society in which citizens owe their allegiance to the tribe rather than the nation, do not believe in democracy enough to institute it, shun female intellectual contributions, allow polygamy, insist on patriarchy, institutionalize religious persecution, ignore family planning, expect endemic corruption, tolerate honor killings, see no need to vote, and define knowledge as mastery of the Koran is deeply pathological.
When one adds to this depressing calculus that for all the protestations of Arab nationalism, Islamic purity and superiority, and whining about a decadent West, the entire region is infected with a burning desire for things Western—from cell phones and computers to videos and dialysis, you have all the ingredients for utter disaster and chaos. How after all in polite conversation can you explain to an Arab intellectual that the GDP of Jordan or Morocco has something to do with an array of men in the early afternoon stuffed into coffee shops spinning conspiracy tales, drinking coffee, and playing board games while Japanese, Germans, Chinese, and American women and men are into their sixth hour on the job? Or how do you explain that while Taiwanese are studying logarithms, Pakistanis are chanting from the Koran in Dark-Age madrassas? And how do you politely point out that while the New York Times and Guardian chastise their own elected officials, the Arab news in Damascus or Cairo is free only to do the same to us?
I support the bold efforts of the United States to make a start in cleaning up this mess, in hopes that a Fallujah might one day exorcize its demons. But in the meantime, we should have no illusions about the enormity of our task, where every positive effort will be met with violence, fury, hypocrisy, and ingratitude.
If we are to try to bring some good to the Middle East, then we must first have the intellectual courage to confess that for the most part the pathologies embedded there are not merely the work of corrupt leaders but often the very people who put them in place and allowed them to continue their ruin.
So the question remains did Saddam create Fallujah or Fallujah Saddam?