Tuesday, July 12, 2005

The Big Picture...

The “War on Terror” is a war of ideas more than of bombs and bullets.

It is literally staggering to see the type of propaganda that is spread via the organs of mass media in the Islamic world. Imagine a prime-time mini-series called The Protocols of the Elders of Zion billed as “History”. Or, another in which Rabbis ritualistically sacrifice Palestinian children. This is pretty standard fare. The hatred preached is beyond our understanding in the West. We see it and laugh because it is so over-the-top. But it has been soaked up for decades by uneducated and unhappy people looking for a spot to place the blame for their miserable situation.

The people of the Middle East (and increasingly Asia) have been indoctrinated to believe the U.S. and Israel (the tool of the U.S.) are agents of evil and represent the oppression if not the outright destruction - of Islam. So, while they may disagree with bombings of subways and buses, many ordinary Muslims feel that these acts strike a blow against those who persecute Islam. 98+% of these people will never commit acts such as 9/11 but neither will they cooperate with authorities trying to apprehend the perpetrators or infiltrate the groups that foment the ideology necessary to conceive of them.

We in the West are shouting as loudly as we can that we mean no harm to Islam. But we are the only ones hearing it. The average Saudi or Egyptian or Indonesian or Uzbek only hears what his government wants him to…and that ain’t us. Even if they do hear what we’re saying, it’s so incongruous with the 99% of that which they read, hear, see – that our message is largely discarded.

If even 30% of Muslims the world over empathize with those who commit atrocities the likes of 9/11, 3/11 and 7/7, then we are in a world wide religious war that will last for decades.

It took us over THIRTY years to wake up to the fact that we are at war with Islamic extremists. From the Nixon administration and possibly earlier, we have lazily swatted at the threat as if it were a gnat buzzing around our collective head. Well, that gnat has RPGs and is doing all it can to acquire nuclear weapons.

Despite this, it is increasingly apparent that we are fighting this war in a manner that indicates we are more worried what our enemies think of us than we are about winning.

The events in Philadelphia of early July 1776 were a revolution. Having become wealthy and respectable, we’ve distanced ourselves from the messy and “lower” class idea of revolution. We need to remember that ours was - AND IS STILL - a revolution. Governance by the consent of the governed is by no means the standard model in the world…yet.

We need to take a page from the more recent revolutions in Russia and China: We need to export our revolution. We need to be as messianic today as Marx or Lenin or Mao. We need to counter and undermine doctrines that hold America or the West responsible for socio-economic malaise and political repression! We need to get this message to Muslims: You CAN elect your own governments and fix your countries and we’d like to help you do it.

Shiny new autonomous, pluralistic, democratic - and most important – ISLAMIC Republics in Afghanistan and Iraq would be impossible for the Islamic peoples of the world to ignore, no matter how much propaganda is slung at them.

This is what we need more than anything. The cost of doing this is mere pennies compared to sealing up America against terrorists for the next 50 or 75 years.

If we cut and run, if we give them the tiniest reason to think we can be intimidated, they'll ratchet up their attacks on us. If we don’t see this through, if we don’t win this war, the use of terrorism will skyrocket. Iran, the World’s #1 or #2 state supporter of terrorism, is on the verge of acquiring nuclear weapons. How long after that until one of these weapons ends up in the hands of someone like Mohammed Atta? Then there will be an attack that’ll make 9/11 look like a campfire sing-along. No, we are in a total war. We need to start fighting like we understand that fact. These people will not go away. They grow stronger every day, whether we fight them or not. They want war...we have nothing to say about it. We can defeat them now and take moderate casualties, or we can go back to the policy of keeping our head in the sand...and suffer hundreds or thousands of times the casualties later.

This is the challenge of our time.

A challenge which I greatly fear we are not up to.


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