Root Causes

Mitch Berg has a vigorous fisking on the concept of appeasement in the war on terrorism. He’s right on when he notes:

Saying the “war on terror” begins and ends with Bin Laden and Al Quada is like treating the flu by putting a cork in your throat so you can’t throw up; it treats an obvious symptom without addressing ANY of the causes.

That’s exactly the point. When the fires were still burning against Ground Zero, the anti-war left argued that we needed to address the “root causes” or we’d just be “creating more terrorists”.

They were right, but for the wrong reasons.

The argument was that we were the root causes – by American action (supporting Israel) we had “created” bin Laden and al-Qaeda. (As a side note, the CIA did not give money to bin Laden. He neither needed it, nor would have taken it from us. We did not fund the so-called “Afghan Arabs”, but the native mujihadeen. We did give money to people like Ahmed Shah Masood – who later formed the Northern Alliance that once again fought for freedom with us in Operation Enduring Freedom.)

This argument is not only defeatist, but specious. If American action causes terrorism it should have been Chileans piloting planes into the World Trade Center – but Chile is a relatively well-functioning country right now. We have intervened far more in our own hemisphere than we ever have in the Middle East, but terrorism is largely a Middle Eastern/Muslim issue.

The real root causes is the cultural failure of the Arab world which has produced a culture of death throughout the Middle East that has slowly metastasized across the world. This cultural failure has left the Middle East a basketcase of theocracy and autocracy where once the greatest center of learning in the world was once located. Scholars like Bernard Lewis have done an excellent job of elucidating the causes of this failure, but the most salient point is that the status quo cannot be allowed to continue.

As Berg notes, what if we captured bin Laden tomorrow? Would the war be over?

The answer is no – and it would be dangerous to argue that it would. Bin Laden is but the symptom of the larger problem. Bin Ladenism doesn’t end with bin Laden – it thrives in places like Karachi and Gaza, Tehran and Damascus. Unless we fight it there, we will have given ourselves an entirely fradulent sense of security.

Another terrorist attack would not only claim thousands more lives, it would shatter our economy once again. Those who think that the economy is more important than terrorism should consider that terrorism has dire economic effects – ask someone who worked in the travel industry after September 11. Those attacks drained over a trillion dollars from our economy when all was said and done. Another, deadlier attack could be even more catastrophic.

Either we end the doctrine of Islamofascism as we did with Nazism and fascism in World War II or we damn ourselves to decades of perpetual terrorism and perpetual war. We damn millions in the Middle East to theocratic and autocratic slavery. We would be turning our back on the most fundamental values of human rights and world peace. If we sell out Israel and the process we would be party to a second Holocaust.

This doesn’t mean we need to invade the entire Middle East. We neither could nor would we want to do so. That does means supporting the freedom of the Iraqi people. It means giving as much aid as we can to the Iranian democracy movement. It means ensuring that nuclear proliferation does not spread to the region. It means supporting the one functional democracy in the region – Israel. It means that the old doctrine of supporting terrorists as legitimate leaders must be thrown out the window. It means that countries like Syria know that supporting terrorism is no longer acceptable.

It means electing leaders who see this war for what it is rather than a police action.

We can not – we dare not – engage in such dangerous and idiotic delusions. We either prosecute this war as a war, or we risk the lives of those who will have to clean up after the mess we didn’t have the courage to touch. The costs of doing so then would be incalculably higher.

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