The Sickness Of Our Age

The depravity of the terrorist insurgency in Iraq was on full display yesterday when terrorist attackers killed 27 people, most of them children. Sadly, this isn’t the first time the terrorists have deliberately targeted Iraqi children in suicide attacks. The Mudville Gazette follows the story of these inhumane attacks on children:

Some day you may hear someone describing the virtues of the “resistance” or “freedom fighters” in Iraq , or claiming moral equivalence between these animals and coalition soldiers. You may even hear someone say we’re on a “crusade” against Muslims. When you do, send them here.

What can be said of such monsters, other than the civilized world has every moral imperative to hunt down and destroy such barbarism? Michael Moore disgustingly referred to the terrorists operating in Iraq as being analogous to Minutemen – and he’s still regarded as something of a folk hero by the left. Yet as the blood of children is still on the streets of Baghdad, it is clear that the goal of the “resistance” is to murder everyone that doesn’t adhere to their fanatical Salafist ideology.

Fortunately, the Sunni community in Iraq is beginning to understand the reality of their situation:

A senior aide to Al Qaeda leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi, Abu Abd al Aziz, was captured. Al Aziz is second in command of al Qaeda forces in Baghdad, and a key organizer of terrorist attacks. For many Iraqi police, shutting down al Qaeda has become something of an obsession. Iraqi television and radio cover this battle with the terrorists intensely. The deaths of Iraqi civilians and security troops are given front page coverage, as are the operations against the terrorists. Much to the dismay of Iraqi Sunni Arabs, the media keeps pointing out that nearly all the Iraqi supporters of the al Qaeda terrorists are Sunni Arabs. The leaders of the Iraqi Sunni Arab community are working hard to prove their loyalty, before popular opinion against Iraqi Sunni Arabs gets out of control, and widespread attacks on Sunni Arabs begins.

The Sunnis know quite well that they’re a minority in Iraq. If the US leaves before there’s a political solution to Iraq’s ethic struggles, there’s a much larger chance that the Shi’ites will start punishing the Sunnis for decades of brutal repression. There’s no stronger political power than self-interest, and the Sunnis are beginning to realize that their self-interest lies in getting rid of al-Qaeda and getting themselves a seat at the table with the new Iraqi government.

The Belmont Club makes an important point about the ultimate way of defeating the terrorists:

Logically, a large part of the War on Terror will consist of creating an insurgency within the insurgency. Fighting Islamic extremism must comprise organizing a revolt against Islam’s internal oppressors. That would include waging intellectual war against Islamic fundamentalism within its own theological context — a reformation — it will include creating clandestine cells to strike at the gangs which beat women and intimidate men within the community. It will require all the skills of a resistance fighter struggling against bearded Big Brother. The Left has a word for such people: “Uncle Toms”. That is how they’ve already characterized Hirsi Ali. That is to be expected. But many conservatives have also been blind to the urgent requirement of creating a liberation movement within Islam, in part because they half believe all Muslims are themselves the enemy; in part because they despair of Muslims ever rising up against the medieval institutions which constrain them; in part because they haven’t thought about it. But they should. That pile of bloody children’s slippers on an Iraqi street is a tally of spirits who were created to be free.

That’s why the dreaded “neocons” got things right, and why the Bush Administration had to do a massive 180 on the efficacy of nation-building in the post-9/11 period. Creating a democratic Middle East may seem like an excessively utopian vision, but it’s also the only prudent realpolitik we have at the moment. From 1979 onwards, radical Islam has been allowed to fester and metastasize across the Middle East, Central Asia, Southwest Asia, and even in the Western world. There’s almost no place on Earth where radical Islam has not found some kind of purchase.

The only way to combat that cancer is to create “antibodies” in the form of an Islamic identity that is compatible with the principles of democracy, tolerance, and human rights. The only way to do that is to specifically target the autocracies of the Arab world, the “tumor” that continues to spread the infection worldwide. That requires untying the Gordian knot in the region and creating a place where a more tolerant and democratic form of Islam can thrive – and Iraq was the logical place to begin such a process. Undoubtedly Paul Wolfowitz was familiar with the Najaf school of Shi’a Islam and how it was a strain of Islamic thought that was compatible with democracy and peace – and Ayatollah Sistani has proven to be a wise and patient leader of the Iraqi Shi’ites. Without his help, the situation in Iraq could have easily spiraled out of control.

Afghanistan couldn’t serve that purpose. While we must continue to support a free Afghanistan, Afghans are not ethnically Arab. They don’t speak Arabic as their native tongue. Afghanistan itself was a base for al-Qaeda, but only in logistical terms. Afghanistan was just a means to al-Qaeda’s end, and they quickly abandoned it once it was clear that the Taliban would fall.

The Islamists do pose an existential threat to them, but that threat can be ended if we make it very clear that we will not let them win. Al-Qaeda feeds off of the hatred of the Arab world, but also the percieved weakness of the West. Bin Laden’s own comments and fatwas make it quite clear that he believed the West, especially America, to be paper tigers. Basic human nature tells us that losing battles tend not to attract many recruits – oh, we love to romanticize the brave people who fight against all odds, but they are a distinct minority. However, basic human nature also tells us that fighting a losing battle on the side of a group of thugs who engage in the wholesale slaughter of children appeals only to the most barbaric in society – and those people aren’t enough to form a major movement without the passivity of others.

The violence in Iraq, as horrific as it is, is ultimately destructive. The terrorists are raging against us, and so far the American people are illustrating that we will not allow them to win. However, our chattering classes and many Democratic politicians are sending mixed messages in that regard – which is why they’re getting tagged with terms like “defeatist.” Calling Iraq a “quagmire” and “another Vietnam” tells the terrorists that all they have to do is keep up the pressure, and we’ll soon leave Iraq high and dry just like we did to South Vietnam.

The path to winning this war is both simple and difficult: we have to stay in Iraq and we have to keep getting the Iraqi people ready to defend themselves. We must continue to do more to spread civil society in Iraq – which is why groups like Spirit of America are so absolutely critical towards fostering a new Islamic Reformation.

Ultimately, this war isn’t between the US and Iraq, or the US and the terrorists. This war is between the people of the civilized world and the enemies of civilization. We’re all a part of this battle, American and Iraqi, Briton and Saudi, Australian and Iranian. The enemy we fight is an enemy that can and must be defeated by the concerted use of direct military force, nation-building, intelligence, clandestine operation, police work, and most importantly creating the conditions for a new form of Islam.

We cannot allow terrorism to fester. The alternative will inevitably lead to a devastating terrorist attack which will spawn recriminations from the West that has every potential of ending millions of lives. The forces of radical Islam are not only an existential threat to the West, they’re an existential threat to Islam itself, and it remains imperative that we not allow this cancer to spread.

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