Against the War--For Now
The West made a mess of the Middle East, and one day the West will have to clean it up. But not today.
As a lifelong lefty of the commie- pinko-faggot variety, I was shocked to wake up one day and find myself just slightly to the left of far-far-right raving psycho superstar Ann Coulter. In a column she wrote for National Review Online two days after the September 11 attacks, Coulter suggested that the United States "invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity."
Someone at work handed me a copy of Coulter's infamous 9/11 column after listening to me rant about the attacks and what our response should be. Sitting in front of the television, watching the remains of the World Trade Center burn, I had been telling my fellow lefties that we no longer had a choice: We would have to invade the Middle East, depose absolutely everybody--the Taliban in Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein in Iraq, Bashar al-Assad in Syria, Saudi royals in Saudi Arabia--and start all over again. My position was rooted, I felt, in a lefty analysis of September 11: Our support for tyrants, dictators, and fascist monarchs created the anger and irrationality that led to the attacks. As Bob Kerrey wrote in the Wall Street Journal, "[I]t has been a terrible and tragic mistake for the U.S. to be in favor of freedom every place on earth except in Arab nations."
Unlike Coulter, though, I wasn't in favor of converting "them" to Christianity; replacing one idiotic fairy tale with another doesn't seem like a net gain to me. But I was--and still am--in favor of the West remaking the Middle East--AKA invading their countries and deposing their leaders. Like Ann Coulter, I felt that what we witnessed on September 11 wasn't just about Osama bin Laden, the Taliban, and Afghanistan. Islamo-fascism is a regional problem, like European fascism--and the Middle East would have to be remade just as Europe was remade.
What right does the West have to remake the Middle East? Well, the West made the region the mess it is today. At the end of World War I, the British drew lines in the sand around fictions they called "states," lumping together different--and often warring--ethnic, tribal, and religious groups. We know now that these pseudo-states could only be ruled by brute force and that they would ultimately become breeding grounds for a murderous strain of religious fanaticism. (When we redraw the lines--and we will--hopefully this time we'll have the wisdom to draw them around things that actually exist, like Kurdistan.) After creating these pseudo-states, the West made a bad situation worse by creating and arming many of the tyrants who ruled over them. As Christopher Hitchens wrote in the Nation, the fact that we helped tyrants achieve power in the Middle East should not prevent us from removing them from power; instead our history in the region doubles or triples our responsibility to remove them from power. "The sponsorship of the Taliban," Hitchens wrote, "could be redeemed by the demolition of its regime and the liberation of its victims."
The same argument Hitchens applied to the Taliban in Afghanistan applies to Saddam Hussein in Iraq--and Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and Saudi royals in Saudi Arabia. That Iraq wasn't in bed with al Qaeda--the supposed trump card of the antiwar protesters--is beside the point. We should remove Saddam from power because we owe it to the people of Iraq, and because we have to start remaking the Middle East somewhere. Why not Iraq? Normandy wasn't Berlin, but that's where we started rolling back the Nazis.
But what right do we have to impose our values on them? About as much right as we had to impose "our" values on them Germans. There's also the small matter of our values being superior--can we lefties get behind that concept? While we often fall short in practice, in theory, the equality of the sexes, religious freedom, the separation of church and state, tolerance, and secularism are superior to religious fascism as practiced in Saudi Arabia and secular fascism as practiced in Iraq. And then there's the small matter of the Islamo-fascists' stated desire to impose their values on us. In November of last year, Osama bin Laden sent a letter to the American people. In case you missed it, here's the gist: "The first thing that we are calling you to is Islam.... We call you to reject the immoral acts of fornication, homosexuality, intoxicants, gambling, and trading with interest."
Osama calls on us to replace the U.S. Constitution with Sharia law (stoning adulterers, decapitating homos, etc.), cease separating "religion from policies," and end our "support [for] the liberation of women." If we don't get with the Islamo-fascist program, Osama says we should "expect [him] in New York and Washington."
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Osama's letter reminded me why I supported the war to remove the Taliban from power in Afghanistan, and why I support the coming war on Iraq. Or supported the coming war on Iraq. I'm officially against the war now--or against it for now, I should say--which may or may not please the peaceniks who've bothered to read this far.
Did the people in the streets convince me? No. Yes. Sorta. I believe in the power of people taking to the streets. I lived in West Berlin when demonstrations brought down the East German government; I was in Prague when the demonstrations toppled Czechoslovakia's communist rulers. George W. Bush's dismissal of massive demonstrations all over the world--calling them "focus groups"--only served to prove something we already knew: The man is an idiot.
And so are a lot of the protesters. "Violence never solved anything." Really? Violence solved the Holocaust. "Bombs just make more terrorists." Really? We dropped more bombs on Vietnam than we dropped on Europe during World War II. Where are all the Vietnamese terrorists? "Innocent people will die." True enough--but innocent people are dying right now in Iraq. The left's selective empathy is shocking. My lefty pals feel the pain of Iraqi civilians--but only the pain that the U.S. inflicts or might inflict. You don't hear much from the left about the pain that Saddam Hussein inflicts. "War kills the innocent." No, the status quo in the Middle East kills the innocent--and as we've seen in Manhattan and Bali, not just the innocent in the Middle East. War at times is the only hope for an oppressed people--as each Iraqi refugee quickly informs the first Western reporter he can find.
But, whatever, I'm against the war on Iraq now. Why? Because George W. Bush blew it. George W. Bush failed to make the case. George W. Bush wasn't able to convince NATO--NATO!--or the United Nations of the necessity of this necessary war. Now the Bush administration seems set on a course that may destroy NATO and the UN. I don't know about the Bushies, but I think a world without NATO and the UN will be more dangerous in the long run than a world without Saddam Hussein will be in the short run. So I'm against the war. Hey, when's the next peace march?
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The Middle East is a mess. The West made it a mess. The West is going to have to clean it up. The longer we wait, the greater the odds that New York or London or Paris will disappear under a mushroom cloud. And more attacks will come. The quote at the beginning of this essay ("These are the enemies of God. They will burn in hell") is from a videotape made by a pair of Islamo-fascists casing a public square in advance of a planned terrorist attack. The square was in Strasbourg, a lovely town in France, of all places. The enemies of God were the men, women, and children shopping, eating, and playing in the square. Their crimes? Being Westerners, Christians, French. And to Islamo-fascists, those are crimes.
The Islamo-fascists will succeed where the Bush administration has failed. Colin Powell couldn't bring France, Germany, and Russia to their senses, but the next wave of deadly terrorist attacks no doubt will. So we'll just have to wait until after New York or Paris or Seattle or Strasbourg is wiped off the map to do what must be done. Make no mistake, my fellow lefties: We, the West, will ultimately invade, occupy, and remake the Middle East. Unfortunately for future innocent victims of terrorist attacks, the United States can't do it alone, which means we can't do it now.