Saturday, July 22, 2006


As usual, Victor Davis Hanson integrates all the essential facts into his latest op-ed on the situation in the middle east:
What should the United States do? If it really cares about human life and future peace, then we should talk ad nauseam about “restraint” and “proportionality” while privately assuring Israel the leeway to smash both Hamas and Hezbollah — and humiliate Syria and Iran, who may well come off very poorly from their longed-for but bizarre war.

Only then will Israel restore some semblance of deterrence and strengthen nascent democratic movements in both Lebanon and even the West Bank . This is the truth that everyone from London to Cairo knows, but dares not speak. So for now, let us pray that the brave pilots and ground commanders of the IDF can teach these primordial tribesmen a lesson that they will not soon forget — and thus do civilization’s dirty work on the other side of the proverbial Rhine.

In this regard, it is time to stop the silly slurs that American policy in the Middle East is either in shambles or culpable for the present war. In fact, if we keep our cool, the Bush doctrine is working. Both Afghans and Iraqis each day fight and kill Islamist terrorists; neither was doing so before 9/11. Syria and Iran have never been more isolated; neither was isolated when Bill Clinton praised the “democracy” in Tehran or when an American secretary of State sat on the tarmac in Damascus for hours to pay homage to Syria ’s gangsters. Israel is at last being given an opportunity to unload on jihadists; that was impossible during the Arafat fraud that grew out of the Oslo debacle. Europe is waking up to the dangers of radical Islamism; in the past, it bragged of its aid and arms sales to terrorist governments from the West Bank to Baghdad .

Some final observations on Hezbollah and Hamas. There is no longer a Soviet deterrent to bail out a failed Arab offensive. There is no longer empathy for poor Islamist “freedom fighters.” The truth is that it is an open question as to which regime — Iran or Syria — is the greater international pariah. After a recent trip to the Middle East, I noticed that the unfortunate prejudicial stares given to a passenger with an Iranian passport were surpassed only by those accorded another on his way to Damascus .

So after 9/11, the London bombings, the Madrid murders, the French riots, the Beslan atrocities, the killings in India, the Danish cartoon debacle, Theo Van Gogh, and the daily arrests of Islamic terrorists trying to blow up, behead, or shoot innocent people around the globe, the world is sick of the jihadist ilk. And for all the efforts of the BBC, Reuters, Western academics, and the horde of appeasers and apologists that usually bail these terrorist killers out when their rhetoric finally outruns their muscle, this time they can’t.

Go and read it all.

I think that one result of Bush's policies in the middle east that should be clear even to the most knee-jerk critic is that they have brought out into the open what has been a decades-long shadow war. This shadow war between Islam and the west--started back in 1970's with the taking of American hostages in Iran against the backdrop of never-ending attacks on the state of Israel--is now out of the shadows and obvious to everyone. Additionally, Bush's policies in Iraq and Afghanistan have had the effect of bringing to the foreground a long-standing conflict between various sects of Islam ; and pitting the two major powers in the region (Iran and Saudi Arabia) against each other for dominance.

For too long the world has pretended that peace plans, treaties, cease-fires and talk--lots and lots of talk--would bring about a change for the good in the culture of hatred and death that is being nurtured in that part of the world. But none of these things have helped the situation; only enabled the hate; facilitated the deaths; and emboldened those who thrive on the resultant chaos.

The world's insistent denial and smiling pretense that it was dealing with reasonaable people who sought peace and stability and a future for their children can now be seen for the delusion it was. The west's good intentions have only managed to pave the road and make it easier for the Islamofascists to travel down it.

It is unquestionably true that this new landscape is fraught with danger and challenges; and that it has the potential to bring about violence and suffering and death. But what do you think has been going on for the last 50 years or so? There has been continual human suffering and death as a result of the never-ending shadow war; and its toll must also count the poisoned minds of the next generation of children there, who are already marinating in the culturally-sanctioned and religiously-promoted hatred.

Just because the daily mayhem and practiced victimhood that was the hallmark of the old middle east has remained under the radar does not make it acceptable to continue it into perpetuity. And, when it came to making peace plans repeatedly and then having them fall apart and leading to even more protracted violence-- perpetuity was exactly where it all was headed.

And after 9/11 it became obvious that it was not confined to one small part of the world anymore; and that what happened in that small art of the world had enormous repercussions for the entire planet.

What Bush has done is radically changed the playing field and shaken up the players who had come to expect that they would never be held to account. Slowly, surely, and sometimes subtlely, the balance and focus in this war has been shifted; as one after the other, the old players have been held to account.

What we are seeing is the chaos that occurs when a static system is disturbed. But the old equilibrium never stood a chance to bring peace, only constant war and calls for jihad. The old equilibrium permitted the jihadis to operate under the radar and grow strong. And more importantly, the old equilibrium did not offer much of a strategic advantage for the forces of freedom and democracy.

The world is indeed becoming sick of the "jihadist ilk". There is less and less tolerance for their lies, their agenda, and their behavior. Lines have been drawn in the sands of the middle east--on one side is a path that leads to a real peace; to increased freedom and to participation in the civilized world; the other side offers only perpetual war and a one way ticket to martyrdom and death. Undoubtedly, many will choose the latter path as that has been drummed into their heads as the only path. But for the first time, there is another choice available.

Events have been set in motion for good or ill. The times are both interesting and very dangerous. But at least the good has a fighting chance.


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