Friday, June 17, 2005

Listen to the Jihadist

Victor Davis Hanson teaches us to learn from our enemies in his customary Friday piece. Hanson refers to one Abu Ibrahim, a Syrian smuggler of jihadists to Iraq, whose interview was printed in the International Herald Tribune. Hanson distills some of Ibrahim's comments:

1. that September 11 was "a great day"
2. that two weeks after the attack, a celebration was held in his rural Syrian community celebrating the mass murder, and thereafter continued twice-weekly
3. that Syrian officials attended such festivities, funded by Saudi money with public slogans that read, "The People ...Will Now Defeat the Jews and Kill Them All"
4. that the Syrian government does not hesitate to work with Islamists ("beards and epaulets were in one trench together")
5. that collateral damage was not always so collateral: "Once the Americans bombed a bus crossing to Syria. We made a big fuss and said it was full of merchants," Abu Ibrahim said. "But actually, they were fighters."
6. That once Syria felt U.S. pressure, there was some temporary cosmetic change of heart: "The security agents said the smuggling of fighters had to stop. The jihadists' passports were taken. Some were jailed for a few days. Abu Ibrahim's jailers shaved his beard."
7. at supporters in Saudi Arabia always played a key role: "Our brothers in Iraq are asking for Saudis. The Saudis go with enough money to support themselves and their Iraqi brothers. A week ago, we sent a Saudi to the jihad. He went with 100,000 Saudi riyals. There was celebration amongst his brothers there!"

The lessons here:

[Nearly] every one of our Western myths promulgated by the antiwar Left is shattered by a candid jihadist himself. First, there was always radical Islamic anti-American hatred that preceded Iraq. Indeed, celebrations were spontaneous immediately after September 11 on the mere news of slaughtered Americans.

We have been told that jihadists and secular Baathists have little in common, and that only our war brought them together. But like the Japanese and Nazis in World War II, autocrat and jihadist have shared interests in hating liberal democracies — and well before our response they were jointly fanning efforts against the United States.

Note too the passive-aggressive nature of Syria that gives into rather than resists American pressures. When the U.S. threatens, it backsteps; when we relent, it goes back on the offensive.


...Our own fundamentalist Left is in lockstep with Wahhabist reductionism — in its similar instinctive distrust of Western culture. Both blame the United States and excuse culpability on the part of Islamists. The more left-wing the Westerner, the more tolerant he is of right-wing Islamic extremism; the more liberal the Arab, the more likely he is to agree with conservative Westerners about the real source of Middle Eastern pathology.

The constant? A global distrust of Western-style liberalism and preference for deductive absolutism. So burn down a mosque in Zimbabwe, murder innocent Palestinians in Bethlehem in 2002, arrest Christians in Saudi Arabia, or slaughter Africans in Dafur, and both the Western Left and the Middle East's hard Right won't say a word. No such violence resonates with America's diverse critics as much as a false story of a flushed Koran — precisely because the gripe is not about the lives of real people, but the psychological hurts, angst, and warped ideology of those who in their various ways don't like the United States.

and the most important lesson:

A war that cannot be won entirely on the battlefield most certainly can be lost entirely off it — especially when an ailing Western liberal society is harder on its own democratic culture than it is on fascist Islamic fundamentalism.

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