The Therapy Sessions
Friday, July 18, 2003
Confusion About the War
Winston Churchill in 1934: "Many people think that the best way to escape war is to dwell upon its horror. They flaunt the grisly photographs before their eyes. They fill their ears with tales of carnage. They dilate upon the ineptitude of generals and admirals."
But dictators always find a reason to make trouble, Churchill said:
"They will say: you are rich; we are poor. You seem well-fed; we are hungry. You have the past; let us have the future." And soon the day comes when they say: "You are weak; we are strong."
What is about British leaders that gives the world such poignant and brilliant oration?Tony Blair's recent speech to Congress is a masterpiece of succinct clarity and deep thought. The whole thing should be required reading for anyone who thinks the war that we are currently fighting is in vain, but here is an excerpt:
September 11 was not an isolated event, but a tragic prologue, Iraq another act, and many further struggles will be set upon this stage before it's over. There never has been a time when the power of America was so necessary or so misunderstood, or when, except in the most general sense, a study of history provides so little instruction for our present day....
...The threat comes because in another part of our globe there is shadow and darkness, where not all the world is free, where many millions suffer under brutal dictatorship, where a third of our planet lives in a poverty beyond anything even the poorest in our societies can imagine, and where a fanatical strain of religious extremism has arisen, that is a mutation of the true and peaceful faith of Islam.
And because in the combination of these afflictions a new and deadly virus has emerged. The virus is terrorism whose intent to inflict destruction is unconstrained by human feeling and whose capacity to inflict it is enlarged by technology.
This is a battle that can't be fought or won only by armies. We are so much more powerful in all conventional ways than the terrorists, yet even in all our might, we are taught humility.
In the end, it is not our power alone that will defeat this evil. Our ultimate weapon is not our guns, but our beliefs.
There is a myth that though we love freedom, others don't; that our attachment to freedom is a product of our culture; that freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law are American values, or Western values; that Afghan women were content under the lash of the Taliban; that Saddam was somehow beloved by his people; that Milosevic was Serbia's savior.
Members of Congress, ours are not Western values, they are the universal values of the human spirit. And anywhere...
Anywhere, anytime ordinary people are given the chance to choose, the choice is the same: freedom, not tyranny; democracy, not dictatorship; the rule of law, not the rule of the secret police.
The spread of freedom is the best security for the free. It is our last line of defense and our first line of attack. And just as the terrorist seeks to divide humanity in hate, so we have to unify it around an idea. And that idea is liberty.
Right now, there is much confusion about the war. People on the left are complaining that our troops are still being targeted and killed, or they say that Iraq was never a problem to begin with.
But Iraq was a problem. It trampled the terms of the 1991 ceasefire agreement (which kept Saddam in power), and it was financing terrorism throughout the region - most notably against Israel.
Israel is a flashpoint because it is the freest country in the region by far, the only democracy, the only succesfull economy, and our most stable ally. Arabs really don't care what happens to the Palestinians (unlike what they say), but Israel's success rankles them.
We are trying to take an Arab state and preform a similar economic and democratic transformation, and create an Arab, Muslim "Israel." This scares the hell out of every tyrant in the region, and it enrages the Muslim fanatics who believe power only comes by the sword, not from the consent of the governed.
I have never heard anyone describe the task before us as easy. We have always known that it would be a difficult road.
The left acts so disappointed about Iraq, as if they believed that we would be out of Iraq in six months after having established a democracy. Anyone so ignorant about world affairs should be barred from any job that influences US foreign policy.
In addition, they try to score political points with the death of each allied soldier.
They will not be forgiven for this.
Iraq is one stage, but it is a critical one.
There is a much broader result of this war: we will soon no longer be dependent on the Saudis for much of anything.
After September 11th, the Saudis reacted outwardly with solidarity. But when we asked for help, they told us the blame was our own policies. They refused to admit that terrorism had anything to do with them. And we listened to that crap, because we were dependent on their oil.
Now they are reacting differently. The Saudis are actually cracking down on the Imans that use state funds to preach jihad and inspire terrorism. Other states are acting too.
The entire is region is terrified by what we are doing in Iraq, and they desperately want us to fail. They are doing everything in their power to defeat us. Good.
We have changed the rules of the game: fighting terrorism is like fighting ants. This is how the Europeans and the US fought prior to 9/11: Each time an ant bit, they killed it and nursed the wound.
Ants are pesky because of their numbers. If you want to win, you have to get the queen.
And that is precisely what we are doing now.
They Saudis see the writing on the wall. Iraq will not be a member of OPEC, and when it is fully online, the US will control the price of oil. With that control we can destroy the economy of any oil producing country in the region that threatens us.
In a sense, the left has always been right about one thing. This war is about the oil. But the US and Britain are not taking it; We are paying market price to the Iraqi people. But the price will not be kept artificially high, and the revenue will no longer go to corrupt governments that sponsors terrorism against our friends.
Iraq is the first stage of a much longer war.
It is not the end in itself. It is the end of the beginning.