perpetual warfare 7.11.2005

From Instapundit: We Cannot Surrender
... We know very well what the "grievances" of the jihadists are.

The grievance of seeing unveiled women. The grievance of the existence, not of the State of Israel, but of the Jewish people. The grievance of the heresy of democracy, which impedes the imposition of sharia law. The grievance of a work of fiction written by an Indian living in London. The grievance of the existence of black African Muslim farmers, who won't abandon lands in Darfur. The grievance of the existence of homosexuals. The grievance of music, and of most representational art. The grievance of the existence of Hinduism. The grievance of East Timor's liberation from Indonesian rule. All of these have been proclaimed as a licence to kill infidels or apostates, or anyone who just gets in the way.

The Islamic millitants want, in short, to expand Islam to cover the globe. There are three outcomes from this scenario:

(1) The Western world surrenders, and extremist Islam covers the face of the globe.

Oddly enough, this is the outcome that is sought by Islamic extremists, but also is being sought out by some in the Left. It's not that the Left wants to have government-mandated prayer five times a day, nor that they really want forced female circumcision, burkas and honor killings. But the Left sees Western Civilization as the root of all evil, and they'd like to see Western Civilization taken down a peg or three. They justify this in their minds with the ernestly held belief that the anti-semitism, xenophobia and hatred of women in the Arabic world not as a product of the Arabs or of Arabic totalitarianism, but as a reaction to the west. So they believe, incorrectly, of course, that these things are in fact the fault of the United States--as standard barrer of Western Civilization today.

Of course this outcome will not happen. Islam will not cover the face of the globe, in so much as it requires the wholesale surrender of the West. If we failed to surrender when the West was nearly as xenophobic and even more backwards than Islam in the 12th and 13th centuries (when Islam covered all of Spain and was pushing into France), what makes people think Islam will succeed today when the Western Civilization has clearly evolved so much more?

(2) Islamic millitants ultimately give up their desire for global domination.

This is the ultimate practical goal of the current Bush administration, and the key to this is the democratization of the East: that is, the introduction of the very core key Western elements which make the West the West--democracy, consensual government, constitutional law and the freedom of conscience and freedom of inquiry that back a popular government.

In a way, this is the choice of last resort: rather than patch the plugs we're being asked to rebuild entire governments and cultures. Worse, we're putting into Arabic hands the very engine of free inquiry and free speech which allowed us to build some of the most sophisticated weaponry and the most powerful army in the world--into the hands of a people who may decide by popular vote to eradicate us once and for all. And worse, we're doing this on a bet: that a free and democratic people will not go to war with another free and democratic people--a proposition for which we have very little emperical data, for we don't know if the relative passifism of Europe is because they're democracies or war weary after World War II. Certainly the United State's own Irish/Scottish cultural background contributes to our greater willingness to vote to go to war and knock a few heads around as much as French gallic pride causes them to vote for peace.

The problem is freedom of expression and freedom of inquiry is not something that can be easily focused by a country. It's difficult to tell a people "you are free to do scientific research, but only on these few things"--as scientists become scientists because they're curious and expressing curiosity about the world, not because they're told to do something. And with freedom of expression comes freedom to protest war and freedom to cry out against war--a fact that we cling to in the hopes that a democratic Arabic world adds their own distinctive culture to the world, but without detracting from other world cultures.

There are additional problems with the goal of ending organized Islamic militant desires from world conquest. For example, Islamic militants did not spring out of the ground during the weaning days of the Carter administration with the Iranian takeover of the American embassy, and it certainly did not start on 9/11. In fact, the push from the East to conquer the democratic West predates Islam, and can be seen with Persia attempting to conquer and absorb a much smaller but nasiciantly democratic Greece.

But there is hope, if only through the fact that as our world becomes more populus, it has become much smaller thanks to the Internet, global television, and international trade.

(3) Neither side yields.

And so we come to the last possible outcome, where neither side yields. As it is axiomatic that the West will not yield in full to the demands of the Islamic militants--though we may yield in small ways that are supposed to show "signs of good faith" but which will only be interpreted as weakness--and encouragement, for all practical purposes we only have two outcomes.

Either we convince the Arabic world to democratize, for Muslims to speak out against Islamic extremism, and for the Middle East to become more liberal (in the classical sense), or we will continue on in a state of perpetual warfare, as innocents die needlessly as they are blown up in the London tunnels or on Spanish trains or in American sky scrapers.

Of course I'm also saddened by the death of innocent Iraqis and Afghanis as they are caught in the cross fire or deliberately targeted by terrorists. But the difference between us and them is this: we do not deliberately target civilians or needlessly kill innocents if we can help it.

However, Islamic militants are different. They use terrorism as a tool of statescraft.

And by definition, terrorism targets innocents.

posted by William Woody at 8:51 PM

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