Defending the virtues of liberty, free markets, and civilization... plus some commentary on the passing scene.
Friday, May 28, 2004
Via some combination of Pejman Yousefzadeh and Stephen Greene I came across these three articles a couple of weeks ago. I meant to link and discuss them then as they seem to dovetail each other nicely. Here goes.
The first one is a fascinatingly insightful peak into the conditions that cultivate anti-Americanism, much of it pre-9/11. The author, a journalism professor, takes us through Iran, Central Asia, Russia, Afghanistan and more. You'll be stunned by the absolute disconnect (or outright denial) the students demonstrate, as if being told that the world was in fact not round, but flat.
I caught my first glimpse into that miasma of misinformation, envy, and anxiety on the morning of September 12, 2001, when I staggered into class only to face my students' announcement that a world war between Christians and Muslims was imminent. I had been up all night surfing through 63 television channels that did not include CNN, so I wasn't exactly in the mood to teach. But the professorial gene kicked in as soon as I settled behind my desk.
But in this world of controlled media, contradiction by facts is a useless endeavor, for if the facts contradict the "known truth" those so-called facts are obviously false, don't you know? Read the whole thing, and note the surprisingly warm reception in Iran. Which leads me to the next article, which confirms some of the above authors' experiences.
"Which Christians and which Muslims?" I asked the class. Half of the students in the room called themselves Muslims although after eight decades of Soviet hegemony, few knew what Islam required. "Are you talking about yourselves?"
"Not really. Muslims here aren't really Muslims like in Afghanistan."
The quietest girl in the class shyly suggested, "But Muslims have to defend other Muslims against attack"
I stopped her mid-sentence. "What if the Muslims are in the wrong? And what happens when Muslims attack other Muslims?"
"Muslims don't attack other Muslims," she insisted.
"Iran and Iraq? The Iraqi invasion of Kuwait? Should I go on?"
A boy in the back raised his hand. "But Muslims have no choice but to hate the United States and declare a jihad, since the United States is always attacking Muslims," he said.
"Is that true?" I pressed. "Where have we attacked Muslims?"
"I don't know. That's what people say."
"In Bosnia and Somalia, we were supporting Muslims," I said. "And in the war against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait, we were supporting Muslims who were attacked by other Muslims."
QOM, Iran In the offices of an ayatollah here, I was jokingly introduced as coming from the Great Satan.
Iran has a large, modern middle class that is utterly fed up with living under the crushing culture of the mullacracy. I thought the regime would fall last summer, it didn't. Instead the powers that be rented some Islamo-fascist thugs to intimidate and beat those seeking reform. Then, a few months ago, they fixed the elections, barring any serious reform candidates from placement on the ballot. Perhaps it will be this summer, as even the requisite hatred of The West takes a back seat to that of their rulers.
"Humph," a young man responded immediately. "America is only Baby Satan. We have Big Satan right here at home."
...Turbans to the left, turbans to the right - Qom is the religious center of Iran, but even here, there is anger and disquiet. One of the central questions for the Middle East is whether Iran's hard-line Islamic regime will survive. I'm betting it won't.
"Either officials change their methods and give freedom to the people, and stop interfering in elections, or the people will rise up with another revolution," Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri told me.
"There is no freedom," added Ayatollah Montazeri, who is among the senior figures in the Shiite world but is excluded from power in Iran because of his reformist ideas. "Repression is carried out in the name of Islam, and that turns people off. . . . All these court summonses, newspaper closings and prosecutions of dissidents are wrong. These are the same things that were done under the shah and are now being repeated. And now they are done in the name of Islam and therefore alienate people."
Whoa! Ayatollah Montazeri was a leader of the Islamic Revolution, and was initially designated by his close friend Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini to be his successor as supreme leader of Iran.
Which brings me to the final article, which was written not by Paul Wolfowitz or another (evil,white) member of the secret neo-con cabal that everyone knows about, but a Nobel Peace laureate who says that sometimes a war saves people:
As a Nobel Peace laureate, I, like most people, agonize over the use of force. But when it comes to rescuing an innocent people from tyranny or genocide, I've never questioned the justification for resorting to force. That's why I supported Vietnam's 1978 invasion of Cambodia, which ended Pol Pot's regime, and Tanzania's invasion of Uganda in 1979, to oust Idi Amin. In both cases, those countries acted without U.N. or international approval--and in both cases they were right to do so.
It seems to me that this is a concept that is lost on everyone in the world except for the neo-cons. Critics of the war like to pretend that Saddam was absolutely unconnected to broader terror, had no means or potential to enable it - financially or otherwise - and was too secular to cooperate with any Islamo-fascist organizations.
Perhaps the French have forgotten how they, too, toppled one of the worst human-rights violators without U.N. approval. I applauded in the early '80s when French paratroopers landed in the dilapidated capital of the then Central African Empire and deposed "Emperor" Jean Bedel Bokassa, renowned for cannibalism. Almost two decades later, I applauded again as NATO intervened--without a U.N. mandate--to end ethnic cleansing in Kosovo and liberate an oppressed European Muslim community from Serbian tyranny. And I rejoiced once more in 2001 after the U.S.-led overthrow of the Taliban liberated Afghanistan from one of the world's most barbaric regimes.
...Saddam's overthrow offers a chance to build a new Iraq that is peaceful, tolerant and prosperous. That's why the stakes are so high, and why extremists from across the Muslim world are fighting to prevent it. They know that a free Iraq would fatally undermine their goal of purging all Western influence from the Muslim world, overthrowing the secular regimes in the region, and imposing Stone Age rule. They know that forcing Western countries to withdraw from Iraq would be a major step toward that goal, imperiling the existence of moderate regimes--from the Middle East to the Magreb and Southeast Asia.
So we have the neo-cons and this Nobel Laureate that get it, anyone else? Oh right, the Islamo-fascists themselves get it too:
It is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy." This is the message of a new book, just published by al Qaeda in several Arab countries.
So there you go, strait from the horses mouth. The choices could not be more stark, democracy offers prosperity and the will to live, the Islamo-fascists promise poverty and death. The lines are drawn, choose your side.
...The goal of democracy, according to Al-Ayyeri, is to "make Muslims love this world, forget the next world and abandon jihad." If established in any Muslim country for a reasonably long time, democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which, in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith.
Here are the links to the articles again, one, two, three.