|The trouble with peace
By Alan Caruba
A lot of people, attributing the current conflicts in the Middle East to either religion or oil, believe they don't really have a dog in the fight. What cannot be ignored however is that a paroxysm of religious strife has broken out in the Middle East and it is exporting death and terror in the name of Allah.
Still angry over the defeat in 732 A.D. at Poitiers, France that stopped their northward conquest of Europe and the Crusades that followed from 1095 to 1291, the Arabs of the Middle East have taken the temperature of the West today and concluded that it's time for a big comeback. Either through birthrates in Europe or the use of terror from Bali to Manhattan, they have concluded it's time to try once again to be the ones who run the world.
Considering how little previous generations of these Arabs or Islam have contributed to modern civilization this seems astonishingly arrogant. The modern world is entirely the creation of the West.
The West of today, wanting only to purchase the latest ingenious new gadget and wishing to avoid warfare at all costs, cannot ignore a declared war even if it wants to.
The "neocons" have been disgraced and some have been driven from office. The President has been chastised by the loss of his party's power in Congress and the Democrat leadership is in full cry to abandon the war in Iraq.
In blunt terms, it cannot be done. We live our lives forward, not retreating into the past. As such, men who we entrust with power have no choice but to exercise it today with the hope it will work out tomorrow.
Tomorrow, in the case of the Middle East, is going to be a very long time. It operates out of a medieval mentality, a tribal allegiance, and a religion that has not changed since its inception in the seventh century. We are not dealing with modern men even if they employ modern technology.
America wants to rest from a war it did not start and wants to end. We have discovered that we need to build up our troop strength. The reluctance of several previous presidents to engage the enemy has cost us 3,000 American lives on 9-11 and quite a few in the years leading up to it.
We have reached a point where we continue to ignore the millions of Mexicans and others from south of the border who have literally been invading our nation for years. We're Americans. We want to buy a new car, a flat-screen television, a worldwide warehouse of stuff! Why won't they leave us alone?
We are tired of hearing and reading bad news out of Iraq because our news media will not give us any good news. We're Americans. We want and expect a happy ending. Just like in the movies, but this isn't the movies. It's realtime, real people, it's real life and death.
Iraq, like the whole of the Middle East is just one giant sinkhole of all our expectations. So we want to leave, but we can't because, if we do, some astonishingly evil people might end up in charge. They cut off people's heads. They have been doing this since the days of Mohammed, the self-proclaimed final prophet of God.
The Jews of Israel understand this like no other people on Earth and, yes, they too are weary of the Arabs who surround them, howling for their blood just as they howl for ours every time they shout "Death to America! Death to Israel!
It was only the decisive victories in war that protected Israel, the lone Western outpost in the Middle East. The last big one was the 1967 Six-Day War against Egypt. Since then, guerrilla wars of attrition have been the choice of battle by the Palestinians. The peace accord that returned the Sinai to Egypt is seen as a great "victory" by that nation and it occasioned the "Intifada" by Arafat's Palestinians.
After a sixteen-year occupation of southern Lebanon to deter the rockets of Hezbollah, the Israeli withdrawal in 2000 led directly to the war of 2006. The withdrawal from Gaza in 2005 has seen an increase of rocketing from that territory and a civil war between Fatah and Hamas to determine which group leads the destruction of Israel.
Any withdrawal from combat will be hailed as yet another "victory" for our enemies. Realistically, we are likely to move troops to safer ground, which means the Kurdish region and border nations such as Kuwait.
That move is likely to be followed by a bloodbath between the Shiites, the majority sect in Iraq and Iran, and the Sunnis, the majority sect in the rest of the billion-plus world of Islam. It doesn't matter whose side we take or if we take no side. Humanitarian behavior is not high on the list of priorities for Arabs, whether they are Islamists or not.
The difficulty of achieving peace is that it requires everyone to agree to it. Wars, whether initiated by a religion or the naked desire to acquire land, resources, and power are still wars. Winners are determined by who is willing to resist and, beyond that, to destroy the will of the enemy to continue.
The great empire of Rome discovered what happens when citizens do not want to defend what they have. They began to rely on armies made up increasingly of people they called barbarians. Tired of endless conquest and occupation, the citizens of Rome discovered one day those barbarians were at their gates. They sacked Rome. The Dark Ages followed.
I do not know what the President will do in these final two years of office, but if George W. Bush decides to reduce large portions of Baghdad to rubble or obliterate big chunks of Iran, history will likely say he was right to do so.
Alan Caruba writes a column, "Warning Signs", posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, www.anxietycenter.com. His book, "Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy", is published by Merril Press. © Alan Caruba, February 2007