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The big picture

By Carol Devine-Molin
web posted March 3, 2003

In order to vanquish the Jihadist movement, Western civilization must do much more than kill and apprehend terrorists. We are obliged to engage and defeat militant Islam on the ideological front as well. Otherwise, we will not be able to deter little Osama bin Ladens from taking root and perpetrating future strikes against us. And, I'm not talking about flimsy "Psy-Ops" war propaganda, but a concerted effort to appeal to the hearts and minds of the Islamic world, and to effectively convey the transforming power of freedom.

America, as the only global superpower, must facilitate democratization in the Middle East -- which will not only help stem the tide of hatred and terrorism, but unleash the dynamic forces of opportunity and prosperity that work in tandem for the good of societies. Logically, America must institute "regime change" in rogue nations such as Iraq that refuse to disarm and connive to harm us. This is not complicated stuff. Up until now, the Islamic world has been a bastion of despotic rule. However, the "freedom gap" must be alleviated not only for the benefit of these Islamic peoples that live under tyranny, but for the long-term peace and security of Western societies that have been targeted by lawless rogue regimes and their terrorist proxies. Simply put, freedom engenders contentment, while oppression begets rage and violence. Unfortunately, Western civilization is just a scapegoat for the radical Islamists.

Invasion of Iraq is not about "imperialism"; this is primarily about survival of the West, and an attempt to provide these poor souls with a better way of life. America is not in the Middle East to make money - for that matter, we are planning to spend billions of dollars liberating and rebuilding Iraq, and helping these peoples establish decent governance. And that holds similarly for Afghanistan, which is further along the timeline. The American taxpayers do not want to stay in any of these nations a moment longer than we have to because it's too darn expensive. And, certainly, the American public would not countenance abusing or taking advantage of these peoples of the Islamic world. That's antithetical to American ethics. We are not going to steal their oil! In fact, we are going to use that oil money to help rebuild Iraq. The terrible accusations of the fringe Right and Left against the Bush administration are totally baseless and vicious.

In his February 26th speech before the American Enterprise Institute, President Bush addressed the rebuilding of Iraq, post-Saddam Hussein. Of course, the Iraqis will be liberated from the hellish oppression imposed on them by a murderous dictator - but what then? President Bush asserted, "There was a time when many said that the cultures of Japan and Germany were incapable of sustaining democratic values. Well, they were wrong. Some say the same of Iraq today. They are mistaken. The nation of Iraq - with its proud heritage, abundant resources, and skilled and educated people - is fully capable of moving toward democracy and living in freedom. The world has a clear interest in the spread of democratic values, because stable and free nations do not breed the ideologies of murder".

In this "war on terrorism", President Bush continues to demonstrate that he is a remarkable leader and visionary who firmly grasps the challenge at hand - He understands that democratization of the Middle East will undercut the militant Islamist mentality, which will, in turn, enhance international safety and security. The president is rightly dismissive of the naysayers who view him as somewhat misguided and nave to actively promote democratization of the Islamic world. The process is slowly proving successful in Afghanistan, and there is no reason why it shouldn't work in Iraq, as well. America, along with allied nations, will help the Iraqis establish political and economic reforms resulting in a metamorphosed society. And it's bound to have a ripple or wave effect that will encourage other peoples in the Middle East (such as the Iranians who are already largely fed-up with the mullahs) to throw off repressive rule in favor of more systemic freedom and openness. Of course, this represents a win - win for both the Middle East and Western societies that are now at considerable risk as a consequence of Islamo-fascism.

Western societies largely have the Saudis to blame for our current predicament with fanatical Islamists. The toxic mentality of the Wahhabi death cult had its inception with the Saudi royal family that subsequently promulgated this perverse ideology throughout the Muslim world and beyond. It's quite evident that the Saudis are thoroughly duplicitous, and are not to be trusted. Sure, militant Islam benefits the despots and elites of the Middle East who have effectively deflected the rage of the oppressed masses and funneled it upon western democracies -- particularly America, dubbed the "Great Satan", and Israel, which became a stand-in for Western civilization in that region. The real culprits who have victimized the peoples of the Middle East are the despots of the region. Rather than targeting Western democracies, the Islamic world would be better off throwing off the shackles of tyranny, and establishing governments to their liking.

Noteworthy, this displacement of the "rage of the Arab streets" came at an awful cost. Western societies are now the scapegoats reaping the evil wrought by Wahhabi radicalism and its concomitant terrorist activities. The radical Islam dominating today's news is actually the last gasp of a twisted ideology, which will go the way of the dodo bird within the next few decades. Will there still be an Islamic faith in a future world? Of course, but one which has modulated and has comes to grips with modernity and accommodation of other religious traditions.

Many international experts subscribe to the view that Islamist terrorists are being spurred by the violent and intractable Israeli-Palestinian situation, a tinderbox on the verge of combustion. And President Bush more or less agrees with this concept. In essence, the Israeli-Palestinian tumult continues to unleash a terrible synergy that is impacting the US, Israel, and other Western democracies. The Muslim world is particularly rankled that America is truly Israel's key ally and the guarantor of its survival in the Middle East.

What can the US do to halt the cycle of violence being perpetrated by radical Islamists? The US intends to put the breaks on this pernicious dynamic by invoking the gales of creative destruction in the Islamic world -- so out with the old tyrants who collude with terrorists, and in with new and improved leadership. And that means purposely destabilizing Islamo-fascist rogue regimes of the Middle East, and facilitating new governments that will embrace democratic reforms. President Bush believes this will ignite compelling momentum, which will encourage freedom, democracy and economic opportunity throughout the Middle East. And it may even give peace a chance in the Israeli-Palestinian ongoing crisis.

Carol Devine-Molin is a regular contributor to several online magazines.

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