Recent reports indicate that those black-balaklaved, Kalashnikov-clutching, goosestepping Hezbollah are leaving Lebanon for Iraq. May more and more Hezbollah leave Lebanon. Imagine the sigh of relief that the Christians, the Druse, and even the Lebanese Sunnis are sighing with each departing warrior for the Army of God for Iraq, together with their Iranian friends who have apparently been training in Lebanon, of all places. Or perhaps these “Iranian agents” are Arabic-speaking Shi’a from Lebanon, who might fit in a bit better.
So many possiblities come to mind. Consider, for example, the conflicting loyalties of such people if they hear about an Arab uprising against Iranians in Khuzistan, right near Basra. News travels. Suppose the Iranians crush that rebellion as forcefully as Hafez al-Assad crushed the Ikhwan in Hama? Then what do those Shi’a Arabs — if they are in Basra along with those Iranian agents they trained, or who trained them (it hardly matters) — do? Whose side to take?
In a recent New Duranty Times, there was a report by Edward Wong on Sunni-Shi’a fighting in Baquba and in Daliqiya. In Daliqiya it was armed Shiites attacking Sunnis. It is unclear whether they were seeking those who had set off explosives killing 18 Shiites in a nearby village, Khairnabat, on Monday, or if it was a revenge attack on Sunnis. Does it matter? Do you think that the two are kept separate in the minds of the Shi’a, or the Sunnis, in Iraq? The meting out of justice and revenge killings amount to the same thing in the minds of most Arab Muslims, and a day’s or a week’s or a month’s or a year’s “retraining” by Americans, determined to bring the Western rule of law, isn’t going to have any lasting effect. The “trial” of Saddam Hussein may impress some American observers, but it has not contributed to some kind of broad cultural shift, and it is mistaken to take Allawi, Chalabi, and those who are thoroughly westernized and secular, or those who may not be but are adept at telling the Green Zone Americans what they think those Americans would most like to hear, to believe that this will change in the next year or two. It will take generations, and it will also take a deliberate constraining or suppression of Islam, a la Ataturk in Turkey. But in Iraq today, Islam is back — with a vengeance.
A retired military officer (a colonel) recently told of my suggestions by a friend, replied that he found these ideas unacceptable. Why, the very idea of exploiting sectarian differences in Iraq seemed to offend him. He noted, correctly, the American military was doing its utmost to prevent such differences from becoming worse. He offered no logical analysis for this view. Simply, that was the policy, and that was going to remain the policy. I asked that mutual friend to convey a question to him: “Was the Iran-Iraq War good or bad for Americans and other Infidels?” If a reply comes, I will post it here. And my next question will be obvious: “What exactly is the goal of American policy in Iraq?” Is it to make things wonderful for the Iraqis, so that Iraq, under new largely Shi’a management, will somehow inspire people in Saudi Arabia, and Egypt, and Jordan, and other Sunni Arab countries, to be full of admiration and then full of the desire to emulate Shi’a-ruled Iraq? How plausible is that? And in what way would they change? Would those changes help accomplish the only thing American policy should wish to do — which is to weaken the hold of Islam over the minds of its adherents, and thereby to weaken the camp of Jihad? How does preventing sectarian and ethnic fissures accomplish this goal?
I don’t think I’ll get an answer. Not from a colonel, retired or on active duty. Not from a general. Not from a Secretary of State. Not from a Vice-President. Not from a President. The very question gives offense. They have the wrong goal, because they have refused to learn a sufficient amount about Islam to comprehend the origins, the scope, the varied instruments, and hence the full and permanent menace of Jihad — above all in Western Europe, where not “terrorism” but Da’wa, the money weapon, and demographic conquest, accompanied by a confused and uncertain response, to put it mildly, from local indigenous Infidels, makes the task of those engaged in Jihad far easier than it should be.
And the inability of the American government to recognize that in Iraq it can accomplish more of what furthers its aims, rightly understood, by leaving than by staying, is a great obstacle to reversing disturbing trends in Western Europe. Obstinacy, out of fear of admitting that one has been wrong, and wrong in big ways, prevents this government from seeing things straight. Hence the nonsense about “cutting and running” and all the rest of it. They are flailing about instead of offering what we need, which is less sentimentality (“people want the same thing — freedom” and Democracy Is On the March) and more cunning. Not exactly ruthlessness, but more concern with Infidels, and a lot less even for those Muslims who may feel unenthusiastic about Islam but who cannot bring themselves to support a deliberate policy of dividing and demoralizing the camp of Islam. But nothing less, for Infidels, will do.
That is why one must not listen to that small group of friendly, rational because westernized and secularized, former exiles or “reformers” in any Muslim country, who want the Americans to help them obtain power, but themselves overlook, or minimize, all those things — aggression, permanent hostility towards, and distrust of, Infidels no matter what good they may do, a willingness always to ascribe the worst to those Infidels, an inability to separate fact from fiction (hence the prevalence of conspiracy theories among the Arabs and other Muslims), and all the other features that are believed by many in Washington who have read Patai’s “the Arab Mind” to be somehow characteristic of “the Arabs,” but in truth are deformations of reality that arise so easily among those raised up in, knowing little else but Islam, that is to say, those who exhibit the “Muslim mind.”