The government lurches from ignorance to ignorance.
There is the ignorance and obstinacy of Bush, who never named the problem correctly (not the “war on terror” but the war against the Jihad), and came to believe, or allowed himself to believe, given his great respect for any belief-system called a “religion” that has many adherents, that Islam was in all important senses benign. And Bush is not alone. “I see you don’t care much for Islam. But can a billion Muslims be wrong”? Surely there has got to be something to it?” Those words were uttered to me by a very high Pentagon official in April 2005, after listening to what I thought was a rational, measured, and unanswerable 90-minute exposition of Islam and what made sense in Iraq.
Not having identified the problem as “Jihad,” the Administration has been therefore unwilling to fashion a policy whose aim would be not merely to diminish the threat of “terrorism” but also to diminish the greater threats, especially in Western Europe, of islamization. (That is the goal of Bin Laden, but also of Tariq Ramadan — they differ, as with the Slow Jihadists and Fast Jihadists of Fatah and Hamas, only on tactics and timing.) That islamization proceeds through well-financed well-organized relentless campaigns of Daw’a, and campaigns against the legal and political institutions, and self-assurance, of the Infidel nation-states and peoples among whom millions of Muslim immigrants have been allowed to settle, and where through overbreeding they may through demographic conquest inexorably become first a large minority so cohesive, powerful, and determined that it will shape the policies, both foreign and domestic, of most of the Western world. Then they will become an absolute majority, further changing things so that, just as in the Middle East and North Africa, the indigenous populations, after Arab Muslim conquest, were islamized and, unless fiercely opposed (as in Iran), arabized — linguistically and culturally — as well.
Nor did Bush recognize the reality of Iraq, and what the removal of Saddam Hussein would inevitably lead to. It did not depend on dissolution of the army or on de-Ba’athificiation, nor even on that exercise in purple-thumbed “democracy” in January 2005, in which Shi’a, sure of their numbers, voted as Sistani and Sadr and other religio-political leaders told them, while the Sunnis largely abstained (participating a bit more in December 2005). And the Kurds voted twice in January 2005, once to take part in the Iraq elections, and at the same time in a Kurds-only referendum, in which they voted 98% for independence from that same “Iraq.”
He never understood why those sectarian and ethnic fissures, which pre-date Saddam Hussein, which pre-date the founding of the United States by a thousand years, which go back all the way to the first century of Islam, were not obstacles to be overcome but pre-existing conditions to be exploited.
With the results we all see: a squandering of men, money, and materiel to achieve a goal that is not achievable — this “unified Iraq” where Sunni lions lie down with Shi’a lambs, or is it Shi’a lambs with Sunni lions, or Sunni lions with Shi’a lions, no matter what temporary pretend-accommodations — so foreign to the aggression and failure to compromise and “war is deception” and victor-vanquished spirit and letter of Islam with which Muslims are suffused — may be made.
So one had hopes that possibly the Democrats would concentrate on opposing the war in Iraq, on unsticking the United States from Tarbaby Iraq, and in so doing, at long last come to recognize, be forced if only to make a more convincing case (if such were needed) against that war, that it made no sense, not because it was too tough, too anti-Islam, but because it isn’t nearly tough enough, is not at all anti-Jihad.
It turns out, or Pelosi turns out, to be depressingly ignorant as well. She thinks “peace” is possible between Israel and its neighbors, based on negotiations and treaties, which means that just like Rice and others, she has not read, and may not read, about how Muslims regard the Infidel nation-state of Israel. It is, to them, unacceptable, it is on land that was Muslim-ruled for a period (it does not matter how long or how short a period) and therefore is on the priority list, along with the Balkans and Greece and Bulgaria, and Sicily, and Spain and Portugal, and most of India, and the entire Caucasus and much of southern Russia, to be taken again by the forces of Islam, and reintegrated into Dar al-Islam.
She thinks that visiting this or that country, a country such as Syria, does something to encourage sweet reason and compromise. It never does. It only gives the regime legitimacy, bolsters it as against its domestic enemies. It was disheartening to Israelis. It was disheartening to Lebanese — not the Lebanese who support Hizballah and other collaborators and agents of Syria/Iran, but the other Lebanese. It is disheartening to dissidents within Syria and outside Syria, such as Mr. Ghadry. It shows no understanding that Syria’s Alawite regime has decided to curry favor with Shi’a in Iran, a powerful neighbor some of whose clerics, during the last few years, even declared the Alawites to be “real” Muslims (it’s a great problem for the Alawites, the kind of problem that led to the massacre of 82 cadets, all of them Alawites, at a graduation ceremony in Homs, and then to other attacks by the “real Muslims,” the Sunni Arabs who make up 70% of the Syrian population.) Those clerics gave the Alawites this certification even though they have the cult of Mary (every Alawite house in every Alawite village has a picture of her), a bit of obvious syncretism, in a part of the Middle East where the Christians managed in much greater numbers to hold out against the Muslims, and in the past century were aided by the pressure and sometimes presence of European powers, capable of protecting Christian interests — chiefly France. And at the same time, the Syrian government does nothing to prevent Sunni Arabs entering Iraq to fight as they wish. After all, if some of those Sunni Arabs are from Syria itself, the more of them who go off to fight and die in Iraq, the easier that makes the lot of the Alawites (who comprise only 12% of the Syrian population).
But if there were to be full-fledged Sunni-Shi’a civil war, the situation for Syria would be more perilous. It would have a harder time balancing its favors to the Shi’a (by being a conduit for Iranian arms to Hizballah in Lebanon) and its favors to the Sunni Arabs (by letting them go from Syria to Iraq).
And of course the greater the power of the Kurds, and in any larger clash between Sunni Arabs and Shi’a Arabs in Iraq, the greater the freedom of movement of the Kurds, the more danger that also means for Syria, and its control over its own Kurds.
Problems, problems. Problems for the Alawites, who think they can survive by doing favors for both kinds of Arabs, Sunni and Shi’a, but who may find that their rule can come to an end. And they know the real Muslims. Hafez al-Assad certainly knew them, and knew that the only way to buy another few decades of rule was to smash them, as at Hama. Otherwise, every Alawite village will be attacked, whenever the local Sunni Muslims feel strong enough, and there will be nothing left of them. If the Shi’a are “Rafidite dogs,” then what could Sunnis do to the Alawites, who with their cult of Mary are guilty, it appears, of a kind of quasi-Christianity, and of the unbearable crime of shirk?
Pelosi’s trip to Syria betrayed her miscomprehension. And by her naivete and ignorance, she has made it harder for that other display of naivete and ignorance — the American effort in Iraq — to be brought to an end. For to a very quick end it must be brought, as the costs skyrocket, as the army, especially the civilian army, becomes more and more demoralized, with dangerous long-term consequences that are hardly recognized by the public (but the soldiers and their families know), and as we rightly demand some kind of victory over the Camp of Jihad after so much expense, a victory that comes only when American forces withdraw, and cannot possibly be achieved while they remain, to fight and die for “Iraq” (a fictional Iraq, an imagined Iraq), in a place that, only on the maps, can be called “Iraq.”