Oriana Fallaci was not a fan of useless warfare. She was someone who had grown up in civilized Florence (fighting uncivilized Fascists and Nazis), in civilized Italy, and then made a profession that often took her to the Muslim world, where she interviewed — and came to detest — such people as Arafat and Khomeini and their world-views. And it did not come naturally to her at first because she certainly started life with certain left-wing views. Her Greek lover Panagoulis was murdered by the right-wing Greek regime of the pinochetesque colonels. She was on the side of freedom, however, and also sufficiently well-educated and sure of herself not to be the mindless parroter of anything.
She saw Islam and Muslims up close. She found nothing to admire. She found, in the main, lies and nonsense, hate and hysteria. Beginning with vaguely “pro-Palestinian” views, she came to be a stout defender of Israel — stouter, I should say, than the Israelis themselves. She became much more appreciative of the United States, and much more enraged at easy European expressions of cheap anti-Americanism, because she knew that Europe owed its freedom, and certainly Italy did, to the United States. In other words, she was full of common sense.
Oriana Fallaci was haunted by the possible loss of Europe, of Italy, of Tuscany. She would go into a rage, on the page and in life, over the mere thought of that mosque that Muslims wanted to put up in the most Tuscan of places, the Col di Val d’Elsa. An equivalent in this country would be Muslims wishing to put up a giant mosque, bristling minarets and all, right by the rude bridge where the embattled farmers stood and fired the shot heard ’round the world, in Concord.
Knowing Islam, knowing Muslims, she would have laughed at the naivete of Bush and his “democracy” project. And she would have been furious, I am sure, at the inattention to Europe, and the ridiculous and sentimental inability of the Administration not to identify and then exploit the points of weakness or of division within the Camp of Islam and Jihad that have been identified and discussed ad nauseam at this website for more than three relentless years. And finally, some of it is filtering out into the Greater Ether. It should have happened long ago.
On March 13, 2003, when 90% of this country supported the war, Oriana Fallaci wrote of her considerable doubts in “The Wall Street Journal.” She was particularly harsh on the notion of conducting war for “humanitarian” purposes such as “bringing democracy.” Here are some excerpts:
They are also in Europe. They are in Paris where the mellifluous Jacques Chirac does not give a damn for peace but plans to satisfy his vanity with the Nobel Peace Prize. Where there is no wish to remove Saddam Hussein because Saddam Hussein means the oil that the French companies pump from Iraqi wells. And where (forgetting a little flaw named Petain) France chases its Napoleonic desire to dominate the European Union, to establish its hegemony over it. They are in Berlin, where the party of the mediocre Gerhard SchrÃ¶der won the elections by comparing Mr. Bush to Hitler, where American flags are soiled with the swastika, and where, in the dream of playing the masters again, Germans go arm-in-arm with the French. They are in Rome where the communists left by the door and re-entered through the window like the birds of the Hitchcock movie. And where, pestering the world with his ecumenism, his pietism, his Thirdworldism, Pope Wojtyla receives Tariq Aziz as a dove or a martyr who is about to be eaten by lions. (Then he sends him to Assisi where the friars escort him to the tomb of St. Francis.) In the other European countries, it is more or less the same. In Europe your enemies are everywhere, Mr. Bush. What you quietly call “differences of opinion” are in reality pure hate. Because in Europe pacifism is synonymous with anti-Americanism, sir, and accompanied by the most sinister revival of anti-Semitism the anti-Americanism triumphs as much as in the Islamic world. Haven’t your ambassadors informed you? Europe is no longer Europe. It is a province of Islam, as Spain and Portugal were at the time of the Moors. It hosts almost 16 million Muslim immigrants and teems with mullahs, imams, mosques, burqas, chadors. It lodges thousands of Islamic terrorists whom governments don’t know how to identify and control. People are afraid, and in waving the flag of pacifism–pacifism synonymous with anti-Americanism–they feel protected.
Besides, Europe does not care for the 221,484 Americans who died for her in the Second World War. Rather than gratitude, their cemeteries give rise to resentment. As a consequence, in Europe nobody will back this war. Not even nations which are officially allied with the U.S., not even the prime ministers who call you “My friend George.” (Like Silvio Berlusconi.) In Europe you only have one friend, one ally, sir: Tony Blair. But Mr. Blair too leads a country which is invaded by the Moors. A country that hides that resentment. Even his party opposes him, and by the way: I owe you an apology, Mr Blair. In my book “The Rage and the Pride,” I was unfair to you. Because I wrote that you would not persevere with your guts, that you would drop them as soon as it would no longer serve your political interests. With impeccable coherence, instead, you are sacrificing those interests to your convictions. Indeed, I apologize. I also withdraw the phrase I used to comment on your excess of courtesy toward Islamic culture: “If our culture has the same value as the one that imposes the burqa, why do you spend your summers in my Tuscany and not in Saudi Arabia?” Now I say: “My Tuscany is your Tuscany, sir. My home is your home.”
The final reason for my dilemma is the definition that Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair and their advisors give of this war: “A Liberation war. A humanitarian war to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq.” Oh, no. Humanitarianism has nothing to do with wars. All wars, even just ones, are death and destruction and atrocities and tears. And this is not a liberation war, a war like the Second World War. (By the way: neither is it an “oil war,” as the pacifists who never yell against Saddam or bin Laden maintain in their rallies. Americans do not need Iraqi oil.) It is a political war. A war made in cold blood to respond to the Holy War that the enemies of the West declared upon the West on September 11. It is also a prophylactic war. A vaccine, a surgery that hits Saddam because, (Mr. Bush and Mr. Blair believe), among the various focuses of cancer Saddam is the most obvious and dangerous one. Moreover, the obstacle that once removed will permit them to redesign the map of the Middle East as the British and the French did after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. To redesign it and to spread a Pax Romana, pardon, a Pax Americana, in which everybody will prosper through freedom and democracy. Again, no. Freedom cannot be a gift. And democracy cannot be imposed with bombs, with occupation armies. As my father said when he asked the anti-fascists to join the Resistance, and as today I say to those who honestly rely on the Pax Americana, people must conquer freedom by themselves. Democracy must come from their will, and in both cases a country must know what they consist of. In Europe the Second World War was a liberation war not because it brought novelties called freedom and democracy but because it re-established them. Because Europeans knew what they consisted of. The Japanese did not: it is true. In Japan, those two treasures were somehow a gift, a refund for Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But Japan had already started its process of modernization, and did not belong to the Islamic world. As I write in my book when I call bin Laden the tip of the iceberg and I define the iceberg as a mountain that has not moved for 1,400 years, that for 1,400 years has not changed, that has not emerged from its blindness, freedom and democracy are totally unrelated to the ideological texture of Islam. To the tyranny of theocratic states. So their people refuse them, and even more they want to erase ours.
Upheld by their stubborn optimism, the same optimism for which at the Alamo they fought so well and all died slaughtered by Santa Anna, Americans think that in Baghdad they will be welcomed as they were in Rome and Florence and Paris. “They’ll cheer us, throw us flowers.” Maybe. In Baghdad anything can happen. But after that? Nearly two-thirds of the Iraqis are Shiites who have always dreamed of establishing an Islamic Republic of Iraq, and the Soviets too were once cheered in Kabul. They too imposed their peace. They even succeeded in convincing women to take off their burqa, remember? After a while, though, they had to leave. And the Taliban came. Thus, I ask: what if instead of learning freedom Iraq becomes a second Talibani Afghanistan? What if instead of becoming democratized by the Pax Americana the whole Middle East blows up and the cancer multiplies?”
What about those last two sentences? What about someone who wishes to quote them and to use them in defense of remaining in Iraq? What about someone who says see, Oriana Fallaci is with us, she’s worried about Iraq becoming a “Talibani Afghanistan” and the “cancer” multiplying? To that I answer: no, I don’t think so. I think she would see, once it had been pointed out to her, that the glib phrases about Iraq “being taken over by Al Qaeda” are silly, because no one is going to “take over Iraq,” least of all Al Qaeda, which is the sworn mortal enemy of the Shi’a (who are considered to be “Rafidite dogs” not only by the current leaders of Al Qaeda in Iraq, but by the late Al-Zarqawi). Thus Al-Qaeda already has 60-65% of the Iraqi population against it, as well as the Kurds, who regard Al-Qaeda as an “Arab” group — and they make up another 20% of the population. And the 19% that is Sunni Arab itself consists of many people who — as the tribal revolt against Al Qaeda suggests — have their own interests, and refuse to be dictated to by Al-Qaeda, even if they will continue to oppose the Shi’a, and of course the Americans, those permanent Infidels.
She didn’t live long enough to see the mess go on and on. But though on the left much of her life, she was also deeply grateful to the Americans for helping rescue Europe.
I have no doubt about which arguments, those made by me or those cobbled together by those who oppose me, Oriana Fallaci would have found more convincing, and more likely, in her own view, to lead to a weakening of the Camp of Islam and above all, to a situation that would give Europe some breathing room to come to its civilizational senses.