In reaction to this depressing daily fare, I often receive dozens of e-mails, phone calls, and questions during interviews that I could sum up as something like: 'Why don't we just leave them to themselves and go home?' The more systematic thinkers, sensing that such a solution is at best knee-jerk and incomplete, will add, "And then if they still attack us again, we can always hit back, bomb them, and leave."...
The answer to this dilemma is to accept that whatever we do, we shall be blamed for either too little or too much attention. Such are the inevitable wages of envy and resentment that the successful always earn from the weak and failed. That being said, there are also a number of other reasons why at the present juncture we must press ahead, contain our anger, and try to finish the nearly impossible — and absolutely thankless — task of defeating terrorists, and in Afghanistan and Iraq restoring humane government to tyrannized people.
First, the events of September 11 demonstrate that Clintonian lip biting and a few cruise missiles amid Middle East aggression earns disdain, not thanks, for magnanimity. Leave a Taliban Afghanistan alone or let Saddam's Iraq be, and in a decade you win 20,000 al Qaeda operatives training with impunity and the sons of Saddam re-armed with nuclear weapons, unless one prefers another twelve years of 350,000 sorties and $20 billion in no-fly-zones — three or four times over. The Middle East is not static and will not cease its anti-Americanism if left to its own good graces — inasmuch as the conditions that promote terror do not derive from American provocation, but arise out of indigenous pathologies...
So the problem is with their hypocritical and vocal leadership, not us — specifically their ambiguous relationship with the West and their creepy desire for Western material comforts, but not the underlying foundations of secularism, gender equity, consensual government, freedom, capitalism, and transparency that alone produce such prosperity. The best way to get America and the West out of millions of Islamic lives is not to burn effigies of George Bush in the Arab Street, but would be for Arab governments to prohibit immigration to the West, to stop importing Western material goods, and to bar decadent Westerners from entering Arab countries.
Any takers? The bitter truth is that the Middle East wants the West far more than the West the Middle East.
Indigenous pathologies indeed.
Take the time to read the whole thing here. You will be smarter and feel better for it.
Friday, June 20, 2003
THE SINGLE BEST EXPLICATION I'VE READ OF THE MIDDLE EAST CONDITION. Victor Davis Hanson is a genius. Read him daily at National Review Online.