Skip to comments.Blood and fire
Posted on 10/03/2001 8:47:19 AM PDT by SJackson
Many years ago among the Arab peoples there was much debate. Everyone asked: "What leader, idea and strategy will lead us to total victory? For on that day there will be no Israel and no Western influence in the Middle East. And thus we will be wealthy, and all will live well and be content. Anyone who doesn't go along with this plan is a traitor and will be cast out."
And there arose a king in the land of Egypt and his name was Gamal Abdel Nasser. He said, "Let all the Arabs unite, and none can stand against us."
But they did not unite, and he stirred up much violence and chaos that pushed the Arabs back in their quest. Many died, and many resources were wasted. And he failed.
Then there arose oracles in the lands of Syria and Iraq, and they proclaimed: "The Ba'ath party will unite the Arabs, and none can stand against us."
And there were many who worshipped this Golden Ba'ath. But they lost wars, repressed the people and fought among themselves. And they failed.
Next, there came various groups and factions that said: "There is a scientific analysis of the world called Marxism. We must unite the masses and overthrow the existing regimes. When this is done, we will easily eliminate Israel and do everything else we want."
And they made terrorism and warfare. Many people died, many resources were wasted, and the Arabs came no nearer their goal.
Then arose a man named Yasser Arafat, who proclaimed that the Palestinians would be the vanguard of the Arab world.
And he failed time after time, and committed much violence and many people died and many resources were wasted. And he wandered in the desert for 40 years. And when he came to the Promised Land, he decided that he preferred the desert.
At last there arose a false prophet named Saddam Hussein, and he said: "I will lead you to victory."
And he led them to two wars and hundreds of thousands of more people died, billions of dollars were wasted and lands were left in smoking ruins.
The Islamists snorted: "Of course nationalism does not work because it is godless and a Western import. Only Islam is the way."
And there was a revolution in Iran. But that didn't work so well either. The people groaned under the yoke of the regime and cried out. But this did not stop many different groups in various countries who sought to seize power. They all agreed that "Only Islam is the answer," but each had its own interpretation of Islam.
And the streets flowed with blood and they did not succeed.
AFTER ALL this mess, some said: "Let us learn from these failures. Perhaps we should try moderation and negotiation and compromise. Maybe what we really need is not to blame imperialism and Zionism for all our problems, but to take responsibility on ourselves.
"Maybe our afflictions arise not from America and Israel but from dictatorship, repressive societies, the lack of human rights, the need for economic development stemming from privatization and hard work, the subordinate role of women, the intolerant style of our debate, and the sensationalism of our media."
And the others thought about it for a while and said, "Nah! Are you out of your minds? Besides, what will happen to our power and wealth if that happens? It is better to dream of total victory for 100 years than to compromise and be traitors."
Even in the West, some echoed these arguments, saying, "Don't you know that these people have grievances? After all, you're still breathing. And we know that at the Camp David summit Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak refused to make peace unless the Palestinians agreed to allow a kibbutz on the Temple Mount with a big Israeli flag and a large clock that played 'Hatikvah' every hour."
And so once again they stirred the people to hate Israel and America - which wasn't hard after decades of similar effort.
"How can we have democracy and human rights and civil society," they thundered menacingly, "Don't you know there's a war on?"
And then came September 11, and they all said, "Oops."
Then things became really interesting. Some started trembling in fear that the wrath of America might strike them down. Perhaps they should actually change their ways - at least a little bit?
But then they listened to American leaders who seemed to think the real problem was persuading Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as well as Hamas, Hizbullah and the PLO that America was really nice and loved Muslims and Arabs. And the Arab leaders said to each other: "Are they joking? Is this a trick? Can they really be so stupid?
"Wow! They really mean it! Now we know from our political experience that no one is nice. The only explanation is that they are scared, that they lack will, that they are wimps.
"Why should we help them if they don't make us do it?"
- The Russians broke their promise to stop selling parts for weapons of mass destruction to Iran, and America did nothing.
- The Chinese broke similar promises, and America did nothing.
- Hafez Assad and Yasser Arafat slapped Bill Clinton on the face, and America said nothing.
- The Saudis and Yemenis didn't help America fully investigate terrorist attacks that killed Americans in their countries, and America did nothing.
- Syria broke its promise to America not to open an oil pipeline with Iraq, and America didn't complain.
Now, America is hinting broadly: Help us for a couple of months to get rid of Osama Bin Ladin, and then you can go back to what you were doing before. Even if you just give us a few promises we will forgive you all your past trespasses.
And even President Hosni Mubarak is saying, in effect: "So you lost over 6,000 people murdered by terrorists in one day. Is that any reason to use violence?"
If this is indeed how it is, much of the Arab world will have found the latest in its long line of self-defeating panaceas: Bin-Ladenism.
Let us hope - for the sake of America, the Arabs and ourselves - that this does not happen. The ostensible reason for the Arabs' rejectionist behavior lies in the details, as with the Syrian and Palestinian treatment of Israeli peace proposals, but its roots go far deeper.
Ironically, the Arab misperception of America may lead the majority of Arab states to pull "an Arafat" - throw away a great opportunity, lose potential concessions and provoke a much tougher reaction.
And then you will see a response in American policy and public opinion against Arab interests parallel to the changes Arafat brought to Israel during the last year.
The reaction of so many Americans as well.
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