"But war, in a good cause, is not the greatest evil which a nation can suffer. War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things: the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice – a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for an honest purpose by their free choice – is often the means of their regeneration. A man who has nothing which he is willing to fight for, nothing which he cares more about than he does about his personal safety, is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself. As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever-renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other."

Monday, February 27, 2006

Worst fears unfounded?

Last week, the world held its breath as we watched what looked like Iraq's plunge into the civil pundits had warned/feared/hoped for. Well, it's a new week. How far has Iraq fallen?

Apparently, completely off the radar screen, to judge by CNN.com's headlines this past weekend, most of which worried whether or not New Orleans' first post-Katrina Mardi Gras festivities might be, um, washed out by poor weather. This is not to say that the storm-clouds in Iraq have been blown away, the sun is shining, birds are singing, children playing with gumdrop smiles in rivers made of chocolate, etc. But perhaps, just perhaps, Iraqis have once again defied everyone's worst expectations and chosen the path of peace rather than self-destruction. The crisis is not over; the coming days will tell us whether this is the calm before the storm or simply another sad, bloody, violent speed-bump in Iraq's journey toward democracy. The fact that we're even asking whether or not last week's violent reprisals and counter-reprisals was true civil war means it's not. If honest-to-Allah civil war breaks out, there will be no doubt. In the meantime, we don't want to turn our fears of future sectarian violence into a self-defeating prophecy. We need to
continually improve our counterinsurgency efforts, strengthen the government so that it can protect against future Golden Mosque-type attacks, and refuse to surrender on the home front. The terrorists must be shown that no matter how vile an atrocity they perpetrate, the desire amongst Iraqis for a hopeful future will win through, and that we will back them to the hilt to make that future a reality.

Hamas, too, needs to learn how to play ball. Few in
Israel are fooled by the Islamic party's attempts to convince the rest of the world that yes, they're moderate and will stay that way so long as the cash keeps flowing. American diplomats who've been around the block a few times aren't fooled either.

Much has been made of the Cartoon Jihad; garnering fewer headlines, but worthy of much closer attention, is the story of
Ilan Halimi, a Jew who was kidnapped, tortured for weeks, and finally murdered - not in the West Bank, not in Iran, but in France. Two points to ponder from this story. First, those Muslims who believe their religious sensibilities trump the freedoms of liberal democracy clearly think they can carry out their own 'religious prerogatives' on those they view as infidels, regardless of whose borders they live in. Second, the complete lack of coverage or public outcry shows that the media and government are either too scared or too powerless to take a stand against such barbaric behavior. I don't know which of these two points is more frightening.

1 comment:

Ammianus Marcellinus said...

1,300 dead in three days is a civil war, we're seeing a little calm, but that's not an inspiring number right there