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J.F. Kelly, Jr. - Contributor

J.F. Kelly, Jr. is a retired Navy Captain and bank executive who writes on current events and military subjects. He is a resident of Coronado, California. [go to Kelly index]

Can the Terrorists Win?
We can't walk away from Iraq...

[J. F. Kelly, Jr.] 4/30/04

In sifting through the various reactions to the events precipitated by the slaughter of the four American civilians at Falluja, it became clear to me that many Americans still don’t get it. Forget the predictable, knee-jerk reaction of the Bush haters who insist that such things are the inevitable consequences of an unjust war. Such thinking is a product of the same mindset that holds that the Bushies stole the election from Al Gore. No argument will persuade them otherwise and they will probably go to their graves believing that all acts of terrorism against Americans from now on are a result of “Bush’s War.”

I can at least understand, while respectfully disagreeing with, the argument that that the invasion of Iraq was a mistake; an unnecessary interruption in the war on terrorism. What bothers me most is the persistence of the notion that we bring this treatment upon ourselves because of our arrogance and insensitiveness toward Arabs and Muslims. Those who profess this view seem to believe that we would not be targets of radical Muslim hatred and violence if only we were more compassionate and evenhanded in our dealings with them. Presumably, the lack of evenhandedness has to do with our perceived bias toward Israel in its struggle against Palestinian terror.

Such a view, I believe, is naive to say the least. It is, perhaps, comforting for people to believe that a solution to hatred and violence lies within their own control; that by simply modifying our behavior and attitude, we could soften the hearts of those who hate us so that we could all live happily ever after. Unfortunately, even if we could, or should, change who we are and how we behave, it probably wouldn’t make much difference to the terrorists in how they feel about us. And if we could change, wouldn’t it come at too high a price if it meant compromising our principles and abandoning our friends?

I think that the argument of those who believe that we can melt their hearts by reaching out to them is based upon a faulty premise. They think that the Muslim extremists hate us for what we do when in fact, they hate us for who we are and what we stand for. What we are is the richest and most modern, progressive and powerful nation on earth. We are a diverse, multi-ethnic, multi-racial, largely Christian nation that values individual freedoms, including freedom of speech and religion. Such freedoms are largely unknown to them and are a distinct threat to their leaders.

The religious fanatics who speak for these people despise our freedoms and our insistence in separating religion from government. What we see as sexual freedom and gender equality, they see as depravity. While we encourage scientific advance, they fear it as a threat to religious dogma. They view our society as corrupt and profane. We are, and will remain, in their eyes, the Great Satan.

How are we going to change all this by turning the other cheek or by turning over a new leaf? There’s always room for improvement, I guess, and we could be a little less arrogant at times, but can we really change who we are? And if we could, would we want to?

Giving up on Iraq wouldn’t help, either. If fact, any concession or retreat from our objectives of establishing a democracy in Iraq and combating terror at the hands of Muslim fundamentalists will be viewed by them as signs of weakness and the lack of determination that they believe will eventually lead to our withdrawal from the entire region. They will take credit for driving us out.

If we permit these things to happen, terrorism will continue to follow us everywhere, influencing our behavior and our diplomacy. The terrorists will have won. CRO

copyright 2004 J. F. Kelly, Jr.



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