Ralph Peters is a regular columnist with the New
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||Terror Rules Streets
Whether the issue is domestic law and order or fighting foreign wars, the great fallacy of the left is the belief that protecting the "human rights" of killers is more important than the elementary human right of the vast majority - the innocent - to live unmolested by murderers and fanatics.
Whether the cry is "Free Mumia!" or "Close Guantanamo!" or "Bring the Troops Home Now!" the consistent purpose is to rescue killers from justice - no matter the cost to law-abiding citizens here or to the millions of Iraqis who truly desire peace.
Ralph Peters - Contributor
Peters is a retired Army officer and the author of 19 books,
as well as of hundreds of essays and articles, written both
under his own name and as Owen Parry. He is a frequent columnist
for the New York Post and other publications. [go to Peters Index]
This situation was bad enough when save-the-cop-killers/pity-the-terrorists ideology only infected the left. But political correctness has insinuated itself so deeply into our collective thinking that even the chest-thumping Bush administration refused to take on Iraq's fanatical killers - with the result that Iraq is now frankly ungovernable.
The administration ignored an ironclad rule of conflict in failed societies: A fraction of 1 percent of the population, armed and determined, can destroy a fragile state. If you are not willing to kill that fraction of a percent, the remaining 99-plus percent will suffer terror, massacre and chaos.
Our weakness of will and wishful thinking made Iraq safe for our enemies. They can walk the streets unarmed. We can't.
We did the right and virtuous thing by deposing Saddam Hussein. There's no reason even now to regret that act. But history will condemn us - justly - for the moral cowardice we revealed after the fall of Baghdad: We would not kill the handful of men who needed killing. Now they've converted tens of thousands to their cult of violence.
Imagine how different the situation would be had our forces been allowed to plan for a military occupation with rational rules of engagement, if looters had been shot and if we had taken on the militias as they were forming. Had we occupied the Sunni Triangle with sufficient numbers of troops and had we killed the Shia provocateur Muqtada al-Sadr as he began assassinating peaceful rivals in mid-2003, Iraq would've had a chance.
Now it's too late. Too late for more troops. Too late for the massive crackdown that would be required. Too late to restore the rule of law after we enabled the spread of lawlessness. Too late for the average Iraqi to live in peace.
It's up to the Iraqis now. And they appear to be their own worst enemies.
I wish the world were as innocent as intellectuals pretend. But we're far from the Peaceable Kingdom. If we're unwilling to behave ferociously toward terrorists and thugs, they'll behave with greater ferocity toward the innocent. That's a consistent equation in humanity's moral algebra.
The core problem of the political correctness crippling our policies is that both the left's on-line commissars and Bush's brain trust (such as it is) are guilty of the same error: Safe in America, they insist that the world is as they wish it to be, rather than as it is. Such self-deception paves the paths to Auschwitz, Srebrenica and Balad.
There are few platitudes more cringe-inducing than hearing yet another American political leader or general claim that "the only answer in Iraq is a political solution." That's just plain nonsense - it's reality-avoidance as a strategy. It may be too late for any good solution in Iraq, but political dialogue doesn't have a prayer.
Permitted to run rampant, Iraq's Shia and Sunni fanatics are now stronger than the government and have no incentive to compromise. If Shia gangsters-for-god believe they can win a total victory over their age-old enemies, why share power? The same applies to Sunni extremists.
Political compromise is not a tradition of the Middle East - life and power are viewed as zero-sum games.
And the ugly truth is that some men love to kill. Torture and murder are addictive. The lifelong loser empowered to kill for a cause becomes a little god. And when the violence ends, the party's over.
The butchers our timidity unleashed are enjoying themselves. They're having the time of their lives executing unarmed civilians.
How many American - and foreign - lives must we sacrifice to stay within our privileged comfort zone, clinging to the lie that "all men want peace"? A compromise peace is the last thing Iraq's killers want.
It's one thing to ask our soldiers and Marines to die for our national security, but sending them off to die for platitudes is unforgivable.
The government in Baghdad is on the verge of failure. There is no civil war - civil war would be easier to deal with. What we see in the streets is the rule of the gunmen.
We gave them Iraq. Instead of imposing the rule of law, we empowered the lawless.
Responsibility begins, of course, with the Iraqis, who have chosen old hatreds over new possibilities. The next layer of guilt encompasses the Bush administration, which lacked the guts to finish what it started. But the get-Bush-at-any-cost Americans who encouraged our enemies will have the blood of countless innocent Iraqis on their hands.
The left may get its wish: Iraq may fail. Well, congratulations. The men to whom you yearn to give Iraq will make Pol Pot look like Mr. Rogers.
The only blameless participants are our troops. Each new tombstone at Arlington National Cemetery should read: "Killed By Wishful Thinking." CRO
latest book is Never
Quit The Fight.
piece first appeared in the New York Post
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