On September 11th -- President Bush and His War in Iraq:
Part of “The Decisive Ideological Struggle of the 21st Century”
By Bernard Levy
It’s 9/11 time again – a time to reflect and recommit ourselves to freedom and the American way of life. However, it’s also politics time again, and redundant, ideological dribble “spouts forth from the mouth of the party in power” (PIP). President Bush’s speech writers and advisors are playing political hardball again and tying it into the terrorism that shocked America five years ago. His recent speech, August 31, 2006, in Salt Lake City at the annual convention of the American Legion, has been deemed by many mainstream media commentators to be the first volley of the ten-week-before-midterm elections “war on the Democrats.” He argued in his speech most strenuously for staying the course in Iraq and equated our fight in Iraq to that of fighting the Fascists and Nazis in World War II. He also said, “the war we fight today is more than a military conflict, it is the decisive ideological struggle of the 21st century.”
If I heard him right, it’s a war in which we’re trying to win over the minds, hearts and souls of people on whose lands we wage war, currently Afghanistan and Iraq (and hopefully not Iran).
Although it has been noted that President Bush recently read Albert Camus’ “The Stranger” as part of his summer reading, he probably hasn’t read Eric Hoffer’s “The True Believer.” He should.
This is not a war that can be analogized to or equated with fighting the Nazis and Fascists. This is a war in which fundamentalist Islamic true believers deem it their mission to rid the Middle East – their region, their territory, their domain – of the devil. America is described by these fundamentalists as Satan itself, along with the democratic government of Israel. Even Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and the royal family of Saudi Arabia were on the hit list of these fundamentalists at one time, and the latter may still be. Also, please consider the Senate report recently released in which the CIA stated, among other revelations, that Saddam’s government “did not have a relationship, harbor or turn a blind eye toward” a prominent al-Quaida operative before the war.
A more correct comparison with the terrorists would be our past war with the Vietnamese Communists. There are still those who say we could have won the war in Vietnam if we had waged the war to win. Yes, we may have overpowered the Communists for a while, but we lost because of true believers. The North Vietnamese believed in what they were fighting for; the South Vietnamese were (and still are) wonderful people, but their government was corrupt. A more proper analogy would be the Chinese civil war that was waged between the forces of Chiang Kai-Shek and Mao Tse-Tung. Mao captured the minds, hearts, ears and souls of the Chinese people. He and his party gave China the two things that all people long for, whatever their race, creed, nationality or religious preference – food for today and hope for tomorrow.
Which brings us back to President Bush’s meaningless and actually harmful words, words that are more detrimental in our war on terrorism than any opposition’s rhetoric.
The implication of his message (although he may not have meant it to be) was clear; we are waging a war in the 21st century between those who believe in democracy and a Judaic-Christian way of life and governance, and those who believe in Islam. Wrong, dead wrong! The truth is, of course, that the majority of Muslims do not subscribe to the methodology, practices and hellfire, brimstone fundamentalism of the terrorists. When peace-loving Muslims come to power, their governments are often different than ours, but we can live in peace with those differences. President Bush believes that his fight in Afghanistan and Iraq will allow “us” to establish our form of democracy. Well, it hasn’t, and it won’t happen because the major impediment is Bush, Rumsfeld, Cheney and their political hacks and advisors. America is currently considered the problem in Iraq, not the solution.
I recently watched a TV interview with a famous Islamic fundamentalist who said that he would gladly see his son, still a minor, sacrifice his life in the furtherance of the current Islamic jihad. Has President Bush said the same about his children on TV or even in public? He hasn’t, which is a good example of the difference between “true believer-ism” and our conventional Western beliefs.
President Bush’s August 31st statements served only to inflame the passions and harden the resolve of the terrorists. His message that waging the war in Iraq keeps the war from being fought in the United States is both without merit and without factual basis. The continuation of our Iraq occupation, partially resulting from major mismanagement, has developed a breeding ground for insurgents and terrorists, including those coming from Iraq’s neighbors. The fundamentalist Islamics do not want to take over America; they want to establish their Middle East region as a bastion of their form of Islamic government. Of course, this doesn’t bode well for Israel who also has a fundamental right to be in that region, but President Bush’s words merely served to pour more fuel upon the fires of fundamentalist discontent and terror. And, by the way, what is the current status of our relationship with Communist Vietnam? Very important question, isn’t it?
Will President Bush ever wise up? We’re afraid not. And why not? Because the primary war he’s waging is political, to maintain power in Washington for his party. This is not only a great disservice to the United States of America, a great country in which I take great pride, it doesn’t help us coalesce world opinion in our favor and gain assistance from the world community for our war on terrorism.
Wise up, President Bush! Tell your advisors and speechwriters to take a long walk off a short political pier. Your meaningless, boisterous rhetoric worked before, but it ain’t gonna work now. Rid yourself and your cohorts of your arrogance and bravado. Heck, we all remember that you and Vice President Cheney opted out of the opportunity “to serve your country in Vietnam.” Let’s really fight terrorism and regain the hearts, ears and minds of the world community with our actions, not your empty words.