Saturday, January 22, 2005

Blaming America - the ignored debate

Mata Musing

Perhaps the most stimulating interchange I have heard this week was a panel discussion, post-inaugural, on Scarborough County between Joe and one of my favorite orators, Pat Buchanan. The subject? Blaming America for terrorism. It is, bar none, the first time I have ever seen a healthy discourse on the subject.

Pat has been a long time favorite of mine. He is eloquent, and well versed on foreign policy, economics and world history. But after 9:11, I found myself on the opposite sides of one who I so respect. Pat's not had the opportunities to expound on his "whys" for it all. In fact, I think this time it slipped out accidently, much to Joe's surprise. I've noted his discontent for our action in Iraq immediately on our plans to take Saddam down. Apparently Joe didn't.

So, when Pat said to Scarborough that terrorists were attacking us because of our presence in that region of the world, Joe... a friend and fan of Buchanan's himself... said "I'm beginning to worry here, Buddy". Evidently he didn't notice that Pat - a firm believer that we should not meddle in foreign nations - harbored a viewpoint akin to "blame America first".

And, in this phrase - "Blame America" - lies the very heart of the pro/ or con Iraq debate.

This was made crystal clear by none other than Janeane Garafolo - a former comedienne who has since morphed into a spirited, angry fury of liberalism - and one of two Air America mouthpieces ranting whenever given the chance on the same panel. She angrily lashes out - again paraphrasing since there are no transcripts available - "why do you keep making divisive statements, like saying we blame America?".

Well, Ms. Garafolo, it's simple. Blaming America is not a divisive statement. It is simply a factual observation on the anti-Iraqi belief. Is she against the Iraqi liberation? Absolutely. Does she believe that we are wrong with our presence there, and inciting more terrorist attacks because of such presence? Absolutely.

Thereby it has to follow that she believes America and our policies are responsible for the terrorists battling the US Coalition and Iraqi citizens. She is "blaming America". And what's so divisive about an accurate assessment?

But that is all too easy a conclusion on the war on terrorism in general. Iraq was not the beginning of terrorist attacks on America's diplomats, military and citizens. Nor will it be the end.

Consider the reality that we were no where near Iraq when they flew planes into the WTC and killed almost 3000 citizens. Does Ms. Garafolo believe we and our foreign military bases were responsible for that as well? Do the previous attacks on embassies, military barracks and vessels, and previous bombings on the WTC do not count as terrorist invasions of our country?

Pat, certainly more eloquent and less hormonal in expressing his similar anti-Iraq position, comes from a long history of believing that the US should not be entangled in foreign affairs that do not directly threaten our borders.... period. But I differ with him, holding to the belief that our presence of foreign bases is integral to the US safety.

And, quite simply, that is Bin Laden and his band of merry thugs' main beef with the US - our presence in his homeland of Saudi Arabia, and the exposure of our evil western culture to fellow Muslims.

Our assault against al Qaeda in Afghanistan, which Mr. Buchanan supports, would not have been as smooth, or perhaps even possible, without our already established military presence, and the added support of Pakistan... another country who's improved relationship is the work of this administration.

The debate as to the "whys" of terrorism is an important one, and one that has not been fully addressed. The media pundits like to simplify the cause, saying that they are "jealous" and resent our culture and wealth. While this may be true, it hardly forms the foundation for their violence. Jihadists' proclaim they would be content if we would just steer clear of their desired caliphate state.

If we even for a moment considered doing as the terrorists wish, what are the repercussions? It goes far beyond simple freedoms stripped from denizens, Muslim and non-Muslim alike.

In a world that abounds in international trade and communication, a fundamentalist Muslim state would never be immune or isolated from the products and cultural influence of the West. It is important we never forget the al Qaeda vision of the caliphate state, as shown to the French journalist by his captors... what they want is from Spain to China.

Giving control of most of Europe, the Middle and Southeast Asia to fundamentalist Muslim clerics' would be an economic disaster of global proportions. Even if a Muslim caliphate and the US could co-exist in peace, without warfare, most of Europe, including France, would revert to nothing more than a third world country.

To prevent any western influences computers, internet, satellite dish... so many technologies would be prohibited. Broadcast and print media would be controlled by the clerics. The truth of this is historic - using merely two such examples out of many in Afghanistan's former Taliban rule, and Saddam's Iraq.

Quite simply, the world's trade and economy would crash. The majority of products offered to today's modern society would be prohibited. Even items as simple as cosmetics for women. With the slash in available market, manufacturers would go under or downsize to stay afloat. Americans would be left to deal only with her own marketplace, and any other country who managed who stay out from under dictatorial rule of Muslim clerics.

It isn't a pretty picture.

Mr. Buchanan's and Garafolo's attitudes that America should sit back and let other countries do as they choose... or as their despots choose... lost it's validity as a modern day foreign policy on 9:11. Today, what happens in those countries affects our own safety. Our stakes in how a country is governed have upped considerably.

But one thing could be said for the "blame America" attitude. If we sat back, withdrawing to our borders, and let Muslim terrorism overrun the rest of the world, I wager the rest of the world, in unison, would be begging for our help. But that's a dangerous way to obtain unity.

Doubleday to "educate" Americans on al Qaeda


On the heels of my above tirade comes the news that Doubleday publishers are planning to add their two cents worth to the "blame America" debate by giving the terrorist platform an outlet in a "book intended to educate American people" on the al Qaeda viewpoint.

A spokeswoman for publisher Doubleday said it was important for Americans to understand the mind of their enemy.

"This gives a direct perspective on their philosophy," Suzanne Herz said on Thursday.

I have no problems with the "blame America" crowd, or anyone else, reading Bin Laden interviews and hearing pretty much what I said above... that Islamic fundamentalists want western interests to steer clear of the Muslim world.

In fact, reading the words of one so filled with hatred for simple freedoms may backfire, giving even more Americans insight to the dangers of the existance of a caliphate state to free countries. However I doubt the book will tie in the repercussions of the existance of such a state, and it's effect on the rest of the world. So it will fall short of a true "education".

Yet the book and it's subject matter bother me little. What I really have a problem with is what will being done with the proceeds.

Doubleday promises they will donate their profits to "charity". So my question is twofold.

First, *what* charity? How much of the profits? All or part? And are they positive these charities do not support terrorist groups?

Secondly, who is the author - conveniently avoided in all reports thus far on this publication? And what is he/she to do with his/her profits? Doubleday is a publisher, and the one who pens this nonsense will also reap benefits that can not be controlled by the publisher.

If even one penny of the cash proceeds can fall into the hands of terrorist groups, then Doubleday should be prosecuted for aiding and abetting the enemy. Period. And until we have answers, Americans should contribute not one penny to this "educational" book.

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