How the West Was Lost
by Yashiko Sagamori February 16, 2003
(who wrote 'a Japanese view of the Palestinians' recently circulated on the net)
If, at the heights of the enthusiastic flag-waving in the immediate aftermath of September 11, someone had predicted that, 18 months
down the road, the US government would be advising its citizens to buy duct tape to protect their homes from a possible terrorist attack, everyone would have taken it - and rightly so - as an admission of our impending defeat in the then new War on Terrorism. Let's face it: the eradication of the Taliban has obviously failed to improve our security at home. Why is that so? Was it
predictable? What went wrong?
The US invasion in Afghanistan began in response to the Taliban's refusal to hand over Osama bin Laden. Although nobody had put it exactly in those words, the general feeling was that once the arch-villain is killed or captured, the victory is ours. We succeeded in replacing the Taliban government with that of the Northern Alliance, but Osama bin Laden escaped our onslaught and continues to instill fears in our hearts.
Let us ask a very simple question. Suppose one day we capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Would that signify our final victory in the War on Terrorism? Many people seem to think that that would be it. To prove them wrong, let us use an analogy. If Bill Gates were to surprise us all with the news of his retirement, effective immediately, would it mark the end of Microsoft? Of course, not! Someone else would step in and replace him at the helm of the software giant. Things would change inside the company; policy adjustments and reorganizations would inevitably take place. But the software users all over the world would hardly notice the difference, because Microsoft would keep on doing what it had been created to do. Obviously, the same thing would happen to al Qaeda if we succeeded in taking its leader out of commission: someone else would promptly replace him, and the most feared terrorist organization in the world would keep on doing what it had been created to do.
But what if the government takes really drastic measures and closes Microsoft altogether? An impact of such action would be huge. It
would resonate throughout stock markets all over the world. Thousands software engineers would flood the already stressed job market. The most popular software suites would no longer be maintained. But would the closure of Microsoft mean the death of software engineering? Absolutely not! For every single software manufacturer in the world the demise of Microsoft would provide a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grab a bigger piece of the market. After a few months or years of uncertainty and fiercer than normal competition, a new industry leader would emerge to set its own standards, probably, more efficient than those established by its predecessor.
The simple truth is that software is being engineered not because of Bill Gate's greed, but because our civilization cannot function without it. If you want to eliminate the software from our lives, you have to change our civilization accordingly.
Following the same simple logic, you cannot stop terrorism by going after individual terrorists or even terrorist organizations. You have
to change the civilization that cannot function without it.
Like Microsoft, al Qaeda emerged primarily because the civilization behind it had an urgent need for its product. Even if we succeed in the total eradication of al Qaeda, Islamic terrorism will not disappear. There is Hezbollah in Lebanon. There is the Moslem Brotherhood in Egypt. There is a wild assortment of terrorist organizations under Arafat's umbrella. There are Chechens and Pakistanis. There are countries like Iran, Syria and Libya. There are countless large and small organizations that will jump at the opportunity to fill the sudden vacuum. Most importantly, there is need for terrorism in the Islamic world.
It is crucial for us to understand that, no matter what they say to us, Arab governments simply cannot outlaw terrorism - just like the US
government would be powerless to outlaw software engineering. It would be absurdly futile for us to expect Arabs to suddenly start fighting terrorism in earnest. For them, terrorism is the only viable strategy for jihad in today's world. And jihad, being one of the five pillars of Islam, inevitably constitutes one of the most important ingredients of the every day life in hopelessly backward Islamic societies like the Arab countries and Iran.
The talking heads on our TV somehow manage to classify Arab states into two categories: "extremist" and "moderate", the latter supposedly being our allies. Not so long ago, Saddam Hussein was "moderate" and Iraq was our "ally" - mostly because of the Iraqi war with Iran. If you ask George W. Bush today which category Saudi Arabia belongs to, you will be assured that it is our reliable ally. You have probably heard that Islam is the religion of love and only the extreme, radical Islamic sects, like the Wahhabis, support terrorism. Wahhabis of course are very bad guys. They advocate the spread of Islam at the tip of the sword. They are calling for the murder of, first, all Jews, then all Westerners, and then all infidels - unless of course they agree that there is no god but Allah and Mohammad is his
messenger. They founded a tight network of terrorist training centers in Pakistan and flimsily disguised them as religious schools. Their emissaries have been captured in Chechnya by the Russians. Osama bin Laden himself belongs to that sect. What a bad bunch of Moslems! What a monstrous perversion of the religion of love and peace! What our talking heads usually forget to mention is that the leadership of the Wahhabi sect and the Saudi royal family are - surprise, surprise! - the same picturesque group of guys in white robes. Oops!
Therefore, just like George W. Bush lies to us when he calls the Saudis our allies, he lied to us when, in the aftermath of September 11, he kept repeating that Islam was not the enemy. I would agree with him if he said that Moslems were not the enemy - no more than all Germans or all Japanese were our enemy in World War II. But just as Nazism was our enemy then, Islam is our enemy now, and stopping Islamic terrorism is impossible without thoroughly rearranging the entire civilization based on Islam. And that, of course, means war.
Worse even, this means a lonely war, because the "old Europeans" are not with us in this noble enterprise. The weightless wonder of the Twin Towers is no longer adorning the New York skyline, but the Eiffel Tower, the Big Ben, the Coliseum, the Kremlin, the Forbidden City were still intact the last time I checked. I'm sure there are plans for those landmarks as well - remember the Buddha statues in Afghanistan? The enemy is not about to show mercy to any infidel once the Great Satan - meaning us - is out of the way, but that's not going to happen in the immediate future. Meanwhile, the Arabs are slowly eroding the US credibility and influence in the Middle East and the rest of the world, and, by doing so, helping the European Union to achieve its main, although never explicitly stated goal: to replace the United States as the leader of the free world. And since getting stronger than the United States appears at the moment somewhat problematic even with all their combined resources and all our combined troubles at home and abroad, then whatever has a potential of weakening us further is entirely welcome in Europe, even if, along with the American influence, it also erodes the freedom of our still free world. For instance, the freedom to live our lives without fear.
The American war against the Arab world is not going to help the European Union, Russia, or China to achieve world domination. The opposite is true. America will win that war, and the region will become tightly aligned with US policies. This will be a major setback for the Europeans. The Russians will suffer a double setback: not only the victory will strengthen the United States; they will also forever lose their ability to stir troubles in the area. For the Chinese, our victory will also be a giant
leap away from leading the world along their shining path.
And this is where Bush's politically correct lies hit him like a boomerang that missed its target. If Islam is not the enemy, then what exactly is his excuse for a war - besides correcting the historic flop of his father 12 years ago? Disarming Saddam Hussein? Guess what? There is no need to start a war to take care of Saddam's arms: the UN will never manage to completely disarm him of course, but it will eventually succeed in emasculating him to the point where he could be safely invited for an unsupervised visit to the Kuwaiti ruler's harem. If Colin Powell knows where Saddam hides his forbidden toys, why doesn't he simply tell Hans Blix about it and get it over with? And if he doesn't, why doesn't he just shut up and let the inspectors do their job? Where does the war come into the picture?
And while the illustrious attendees of Security Council meetings artfully waste everybody's time in empty debates, millions of people around the world firmly express their opposition to the American attack on Iraq. Should George W. Bush heed to their voice? There are many factors that can influence his decision. If he asked me, I would remind him that the majority is not always right. When Abraham Lincoln was president, the majority of US citizens supported slavery. The majority of people in the world harbor at least some degree of anti-Semitism. The majority of people in the world hate the United States. I would also remind him that war is a serious business and when you try to sell it to your people and the world, you better have guts to correctly identify the enemy.
I have a dream. I hope with all my heart that, come the new moon, our Commander-in-Chief will give the order, and the fall of Iraq will become the beginning of the cataclysmic change in the entire Arab world. The stability of the region, of course will go to hell - along with the societies where total corruption and murderous intolerance have always been the defining principles of social life, along with the eternal Arab war against Israel that they can never win and Israel is never allowed to finish, along with their Chucky-like puppet Arafat, along with every stagnant, obsolete theocracy that still exists on earth. When the end of the war is in sight, the Europeans will be certain to once again demonstrate their ancient wisdom: they will be there, demanding, in the most appropriate form, their portion of the newly baked Arab-American pie. Hopefully, Bush will be wise to give them exactly what they deserve - not a barrel more, not a barrel less.
On the other hand, regardless of my dreams, what options does President Bush have in this situation? The economy is in the worst shape since the Great Depression, and although I don't believe it is the result of anything he has done or failed to do, the fact is he's been presiding over this unprecedented decline. With new cabinet departments, as well as without them, our fear of terrorism is growing more palpable with every passing day. Our military victory in Afghanistan has brought us no tangible benefits and, therefore, its outcome can be described, without stretching it too far, as an astronomical waste of money at the time of dire need. If he fails to change the world for the better, what will he have to show for his presidency, come November 2004?
Although I voted for George W. Bush, I do not always agree with his decisions and policies. What I like and respect about him though is that he, like Ronald Reagan, appears to be guided by his ideas of right and wrong. I hope this time he finds strength and courage to do what's right even though the rest of the world is going to scream foul. If he fails, not only Saddam Hussein will have victoriously survived yet another Bush, not only George W., like his father, will lose the White House to a Clinton, but the West will be eventually lost as well - to jihad.