Tuesday, March 18, 2008

USA vs. Europe - the core

As usual, VDH hits it in the center. The truth is sometimes uncomfortable - especially when you have to give it to your friends.
Iraq, as no one ever imagined, ended up as a landscape in which the United States and al-Qaeda would battle for the hearts and minds of the Arab world on the world stage. And in Anbar Province, the jihadists are losing — losing militarily and losing the support of the local Sunni population. Again, whereas the conventional wisdom holds that we have radicalized an entire generation of young Muslims, it may turn out instead that we have convinced a generation that it is not wise after 9/11 to wage war against the United States. In any case, there is no other constitutional Arab government in the Middle East that actively hunts down and kills al-Qaeda terrorists.

When the insurgency took off in late 2003, Europe immediately triangulated against the United States, courted the Arab world, and hoped to deflect jihadists by loudly proclaiming they were vehemently against the war in Iraq. This is in itself was quite remarkable, since the entire recent expansion of the European Union to the south and east had been predicated only on a partnership agreement with the United States to extend NATO membership — alone ensuring these weak new European affiliates American military protection.

Irony abounds: Since 2003, Europe — not the United States — has experienced a series of attacks, and near-constant threats, ranging from bombed subways and rail stations to Islamic demands to censor cartoons, operas, films, and papal exegeses.

It is in Europe, not in post-Iraq Kansas, where a Turkish prime minister announces to Muslim expatriate residents that they must remain forever Turks and assimilation is a crime; it is in post-Iraq Europe, not Los Angeles, where politicians and churchmen talk of the inevitability of Sharia law; and it is in post-Iraq Europe, not the United States, where honor killings and Islamic rioting are common occurrences.

Why? A number of reasons, but despite all the misrepresentation and propaganda, the message has filtered through the Middle East that the United States will go after and punish jihadists — but also, alone of the Western nations, it will risk its own blood and treasure to work with Arab nations to find some alternative to the extremes of dictatorship and theocracy. Europe, in contrast to its utopian rhetoric, will trade with and profit from, but most surely never challenge, a Middle Eastern thug.

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