An Open Letter To The Arab Street
All across the world people saw Saddam’s statue being pulled down in Firdos Square & the wild euphoria in the street that followed. In much of the Western world, this event is being compared to the fall of the Berlin Wall. But, according to the Western media, things looked different through Arab eyes. We’re being told that people all across the Middle East have been shocked and shamed by the quick fall of Iraq and are uncertain and concerned about American intentions. Well, as a hawkish, pro-Israel, Conservative who has a view similar to that of George Bush, Donald Rumsfeld & Paul Wolfowitz, I have a different perspective on this war and its aftermath and in the interest of mutual understanding, I’d like to share it.
To begin with, the people of Iraq have nothing to be ashamed of. Those who ran away or choose not to fight were not cowards, they were men who decided not to risk their lives fighting an army that was coming to liberate them from a cruel tyrant. If America were ever in the same situation, God forbid, most Americans would do the same thing. Fighting to defend your country is one thing, but spilling your blood for a monster like Saddam is quite another.
There are those who will tell you that the United States has come to Iraq to colonize the people and steal their oil. Nothing could be further from the truth. The United States is fighting a war on terrorism and we went to Iraq to remove a brutal dictator who we feared would arm terrorist groups with weapons of mass destruction. Once the fighting is over, America intends to help the Iraqi people become a Democracy. In the end, whether we succeed or not will largely depend on the Iraqi people, but we’re going to give it our best shot. By that, I mean that we’re going to involve the Iraqi people in the interim government and try to get them ready to take over in full as quickly as possible. We’re also going to provide security and humanitarian assistance as we pump the biggest influx of aid since the Marshall Project into Iraq. We’re no more going to be “colonizing them” & “stealing their resources” than we did in Germany, Japan, or South Korea.
But, while we’re helping the Iraqi people rebuild, the war on terrorism is going to continue. I know many people are wondering if that means Iran and Syria are “next”? The honest answer to that question is that they may be “next” if they continue to support and sponsor terrorist groups and build up their weapons of mass destruction. If they decide to discontinue those activities, they have nothing to fear from America, but if they persevere in travelling their present path, I suspect that in some form or fashion, they’re going to face a day of reckoning with the United States. That’s not because Americans love war or because we enjoy throwing our weight around, but because we’re determined to do everything we can to prevent another 9/11, especially one involving WMD.
Earlier in the editorial I mentioned that I was pro-Israel, but that doesn’t mean that I, or people who share my views, don’t support peace in the Middle East. I would be just as happy as I was two days ago watching that statue fall if there were real and lasting peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis — but notice that I said, “real and lasting peace.” Not a fake peace, that sees the Palestinians get their State while the terrorist attacks continue. Until there is a deal on the table that guarantees the Israelis their “peace” just as surely as it guarantees the “Palestinians” their State, there cannot be “real peace in the Middle-East”.
Nor will the people of the Middle East get the happiness and prosperity they deserve until the tinpot dictators in the region are replaced by duly elected representatives of the people. Not everyone shares that view. There are many people who think we should we support the status quo in the Middle East rather than nurturing Democracy, capitalism, and freedom where we find it. I could not disagree more. Saudis, Syrians, Iranians, and Egyptians deserve freedom every bit as much as Americans, South Koreans, Czechs, and the French. We know that if the Middle East becomes democratized, not every nation in the region will be friendly. But I’d take an “unfriendly” Democracy like Turkey over a “friendly” tyranny like Saudi Arabia or Kuwait any day of the week.
Last but not least, I’m sure that you’ve heard it said that America is engaged in a “war against Islam” or that Americans hate Muslims. Nothing could be further from the truth. No nation has come to the aid of Muslims more times in the last two decades than the United States. Not only have we sent more humanitarian aid to Muslims in need than any other nation, but in Kosovo, Bosnia, and Kuwait, Americans risked blood and treasure to protect Muslim lives as well. Moreover, George Bush has called Islam a “religion of peace” so many times it has almost become a clich’. Americans do not wish you ill. To the contrary, one day I, like most Americans, hope to see freedom spread and thrive in the Middle-East the same way that it did in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Soviet Union. That’s what we wish for the people of the Middle East and I thought someone should say so.