Dave Sim's blogandmail #363 (September 9th, 2007)
Sunday September 9 –
You know, just because you harbour a venomous loathing for anything having to do with organized religion and a compulsion to enunciate your views edged with the most poisonous level of sarcasm you can muster and just because you believe God is the biggest hoax ever perpetrated by mankind upon itself, doesn't mean that you aren't doing His work according to His plan.
Christopher Hitchens is a good case in point. I read all of the excerpts from his book GOD IS NOT GREAT that the National Post ran and, boy, does he have a mad on about God and boy can he lay it on with a trowel and boy do I ever disagree with him. But, just recently The NATIONAL POST also ran his Slate.com column "From Baghdad to Kabul, it's the same good fight" August 15 which is a classic of its kind, beginning with an across-the-board denunciation of what he sees as the inherent foolish sophistry of Jews, Christians (Roman Catholics and their Eastern Orthodox Brethren) and Muslims (you know, people like me) which then segues neatly into a Big However as only Christopher Hitchens can deliver them. HOWEVER…
…the believers are models of lucidity when compared to the hair-splitting secularists who cannot accept that al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia, which has staged some of Iraq's deadliest suicide bombings since 2003, is a branch of al-Qaeda itself.
There is such a smorgasbord of leftist and secularist delusional beliefs that are founded upon nothing and manufactured out of whole cloth and yet are accepted as holy writ universally on the part of leftists and secularists, I never quite know where to begin and end up just amplifying something that Victor David Hanson has written that Darrell sent me and correcting mythologies about Islam and the Koran when it comes time to write the Sunday edition. With this one, right from the opening paragraph, I was thinking "Boy was THIS long overdue." Okay secularists, here comes Christopher Hitchens, one of your own, and yes, those are very long, very sharp surgical tools that he's wielding and yes, this is apt to sting a bit.
Objections to this self-evident fact take one of two forms.
It is argued, first, that there was no such organization before the coalition intervention in Iraq. It is argued, second, that the character of the gang itself is somewhat autonomous from, and even independent of, the original group proclaimed by Osama bin Laden. These objections sometimes, but not always, amount to the suggestion that the "real" fight against al-Qaeda is, or should be, not in Iraq but in Afghanistan. (I say "not always" because many of those who argue the difference are openly hostile to the presence of NATO forces in Afghanistan as well as to the presence of coalition soldiers in Iraq.)
The facts as we have them are not at all friendly to this view of the situation, whether it be the "hard" view that al-Qaeda terrorism is a "resistance" to Western imperialism or the "soft" view that we have only created the monster in Iraq by intervening there.
The founder of al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia (AQM) was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who we can now gratefully describe as "the late". The first thing to notice about him is that he was in Iraq before we were. The second thing to notice is that he fled to Iraq only because he, and many others like him, had been driven out of Afghanistan. Thus, by the logic of those who say that Afghanistan is the "real" war, he would have been better left as he was. Without the overthrow of the Taliban, he and his collaborators would not have moved to take advantage of the next failed/rogue state. I hope you can spot the simple error of reasoning that is involved in this belief.
Um, he isn't speaking rhetorically, there, secularists. He really does hope you can spot the simple error of reasoning that is involved in this belief. Read the paragraph a few more times and see if you don't "get it" and how that undermines your core belief that al-Qaeda either isn't in Iraq or is not the real al-Qaeda.
As it happens, we also know that Zarqawi – who probably considered himself a rival to bin Laden as well as an ally – wrote from Iraq to bin Laden and to his henchman Ayman al-Zawahiri and asked for the local "franchise" to call himself the leader of AQM. This dubious honour he was duly awarded. We further know that he authored a plan for the wrecking of the new Iraq: a simple strategy to incite civil murder between Sunni and Shiite Muslims. The incredible evil of this proposal, which involved the blowing up of holy places and the assassination of pilgrims, was endorsed from whatever filthy cave these deliberations are conducted in. As a matter of fact, we even know that Zawahiri and his boss once or twice counselled Zarqawi to hold it down a bit, especially on the video-butchery and the excessive zeal in the murder of Shiites. Thus, if there is any distinction to be made between the apple and the tree, it would involve saying that AQM is, if anything, even more virulent and sadistic and nihilistic than its parent body.
And this very observation leads to a second one, which has been well-reported and observed by journalists who are highly sceptical about the invasion. In provinces like Anbar, and in areas of Baghdad, even Sunni militants have turned away in disgust and fear from the AQM forces. It's not difficult to imagine why this is: Try imagining life for a day under the village rule of such depraved and fanatical elements.
To say that the attempt to Taliban-ize Iraq would not be happening at all if coalition forces were not present is to make two unsafe assumptions and one possibly suicidal one. The first assumption is that the vultures would never have gathered to feast on the decaying cadaver of the Saddamist state, a state that was in a process of implosion well before 2003. All our experience of countries like Somalia and Sudan and indeed, of Afghanistan, argues that such an assumption is idiotic. It is in the absence of international attention that such nightmarish abnormalities flourish.
Link that thought back to the decision of Zarqawi to flee FROM Afghanistan TO Iraq when the invasion of Afghanistan by the Coalition of the Willing made Afghanistan inhospitable for his brand of extremism. Do you get it now? If you want to know what the worst environment on the planet is and the environment most amenable to the worst of the Islamists is, just look at where they run to when they can't stay where they are.
Remember George W. Bush declaring war on terrorist states and those states which harbour terrorists. Remember that brief few moments in your secularist lives when that made perfect sense? Is there some way for you to get back there or are you now in full-bore LalaLala I'm Not Listening mode again?
The second assumption is that the harder we fight them, the more such cancers metastasize. This appears to be contradicted by all the experience of Iraq. Fallujah or Baqubah might already have become the centres of an ultra-Taliban mini-state, as they at one time threatened to do, whereas now not only have thousands of AQM goons been killed but local opinion appears to have shifted decisively against them and their methods.
The third assumption, deriving from the first two, would be that if coalition forces withdrew, the AQM gangsters would lose their raison d'etre and have nothing left to fight for. I think I shall just leave that assumption lying where it belongs: on the damp floor of whatever asylum it is where foolish and wishful opinions find their eventual home.
I'm happy to leave it there, as well, but only after pointing out that wherever you have the most extreme forms of Islamism – and the AQM, like the Taliban that spawned it, is QED pretty much the most extreme form of Islamism imaginable – where you withdraw and leave them to their own devices (as Israel keeps having to learn and re-learn) what you effectively do is prove to them that God is on their side and has delivered them the victory. Far from losing their raison d'etre, retreat from them amplifies it and tilts the environment away from mainstream Islam to Islamism. RIP Yasser Arafat.
If I am right about this, an enormous prize is within our reach. We can not only deny the clones of bin Ladenism a military victory in Iraq, we can also discredit them in the process and in the eyes (and with the help) of a Muslim people who have seen them up close. We can do this, moreover, in a keystone state of the Arab world that guards a chokepoint – the Gulf – in the global economy.
Let me just interject to say that I think it is inescapable that we can accomplish this only if we don't allow the Democrats and the squishy Republicans to compel us to lose our nerve when we, of the Coalition of the Willing have lost the merest fraction of military lives that we used to lose on a daily basis in World War II. George W. Bush made it clear from the outset and in his various State of the Union addresses that the war on terror wasn't going to be won overnight, but that it was winnable and furthermore that it needed to be won. All that is required is for the new police forces in Iraq and the new national military in Iraq and most especially the people of a New Democratic Iraq to see clearly WHAT and WHO the al-Zarqawi's of the world are and to realize that if they are not destroyed now, that the window is closing on that opportunity (thanks to the Democrats and the squishy Republicans) and if they don't take a stand now for basic human decency the opportunity may not come again for several generations, if ever. This realization, too, was not going to happen overnight, but this realization, too, will inevitably happen if we just don't lose our nerve. And right now, as I have said before, the only decision-maker I see as not losing his nerve is George W. Bush.
As with the case of Afghanistan – where several provinces are currently on a knife-edge between an elected government that at least tries for schools and vaccinations, and the forces of uttermost darkness that seek to negate such things – the struggle will take all of our nerve and all our intelligence. But who can argue that it is not the same battle in both cases, and who dares to say that it is not worth fighting?
Sad to say, in the United States, "who dares to say" is shaping up to be a majority coalition of Democrats and squishy Republicans and in Canada – which is right now doing most of the military heavy lifting in those "knife-edge" areas of Afghanistan – a majority coalition of Liberals, New Democrats and Bloc Quebecois. Prime Minister Stephen Harper has said he will not extend Canada's military commitment to Afghanistan beyond the January 2009 mandate without the authorization of parliament and, right now, he doesn't have the votes.
We are losing our nerve on the cusp of victory – now, I think, measured in years and not decades -- and it is so completely unnecessary.
It's ironic to me that Christopher Hitchens -- here at the highest peak of his favouritism in the eyes of secular humanists for his writings against God and organized religion -- proves to be one of the few people on the planet six years after 9/11 who is able to see clearly what is at stake and how we are actually doing.
I picture God saying, "Hitchens? Oh, sure, doesn't believe in Me for one second – can't go ten minutes without uttering some blasphemous epithet or other, but, boy – doesn't he know how to cut through the b.s. of the secular humanists when it comes to Iraq and Afghanistan with those long, sharp surgical tools of his? Wish I had a hundred more like him. You GO, Christopher!"
I really don't know how this Internet thing works. I assume that Slate.com pays Hitchens a large amount of money for a piece like this which I have not only run in its entirety (what would I cut?) without permission but which I have added my own interjections into. But, it's on the Internet, right? You can just go to Slate.com and read it for free anyway. What am I missing here? Anyway, if Christopher Hitchens or Slate.com wants to sue my ass off or they want to send me the bill for whatever this would ordinarily have cost me for second or third publication rights, plus penalties, well, my address is Box 1674, Stn. C, Kitchener, ON, Canada, N2G 4R2
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If you wish to contact Dave Sim, you can mail a letter (he does NOT receive emails) to:
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