I am always trying to figure out what’s behind popular opinions.
For instance, why does “the world” wants the US out of Iraq?
Is it because they think this is an unfair war? Hmm, maybe. But unfair to whom? Iraqis? That would mean that the world cares about Iraq. If that is true, do these people think that violence will decrease if the US leaves? I don’t think people are that stupid.
Another option is that people are afraid of the US. More specifically, people are afraid of a country that invades other countries and think that if America succeeds in Iraq another invasion (of their own country?) is more probable.
That option makes more sense. People don’t give a damn to Iraq now, just like they didn’t care about it before. People do get afraid rather easily, and the history of American foreign policy is not really spotless.
However, this option makes me think that these same people believe (even if at a subconscious level) that, given enough time, the US will succeed in Iraq. Otherwise, they would prefer that we’d stay in Iraq and get completely bogged down there.
But most important of all, this shows that the world doesn’t understand the war on terror and the importance of Iraq on it. That’s the part that really worries me.
One of the best explanations I’ve heard about the origins of the current Islamic terrorist movement is from Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat. He basically says that what we see now is the consequence of two things:
– First, some special characteristics of Islam. As many of you know, Islamism is not just a religion but it is a complete political system. It provides spiritual guidance as much as day to day rules (sharia law). If you believe in that system, you not only want to “convert” people for your god, you want to transform the world into something that fits into your system.
– Second, globalization. More specifically, Islamic immigration to the west. A lot of people think the problem with this was some kind of incomplete assimilation of these muslins. However, what actually caused the problem was that migrants muslins, even uneducated ones, were doing better than their highly educated folks back home.
This undeniable superiority of the infidel West caused a “shame” on the whole Islamic world. They started to ask themselves: How can such a depraved and godless people be so much richer, open and happier than us? Even worse, how can that horrible system include muslins and allow them to be successful as well?
Religious leaders could only respond to this in one way: They are cheaters. They dominate and keep us down through subterfuge and deception. Remember the caliphate? They are just invading us yet again. Our only alternative is to fight them.
So that’s why you have rich and educated Muslims blowing themselves off. Even more important, that is why you don’t see condemnation of terrorism by “moderate” muslins. Deep down inside, they understand (and even respect) the final goal of Bin Laden and his kind, even though most of them are not violent people themselves.
When I hear Bin Laden talking, I also try to imagine what exactly he is thinking. Differently than the stupid masses, he has a clear goal and knows the strengths and weaknesses of his troops.
The fact that he simultaneously tells Americans to leave Iraq and teases us that we are weak makes me think that he knows two things: One, that the Iraq war is not yet over. He wants political turmoil in the US because if the US leaves Iraq he wins. However, he also knows that there is a good chance that even if we don’t leave things might not work. He wants Iraq to be a eternal mess, a live reminder to his people of Western aggression (and a ready to use scapegoat for all problems in the Islamic world).
Bin Laden knows how Important Iraq is.
The unfortunate fact is not just that we can only secure peace by preparing for war. It is that he who understands the reasons for fighting usually wins.