Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Hostages lose their head, Ted Rall loses his mind 

Ted Rall, he of the revolting cartoons, is positively certifiable (there's a newsflash for you). In his latest op-ed, charmingly titled "Losing Our Heads: Iraqi Insurgents are Butchers, Yet Not as Bad as Us", Rall gets inside the head of a terrorist - which should be easy for him to do - in order to get the scoop on the al Qaeda mindset. Unfortunately, despite his best efforts, he still gets it wrong:

"Muslim extremists have been sending us a message for more than a decade. That message can be summarized as 'leave us alone.' Quit funding a right-wing Israeli government that drops American-made bombs on our Palestinian brothers. Stop arming corrupt, despised autocracies across the Muslim world--in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, to name a few--so that we can overthrow them. Let us liberate ourselves. We'll decide whether we prefer secular, modern societies like Turkey, medieval fundamentalists like the Taliban, or something in between. It's our choice, not America's."
I've got a challenge for Rall: please quote me any "Muslim extremist" saying "Let us liberate ourselves. We'll decide whether we prefer secular, modern societies like Turkey, medieval fundamentalists like the Taliban, or something in between," or words even remotely to that effect.

It is not, and never has been, the case of just "leave us alone." We are talking here about absolutists with a totalitarian mindset; these are the people who not only want to recreate the Caliphate encompassing all the territories presently or historically held by Muslims, but who take their duty to convert everyone to Islam very seriously indeed. For them it's not just a matter of religious calling (however misinterpreted), but also of survival: they realize that their utopia cannot triumph for as long as the West provides an alternative. Our democratic, decadent and materialistic society provides too much of a temptation for the weak masses to be allowed to peacefully coexists with Islamist states.

Secondly, and returning to my challenge, "Muslim extremists" are not interested in liberation or freedom to choose a political system. The Taliban-style society is the only choice. Now, how an Infertile Crescent of expansionist theocracies stretching from Nigeria to Indonesia is going to make for a safer and more stable international environment is beyond me, but hey, I'm not a cartoonist, so what would I know?

There's plenty more in Rall's piece, mostly about how we have killed a lot more Iraqis than vice-versa, so we're worse than the kidnappers and beheaders. Read the rest if you want to cringe. Rall, however, ends on a positive note:

"Whatever our intentions, and in part thanks to our tactics, Iraqis are increasingly hostile to the U.S... Since July... cutting the heads off of about 20 foreigners has given the Iraqi resistance the results it wants: fewer Americans support the war or believe it's worth the cost. Twenty versus three thousand--it's rough calculus but easy arithmetic."
And those twenty heads are price that Rall is happy to pay if it means that his country loses war with terrorists.


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