It isn't often that I disagree with my friend and ex-colleague, Guy Farmer, but in my opinion his Nevada Appeal column of July 20, 2008 calls for a rebuttal.
He favors withdrawing our troops on a timetable from Iraq because that's what the Iraqis want. Well, I don't give a hoot what the Iraqis want. Have we forgotten why we went there? To dispose of one of the most brutal dictator-murderers in modern history, a man who would have eventually secured the means to do us great harm. Bush-bashers ignore the fact that both legislative branches of government approved our invasion of Iraq.
Now, Guy likes to remind us that for 30 years he was a member of our diplomatic corps. He served in Latin America and in other places as well. And while that experience broadened him, it also left him with the idea that it is important what the international community thinks of us. Well, it isn't. The international community has its own selfish interests and if it had the power, it would shove those interests right down our throats. Diplomacy has never prevented a war nor has it ever won a war.
Diplomacy only works when all sides are people of good will. Napoleon, Hitler, Stalin, and Mao were not of good will, nor are the leaders of today's Muslim world.
The reason we cannot afford to give-up our presence in the Middle East, be it in Iraq, Iran, Syria or soon in the African Sudan and Nigeria, is because one billion-plus Muslims believe they are duty bound to eliminate all non-believers (infidels) unless we convert to Islam. This is a religious war. There are no zealots like religious zealots and this will be the bloodiest of all wars if the Muslims get the means to bring it here. Witness genocide in the Sudan.
Can't we eventually change the Muslim mind-set through education, patience, and diplomacy? No. We have over 12 centuries of ignorance to overcome. Arabs have never been well educated as a society. Privileged class Arabs are traditionally well educated, and there was a time many centuries ago when Baghdad was a world leader in medicine. But the "power" class has always kept the "peasant" class, and women, illiterate and undereducated.
That is still the case today. Muslim society is strictly governed by their "bible," a book called the Koran. But average Arabs cannot read that book because of illiteracy or because they are forbidden by religious leaders (Mullahs) to read it for themselves. Consequently, lower class Muslims must accept the verbal interpretations of the Koran from their Mullahs. From the Mullahs came the implementation of the Jihad. The have their own agendas, and relinquishing power over the peasant class isn't one of them. There is no way for us to penetrate that shield.
If we give up our presence in Iraq or Afghanistan and lose our outposts for keeping Muslim nations under surveillance, and having the stage from which to strike or invade them if necessary to protect our shores, then we are fools. If the shoe is ever on the other foot, and the Muslims collectively have the means to bombard us with nuclear missiles, they will also have a built-in fifth column at their disposal here in the U.S. in the persons of 800,000 Muslims living in Michigan, of which a substantial number would, for the glory of Allah, become terrorists.
But if we maintain our resolve in the face of world opinion we will continue to contain militant Islam where it now exists at the cost of some American lives, preventing a technological conflict from reaching our own shores. If we fail because we withdraw our troops, it will be impossible to defend ourselves from without and from within simultaneously. We can control our internal Muslim threat provided we continue to contain the external threat overseas by our remaining presence in the Middle East.
What about our American lives being lost maintaining our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan? That is the price we pay for our freedom here, not Iraqi freedom but our freedom here. Our military personnel are volunteers. They know the name of the game and the majority of them are there because they believe in our cause for freedom. Personally, I would much prefer a return to our military draft. Our young men today, more than ever, need to experience military service for two years prior to going to college, to offset the feminization of American males over the past 20 years. Let them earn their college by first serving our cause for freedom which has always been, and always will be a continuing effort. We are the only first world nation that doesn't have a military draft.
Now, if you're wondering if Guy Farmer will ever speak to me again after reading this rebuttal, not to worry. We'll have lunch together next week as usual. How can I be so sure? It's my turn to buy.
Bob Thomas, of Carson City, is a former Nevada legislator.