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THE WESTERN FRONT -Ayatollah You So (english)
by BRENDAN MINITER
09 Apr 2003
Modified: 04:46:44 PM
The great Shiite hope for freedom in the Muslim world.
The current al Qaeda leaders are all known now, but the war [in Iraq] is going to create new faces unknown to the rest of the
world, and they will become tomorrow's leaders of the groups that will never stop battling America," Cairo-based journalist
Mohammed Salah tells the Associated Press.
It's amazing that more than two weeks into the liberation of Iraq--as residents in Basra are cheering British forces and Americans
occupy Baghdad's airport and Saddam Hussein's main presidential palace--the antiwar crowd is still spinning a doomsday
scenario. But it's getting harder and harder to take seriously the claim that freeing Iraq will make it harder to win the war on
Indeed, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary. U.S. forces apparently found chemical weapons yesterday. Over the weekend
U.S. Marines captured a terrorist training camp on the outskirts of Baghdad that is clearly linked to the regime. When the Marines
moved in they found a damaged passenger plane set up to train hijackers. Nearby they found speedboats and facilities for training
to carry out bombings like that of the USS Cole as well as hijackings of trains and buses. The Marines even found evidence that
the Iraqis were training assassins at this camp.
What's more, a frightful number of Arabs--as many as a few thousand--from all over the Middle East heeded Saddam Hussein's
call and headed to Iraq to fight the coalition. Many of these Arabs joined the paramilitary forces now attacking (to little effect) allied
forces. This is the same pool of radical militants from which al Qaeda draws for its recruits. The more of them who come to Iraq,
the more end up dead.
But these are only tactical victories against terrorism. The U.S. needs a strategic victory--a change in the culture of the region that
fosters terrorism. Proponents of Iraq's liberation hope that a free Iraq will become the foundation of a political, social and religious
reformation of the Middle East.
Now there is evidence that the ideology of the Baath Party is unraveling. Baathism dates back to the 1930s, when a group of Arab
students in (where else?) Paris started a political party to emulate the National Socialists in Germany. Saddam led a Nazi-like
regime that used mass killings, torture and extreme repression to enforce a cult of personality. Like Stalin, he became extremely
paranoid of a coup attempt, and he also fostered military ambitions outside if his borders.
Saddam erected portraits and statues of himself all over the place--reminders that his eyes (and the eyes of his minions) were
always keeping watch. But Baathism is proving as brittle as those Saddam likenesses, which allied forces are now toppling
smashing and blasting away. Fascism died in Europe after World War II, lingering on only in Spain until Francisco Franco's death
in 1975. The Soviet empire collapsed more than a decade ago. Now it's time for the Middle East's socialists and radical Islamists
to let go of their repressive authoritarian ideas.
That reformation may start with Ayatollah Ali Mohammed Sistani, who issued what may be the first pro-U.S. fatwa in modern
Islam last week, instructing his followers not to hinder coalition forces. As Amir Taheri explained in yesterday's Wall Street
Journal, the 75-year-old ayatollah is the "A'alam al-ulema (the most learned of the learned) of the mullahs who minister to the
religious needs of the Shiites, 60% of Iraq's population." He is resuming lectures--banned under Saddam--at the oldest Shiite
seminary and is talking about once again restoring his home city of Najaf to the "heart of Shiism." His followers have also gained
control of the mosques in Karbala, the second most holy city of Shiism.
This is significant because Shiism, with its heart in Najaf, was a force for moderation in Iraq before Saddam killed his way to
power--and in the Islamic world generally before the Iranian revolution. "Under the influence of a string of great theologians . . . Iraqi
Shiism steered clear of politics and focused on the ethics of the theological discourse," writes Mr. Taheri. As part of this religious
movement theologian Ayatollah Khoi preached a brand of Islam that was compatible with Western political concepts--that it's
possible for the individual to tame the devil inside him and live a moral life without coercive societal pressure. Koi argued that a
good society is possible only if there is a preponderance of moral people--a bottom-up approach to society that's comparable to
the Western political view of individual liberty.
It's no coincidence that Saddam suppressed this religious view. In a world where religious instruction accounts for a significant
portion of everyone's formal education, theology can have a significant impact on political theory and political views. Now that
Saddam's goons are on their way out, it is encouraging that Shiism is picking up where it was forced to leave off.
Who said war never solved anything?
Brendon the terrorist supporter (english)
(No verified email address)
09 Apr 2003
The infantile statement is made that "It's amazing that more than two weeks into the liberation of Iraq--as residents in Basra are cheering British forces and Americans occupy Baghdad's airport and Saddam Hussein's main presidential palace--the antiwar crowd is still spinning a doomsday scenario. But it's getting harder and harder to take seriously the claim that freeing Iraq will make it harder to win the war on terrorism.
Indeed, there's plenty of evidence to the contrary. "
What evidence? Also, accorting to polls a large majority of all Americans belived that this war would increase terrorism. The rational conclusion for those who think so would have been to oppose the war. Yet, only the antiwar people were smart enough to understand that.