In the light of the other day and today's atrocity in Turkey, I've been doing a lot of thinking. We have big problems and we're not facing up to them.
For once, listen.
You probably hate George W. Bush, and you probably disagree with me when I write pieces that support his administration. You probably disagree with the war on Iraq, which you must view as some sort of conspiracy to enrich individuals or control its resources. For some reason, you dismiss the evidence of movement toward democracy and Iraqification and continue to stick to your view that the war is a bad thing and should never have been started. It's all just a sinister plot to enrich Bush and his cronies. I personally have nothing to gain in terms of riches or fame from supporting them, so why would I do so?
Your answer is probably that I must be fucking stupid. I've been sucked in by their propaganda. FOX News have struck again.
Let's consider the possibility that I'm not fucking stupid.
Many of you reacted with indignation when I suggested on the day after the London attacks that the correct response was to stay the course in Iraq. Many of you see the two matters as wholly unrelated, or more likely draw the opposite conclusion - if we weren't subjecting the Iraqi people to an occupation, July 7 would have been a normal day in London. For some, it was crass of me to 'opportunistically' suggest that this was evidence that the war was a good idea. I was using this opportunity to promote my own agenda, which is...
High on my wish list at the moment is for terrorism to cease in Iraq so that the Iraqi state can establish stable governing institutions, using the huge mandate bestowed on it by the courageous actions of the Iraqi people on January 31, 2005. The day we hardly talk about any more. Do you remember?
The spate of informing on insurgent activity.
The voting under fire.
The 'fuck you' to terrorism.
I reasonably expect that a stable Iraqi state will allow for the development of the country's economy and resources by the Iraqi people, and the creation of the middle class that are so essential for civic society to function. Eventually, foreign troops will withdraw. What is left will be the only prosperous and free Arab nation, a shining example to the rest. A new era in the Arab world. It's midnight everywhere else, but it could well be dawn over Baghdad.
You say we have no right. Do you remember Hama? al-Anfal? The Marsh Arabs? The treatment of Palestinian refugees as a tool against Israel? The bloody wars? Have you read and watched the intolerance, the hatred spewed forth by Arab states? You say we have no right; I say we have no choice.
This isn't just because I believe in universal moral standards. I love to think of you recoiling as you read the phrase, 'universal moral standards'. "That intolerant bastard," you think, "how can he tell other people how to live?" If you can tell me a good reason why love and charity and a light ruling hand should not be universal principles then I would be interested to hear. Anyway, 'universal moral standards' are not the point. I believe in something like it, but that's neither here nor there.
Closer to the point is that the injustice and violence in parts of the Arab world has spilt over into our cities. Here is the connection between Iraq and international terrorism which you most probably believe does not exist, is a phantom invented to justify the war. The war between Islamism and civilization began long ago, and is a repetition of the conflicts that have been waged periodically throughout the history of Muslim civilization. Look at how the Arab states crush the Islamists; for them, the rule of law is no obstacle because it doesn't exist. Look how they blame all the woes of their people on the West and the Americans.
Imagine the hatred.
From the Middle East, carried on the back of oil wealth, intolerance and hatred flows outward through our open borders and into our open societies. The list of attacks and foiled attacks grows all the time. "Londonistan" was crawling with Islamists and hatred before July of this year. Abu Hamza al-Masri. Omar Bakri Muhammad. All their followers. They said they would strike us, yet we did not listen. Now we must face the fact that a small group of them with small amounts of explosives can bring our capital grinding to a halt and murder us several dozen at a time on our own soil.
This all means you and I have a choice. We live in a country where we can control what our government does to an extent that is not matched in most other countries on the planet. So, this is our choice to make.
We can withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. We can appease those who seek to destroy us, and the states that support them. We can release all the terrorists we hold in our prisons without habeas corpus, and allow them to wander our streets. We can attempt to combat attacks one at a time, hoping to set up an infallible system of security checks to keep ourselves safe. If you believe this will work, that the Islamists will shut up shop, go back to the squalor of Karachi and Cairo and leave us alone, that is your right to do so.
But on this occasion it might not be me who is being 'fucking stupid'.
The alternative is this. We continue to try and build open societies in Iraq and Afghanistan. We stop feeling sorry for those who murder the innocent and we get angry. Civilization is not compatible with their bloodlust; Arab civilization no more than any other. We seek them out and we destroy them. To those that hang in the balance, we offer the vision of freedom and prosperity that Iraq could become and we ask them to choose between this and a death cult.
In short, we voluntarily make the sacrifices that we must make. If we do not and we continue on our current path, we may never be the same again.