Surrender is Not an Option
Alan Caruba / Jul 14, 2007

When did I realize that my earlier doubts about American military involvement in Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East were mistaken? When I heard Hillary Clinton promise to abandon Iraq if elected president. When I kept hearing Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada saying that, “the war is lost.”


Ever since Vietnam, listening to any Democrat on the subject of war is a guaranteed message of surrender and defeat. That’s the only thing they learned from that conflict and their assumption is that whatever war we’re in, America is wrong and we should get out.


Now I will be the first to say that the Middle East is an exotic, mysterious, and troublesome place. Dictatorships thrive there. It is an utterly corrupt and a criminal culture by almost any definition. This has been the learning curve that American efforts in Iraq have had to learn. While we are accustomed to assuming a man’s word is his bond, promises and allegiances in the Middle East change with the wind.


They don’t trust each other. They don’t know how to trust us and, if we leave before imposing some modern form of government, some connectedness to the rest of the world, they will never learn to function in this new, global universe of trade and commerce.


Instead, they will continue to do what they do best. Make war. Spread terror. Pray five times a day to Allah.


Civilization as we know it began there, but unfortunately, in the seventh century, so did Islam, a religion for desert brigands, raiders of caravans and small cities who found the message of Christianity too gentle and thus incomprehensible, and who envied the wealth of the Jewish enclaves among them on the Arabian sands. Before Medina was a “sacred city”, it was home to Jewish clans that Mohammed robbed and then killed.


It would be nice to imagine what the Middle East would have been without Islam, but reality requires us to understand that all the problems to be found in that backward, violence-prone, utterly deceitful region can be laid at the feet of Islam, a “religion” of war and domination. Ask yourself, what other religion deliberately blows up the each other’s mosques? What other religion destroys, as the Taliban did in Afghanistan, priceless ancient statues carved by Buddhists? What other religion lays claim to Jerusalem despite having not existed in the time of Moses, David, or Jesus?


The schism in Islam that led to the Sunni and Shiite sects provided ample excuse for Muslims to make war on each other when not out plundering from North Africa to India. Its caliphs grew rich on booty and tribute. Indeed, the early Muslims were not so much eager to convert the conquered than to keep them as dhimmi, second-class citizens, from whom taxes could be extracted.


Since the return of the Jews to their ancient homeland and the resurrection of Israel sixty years ago, the Muslims who outnumber them by hundreds of millions and occupy vast stretches of land beyond the tiny area of Israel, have been unwilling and unable to accept them in their midst.


This has not kept them from blaming all the ills of their society—the dictators that rule them, the oppression of women, the lack of modern education, the diversion of money into military forces, industry and businesses that operate within a culture of corruption—all this and more is blamed on external enemies, on conspiracies. It is always the fault of the Jews, the Americans, and the British.


The West are “the Crusaders” and Israel “the Zionists.” But the West has not sent a crusade to Jerusalem since the 1200s. The Zionists were a small group of Europeans, tired of the endemic anti-Semitism of Europe, who moved to Palestine in the early part of the last century, began to buy land and to farm it in anticipation of someday creating a nation where Jews could live within their own religion and culture. It took the Holocaust of World War II to send a tidal wave of Jewish survivors to Israel and, in 1947, see a Jewish nation reborn.


The region has seethed with anger and warfare ever since.  The region saw the rise, first of Abdel Nasser who was the author of Egypt’s defeat in the 1967 Six Day War, of Syria’s Hafez al-Assad whose son is its dictator, and whose various “kingdoms” are run by “royal” sheikdoms distinguished by a total lack of democracy.


Saddam Hussein who came to power in the 1950s was a special case. He was a butcher of thousands of Iraqis who spent eight years in the 1980s attacking Iran to no avail and then invaded Kuwait. The United States is now in Iraq and must now prevail, not grow weak in our resolve, not run away in defeat. The Middle East must either be dragged into the twenty-first century or it will drag us all back to the seventh century.


If we let Iraq fall to the forces of radical Islam, our children and grandchildren will pay the price. Emboldened, they will bring the war to America and elsewhere throughout the world.


If we set benchmarks, set deadlines, and fail to fund our military, we shall only be putting in motion all the most evil instincts that the Middle East represents.


In my lifetime, the United States tried to ignore the Nazis in Germany when they had conquered most of Europe and the Japanese who had invaded China, until they made the fatal mistake of attacking us in Pearl Harbor; then and only then did America declare war. We would defeat them both and we would stay on for many years following that defeat to insure they learned to become peaceful, democratic nations. We sacrificed hundreds of thousands of the lives of our military and millions to equip them. Then we fought a Cold War with the Soviet Union from 1945 to 1991.


We must do no less than that “greatest generation” or we shall fail them. They did not say, “the war is lost” despite defeats and setbacks. We dare not do so at this critical moment in history.


Alan Caruba writes a weekly column, “Warning Signs”, posted on the Internet site of The National Anxiety Center, His book, “Right Answers: Separating Fact from Fantasy”, is published by Merril Press.


© Alan Caruba, July 2007

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