Democracy is only way to end terrorism |

Democracy is only way to end terrorism

As Ben Newell-Nelson’s (and others’) boring and repetitive rants against the Iraq occupation continue to illustrate, many are having trouble wrapping their head around the notion that fighting terrorism involves more than simply going after “the terrorists” ” whose migrating, unidentifiable, cave-dwelling ways make their mayhem impossible to effectively pre-empt.

At least in the eyes of administration brain trusts, the more important long-term strategy in fighting terrorism abroad is the erection of those political and economic institutions in the Middle East that are hoped to lead to the kind of pluralism and prosperity that makes the “terrorist” alternative lose its appeal.

This is, of course, a very traditionally “liberal” idea, naive though it may be. The fundamental question is whether or not those in Iraq (or the rest of the Middle East) are equipped with the historical and cultural prerequisites that make its transformation into a Western-style liberal democracy possible.

But calm analysis seems to be last thing the rah-rah Dean/Kucinich conspiriati want to engage in. Fiercely abandoning their muddle-headed idealism, Iraq’s unsuitability for freedom and democracy is accepted out of hand, so that we can get to the chilling innuendo that masquerades as argument.

Alas, corporate contractors in Iraq get paid for their efforts; ergo, the war was prosecuted on their behalf! Bush knew about 9/11 in advance! BIG OIL is running America! Blah. blah. blah.

“Corruption” and its cognates are the leitmotif of anti-war sophistry ” in its intellectually shallow, emotionally gratifying evangelism ” so necessary to whip up those “forward-thinking” people who spend most of their time thinking back to Florida 2000.

The decision to go to war was made over nine months ago. Get over it. Honest opposition derived from the recognition that once the commitment had been made, there was no going back.

Bin Laden long ago learned the recruitment value of couching Americans as half-hearted weaklings who lack the courage to persist in the face of a dedicated Muslim onslaught.

Our hasty retreats from Beirut, Iraq circa 1991, Somalia in 1993; our unwillingness to act decisively in the face of continued terrorism both here and abroad throughout the ’90s even as we rescued Muslims in Kuwait, Bosnia and Kosovo ” all did nothing but usher in escalating and increasingly brazen attacks culminating in a single day which left the body parts of over 3,000 Americans strewn on the soil of New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. A premature withdrawal from Iraq in the face of 330 combat dead (about one-10th of 9/11/2001) and a little over 1 percent of our GDP annually will not only condemn Iraq. It will condemn us.

Cynical though one may be about the prospects for the erection of Constitutional democracy to our liking, the long-term, measured success of our efforts in Iraq allows for hope. Yet for those folks nostalgic for Vietnam-era indignation (and oh so desperate to remove Bush from the White House), we should expect endless jeering and continued celebrations of dead American soldiers disguised as outrage. With 8.3 percent economic growth, disaster in Iraq is the last best hope.

Jay Pate

Snowmass Village