Columnist: Why Bush is winning the war
Vail CO, Colorado
A great frustration of mine is the army of right-wing pundits, like Ann Coulter and Cal Thomas, who act like fair weather fans in their support of President Bush. They can be found giving blind praise one day, and blind criticism the next. I’m no fair weather pundit, so treat yourself to this factual argument ” President Bush is winning the war on terror.
The Muslim world is organized under the Organized Islamic Conferences, a United Nations-like group of Muslim countries. Of the 57 countries that claim membership, around 53 are actively involved, diplomatically and/or militarily, in combating terrorism as an American ally. Thus, more than 90 percent of the Islamic conferences are participating in the break up of al-Qaida.
Such participation is based upon the proactive action that President Bush has precipitated. Peace negotiations have opened between Pakistan and India. Suicide attacks in Israel are declining every year, with a complete pullout of the Gaza Strip helping peace efforts. Peacekeepers have re-entered Somalia. Sudan has drafted a Constitution to recognize the rights of non-Muslim citizens. Ghadafi, of Libya, has given us the Pan Am terrorists, along with plenty of support in our fight against al-Qaida. Despotic leaders of central Asia, Uzbekistan in particular, are being forced out and replaced with Democratic movements thanks to our help. The Muslim Moros of the Philippines are engaged in peace talks, with Malaysia presiding over such talks. However, the above are only examples of positive shifts within a stack of good facts.
In opening initiatives like the Millennium Challenge Corporation, the South Asian Free Trade Agreement (SAFTA), and the Middle Eastern Free Trade Agreement (MEFTA), the Bush administration has delivered record amounts of aid to the Muslim world, opened free trade, and removed many sanctions.
Many will argue that our president is simply paying off despotic regimes in exchange for arrests of al-Qaida, yet I disagree. The Millennium Challenge Corporation is extremely scrupulous in its choice of aiding countries, with a process that gives rewards based upon increases in civil and economic liberties. In the last year, the corporation has recognized Mali, Jordan, Indonesia, and Burkina Faso for their work.
The recognition should come at no surprise though. The Bush administration has worked with the many of the countries in the Organized Islamic Conferences in creating better economic climates. Take Jordan, for example. In 2006, the Bush administration opened free trade with Jordan, which culminated in a 500-percent increase of foreign aid, leading to the creation of 45,000 new jobs. Jordan saw a spike in civil rights, education, and economic rights directly after the opening of free trade. Similar spikes in freedom, due to increased economic activity, are being seen in many other Muslim countries. After all, increased jobs and purchasing power allow middle classes of the Muslim world to grow, empowering them to create environments of greater economic and civil liberty, reducing the growth of terrorist recruitment.
All above data directly supports the recent polling done by Terror Free Tomorrow, whose polls show that mass majorities of the Muslim world, country-by-country, are rejecting terrorism, in addition to their increased favorability towards America. It is important to note that Sens. Richard Lugar and Joe Biden have used Terror Free Tomorrow polling in their drafting of senate legislation, further legitimizing the claims of the agency.
Now in contrast, the Clinton administration had a strong record of punishing Muslim world countries with bombs, sanctions, and inaction. They sanctioned Pakistan, India, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Sudan, and Indonesia over their lack of cooperation in conflict.
The levied sanctions included food and medicine supplies, causing the citizens of these countries to further be held victim to poverty and disease. The lack of economic support reduced jobs in these countries, as dictators like Saddam Hussein and the Taliban were able to exercise even greater control over their populations.
The Peterson Institute for International Economics would later classify all Clinton Administration sanctions as failures, with none achieving set goals.
Now granted, I can recognize faults. I am deeply disappointed with aspects of Iraq. However, our problems in Afghanistan and Iraq are ones of technology. With the exception of the Hummer and Night Vision, the armor of our good soldiers, serving in Iraq and Afghanistan, is not much different than what our soldiers in Vietnam wore.
As the president continues to support the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, improvements in our battles against insurgents will be quickly realized with greater investment towards ground technology.
As far as Syria and Iran are concerned, it is important to note that President Bush removed the sanctions of food and medicine from those countries, allowing the populaces there to give us greater favor, further increasing chances of internal change.
However, I believe the Bush administration should consider a more proactive approach to Syria and Iran, similar to the one it practiced with Pakistan and Libya, in lifting sanctions and giving aid, in exchange for strong friendship.
What matters is that our president has defined boundaries within the Muslim world. The mass majority of the Muslim world is peaceful.
Yet, there is a wing of irreconcilable fundamentalists in the Muslim world, who desire death for all, Muslim and non-Muslim. I want those terrorists dead, but such action is only possible within an environment where peaceful Muslims are working with us, in an atmosphere of empowered economic and civil liberty. I applaud our president, because in a matter of a few years, he has united the Muslim world in support of America under such environment.
It was not long ago that our good country faced World War II, a war that caused our President Roosevelt to improperly force all Japanese-Americans into internment camps. Unlike President Roosevelt, President Bush has always been supportive of Islam in continually defending the religion. Visas to the Muslim world have not only restored to pre-Sept. 11 levels, they have increased under President Bush. These are colossal improvements over the situation we faced right after Sept. 11, and clearly, more should be done to empower President Bush’s policy, not reduce it.
So unlike other pundits, my support of President Bush is solid, not blind.
Muhammad Ali Hasan of Beaver Creek writes a biweekly column for the Vail Daily. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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