Shock, awe, stir and inspire | VailDaily.com
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Shock, awe, stir and inspire

Matt Zalaznick

Defenders of the war in Iraq are exactly right to say the world may have to wait a decade or longer to judge the true outcome of W.’s campaign-ad adventures in the Middle East. After all, the misery in Iraq and other parts of the Middle East has plenty to do with the collapse of the Ottoman Empire, which bit the dust nearly 100 years ago. Bush’s flag-draped fans, of course, all presume the world will be waiting to see in Iraq the blossoming of wholesome Christian democracy, Giuliani-style law enforcement, Reaganesque optimism and sweet oil deals for corporate America. And when confronted with body counts, assassinations and ferocious insurgents, they point out how long it took Japan and Germany to stabilize after the destruction of World War II. Japan wasn’t riven by tribal feuds or agonized by fanatical religion. And the Nazis all fled to cozy South American towns, one of which has cozied up to Aspen. So there’s a much better model for Iraq’s potential than the original Axis of Evil, and that’s the defeat of the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, which along with the suicide bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks in Lebanon, are watershed events in Islamic terrorism. Fighting in Afghanistan in the ’80s was a requirement for the charter members of al-Qaida. Osama bin Ladin and many of his most furious cronies were there to learn hands-on about being an efficiently deadly Army of God and that superpowers can be defeated, resisted and humiliated – with a little financing and a few Stinger missiles from the other superpower. According to the 9/11 Commission, America may not have armed Osama, but it armed some of his fellow mujahadeen. The defeat of the Soviets is the D-Day of jihad, an eternally inspiring moment that may now be joined as a suicide squad recruiting tool by W.’s elective invasion of Iraq, which may have been more about securing a re-election slogan than securing WMDs. Because even if America holds fast in this absurdly skewed war of attrition and props up some kind of homegrown Iraqi government before most of the troops come home, Uncle Sam has already lost on some critical fronts. From most accounts – excluding those on firefight-fawning Fox News – anti-Americanism, the brutal soul of terrorism, is reaching the most intense levels of hatred. Even the Cinderella-story Iraqi Olympic soccer team, no longer facing the torture of Saddam’s son, had belligerent things to say about the USA. One player even said he was thinking of joining the insurgents when he got home. Well, Americans have taken performance-enhancing drugs more seriously than resistance-enhancing thugs, like Moktada al-Sadr. And as precise as America’s new monster bombs are, they did not prevent the deaths of thousands of innocent civilians or the leveling of Islamic neighborhoods in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor did they do much to choke the roots of terror. In fact, shock and awe has done more to stir and inspire young men who want to hit back at the people who carpet-bombed their block. And what about the triumph of democracy? Do the neo-cons who baffled the American people and their troops into war really want this unfettered political belief to spread in the Middle East?Sure, they want democracy if the Iraqis and whoever gets invaded next elect a guy who’s tough at home but does whatever the U.S. tells him to do abroad. But do they want democracy if the Iraqis elect a hard-line Shiite cleric as commander-in-chief? Maybe. They’re hoping the American people re-elect a hard-line cleric, too. City Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 949-0555, ext. 606, or at mzalaznick@vaildaily.comVail, Colorado


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