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  What War Are We Fighting?
by Steven D. Laib, J.D. M.S.
6 April

What Mr. Bush appears to have forgotten is that the overwhelmingly dominant cultural edifice in Iraq is Islam, and Islam is not compatible with freedom or democracy.

Rush Limbaugh always used to say that the purpose of the military was to kill people and break things.  Just about anyone who has served in the armed forces will probably agree with him.  However, today’s Army, or for that matter Navy or Air Force seems to be less interested in the goals Limbaugh articulated and more interested in being socially conscious.  The present war in Iraq where we try to spare the civilian population and liberate them from an oppressive regime is an excellent case in point. 

Yet, someone eventually had to bring a competing viewpoint to the fore, and on April 1, 2003 someone did.  He was Paul Sperry writing for World Net Daily.  His commentary entitled The Folly of “Liberating” Muslims hits hard at the notion that in the long run our human rights orientation and socially conscious goals of building a new nation in Iraq may well be impossible to achieve under the prevailing circumstances. 

Consider one simple fact.  President Bush has predicated his social policy goals on the idea that Iraq is ready for democracy, and it only needs a catalyst to bring it about.  What Mr. Bush appears to have forgotten is what Mr. Perry points out; the simple fact that the overwhelmingly dominant cultural edifice in Iraq is Islam, and Islam is not compatible with freedom or democracy.  This trait appears whenever Islam becomes a dominant force in the political social structure.  In Indonesia and Malaysia democracy has only a tenuous hold, and in Pakistan the democratic process is often subject to subversion, and in some cases it is ignored all together along with the rights of those who believe differently.  If this is difficult to believe, examine the remains of the 3000 year old Buddha statues which were blown up a few years ago because the Pakistani minister of culture believed that God would not forgive him of allowing them to remain; historical, artistic and other considerations notwithstanding. 

Today Iran, Iraq, and the Arabian Peninsula show some of the worst examples of autocracy backed by theocracy ever seen.  One might suggest in some cases that it is the Spanish Inquisition reborn and worse.  No Muslim dominated nation is a true democracy today.  One experiment occurred a few years ago in Algeria when elections were held resulting in the Islamic party being placed in power.  Their first acts were to outlaw all other parties, declare that they would rule by Islamic law, and finally to state that this decision was irrevocable for government and for the people.  Fortunately, the military intervened.  We have always been taught that a democracy had the right to change its mind and elect new leaders to replace the ones it doesn’t like.  Apparently in Muslim countries this is not true. 

What quickly becomes obvious to anyone who studies Islam in depth is that it cannot be called a religion in the western sense.  Rather, it is a system of life, a total integrated framework, which regulates all aspects of life, personal relationships, law, politics and even the family.  One might also consider it to be in ideology operating along similar lines to those Communism once followed.  Essentially, if it is doctrine it cannot be questioned.  One writer, Abd al-Masih put it this way:  “Anyone who prostrates himself before Allah 34 times a day is not free or a person.  According to Islam, everyone is a slave to Allah.  No one is free.” Paul Sperry put it slightly differently:  “[F]reedom and democracy are incompatible with Islam.  There is no room for western values.”  He also notes several important facts among which are 1) in Afghanistan people went right on with the same way of life after the Taliban government was removed, and 2) Kuwait did not go democratic after it was liberated from Iraq.  Sperry also asserts that if President Bush had suggested liberating Iraq as a response to September 11, people would have told him to “jump in a lake.”  Sperry may well be correct.  What remains then is the question of what we can do, if anything to change this situation. 

In the end there can be only one answer.  It is not enough to free the Iraqi people from the bonds of Saddam.  It is also necessary to free their minds.  The major reason why Iraqis did nothing about Saddam was as much a part of Islamic behavior as their prayers.  They submit to Saddam in the same way as they submit to Allah.  It is the same in the other countries of the region.  Until these people are able to clearly see that they have options, they will not be able to free themselves.  This is why Muslim countries deny their people access to Christian missionaries, Bibles, etc., and destroy the artifacts of other beliefs.  Their religion demands that there be no choices, no freedom of thought, and no questioning of the order of things.  While the main targets may be religious, the impact is political as well. 

The people of Iraq are like an animal, raised in a zoo, which knows nothing of the world outside the cage.  If allowed to leave it will more readily return to the life and the confines it knows, than accept freedom and the unknown and uncertain.  This same thing happened in Russia after the Soviet government collapsed.  Many people wanted a new communist government, having lived that way all their lives.  Freedom of choice was too alien a concept to them.  It is the same way with most Islamic people.  It is, in the end, an aspect of ultimate submission.  It sounds Orwellian, but to them, freedom is found only in enslavement to Allah, and ignorance of anything else is their strength.  Until this is changed, there will be no real democracy in the Arab world and President Bush’s good intentions may well be doomed to failure. 


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