Tuesday, September 03, 2002


As General Sherman said, “Fear is the beginning of wisdom.” With American power on the march to destroy enemies we once ignored, Moammar Khaddafi, dictator of Libya, proclaims he is no longer a rogue state: "In the old days, they called us a rogue state. They were right in accusing us of that. In the old days, we had a revolutionary behavior. We acted like an independent state and we put up with the consequences of our action," He has quieted down quite a bit since the 1980s. And I even am willing to accept at face value his expression of horror over the September 11 attacks. Certainly, Libya may be a test case on a rogue state coming in from the cold on its own. Other states that see it is possible to re-enter the community of nations may be encouraged to follow the same path. (Iraq and Afghanistan will be the counter-examples of states that declare us to be enemies). Ultimately, Libyans will need to clean house and punish the leaders who blasted discos and airplanes (including Khaddafi). We can afford to see if this path is possible since we have other targets.

Yet wisdom is not yet deeply held. Khaddafi expresses an opinion all too common in the Islamic world that drives me batty. In rejecting an attack on Iraq, he said: "If you Americans and Britons continue to provoke (the Muslims), you will regret it." Honestly, Moslem leaders with far more credibility have spoken this same thought. He is essentially drawing a line between the Islamic world and the West and proclaiming no deed is too evil to be defended if the guilty party is on the Islamic side of the Islam-West line. (I confess, I am a little jealous when I reflect on the level of support we get from our allies) If the Islamic world is incapable of seeing evil in one of its own, and admitting it, is it any wonder some in the West see Islam as the enemy? Given the scientific, military, and economic weakness of the Islamic world, you’d think Islamic leaders would be less than eager to promote a clash of civilizations. Go figure.

One last time. We are not fighting Islam. We crushed the Taliban, pursue al Qaeda, and prepare to invade Iraq, all to end the apparatus of terror that has nurtured and supported the evil ones who have hurt us and who wish to do so again. We must pound into them the absolute belief that they are incapable of bringing us down. Suicide in the name of victory is a comforting illusion. Suicide that results in a pauper’s grave and no memorials (and kiss the plethora of virgins in the afterlife goodbye, too) will not inspire the foot soldiers. Decisive victory will end this war.

Next stop, Baghdad.