One problem with our “hearts and minds” campaign in Afghanistan is the centrality of Islam in the land where we are waging a nation building effort. We are trying to export American style institutions and values, but these often run headlong into the Islamic obsession with respect. Western freedoms and Islamic law are incompatible, not least in their view of blasphemy in contrast to our ideals of free speech. We are selling Americanism, but to do so we must downplay certain core values, whether it’s free speech or the rights of women or the role for man-made legislation, which is to say the western concept of politics, and the related ideals of discussion, debate, and dissent.
Not only must we downplay them abroad, but now we’re told to abrogate them at home, lest we hurt the war effort, which unlike other war efforts does not require focused hatred of the enemy, but is instead a multifaceted public relations effort that requires us to put forward our tolerant, respectful-of-Islam face.
There is a simple lesson here. When Muslims go absolutely crazy, riot for days, and murder innocent aid workers after an obscure Florida pastor’s burning of the Koran, we must see that this is both natural for these people and totally alien to our way of life and values. We should observe that we cannot build an American-style nation in this region without engendering a fatal conflict of values.
Some people mistakenly view these riots as merely stupid, a symptom of treatable Third World ignorance. They are not; they are the acts of committed, rational zealots. What these Afghan Muslims understand–and what Americans do not–is that there is an irreconcilable conflict between Muslim values and the various western and liberal values that we are exporting to their region. To win this nation-building campaign, we must either become subservient to Islam, or we must destroy Islam. To destroy Islam, we must do the unthinkable (and the unnecessary). But we do not need to win this particular campaign to emerge relatively safe from Islamic terrorism. We are better served to protect ourselves and our honor by separating from the Islamic world as much as possible by adopting a strategy of defense, separation, and containment.
Since generals like to win wars, they take things to their logical conclusion, and in this case we have General Petraeus opting to kowtow in the most disgusting manner to the mob in Afghanistan. He said this week:
In view of the events of recent days, we feel it is important on behalf of ISAF [i.e., the International Security Assistance Force] and NATO members in Afghanistan to reiterate our condemnation of any disrespect to the Holy Qur’an and the Muslim faith. We condemn, in particular, the action of an individual in the United States who recently burned the Holy Qur’an.
We also offer condolences to the families of all those injured and killed in violence which occurred in the wake of the burning of the Holy Qur’an.
We further hope the Afghan people understand that the actions of a small number of individuals, who have been extremely disrespectful to the Holy Qur’an, are not representative of any of the countries of the international community who are in Afghanistan to help the Afghan people.
Can you imagine any scenario where an American general referred to the Holy Bible in such reverential tones? Or excused mob violence against Jews or people with tattoos or alcohol drinkers some other activity similarly consonant with America’s traditionally broad liberties?
Not only can this war not be realistically won, but it is corrupting the American nation and the American military. This week we have a four star general and a U.S. Senator–Sen. Lindsey Graham–questioning whether we perhaps should institute blasphemy laws aimed at quenching the insatiable Islamic demands of respect for Islam . . . a religion that only knows respect as preeminence over every alternative.
Our army is becoming like those Roman Legions on the frontier that shed their armor and their standards and fought, dressed like, intermarried with, and eventually became identical to the barbarians they were fighting.