Dark Victory: But victory just the same
Ask most folks about “victory” in the War on Terror or “victory” in Iraq and you get dozens of different answers. For sure, we are unlikely to see a surrender ceremony held on the deck of a battleship like the USS Missouri at the end of World War II.
But if we talk about “victory” in terms of stopping the indiscriminate violence practiced (mostly, on each other) by the adherents of various, radical forms of Islam, then we begin to define the conflicts we see in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world more accurately.
While it would be easy to say a civil war is raging in Iraq, that is too limited a view. What we are seeing is a pan-Islamic civil war that is not confined to just Iraq or Afghanistan. If you read Lawrence Wright’s Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Looming Tower: Al-Qaeda And The Road To 9/11, you begin to understand that the divisions within the Sunni and Shia communities are almost too numerous to count. They range from those who want to practice the more pacifistic teachings of the Koran (live-and-let-live) to those who want to kill all Infidels or make us convert to Islam or pay crushing taxes to Islam.
So, how did the United States and the West come to have a dog in this fight not of our making? Well, obviously, someone must be blamed just like we blame the German Kaiser for starting World War I or Hitler and the Japanese imperialists for starting World War II.
Sometimes, perfectly innocent behavior can lead to unforeseen, disastrous consequences. For example, when Saudi Arabia was literally sand-poor back in 1931, King Ibn Saud hired American geologist, Karl Twitchell, to come explore for gold and water. Instead, Twitchell discovered oil which brought about: (1) Hugh Hefner lifestyles for some Saudi princes that offended “true” Muslims and (2) an influx of non-Muslim, western technicians (infidels) into the land that is home to Mecca and Medina – two of Islam’s holiest places. So, Blame Twitchell.
Seriously, you can blame King Farouk whose lascivious behavior as ruler of Egypt (1936-1952) spawned revulsion among many Muslims that led to the dictatorship of Gamel Abdel Nasser (1956-1970) who made Egypt a client-state of the atheist Soviet Union and hanged Sayyid Qutb (pronounced kuh-tub), the radical Islamist leader who is acknowledged today as the spiritual founder of al-Qaeda.
You may have noticed that most of the killing that has gone on in the past and is seen on our TV screens today is, by a wide margin, Islamists killing Islamists. So, again, other than our vital interest in the oil of the Middle East and our export of “sinful” cultural liberalism, how did America incur the wrath of radical Islam?
You could say that began in 1949 when Egyptian refugee/student/scholar, Sayyid Qutb, spent six months in residence at Colorado State College of Education in Greeley where the sexual promiscuity of some students and faculty and the racism of some townspeople radicalized him against life in America. Moreover, Qutb accepted The Kinsey Report as representative of American life. How strange that today’s violence might turn on what scholars now know were merely the sexual fantasies of a sexual pervert dressed up as serious scholarship.
No matter who got this mess started, the various Islamist sects are not likely to stop killing each other (along with innocent bystanders) anytime soon. So, maybe, a form of “victory” is just getting them to concentrate on killing each other overseas, rather than coming over here and killing us. That’s the Bush Doctrine, anyway.
But as long as we import the oil of the Middle East and export even worse cultural pollution than Sayyid Qutb saw in the relatively tame America of 1949-50, don’t expect a traditional “victory.” Meanwhile our, post-9/11, forward strategy has kept us safe at home, and the oil is still flowing. So, don’t look for Osama bin Laden or Ayman al-Zawahiri to ask that the USS Missouri be taken out of mothballs so al-Qaeda can surrender.
Syndicated columnist and featured commentator for USA Today, William Hamilton, is a Distinguished Graduate of the U.S. Naval War College and a former research fellow at the U.S. Military History Institute of the U.S. Army War College. Writing as William Penn, he, and his wife, are the co-authors of The Grand Conspiracy and The Panama Conspiracy – two thrillers about terrorism directed against the United States.
©2007. William Hamilton.