Tuesday, March 04, 2008


Iraq & The Long War

A new phase

Nato's secretary general Jaap de Hoop Scheffer worries about the repercussions for Nato troops in Afghanistan from a planned Dutch broadcast of a Geert Wilders film about the Koran. From the BBC:
Mr Wilders' film is called Fitna, an Arabic word used to describe strife or discord.

He has said his film will show how the Koran is "an inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror".

Mr Wilders leads the Freedom Party, which has nine seats in the Dutch parliament.

He has had police protection since Dutch director Theo Van Gogh was killed by a radical Islamist in 2004.

Van Gogh's film Submission included verses from the Koran shown against a naked female body.
I agree with Wretchard that we've reached a radically different stage in the long war:
Wilders already lives the life of fugitive. He has been living under police protection since director Theo Van Gogh was killed by an Islamists in 2004. He is hiding for his life in the heart of Europe. So what's Wilders got to lose? His freedom?

For decades the nostrum of cultural self-flagellation seemed to work so well it seemed self-evident that more was better. It's easy to think that trends are forever linear; that the moment never comes when you run out of space to run, money to bribe or that the n+1th step behaves in a radically different way from nth. But it happens. The West is at that point.

The old certainties are gone. Whether Wilders is suppressed or goes forward is in some sense immaterial. Events have crossed over into new territory where survival is a function of the speed at which you learn.
If an elected Dutch parliamentarian can be censored by his own government due to jihadi threats, how long will it be before individuals or groups begin threatening to make and disseminate material provocative to the jihadis for the express purpose of extorting the Dutch government? Or any government, for that matter?

At least some Americans are finally learning something which will impact the domestic debate concerning Iraq. From a New York Times report:
After almost five years of war, many young people in Iraq, exhausted by constant firsthand exposure to the violence of religious extremism, say they have grown disillusioned with religious leaders and skeptical of the faith that they preach. The youth prison wing of the Iraqi police compound in Baghdad. Many young people have taken part in Iraq’s sectarian violence.

In two months of interviews with 40 young people in five Iraqi cities, a pattern of disenchantment emerged, in which young Iraqis, both poor and middle class, blamed clerics for the violence and the restrictions that have narrowed their lives.
While religious extremists are admired by a number of young people in other parts of the Arab world, Iraq offers a test case of what could happen when extremist theories are applied. Fingers caught in the act of smoking were broken. Long hair was cut and force-fed to its wearer. In that laboratory, disillusionment with Islamic leaders took hold.
According the the CIA, the median age in Iraq is 20. And they have witnessed first hand the behavior of the jihadis. And the conduct of US troops.

Link via Ed Morrissey, who comments:
So read the whole thing, paying special attention to what voting along sectarian lines really means (see also Iraqpundit about that) and the mercenary motivations held by so many of the “pious.” An improving Iraqi economy will help solve that problem too by raising the cost of jihadi recruiting for Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the rest of the scum who are bankrolling it.
IraqPundit comments:
And here's the best evidence of this supposed "shift": "In a nod to those changing tastes, political parties are dropping overt references to religion."

In fact, Iraq has a long history of secular, intermarried people living in mixed neighbourhoods. For that matter, Mookie's own handlers have lately been tripping over themselves trying to present someone more acceptable to those very same Iraqis.

Indeed, Mookie's own people have said on the record that they were afraid that young people would turn away from religion because "secularism is attractive in Iraq."
Here's what one of al Sadr's advisers had to say:
The guy in the suit is particularly concerned about the appeal of secular groups. "There are so many secular organizations that will attract them like a magnet just like what happened during the time of Seyid Mohammed Baqir Al Sadr [Moktada's uncle], when the Marxist party attracted all the youth including the sons of the clerics. This might reoccur within two or three years. Secularism is attractive in Iraq. It's true that the economy is not prosperous nowadays but in two or three years this could change. The league ..."
Abe Greenwald notes:
This Times piece represents a tectonic shift in the Iraq War and in the larger ideological struggle. From this date on, the War cannot be talked about in quite the same way. Those opposed to it can no longer snicker so easily when recalling the President’s assertion that people everywhere want freedom, and they may have to check their rage before declaring we’ve created more terrorists. There are some who understood that changing hearts and minds was the only way to triumph in the long run, but felt that Iraq was a huge setback in that pursuit.
It wasn't. I just hope Americans recognize this tectonic shift in time, and that John McCain can take advantage of it this fall.


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