Monday, September 25, 2006
As we approach the Autumn of the Partisans, two most-timely, must read histories present themselves.
Greyhawk of Mudville Gazette presents a very thorough chronology of a very brief but critical slice of pre-9/11 history: January through August 1998. This is the third part of a history he's undertaken, incredibly well researched, to remind those still subject to truth and reason of the forces leading to 9/11 and the Islamic fascist threat we currently face.
President Clinton is a smart man, as no doubt are many of his former colleagues and
supporters. But facts are facts, and it always amazes me how readily partisans forget inconvenient truths, when later they try to maintain a thematic storyline after the fact. The level of hypocrisy and willingness to pretent that this or that Democrat never said what they said, that this or that war opponent now saw nothing but enemies then. But still, in spite of bountiful, recorded history, they still insist that that devilish George W. Bush made it all up and tricked them into supporting war.
I remember much of what Greyhawk recounts, the bluster and war words during the latter days of the Clinton Administration. I remember talk of "wag the dog," but I also remember thinking (and hearing many conservatives say publicly), nevertheless, the threat is real and serious, and Clinton does right to act.
To claim now that most of Clinton's opponents spoke or reacted differently than that, is revisionist history indeed, and Clinton's own words and actions refute the Democratic criticisms of what they wrongly describe as President Bush's "rush to war."
The second important must read history piece is Bernard Lewis's excellent and succinct review of traditional and modern Islam, as recounted in Hillsdale's September Imprimis.
Professor Emeritus and Islamic scholar Lewis challenges what are probably widespread misconceptions. Lewis characterizes as aberrations of historical Islamic traditions, distortions resulting from dysfunctional modernization, unimaginable oil wealth, Wahhabism, Nazism, Soviet Communism, and Iranian Revolutionary theology.
Not to spoil the read, but here's Lewis's conclusion:
There are, as I've tried to point out, elements in Islamic society which could well be conducive to democracy. And there are encouraging signs at the present moment—what happened in Iraq, for example, with millions of Iraqis willing to stand in line to vote, knowing that they were risking their lives, is a quite extraordinary achievement. It shows great courage, great resolution. Don't be misled by what you read in the media about Iraq. The situation is certainly not good, but there are redeeming features in it. The battle isn't over. It's still very difficult. There are still many major problems to overcome. There is a bitter anti-Western feeling which derives partly and increasingly from our support for what they see as tyrannies ruling over them. It's interesting that pro-American feeling is strongest in countries with anti-American governments. I've been told repeatedly by Iranians that there is no country in the world where pro-American feeling is stronger, deeper and more widespread than Iran. I've heard this from so many different Iranians—including some still living in Iran—that I believe it. When the American planes were flying over Afghanistan, the story was that many Iranians put signs on their roofs in English reading, “This way, please.”But that's just the take-away; best to read the whole thing, the history's what's important. Then you can draw your own conclusions.
So there is a good deal of pro-Western and even specifically pro-American feeling. But the anti-American feeling is strongest in those countries that are ruled by what we are pleased to call “friendly governments.” And it is those, of course, that are the most tyrannical and the most resented by their own people. The outlook at the moment is, I would say, very mixed. I think that the cause of developing free institutions—along their lines, not ours—is possible. One can see signs of its beginning in some countries. At the same time, the forces working against it are very powerful and well entrenched. And one of the greatest dangers is that on their side, they are firm and convinced and resolute. Whereas on our side, we are weak and undecided and irresolute. And in such a combat, it is not difficult to see which side will prevail.
I think that the effort is difficult and the outcome uncertain, but I think the effort must be made. Either we bring them freedom, or they destroy us.
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