So What's the Answer? (Part 1)
First, a quick review of the recent Lebanon situation. Who were the winners? Certainly, Hezbollah and its allies in Syria and Iran. By once again fending off the mighty Israeli army, Hezbollah became heroes to all Arab nationalists. And by implication, Syria and Iran grew in stature as well. The big losers were Israel (whose government is soon to be in disarray over the fiasco in Lebanon), the United States (who refused to condemn Israel and shipped smart bombs to use against the people of Lebanon), and most of all, the Lebanese. Hundreds dead, thousands wounded, and close to a million left homeless.
Is there any solution to the Middle East situation? Before we can reach a solution, we must understand the problem. The reason our policies in the Middle East so often blow up in our face is because our nation has yet to understand why we are hated by so many people in the Muslim world. In fact, there are two myths about the Muslim world that must be demolished. Myth number one is that Islam is a religion of peace and that terrorists like Osama bin Laden are perverting Islam, and myth number two is that radical Islam hates America because we are so good, so free, so tolerant. The first myth grows out of political correctness, and the second myth grows out of naïve nationalism.
The easiest way to expose these myths for what they are is to actually read what Osama bin Laden has said. In the two Fatwahs he issued (one in 1996 and one in 1998), bin Laden explicitly spelled out why he wanted to make war against America. You can read those statements here:
As you read through those statements, two basic points emerge. Number one, Osama’s beliefs reflect a very legitimate interpretation of Islam. His Fatwah is saturated with quotations from the Qu’ran and precedents from Muslim history. I don’t mean that his view is the only legitimate interpretation of Islam. There are statements in the Qu’ran that speak of tolerance and peace, and most Muslims focus on that stream of tradition. But it is simply untrue to say that bin Laden represents some sort of radical, heretical view of Islam.
Number two, it is clear that bin Laden’s critique of America has little to do with who we are and everything to do with what we do – particularly, our policies in the Middle East. His grievances center on the presence of US troops in the Arabian peninsula, American support of corrupt dictatorships in the Arab world, and our polices regarding the Israelis and Palestinians. Osama did not wake up one morning shocked to learn we have a Bill of Rights and decide to wage war on us.
Until we face the truth of why radical Islam hates us, we will never find a solution. (more to come)