|Are we setting the stage for the Islamic Killing Fields?
By Frank Salvato
The Progressive-Leftists among us constantly try to advance the premise that the root cause for the "tarnished" global image of the United States is our militaristic foreign policy; the Bush Doctrine of pre-emptive strike. They endeavor to further the notion that America's credibility has been damaged in the eyes of the world for our lack of diplomatic resolve, suggesting that our allies in the struggle against the globalization of Islamofascism are few in number and dwindling. In the eyes of the Progressive-Left, we have mandated the abandonment of our alliances and brought the world's condemnation upon ourselves.
As the sovereign government of Iraq battles with insurgents who are doing all they can to goad the Iraqi people into civil war, the new left-of-center majority on Capitol Hill stands ready to influence US foreign policy toward Iraq and around the world. They will have control over the financial aspects of not only the war effort, but over US foreign aid that is dispensed throughout the Middle East.
The decisions made by just a few people of power over the next few months will set the stage for the century ahead. Because of this it is imperative that those making these important decisions for the United States – newly elected or otherwise – base their decisions on the facts rather than emotion and contemplate the consequences of their actions. These decisions must be made devoid of any political bent with the well-being of our country and the world in mind.
The most important debate for the 110th United States Congress will center on the war in Iraq, a battlefront in the overall global war against Islamofascism. This debate will have to address at least two questions: a) how to resolve the immediate crisis that exists there today, and b) when to remove our troops from that theater.
Most everyone elected to office on the Progressive-Left ran on the platform of "redeployment," a spin word that, clearly defined, means the withdrawal of our troops. The Democratic leadership made it the core issue of their midterm campaign. Even those who ran under the "Blue Dog Democrat," or centrist Democrat banner, did so on a platform of a "gradual redeployment." Their elections won, many are realizing that the careless emotional rhetoric of the election cycle has become more of a problem than a platform.
While the mainstream media blathers on about how Iraq is in the midst of a full-blown civil war, the facts on the ground present a different and more complex picture. Is there sectarian violence? Yes, and at levels that are increasing, not decreasing. But this sectarian violence is not indicative of civil war for two reasons, and probably more.
First, the violence is not stemming from any political impasse having to do with the legitimately elected Iraqi government. The Iraqi government continues to be comprised of Sunni, Shi'ite and Kurdish officials, duly elected to office by their constituents. To date there has been no sectarian secession from this governing body.
An example of why this is relevant is that while the stage may have been set for the American Civil War as early as the Missouri Compromise, it was not until the South seceded from the Union, thus terminating their participation in the government of the United States, that the seeds of war began to manifest. The current violence in Iraq is more an attempt by radical factions to undermine the stabilization of a fledgling democracy than it is an act civil war.
Second, is the nature of the sectarian violence taking place in Iraq, primarily in and around Baghdad and within the Sunni Triangle.
Only those contemptuous to the facts would refuse to recognize that al-Qaida in Iraq (from this point on simply referred to as al-Qaida) is in a great part responsible for the countless acts of violence and murder taking place in that nation. Another faction that deserves credit for the continuing madness is the Mahdi Army, lorded over by Shi'ite cleric Muqtada al Sadr. It can be argued that almost all of the strife facing the Iraqi people today originates from one of these two groups.
While the mainstream media promotes the unrest in Iraq as civil war, they do not provide any basis for their reasoning. They see Muslim on Muslim violence and immediately jump to the conclusion that it must be civil war incited by the lack of a cohesive government. Instead of engaging in credible, researched reporting, reporting that informs or educates the world on the root cause behind the unrest, they have slapped a label on it – "civil war," intimating that the US liberation of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein's heavy hand of totalitarian control are to blame.
The most abbreviated research into the two factions squaring off in Iraq, al-Qaida and the Mahdi Army, reveals a conflict that has been plaguing the Middle East for centuries.
Al-Qaida – "The Base" in Arabic – is born of Wahhabism, a fanatical sect of the Sunni version of Islam. Muqtada al Sadr's Mahdi Army is of the Shi'ite sect. These two factions of Islam have been waging violence against each other since the death of Muhammad in 632 AD. Today, they are employing this centuries old conflict as catalyst for a fairly transparent regional power play, allowing the mainstream media to mistakenly frame it as civil war, a contention that brings discredit to the actions of their common enemy, the United States.
While it may be true that during Saddam Hussein's rule these two factions were kept from attacking each other, it cannot be denied that his reign ultimately served as a substitute for the traditional Sunni-Shi'ite conflict; the atrocities of his reign ignored by the mainstream media for decades, atrocities that took hundreds of thousands of lives.
For the mainstream media and the newly elected majority in Washington to simplistically label the violence currently taking place in Iraq as civil war is not only ignorant to the facts, it is selling disinformation to the American people and perhaps, to those who are paying attention around the world, truly tarnishing the image of American intellect abroad.
Leadership comes with a price and as the newly elected to Capitol Hill are starting to realize that price is the responsibility of thoughtfully arriving at and implementing solutions. This responsibility requires much more than pontification and political gamesmanship, especially where the war against Islamofascism is concerned and certainly with the immediate issue of Iraq.
A cogent example of severe consequences resulting from poor political decisions is the Vietnam War and its disastrous aftermath.
The ferocity of those employing the bullhorn mentality of the 1960s anti-war movement intimidated a majority of elected officials in Washington to the point that they abandoned President Kennedy's National Security Memorandum 52*, "The Presidential Program for Vietnam," which read:
In January of 1973, then President Richard Nixon, pressured by the growing ugliness of the anti-war movement, announced an end to offensive military action in Vietnam. This was to be followed by a unilateral withdrawal of US military forces. In order to persuade South Vietnamese President Thieu to sign on to the Paris Peace Accords, Nixon had to offer assurances that the US would provide financial and limited military support. But in December of 1974, Congress, controlled by the Democrats, passed the Foreign Assistance Act, which cut off all military funding to the South Vietnamese government, effectively terminating the US involvement and setting the stage for one of the most horrific cases of genocide the world has ever witnessed.
In 1976, the United States' bi-centennial year, the two Vietnams were replaced by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Saigon was officially renamed Ho Chi Minh City and tens, if not hundreds of thousands of those who had supported the South Vietnamese government and the ideals of the West were rounded up and sent to "re-education camps," where they were tortured into confessing "pre-revolutionary lifestyles and crimes" and summarily executed, most often with hammers, axe handles, spades or sharpened bamboo sticks.
In Cambodia the pre-mature American exodus reaped even more extreme consequences. Congress's financial castration of the South Vietnamese government facilitated The Killing Fields of the Khmer Rouge. Under the rule of Pol Pot the Khmer Rouge slaughtered an estimated 3 million people including anyone who had contact with governments of the West, professionals and intellectuals, ethnic Vietnamese, Muslims, Christians and Buddhists. They were buried in unmarked mass graves.
In the end, the pre-mature withdrawal of American troops and Congress's politically motivated and culturally impulsive termination of financial support for South Vietnam enabled the actions of murderous dictators that took millions of lives.
They say that those who ignore history are condemned to repeat it.
Pensively, anxiously, the people of the United States and Iraq – as well as students of history from around the world – wait to see if the newly elected majority in the US Congress bring with them the wisdom that only history can provide.
Arguably, a pre-mature withdrawal of US military forces from the Iraqi theater would not only set the stage for an Islamic version of The Killing Fields it would essentially hand the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah alliance an incredible victory as well as control over one of the most oil-rich countries in the Middle East. It would hand those who do not shy from using terrorism as a weapon a superior position from which to pressure and manipulate the United States and the rest of the Western World while continuing their quest for nuclear weapons and a global Islamic caliphate.
The principles of peace through strength and the advancement of freedom over oppression are noble ideals. Over the course of 230 years they have come to be known as American ideals. But ever since the "enlightenment" of the 1960s and the encroachment of political correctness on American society, we have slowly lost our resolve to fight for what we know to be right. We have become soft and self-absorbed as a people, much more concerned with the superficiality of unwarranted self-esteem than in honoring our global commitments and advancing the principles that at one time made our country the envy of the world.
To suggest that our image has been diminished because we stand with but a few allies to fight the evils of Islamofascism while the weak of the world choose to idiosyncratically appease the very forces that will eventually devour them is absurd. If anything has tarnished our image around the world it is the abandonment of our ideals, the denial of our founding principles in deference to political correctness and the forsaking of our allies in their most desperate times, leaving them to die at the hands of tyrants. This may give us a bit more insight into why the Iraqis who braved assassins' bullets to vote for their new government are wary about picking up arms to secure their own freedom.
Should we choose to abandon the Iraqi people, again, we serve to validate the notion that the United States has discarded the great nobility we once possessed as being the champions of freedom around the world.
The situation in Iraq is complex. It is one that requires our government to use all the tools available so that we achieve our goals of peace and security. This includes utilizing the highly honed skills of negotiation unique to American culture while continuing to pressure our adversaries.
But, while diplomacy is certainly an integral part of achieving resolution in any global conflict, the belief that diplomacy alone, diplomacy without the motivating pressure of consequences, be they financial or military, is the stuff of naiveté, especially when those we're negotiating with are disingenuous not only in their commitment to the negotiations but to honesty and the truth.
The Progressive-Left and the Blue Dog Democrats now have control of Congress. Let's all pray that they took the time to understand the mistakes of the past so that we do what is necessary to exist in the future. Their actions, their decisions, could very well be the difference between living to fight another day and the end of our American experiment.
Frank Salvato is the managing editor for The New Media Journal. He serves at the Executive Director of the Basics Project, a non-profit, non-partisan, 501(C)(3) research and education initiative. His pieces are regularly featured in over 100 publications both nationally and internationally. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, and is a regular guest on The Right Balance with Greg Allen on the Accent Radio Network, as well as an occasional guest on numerous radio shows coast to coast. He recently partnered in producing the first-ever symposium on the threat of radical Islamist terrorism in Washington, DC. His pieces have been recognized by the House International Relations Committee and the Japan Center for Conflict. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.