Saturday, May 12, 2007

Berrnard Lewis on Iraq

Here is a nice summary by a Middle Eastern Studies authority on the Iraq situation. After quickly summarizing the historical events which got Islam and the rest of us to this point, Lewis makes the critical point that our enemy in this conflict--radical Islam--knows this is a generational battle and we have no apparent ability to get focused on anything beyond the next election. Here is a sample:

Having “destroyed the stronger and more deadly superpower,”the Soviet Union, “the effeminate American Empire is not a problem.” Bin Laden attacked U.S. installations in 1998 with impunity. Americans responded with “angry words” followed by “let’s get out of here.” This attitude began in 1983 Beirut after the U.S. Marine compound was destroyed and 241 U.S. Marines were killed, repeated in Somalia in 1994. Bin Laden’s attacks on American interests continued throughout the 1990’s, culminating with September 11, 2001, when Bin Laden opened the third phase - bringing his Jihad to America.

Turning to Iraq, Lewis suggests a number of views - one reflected in the media, which is of a “continuing disaster,” and another which comes to Lewis from his personal friends in Iraq who “report positive developments.” A third view, Lewis claims, is that “most of Iraq is functioning rather well.” As he ended his prepared remarks, Lewis surprised everyone by expressing “cautious optimism” regarding Iraq. Lewis credited President Bush for being “tough and consistent” in Iraq and ridiculed the attitudes of congressional Democrats who oppose the Iraq war and who are saying: “Unless we win the war by next Tuesday, we are done.”

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