Jewish World Review Nov. 26, 2002/ 21 Kislev, 5763
A bombing pause --
for 12 months!?
Maybe it's just me, but Ramadan seems to come round earlier every year. Around the world, the holy
month is being observed in the time-honored fashion we've come to know so well. There has been
the traditional annual call for a "bombing pause" during Ramadan -- this year not from the
humanitarian nancy boys at Oxfam and Co. but from Saddam himself, who apparently feels it would be
"culturally insensitive" toward Muslims to depose him during the holiest of Islamic festivals. In calling
for a bombing pause when we are not, alas, bombing him, the wannabe Saladin has usefully reminded
us of the strange state of play this Ramadan. It has been a year since the fall of the Taliban, and in
that year ... nothing has happened.
Oh, to be sure, there've been some useful bits of intelligence co-operation, and London and
Washington have frozen the bank accounts of the dodgier Canadian charities. Two weeks ago,
President Bush scored remarkable double victories over Tom Daschle's Senate Democrats and the
French Security Council veto. But Senator Daschle and the French are not the enemy; they're just
speed bumps on the way to the enemy, and both ought to have been receding into the distance in the
rear-view mirror a long time ago. Instead, it's the war that keeps getting deferred, to the point where
it's beginning to look like the Bush version of the Soviets' endlessly rolled-over Five Year Plans.
So we have had a bombing pause for 12 months. Some of us would like a pause in the bombing
pause. But, if that's not possible, perhaps we could at least have a burbling pause for Ramadan, a
temporary respite from the multicultural hooey. Instead, in his month-long Ramadan-a-ding-dong,
George W. Bush is relentlessly on message: as he told Islamic bigwigs at the White House the other
day, "Our nation is waging a war on a radical network of terrorists, not on a religion and not on a
Not true. The world is at war not with a Blofeldian "network" of crack evildoers, but with an ideology.
Indeed, the evidence from Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bali and North London suggests that it's now the
ideology of choice for the world's troublemakers, as Communism once was. In 1989, with the Soviet
Union crumbling into irrelevance, poor old Mikhail Gorbachev even received a helpful bit of advice from
the cocky young upstart on the block, the Ayatollah Khomeini: "I strongly urge that in breaking down
the walls of Marxist fantasies you do not fall into the prison of the West and the Great Satan," wrote
the prototype Islamist nutcake. "I openly announce that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as the greatest
and most powerful base of the Islamic world, can easily help fill up the ideological vacuum of your
system." Yes, indeed, folks. We're the one-stop shop for all your ideological needs: Call today for a
free quotation ("Death to the Great Satan!"). The Ayatollah found no takers in the Kremlin, but there's
been no shortage of customers elsewhere in the world.
JWR's Daniel Pipes and others have argued that this is the Islamists' great innovation -- an essentially
political project piggybacking on an ancient religion. In the last year, we've seen the advantages of
such a strategy: You can't even identify your enemy without being accused of bigotry and intolerance.
What we still can only guess at is the overlap between the ideology and the religion. It seems unlikely
that many Muslims in, say, Newark or Calgary or Singapore would wish to be suicide bombers
themselves, but what seems clear is that in these and other places there is -- to put it at its most
delicate -- a widespread lack of revulsion at the things done in Islam's name.
On the one hand,
Muslims deny it's anything to do with them: A year ago, in The Ottawa Citizen's coast-to-coast survey
of Canadian imams, all but two refused to accept Muslims had been involved in the September 11th
attacks. On the other hand, even though it's nothing to do with them, they party: In Copenhagen as
in Ramallah, Muslims cheered 9/11; in Keighley, Yorkshire, you couldn't get a taxi that night because
the drivers were whooping it up.
This is the real war aim -- or it should be, if we're to have any chance of winning this thing: We have to
change the hearts and minds of millions of Muslims, too many of whom are at best indifferent to great
evil. "Changing" isn't the same as "winning the hearts and minds," which is multiculti codespeak for
pre-emptively surrendering and agreeing not to disagree with them. For over a year now, nothing has
been asked of Muslims, at home or abroad: you can be equivocal about bin Laden and an apologist for
suicide bombers, and still get a photo-op with Dubya; you can be a member of a regime whose state
TV stations and government-owned newspapers call for Muslims to kill all Jews and Christians, and
you'll still get to kick your shoes off with George and Laura at the Crawford ranch.
This is not just wrong but self-defeating. As long as Dubya and Colin Powell and the rest are willing to
prance around doing a month-long Islamic minstrel-show routine for the amusement of the A-list
Arabs, Muslims will rightly see it for what it is: a sign of profound cultural weakness. Healthy
relationships require at least some token reciprocity -- I said as much during the Monica business, and
it never occurred to me the same problem would rear its ugly head during this Administration. But,
hosting an iftaar (the end-of-day break-of-fast) for hundreds of head honchos from Muslim lobby
groups, Colin Powell felt obliged to announce yet another burst of Islamic outreach. According to the
Associated Press, he told his audience that "he is trying to expand programs to bring educators,
journalists and political and religious leaders from Islamic countries to the United States."
Why? The problem isn't that Colin Powell's admissions program is too restrictive, but quite the
opposite. It was his Saudi "visa express" conveyor belt that admitted the September 11th terrorists to
the U.S. on forms filled in with a perfunctoriness no eighth-generation WASP Canadian snowbird would
try getting away with. When asked why 15 of the 19 killers that day were Saudi, the Kingdom's
Ambassador to London, my old friend Ghazi Algosaibi, replied with admirable candour that that was
simply because it was easier for Saudis to get into America. In other words, the State Department's
Islamic outreach facilitated the murder of thousands.
Meanwhile, the whining twerp on that I Can't Believe It's Not Osama audio cassette has expanded the
Islamists' list of grievances to include not only the Mongol sack of Baghdad in 1258 -- I forget where
Canada stood on that: it was OK as long as the Mongols were part of a multilateral pillage force? --
but also the West's support for East Timor's independence. East Timor! The left's pet cause of the late
Nineties! And yet it turns out to be just another "root cause" like Yankee imperialism and Zionist
occupation. Will it cause any of the West's self-loathers to question their support for the Islamists?
Don't hold your breath.
The Canadian position on this war is sadly typical: Some reports indicate that
the Indonesian group which killed hundreds in Bali used bombs delivered by Hezbollah operatives.
Two Canadians were among their victims. But Messrs Chrétien and Graham refuse to act against
Hezbollah because, aside from killing Canadians, these chaps run some useful community activities.
Canada's more "moderate" approach is that as long as they kill just a few Canadians -- say, hold it
under three figures annually -- we can, so to speak, live with them. And, given that several Hezbollah
execs seem to be running around Gaza with Canadian passports, in terms of how many Canucks are
murdered and how many are murderers, it's probably a wash. This is cultural sensitivity taken to its
As things stand, there are only three countries that are serious about the "war on terror": America,
Britain and Australia. And, even within that shrunken rump of the West, there are fierce divisions:
Australia's sissy press makes The Toronto Star look like, well, the National Post; it's doubtful whether
Tony Blair speaks for more than 30% of his parliamentary party; and President Bush's resoluteness
doesn't extend to his Secretary of State or even, during Ramadan, to himself. The longer this already
too long period of phony war continues, the more likely it is that even these stalwarts will decay and
Canadianize. I worry about the thin line on which our civilization depends. This last year has been too
quiet. Next Ramadan, when the traditional calls for a bombing pause are issued, let's hope there's
some bombing to pause.
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JWR contributor Mark Steyn is Senior Contributing Editor of The National Post and the author, most recently, of "The Face of the Tiger," a new book on the world post-Sept. 11.. Comment by clicking here.
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© 2002, Mark Steyn