Jewish World Review Dec. 2, 2004 / 19 Kislev, 5765

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Epic change in the Middle East?


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | There are cracks in time when leaders are given a chance to bend history and forever change the course of events inside countries and across continents.

Americans did it in 1776, the French in 1789, Europe reverberated with revolution in 1848 and 1989, while New Yorkers and the world saw their lives transformed on a clear fall morning three years ago.

But being the optimistic fool that I am, I dare to believe that 2005 could be a year of epic change in the Middle East by ushering in an era of freedom to a region that has only know death, despair and dictatorships over the past century.

I know I sound terribly naive in a week when we are confronted with stories of a young Palestinian girl riddled with bullets, U.S. troops continuing to be blown up by cheap and plentiful roadside bombs, and Israeli security checkpoint guards taunting Palestinian citizens in a way that elicits memories of the Holocaust for Jewish survivors.

As a strident defender of Israel, I am sickened by the news of this young girl being gunned down and then filled with countless bullets after she was already dead. Read the story and tell me how the hell this could have happened.

Meanwhile, the chances of success in Iraq seem more remote everyday, but only because media outlets in America and across the world obsess on the negative while dismissing U.S. progress there. The notable exception at the New York Times was Dexter Filkens' piece on Iraq that we linked earlier this week. In case you missed it, here it is again. A MUST READ!

As Tom Friedman noted in his "Postcards from Iraq" column, U.S. troops continue to believe they are fighting a war that is noble, and more importantly, the most important military battle of our generation.

America is not fighting to defend oil fields or colonial holdings. We are fighting to save Western Civilization from an exceedingly grim future filled with terror attacks in New York, Washington and the rest of the world.

But it is a war Americans are determined to win.

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class="textBodyBlack">A year ago, NBC executives visited MSNBC to get a briefing on the 2004 election. While some outside analysts present predicted American deaths in Iraq would spell doom for the President's reelection effort, I took a contrary position. (What a surprise.)

I told NBC's leaders that Americans outside of Manhattan and L.A. understood on a visceral level that our nation was in a world war with Islamic terrorists, and that the cost of victory would include the death of many young Americans. I said Iraq would not be viewed as Somalia or Bosnia or Kosovo.

This would be seen as a war centered on American self-interest- the very narrow interest of protecting our families and loved ones from future terror attacks.

Given the choice of fighting the war in America or Iraq, Americans would chose Iraq any day of the week.

I repeat this conclusion a year later- which set a few eyes rolling at the time- because Americans confirmed my prediction in the 2004 election by picking George Bush and a group of new Republican Senators.

While that shocked most journalists in the mainstream press (read Tom Wolfe's column in Rolling Stone this week), it surely shook up Zarqawi and the other terrorists fighting in Iraq even more.

Forget that BS you've been reading from some left-wingers saying these thugs wanted Bush to win to aid recruitment. It is absolute nonsense.

Zarqawi has been posting messages to his followers for months predicting doom for his deathsquads in Iraq if the Shiite majority backed Iraq's new government and January's free elections. Bush's re-election sends the clear message to terrorists that Americans have decided this is a war that must be fought and won.

Regardless of what the New York Times wants you to believe, this war is not Vietnam. JFK stumbled into Southeast Asia and LBJ got elected in 1964 before any serious escalation tool place. By the time Johnson was up for reelection four years later, the war had destroyed his presidency.

About 30 years later, Americans rehired a president who let them know he is going to use all powers available to hunt down and kill every last terrorist on the face of the earth. So just as that cowboy Reagan getting elected in 1980 and 1984 cast a pall over the Kremlin, Bush's victory made bin Laden's cave-for-the-night seem a bit more damp and cold than usual.

OBL always believed America was a paper tiger that would cut and run at the first sign of trouble. He used Bill Clinton's speedy retreat from Somalia as exhibit #1. But over the past three years, America's president, its brave troops, and its stubborn voters have ignored the same liberal elites Reagan brushed off twenty years ago to prove bin Laden wrong time and again.

That determination gives America- and more importantly Iraq- its best chance at establishing the first liberal democracy in Middle East history. As Tom Friedman wrote in his column yesterday, we are throwing seeds on rocky soil. But those seeds will grow because we have no other choice but to keep tilling and planting until freedom trumps terror from Palestine to Pakistan.

Ahh. But what about the Palestinians? We are continually reminded by our European allies that Israel will continue feeding bin Laden's terror network while breeding resentment across the Middle East.

I have long said that it was worthless to negotiate with Arafat or any elected Palestinian leader. Why? Because after Arafat walked away from the Oslo peace talks in 2000, he became a lame duck tyrant. Clinton, Barak, and the world finally figured out that Arafat couldn't take the best deal the Palestinian people would ever get because he knew Hamas leaders would order his killing the next day.

But with the Godfather of modern terror six feet under, Hamas leaders are suggesting they may consider laying down their guns and become part of the Palestinian political process. (See yesterday's post on MSNBC.com.)

At the same time, Israelis repulsed by the sight of their solders gunning down a young girl and then firing a flurry of bullets into her dead body may be more willing to follow Sharon's move to transfer Gaza and other territory to the Palestinian authority.

Only Nixon could have gone to China, and perhaps only Sharon can go to his own people and explain why it is time to make peace with their most hated enemy.

If Sharon can make that sell, then the future of the Middle East will rest in the hands of a group of terrorists who have spent the past few years blowing up little children at bus stops and slaughtering students and grandmothers on buses.

Will Hamas choose peace and change history or continue deluding itself by believing Israel will wilt under continued terror attacks?

Let's pray they choose peace, because just like George Bush and America, Mr. Sharon and his people will get peace with security or they will keep hunting down and killing terrorists until the last one is dead.

And G-d knows we will all be dead before that day comes.

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Former Congressman Joe Scarborough (R-Fla.) hosts “Scarborough Country,” 10 p.m. ET, weeknights on MSNBC. He is the author of the recently published "Rome Wasn't Burnt in a Day : The Real Deal on How Politicians, Bureaucrats, and Other Washington Barbarians are Bankrupting America". (Click HERE to purchase. Sales help fund JWR.)Comment by clicking here.


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