Sunday, January 14, 2007

More In Store For Us?

Victor Davis Hanson writes about the question: Just how serious is the threat of radical Islam? There seem to be many in this country, and many among our political leaders, who choose to answer that radical Islam is not a significant threat. VDH argues the opposite view, and I think his essay is well worth thinking about. He offers several reasons for his conclusion. Here is one interesting observation:
"A jihadist of the first order swears that he hears religious voices and through his mesmerizing speech prevents his audiences from blinking. He promises a world without the United States and swears he will wipe Israel off the map. As relish he brags about shutting down the Straits of Hormuz and choking off global petroleum commerce. And these are not impossible threats, since Ahmadinejad has at his disposal billions in petrol-dollars, soulless commercial partners in Russia, North Korea, and China who will sell him anything, and a certain apocalyptic vision that, Jim-Jones like, convinces him that he can achieve eternal fame in this world—the downtrodden Shiite Persians at last trump the Sunni Arabs as the true warriors of Islam—and Paradise in the next.

And all this is reified by an ongoing nuclear program. Set against all that, our own wise men and women demonize those who will not “talk” with the Iranian theocracy, so convinced are they either of their own moral superiority and beguiling rhetoric, or of the rational sense of the Iranians. In other words, suggest modestly that Iran is creepy enough to keep distant from—and suddenly that wariness is slurred as a neocon plot to wage war with Teheran.

So, yes, I have no apologies for labeling radical Islam as a danger comparable to Hitler, Mussolini, Tojo, Stalin, or Mao.That admission does not make any of us who share these worries fond of war, far from it. Rather we fear that radical Islam has much in store for us ahead, and the more America prepares for it, the less our citizens and others less strong will suffer."
It seems to me that most of the conflicts in the world these days involve radical Islam, and that those fighting in the name of jihad seek to impose their views, by force and repression, on any who disagree. They do not seem to fight for progress and prosperity, but rather for either a return to a distant past before the progress and prosperity we know today is possible, or for such chaos in the world that their religious belief in the 12th imam saving the world will come true. It seems to me jihadism is a serious threat to us and to progress and prosperity the world over. Certainly jihadism is now interrupting opportunities for progress and prosperity in many countries.

I also like the suggestions VDH makes about how we should proceed:
". . . only a four-pronged fundamental approach, much of which we are presently engaged in, will ultimately work: kill jihadists whether in Somalia or Anbar or the Hindu Kush; promote consensual government and market economies that so drive the jihadists crazy and offer a chance that some day the Middle East will achieve parity with other regions—and thus cease blaming the West for its self-induced failures; work with regional governments, whether the newly established Afghans or Iraqis, or the Ethiopians or the Jordanians or the Israelis to fight the jihadists; and collapse the world oil market though conservation, more exploration, alternative fuels, and nuclear power. 20 -dollar-a-barrel oil will take immediately nearly $500 billion a year out of the coffers of Middle East exporters—and with that loss, floating petrodollars for weapons and terrorists."
I think each of his suggestions is important, and I want to add something with respect to offering the Middle East a chance at prosperity. Economic progress and prosperity follows from economic freedom. Without governments that protect economic freedom the regions of the world that breed and feed jihadism today will have little chance to begin down the path of economic progress and prosperity. I don't know if a government that protects economic freedom can result from a war that topples a tyrant, but I am sure that governments in the Middle East, outside of the government of Israel, are not protecting economic freedom today.

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