Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Lucky nation that loses war to U.S.

Click here to e-mail Peter Bronson
During the occupation, "leaders and troops were called upon to deal with a series of complex challenges in political, economic, financial, social, and cultural affairs, tasks beyond the traditional combat roles of soldiers.''

Wait a minute. That's not Iraq. That's from the chief of military history in 1974 - about the occupation of Germany, 1944-46.

The experts said it was impossible to spread democracy to a nation steeped in autocratic traditions and a culture that glorifies suicide attacks.

Wait again. That's the 12-year occupation of Japan, which is now one of our best democratic allies.

The only thing better than defeating America is to lose a war to us.

Japan (3rd) and Germany (5th) are now two of the top economies in the world - because we gave them a free makeover and then went home. But now that Iraq has joined the dictator-ectomy club, some people can't sleep at night.

The antiwar crowd is tossing and turning because the transfer of power to Iraq on Monday is a victory for the U.S. and President Bush, and that feels like turpentine on their spray-paint slogans about blood for oil, imperialism and a Vietnam quagmire.

And the royal family is sleepless in Saudi Arabia. Just imagine the scene when their wives find out Iraqi women are allowed to drive. It could be the end of what Miami University professor Adeed Dawisha, an Iraqi, calls "an archaic and reactionary regime.''

"They are now reaping what they have sown.''

He's talking about the spread of Wahhabism, defined as "the most extreme, the most violent, the most separatist, the most expansionist form of Islam that exists,'' by Stephen Schwartz, author of The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism.

Here's another definition: Wahhabism is the open garbage can that breeds terrorist flies.

Schwartz says the Saudis have used their vast oil wealth to spread it worldwide like the McDonald's of Islamic religion. He says: 80 percent of all the mosques in the U.S. "are under control of the Saudi government and Wahhabism"; 15 of the 19 terrorists on 9-11 were Saudis; all Islamic chaplains in the U.S. military and all but one Islamic chaplain in U.S. prisons are Wahhabis.

"There is truth in that,'' Dawisha said. "They had to prove to their own people and the Muslim world that they were Muslim enough, and they did it by building mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools). What they didn't bargain for is that the madrassas were taken over by ... Wahhabism.''

Schwartz says the Saudis play the "victim'' card to get their Wahhabi brand on the front media shelf, while moderate Islamics are hidden.

But a free Iraq, coupled with rising terrorism in Saudi Arabia, could give the bum's rush to the Saudi royal family and put a lid on their trashcan of Wahhabism.

"People ask, 'Are you still optimistic?' '' Dawisha said. "Yes, I am.'' One reason is the results of recent local elections in Iraq. "In almost all cases, the winners were educated and secular, not tribal clerics,'' he said.

It may get worse before it gets better, but that's true for most nations that fight for freedom, he said. "We've got to bite the bullet and stick to the process.''

Germany and Japan are proof that freedom is contagious, too. And it's spreading democracy fever in the Middle East already.

"In the midst of the bad news, the killings, the explosions, we are still talking about democracy,'' Dawisha said.

"There is still hope.''


E-mail pbronson@enquirer.com or call 768-8301.

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