Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Trio of Excellent Think Pieces

These three are worth reading in depth. We've got an analysis of why Arabic Islam is a failed civilization, VDH on how only victory can win Middle Eastern hearts and minds, and an essay in praise of premature war.

Here's an excerpt from the first article:
Cigarette dangling from his lips, the moneychanger squinted at me as if I were a phony dinar note. “You are American?” he asked, as a group of men behind him fixed me with unfriendly stares. “Tell me,” he continued, slapping Iraqi bills on the countertop, “why does Bush invade our land?” Seeking a quick exit from this conversation, I suggested that the U.S. sought to bring democracy to Iraq. “You are wrong, my friend,” declared the moneychanger, as his friends snorted and shook their heads. “America cares nothing about democracy—she wants only to steal our oil and make Israel more powerful. Believe me, we know this. America invaded Iraq to make Israel number one!”

I’d entered this Baghdad storefront last March to change some dollars, not talk politics. Yet while I usually ignored the opinions of the Iraqi “street,” this time something compelled me to respond. “America invaded Iraq to make Israel ‘number one?’ That’s stupid!” I scoffed, startling the Arabs. “Israel already is number one. In its military and economy”—thinking of per capita GDP here—“Israel is the strongest country in the Middle East. And do you know why? Because it is a democracy! Once Iraq becomes a democracy, who knows? Maybe you’ll be number one!” Unsure if I was criticizing Israel or supporting Iraq, the men looked confused and I left without further discussion. At last, I thought, a riposte to Arab conspiracy theories!

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