Saturday, November 15, 2003

The one conspiracy theory I actually buy into is the one that says there is a loose alliance between Islamic terror gangs (Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Al-Fatah, the Saddam Fedayeen, etc.) and rogue states in general and Middle Eastern rogue states in particular. I think there is plenty of evidence that demonstrates collaboration between these various groups. And I think we're currently at war with all of them, though the war may be hot in some places and cold in others. The Saddam Triangle in Iraq is right now the epicenter of the fighting, and we are winning; we're killing and capturing a lot more of them than they are of us, and they're going to run out of people on the ground ready to do dirty deeds sooner or later.

Al-Qaeda has certainly reached out its long arm recently in this bloody Ramadan, what with the bombing in Istanbul, the attack on Italian headquarters in Iraq, and the attack in Riyadh. I'd like to ask antiwar folks this question: don't you think we should be fighting these guys who are going around sowing terror and hate? Or should we bail out now, leave Iraq in the lurch, let Saddam take over again, and then deal with the consequences of a tremendous loss of American credibility? That's what we've got for choices, guys, and you know in your hearts that somebody's got to stomp terrorist gangs and rogue states right now before they do another Istanbul or Riyadh or 9-11. I hate to have to say this because some of our people are going to get killed fighting the enemy. And some more innocent Iraqis are going to get killed in the crossfire. All I can say is I wish that weren't true. But, it's tragic to say, their deaths now will save maybe millions in the future if this actually winds up working, with a democratic and peaceful and stable Iraq as the beacon for the rest of the Middle East.

I'd like to point out that we're winning the war in Iraq. Every school open, every town with electricity, everywhere the irrigation system has been fixed, is a win for our side. And there are many more wins than tragic losses, when coalition soldiers or innocent civilians get killed. The Iraqis have never had a decent government anytime in the history of their country. It's about time the Middle East saw what can be done with a liberal democratic system in place in a Muslim country.

I actually honestly feel that the country that will lead the Middle East towards democracy is Iran. Post-Shah Iran has always been semi-democratic in a weird way; that is, there was only one system, the Islamic Republic, but you could vote for the guy you preferred who was inside the system. Iran is a step above most Middle Eastern countries in such things that indicate citizen welfare as literacy and life expectancy and GDP per capita. Many Iranians are well-educated and there is a good bit of very decent and even admirable democratic popular agitation to get rid of the current government. I would not be surprised if there is a peaceful transition toward democracy in Iran in the next few years. I would also not be surprised if they had nuclear weapons right now, so we won't be attacking them anytime in the near future.

This would be a good opportunity for Spain to get in on the ground floor in a country that is going to be much more prosperous than it is now as soon as they get a decent government. Spain has first-hand experience in managing a transition from a long-established dictatorship to a democracy, and it is fair to say they've done the best job of all the countries that moved toward democracy in the 70s and 80s. The people who were in charge of running the Spanish Transition are still alive, even though one of them has just been discovered to be, if not a crook, far too friendly with certain people who distribute lots of money. If Spain could contact moderate Iranian (or Iraqi) leaders and and say, "look, this is how we did it, your society is different so you can't follow our plan step by step, but you're likely to learn a few things from our example", it might be very helpful. And it might help us develop useful friendly relations, because when Iran is freed it's going to explode economically.

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