Them and us 5

The US was right to invade Iraq and topple Saddam Hussein, and right to invade Afghanistan where the 9/11 attack on America was plotted. In both cases war was the answer.

In both cases it was wrong to stay on to attempt “nation-building”.

But once that sentimental policy was decided on, the essential thing for the US to achieve in each case was a constitution of liberty.

Both Iraq and Afghanistan got new constitutions, but neither enshrines liberty. They enshrine sharia law, and where sharia prevails, liberty is shut out.

Andrew McCarthy writes trenchantly about the tragic failure of America’s vision and the ultimate futility of its struggles in Afghanistan and Iraq:

In 2006, a Christian convert named Abdul Rahman was tried for apostasy [in Afghanistan]. The episode prompted a groundswell of international criticism. In the end, Abdul Rahman was whisked out of the country before his execution could be carried out. A fig leaf was placed over the mess: The prospect of execution had been rendered unjust by the (perfectly sane) defendant’s purported mental illness — after all, who in his right mind would convert from Islam? His life was spared, but the Afghans never backed down from their insistence that a Muslim’s renunciation of Islam is a capital offense and that death is the mandated sentence.

Mainstream Islamic scholarship holds that apostasy, certainly once it is publicly revealed, warrants the death penalty.

Having hailed the Afghan constitution as the start of a democratic tsunami, the startled Bush administration made all the predictable arguments against Abdul Rahman’s apostasy prosecution. Diplomats and nation-building enthusiasts pointed in panic at the vague, lofty language injected into the Afghan constitution to obscure Islamic law’s harsh reality — spoons full of sugar that had helped the sharia go down. The constitution assures religious freedom, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice maintained. …

Read the fine print. It actually qualifies that all purported guarantees of personal and religious liberty are subject to Islamic law and Afghanistan’s commitment to being an Islamic state. We were supposed to celebrate this, just as the State Department did, because Islam is the “religion of peace” whose principles are just like ours — that’s why it was so ready for democracy.

It wasn’t so. Sharia is very different from Western law, and it couldn’t care less what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has to say on the matter of apostasy. …

The constitution that the State Department bragged about helping the new Afghan “democracy” draft established Islam as the state religion and installed sharia as a principal source of law. That constitution therefore fully supports the state killing of apostates. Case closed.

The purpose of real democracy, meaning Western republican democracy, is to promote individual liberty, the engine of human prosperity. No nation that establishes a state religion, installs its totalitarian legal code, and hence denies its citizens freedom of conscience, can ever be a democracy — no matter how many “free” elections it holds. Afghanistan is not a democracy. It is an Islamic sharia state.

To grasp this, one need only read the first three articles of its constitution:

1. Afghanistan is an Islamic Republic, independent, unitary, and indivisible state.

2. The religion of the state of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan is the sacred religion of Islam. …

3. In Afghanistan, no law can be contrary to the beliefs and provisions of the sacred religion of Islam. …

Was that what you figured we were doing when you heard we were “promoting democracy”? Is that a mission you would have agreed to commit our armed forces to accomplish? Yet, that’s what we’re fighting for. The War On Terror hasn’t been about 9/11 for a very long time. You may think our troops are in Afghanistan to defeat al-Qaeda and the Taliban — that’s what you’re told every time somebody has the temerity to suggest that we should leave. Our commanders, however, have acknowledged that destroying the enemy is not our objective. In fact, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the former top U.S. commander, said what is happening in Afghanistan is not even our war. …

It’s not our war, nor is it something those running it contemplate winning. … Indeed, the administration had concluded … that the war could not be won “militarily.”

Afghanistan is not an American war anymore. It’s a political experiment: Can we lay the foundation for Islamic social justice, hang a “democracy” label on it, and convince Americans that we’ve won, that all the blood and treasure have been worth it? The same thing, by the way, has been done in Iraq.

The affront here is our own betrayal of our own principles. The Islamic democracy project is not democratizing the Muslim world. It is degrading individual liberty by masquerading sharia, in its most draconian form, as democracy. The only worthy reason for dispatching our young men and women in uniform to Islamic countries is to destroy America’s enemies. Our armed forces are not agents of Islamic social justice, and stabilizing a sharia state so its children can learn to hate the West as much as their parents do is not a mission the American people would ever have endorsed. It is past time to end this failed experiment.

Yes, it is way past time. Leave them now to do it their way.

And it is past time to dispel the sweet illusion of good-hearted Americans that all Others are the same as Us in their values, wants, and desires. They are not.

  • Joe Bravo

    I have been saying this for years — what the post-war Afghanistan and Iraq needed was not a immediate deluge of democracy, but a bill of rights (I say, “post-war,” as the military did win both wars — we just didn’t win the peace). After a nation is conquered, there is a vaccuum (particularly in instances like Iraq, where the party that had almost all the political and economic power [the Baaths] are banned from participating in the new government. If we had taken a realistic assessment of this (as opposed to being in such a rush to prove that we were the good guys and that we hadn’t conquered the Taliban and Baath, but only liberated their peoples for democracy…) and imposed a period of martial law on these conquered nations, with a rule of law encoded in a interim constitution with a bill of rights, I truly believe that Afghanistan and Iraq would be coming along a lot more nicely these days, and that real everyday Afghanis and Iraqis would have a steak in the process and some pride at how civilly they could behave and thereby generate social, cultural and economic power…. How important was it to the average citizen of these countries to walk around for the western press showing blue dye from the voting booths on their fingers when — they couldn’t get basic infrastructural utilities (elec, heat, cooling, water, etc, yet); couldn’t send their kids to school without the threat of them being blown up, shot or kidnapped enroute or at the school; couldn’t fine employment, or, if they could find employment, risked having all their earnings taken by militia squads, which had defacto control over many neighborhoods… etc etc. The fact of the matter is, though war’s an awful if sometimes necessary thing, that once you conquer and impose your will on another nation, the basic conditions for an end to hostilities and occupation would have to be that the country you conquered is less a danger to you after they were conquered than before…. If the Afghanis/Iraqis were denied many or most democratic privileges for a period of time (possibly years) until these conditions were met, in the mean time they could have been assured: rule of law under the unequivocable yet state-dept overseen authority of a military command; such an authority would assure individual and minority rights, in keeping with the priniciples of the constitution of the conquering nation (i.e. the US); Iraqis would not be discriminated against because of sex, ethnicity, religion, etc; they would have a right to do fair bids in the market place; the rule of law would assure they could keep their earnings, and courts would provide adjudication in disputed circumstances; extrajudicial killing would be outlawed. In sum, if we just hadn’t been so wishy-washy and wanting to wash our hands of the matter, we could have very clearly imposed our conditions for the post-war period, hired Iraqi administrative officials to work and rise in the courts and bureaucracy under this law, and, ultimately, when the Iraqi people had stake enough in the new country to administer it properly, allowed them to draft a regular constitution, hold it to referendum and then elect an Iraqi government in accordance with that constitution. Instead, we just wanted to appear we hadn’t even conducted a war, but a liberation op, and wash our hand of it — the end result being, 10 and 8 years, respectively, later, both countries are tottering and weak and we still have a presence in both. One really has to ask oneself — why the loss of blood and treasure if we didn’t have the backbone to do it right? We could have.

  • Macnvettes

    We need more politicians like Allen West, who is well-versed in Islamic principles and history in our government. Watch as he shuts up the VP of a South Florida branch of CAIR:

    West does have his flaws, which include his policy ideas being inspired by the Christian faith, but at least no terrorist is going to convince him that they are our friends!

  • Ralph

    When there is a synagogue, cathedral and old folks home for atheist in Mecca I will believe they are ready for a western republic. Until then it is just as you said: ” them and us.”

  • Bupshaw3

    Why do you believe it was right for us to invade Iraq? Bush invaded Iraq based on lies. It was never right to invade that country.

    I believe in the Pottery Barn philosophy – If you break it you own it. We broke Iraq, we are therefore responsible for repairing it to the best of our ability. We can’t, however, dictate freedom. We can, and must, stay in Afghanistan and Iraq until a relatively stable government is functioning because we broke the governments that existed there.

    • Joe Bravo

      Bupshaw3,

      But we can’t just keep pouring water into a leaking bucket. I’m sure there are a lot of people in Iraq and Afghanistan who don’t want us there, so, then, if you want to talk the moral question, what right do we have to continue to be there — just to satisfy our own moral conscience at the expense of the indigenous people’s will?
      I don’t necessarily disagree with you that we should stay longer, but I am against staying longer just to be appeasing our moral conscience — get a plan that works, or get out of the way and let them fix it themselves.

      I could offer you a ton of justification for Iraq, though, I will concede, evidence for the WMD argument never panned out (and I was always sceptical of that justification up to and through the point Colin Powell briefed it at the UN). Iraq had been in violation of UN resolutions (inspections, war reparations, conventional force disarmament, etc) since the end of the Gulf War, so was clearly in defiance of the “international community.” Saddam continued to provide largesse to his family, friends and party, while he let the effects of UN sanctions hit the poor and powerless; then he let intl camera crews in to see the effects of the sanctions on providing health care and food for sick children, etc — in short, the US and the UN started to look like the bad guy, particularly in the Arab world, due to Saddam’s manipulations, intransigence and apathy. In 97 he moved some forces south towards Kuwait, in violation of UN resolutions, in a feint at Kuwait; the US, in turn, in defense of Kuwait, had to do a massive influx of troops and equipment and onto the ground to properly respond to this show of aggression. This cost the US billions of dollars (cost to Saddam was maybe a couple million…). Saddam could keep playing this game all day (as he was doing in the southern no-fly zone); he could continue to defy and wait out the UN sanctions, as the suffering amongst the poor in “his country” was blamed more and more on the UN and US. The built-up US presence in Saudia Arabia, to enforce the southern no-fly zone, was obviously a point of irriation to many in the Middle East. Saddam was clearly out of step with everyone but his family and synchophants. He was harboring terrorists, openly offered rewards/incentives to the surviving families of Palestinian suicide bombers against civilian targets, had engaged in an assassination attempt against a former US president, and was a flagrant human rights abuser who crushed the majority of his own people. No, I don’t shed any tears for the sovereignity of Saddam’s Iraq being violated. To boot, anyone with their head in this game now, from the early to mid eighties to the present day, knows that Iran is really the terror nexus. We already had a presence on one side of Iran in Afghanistan; perhaps, if we had one on another side, too, we thought, perhaps, they might see the writing on the wall and negotiate. (In epilogue, I think they did see the writing on the wall, thus now give so much effort to and take so much risk in proxy wars in Iraq and Afghanistan).