Disguised in part by the trappings of oil wealth, the Middle East has become humanity's sinkhole, less promising, if richer, than Africa. But no facade of garish hotels in the hollow states that line the Persian Gulf, and no amount of full-page advertisements funded by the Saudi government, can hide the truth any longer: The Arab Middle East has become the world's first entirely parasitical culture; all it does is to imitate poorly, consume voraciously, spit hatred, export death and create nothing.
Arab civilization offers its people no promising future, only rhetoric about a past whose achievements have been as exaggerated as they were impermanent. The present is a bloody, heartless muddle.
For all the oil wealth and expatriate university degrees, for all the hired-in expertise and Western "engagement," Arab civilization has degenerated to a point where it provides the rest of humanity nothing useful of its own design - while offering its own citizens only a culture of blame, corruption and lethargy.
It's a matter of culture, not race. In the free atmosphere of America, Arabs do as well as anyone else. All populations have their share of talent - but the oppressive environment of the Middle East enervates those individuals it does not crush entirely.
Iraq has been given a chance to break free of the thrall of a bankrupt culture, to establish a rule-of-law democratic government observant of human rights. But the chances are increasingly good that Iraq's Arabs will fail to achieve and maintain even minimal standards of good governance.
The time has not yet come, but, contrary to the sort of diplomatic wisdom that so long protected Saddam, we can walk away if Iraq's Arabs refuse to help themselves. And we can break up the country to protect the Kurds - a far better solution than turning Iraq over to the venal brokers of the United Nations.
The failure of Arab civilization in our time is the greatest such disaster in mankind's history. And, bitter though we find the proposition, the failure is so colossal that it cannot be neatly contained. Whether in Iraq today or elsewhere tomorrow, we cannot fully extract ourselves from this problem simply because our enemies won't let go.
If Iraq chooses failure, we can leave. But we'll be back, somewhere in the Middle East. Because, as we saw on 9/11, the Middle East will continue to come to us. Blame is the opium of the Arabs, and the sweetest blame for their failures is that directed at the United States (and, of course, Israel). It is our power itself, not its uses, that enrages Arabs trapped in their self-made weakness.
The oft-cited examples of the Arab world's problems, from a lack of interest in secular education and a poor work ethic to staggering corruption and the oppression of women, are symptoms, not root causes, of Arab failure. Past a certain analytical point, we come up against the wall of our own taboos - we cannot admit that the psychological premises of an entire civilization might be dysfunctional. Arab failure isn't about that which has been done to the Middle East, but that which the Middle East has done to itself.
Iraq still has a chance, if a slimmer one than we had hoped. But even if Iraq's Arabs disappoint our ambitions, our efforts will have been worthy and our losses not in vain. Intervention was unavoidable, whatever the critics say. Continued passivity in the face of the Middle East's implosion would only have made the price higher in the end.
We all would be better off were the Arabs to surprise us by building healthy, prosperous, modern societies. We would be foolish not to wish them well. But we would be equally foolish not to prepare ourselves for the consequences of their accelerating failure.
Former NFL defensive back Pat Tillman was killed in action while serving as an Army Ranger in Afghanistan, ABCNEWS reported Friday.
He was 27.
Tillman was killed in direct action during a firefight in Afghanistan, Pentagon sources told ABCNEWS. No other details were yet available.
Tillman played four seasons for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals as a safety after starring at Arizona State University.
In May of 2002, Tillman announced his intentions to join the Army, turning down a $3.6 million contract offer in the process. Tillman and his brother Kevin decided to enroll in the U.S. Army Rangers after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.
Both Pat and Kevin, a former minor league baseball prospect in the Cleveland Indians organization, committed to three-year military terms, landing spots with the elite U.S. Army Rangers. The two served in the Middle East as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Pat and Kevin were recipients of the 11th annual Arthur Ashe Courage Award at the 2003 ESPYs. Their younger brother, Richard, accepted the award while the brothers were away.
The 5-foot-11, 200-pound Pat graduated summa cum laude with a 3.84 GPA from Arizona State, with a degree in marketing.
Last week's column gave readers a chance to contribute money to help restore seven small TV stations in Iraq. The project is the joint idea of the First Marine Expeditionary Force in Al Anbar province, west of Baghdad, and Spirit of America, a philanthropy begun by Los Angeles businessman Jim Hake to assist American GIs in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Hake's goal is to raise $100,000 to buy equipment to upgrade the stations. Here are the results:
As of yesterday afternoon, some 4,965 readers of The Wall Street Journal (and their friends) had contributed $880,321. The individual contributions ranged from $3.50 to $50,000.
Jim Hake is stunned by the response. He says his friends in the Marine Corps are stunned. My colleagues and I are not. The generosity of this newspaper's readership is well known to those of us at Dow Jones who have witnessed it repeatedly over the years.
Mr. Hake is now purchasing the TV equipment--new PCs, camcorders, editing equipment and the like--which will be delivered directly to Camp Pendleton in California and loaded on the earliest available Marine transport plane bound for Iraq. When the dust settles, Mr. Hake will post a verbal and financial accounting of the project on the group's Web site, spiritofamerica.net. I'll follow up again soon.
As to the project exceeding its funding goals, Mr. Hake says this ensures that the rebuilding and upgrading of community TV stations in Iraq can be extended. He has no intention of letting Spirit of America become "big and stupid." Any additional funds will be used as in all the group's projects up to now--to respond to requests initiated by U.S. troops in Iraq or Afghanistan for help with small, nonmilitary civil reconstruction projects.
There was nothing in George Bush’s letter to Ariel Sharon, in which he declared a full Israeli withdrawal from the territories it had conquered in 1967 as “unrealistic” (1), and that the Palestinian refugees cannot return to the lands they were expelled from in present day Israel, that had not been tacitly, and occasionally unequivocally, accepted by the Palestinian Authority since the launching of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
Sharon's tough policies have established that terrorism damages Palestinian interests even more than it does Israeli ones. This has led some analysts deeply hostile to Israel to recognize that the ''second intifada'' was a grievous error. Violence ''just went haywire,'' says Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds University. An ''unmitigated disaster,'' journalist Graham Usher calls it. A ''crime against the Palestinian people,'' adds an Arab diplomat.
After the execution of Hamas' other leader, Ahmed Yassin, last month, 60 prominent Palestinians urged restraint in a newspaper ad, arguing that violence would provoke strong Israeli responses that would obstruct aspirations to build an independent ''Palestine.'' Instead, the signatories called for ''a peaceful, wise intifada.''
Ordinary Palestinians, too, are drawing the salutary conclusion that murdering Israelis brings them no benefits. ''We wasted three years for nothing, this uprising didn't accomplish anything,'' says Mahar Tarhir, 25, an aluminum-store owner. ''Anger and disillusionment have replaced the fighting spirit that once propelled the Palestinian movement,'' finds Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, a reporter for Knight Ridder.
As for Israelis, as early as July 2003 the military brass reached the conclusion that Israel was achieving victory. More sharply, Israeli analyst Asher Susser concluded in the Middle East Quarterly back then that the Palestinian effort to break the Israeli spirit through terror ''has failed,'' and resorting to force ''was a catastrophic mistake, the worst the Palestinians have made since 1948.''
In this context, rapidly eliminating two Hamas chieftains in a row deepens Palestinian perceptions that Israel's will to defend itself is strong, its military arm long, and that terrorism is tactically wrong. Perhaps more Palestinians will realize the time has come to accept the existence of the Jewish state.
Daniel Pipes is director of the Middle East Forum.
By: Ghassan Karam*
The Palestinian and Arab anger over President Bush’s pronouncements that favour Prime Minister Sharon’s plan for disengagement in Gaza and the West Bank is understandable. After all, George Bush became the first American president, ever, to support the notion that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory are a fait accompli and thus do not have to be evacuated as a pre condition to the establishment of a two state solution. This inspite of the fact that the Israeli settlements in question have always been viewed as illegal by international law standards. The United States has often supported international law only when its rulings serve its national interests and has rejected its findings whenever they contravened its official foreign policy objectives. In this case the United States does not view a viable Palestinian state, rife with anti-Americanism, as being compatible with its vision for the Middle East. What is sadly unquestioned is whether a rogue Israeli theocracy that is a nuclear power and that conducts its foreign policy through terror and intimidation is the kind of ally that will help promote the American democratic project of the Middle East.
The level of dismay with US foreign policy for the region grew even further when Mr. Bush coupled his support for the Israeli settlements with his opposition to a Palestinian cherished dream, the right of return. Isn’t it ironic that an absolute Jewish right of return was given to people all over the world even though they had not been to Israel/Palestine for a couple of thousand years but denied to those who were forced to flee their homes less than sixty years ago?
Yet it is counter productive to dwell on the past. Real-politick demands that utopian solutions are to be sacrificed at the altar of pragmatism and that the only policy that is worth pursuing is the one that bears positive results, the policy that moves a people forward towards the attainment of their goals. In that regard it is important to ask whether there has been any culpability, intended or not, by the Palestinian Authority in general and the Palestinian masses in particular. Unfortunately a strong case can be made to implicate both the Palestinian Authority for its lackadaisical actions and the Palestinian resistance for its self-destructive policies.
It is never too late to embark on a policy path that has the potential to bear fruit. The Palestinian Authority has the moral duty to do all in its power to reduce the suffering of the Palestinian people and to move them closer to the reality of self-rule. There are at least three separate issues that deserve to be addressed:
1. Change in leadership has become essential. Mr. Arafat and his entire entourage must be replaced with a democratically elected reform minded effective and responsive leadership. Mr. Arafats’ past contributions have been stupendous but it is time for him to enjoy his retirement.
2 . Redefine clearly what the Palestinians expect from the right of return. An absolute, unconditional right of return is a non-starter and must be declared as such. What must be bargained for is a limited right of return for certain individuals but most importantly a broadly applied program of compensation.
3. Demonstrate clearly that the Palestinian Authority is a credible partner for peace and will not tolerate any acts of terror committed by any group.
As for the Palestinian resistance, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and others, they must recognize the folly of their actions. Suicide bombing campaigns against non-combatants are totally ineffective and morally repugnant. These activities have brought the Palestinian people increased violence, misery, and squalor in addition to a tarnished international image. Suicide bombings have also been the best ally of the Likud party, have been used as a justification for the land-grab called the wall and have provided President Bush with a rationale for his recent pronouncements. The resistance is in a position to do the right thing and renounce random violence.
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