I’m always amazed when people tell me that the U.S. playing into the hands of religious terrorists like bin Laden by reacting to terrorism with force. By this logic we thwart al Queda by being open and loving.
Tom Friedman made this argument last week:
The terrorists want us to shutter our windows, reject visa requests from Muslim youth and turn off our beacon of idealism so we will be less attractive as an alternative to their medieval fanaticism. Because the bin Ladenites know something Mr. Bush doesn't: that it is American optimism and soft power - not American hard power - that really threatens them.
That’s a nice thought . . . but I doubt it.
In fact, I think al Queda and the Islamofascist movement is counting on the US to be soft and indecisive as always. That way they can continue to bully the weak and illegitimate governments of the Middle East and subjugate the people who live there. If optimism and idealism is such a threat to Arab fundamentalism then how come they want to eliminate Israel? Not because they are a fun-loving people.
We will earn the respect of the people and leaders in the Middle east by standing up to the fascists and meeting their terror "operations" with overwhelming military force. And that is what will give hope to the ordinary people of Syria, and Iraq and Saudi Arabia who want their children to live in peace and prosperity. The dictators who lead them now have totally failed to deliver these two fundamental conditions.
As for the Europeans, they're really not playing geopolitics with a strong hand. They are economically and militarily weak. They have no vision for the future besides maintaining the status quo. It's pretty obvious that France is totally miscast as a permanent member of the Security Council in the 21st century. What this conflict vividly demonstrates is that France and every other Western European nation save Britain is now occupying the second tier of influence in the world.
I disagree with Friedman. The Bush agenda of bringing revolutionary change to the dysfunctional Middle East and replacing authoritarian governments with open and tolerant societies is based entirely on American optimism . . . and that's exactly what the Euros and terrorists are afraid of.