Friday, December 29, 2006

The End

News outlets are reporting that Saddam has been executed. I watched Alan Colmes and others argue tonight that executing him was unnecessary, that he was no longer a threat to the Iraqi people, that the U.S. had him in custody and that it would be best to just move on and let him languish in prison.

This, in my opinion, is naive.

Suppose the Democrats were successful in getting the United States to withdraw from Iraq by the end of this summer. What would we have done with Saddam? He would have surely been turned over to Iraqi forces and that would have increased the chances that somehow he would be freed. Those who want to see him returned to power would have been given new hope that he might yet survive and be released to regain his seat as head of the Iraqi state, and with that hope there would have been a renewed commitment to topple the government that we left behind.

Indeed, if we pull out too soon the Iraqi government will almost certainly fall, and, depending upon who got to him first, Saddam would be either sprung from prison or shot dead in his cell. If the former, this psychopathic killer would be seen by the Arab world as invincible, almost mythic in his indestructability, chosen by Allah to lead the Arab world against their enemies, both Muslim and non-Muslim. To what horrors would that lead?

Moreover, as long as Saddam was alive many Iraqis would have been reluctant to openly support the new government for fear that he would somehow be returned to power and punish those who collaborated with the government that succeeded him.

Executing Saddam was not only an act of justice, it was an act of manifest prudence. The Iraqi government did what they had to do.


Tonight's the Night

Evidently Saddam will sometime tonight be sent to stand before God to give an account for the horrors he inflicted on so many hundreds of thousands of people during his reign of terror. Sic semper tyrannus.


George Weigel's Best Five

Catholic writer George Weigel lists for the Wall Street Journal what he considers to be the five best books for understanding Christianity. They are:

1. The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church Edited by F.L. Cross and E.A. Livingstone (Oxford University, 1997).

2. Jesus Through the Centuries by Jaroslav Pelikan (Yale University, 1985).

3. The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, translated by Dorothy L. Sayers (Penguin Classics, 1949, 1955, 1957).

4. The Challenge of Jesus by N.T. Wright (InterVarsity, 1999).

5. The Sources of Christian Ethics by Servais Pinckaers, O.P. (Catholic University of America, 1995).

Weigel comments on each of his selections at the link.

Speaking of books, Touchstone offers a pretty good satire on Border's, oops, ... I mean Belial's. It opens with this:

The other day I poked my nose into a store run by one of the nation's two great booksellers: Belial's. As I rummaged through the aisles, I found myself growing testy and irritated, and that made me wonder -- why, when I used to love drowning an hour or two in a bookstore, do I hate going there now? What is it about Belial's (and his rival Beelzebub's) that makes the flesh creep?

Not all bookstore's fit Touchstone's description, of course. We like a cozy little shop in York Co. called Hearts and Minds. Try them.

By the way, I'll be posting my own twenty favorite reads for 2006 on Viewpoint early next week.


The War Against the West

A reader points out that we must be careful when we condemn the Muslim perpetrators of atrocities not to give the impression that we are condemning all Muslims or all of Islam. It's not fair, he argues, to criticize Muslims as a whole for the actions of a relative minority of extremists. He's right, of course. When we condemn Islamic terrorism we don't mean to imply that all Muslims are terrorists. On the other hand, it must be added that there is far more guilt borne by the Muslim community than just that incurred by the killers.

Mark Steyn in his excellent book America Alone: The End of the World as We Know It, describes the shared responsibility of Muslims by pointing out that surrounding the killers are a series of concentric rings that he describes this way:

...the terrorist bent on devastation and destruction prowls the streets, while around him are a significant number of people urging him on, and around them are a larger group of cocksure young male co-religionists gleefully celebrating mass musrder, and around them a much larger group of "moderates" who stand silent at the acts committed in their name, and around them a mesh of religious and community leaders openly inciting treason against the state, and around them another mesh of religious and community leaders who serve as apologists for the inciters, and around them a network of professional identity-group grievance-mongers adamant that they're the real victims, and around them a vast mass of elite opinion in the media and elsewhere too sqeamish about ethno-cultural matters to confront reality, and around them a political establishment desperate to pretend this is just a mangerial problem that can be finessed away with a few new laws and a bit of community outreach.

It's these insulating circles...the imams, lobby groups, media, bishops, politicians - that bulk up the loser death-cult and make it a potent force.

Whatever the thickness of that outermost ring of Muslims, it is as relevant, or irrelevant, to the discussion of the war against Islamism as the general run of German people were during WWII. When someone observes that we were fighting the Germans and the Japanese in the early forties everyone knows what is meant. It doesn't mean that there weren't Germans and Japanese who deplored what their governments had done, it doesn't mean that there weren't Germans and Japanese who didn't see themselves as our enemy, rather it means that those who had power, the fascists who determined the course of events, acted on behalf of all German and Japanese citizens whether those citizens wanted them to or not. It means, too, that a citizen whose allegiance was to the states with which we were at war was presumably an enemy until he demonstrated otherwise. Moreover, many of those Germans and Japanese who deplored the war their governments pushed upon them nevertheless hoped for victory over the United States. They would have been delighted had their military won and they were despondent when they lost.

Likewise, those in the umma who have the power today act on behalf of all of Islam, especially since much of Islam acquiesces in silence to their atrocities. There are, I'm sure, Muslims in that outer ring who do not see themselves as our enemy, mostly Sufis I suspect, but their innocence doesn't negate the fact that we are at war with Islam today in the same sense that we were at war with Germany in 1943.

Just as it was the Nazis who were our specific enemy in Europe even though the war was against the nation of Germany, so today it is the Islamofascists who are our specific enemy now. Yet the foe is much broader than just those who blow up trains and behead innocent Americans. It extends to everyone, American citizen or not, who supports, in word, deed, or thought, the effort to impose Islam by force on the non-Islamic world.

Not all of those who are arrayed against us will resort to violence, of course, and thus violence should not be used against them. To be sure, against some we must fight with bullets, but against others we must fight with economic measures and against others we must fight with ideas. The important thing, though, is that we see the urgency of the conflict we are in and the necessity of fighting. For we are certainly fighting for our survival.