Right Thinking From The Left Coast
You will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life - Albert Camus


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Permanent Vacation

Following up on this post from yesterday about the new American embassy in Iraq, I have some thoughts on why this is so damn important.  I think this is more a psychological thing than anything else.  Yes, there are some practical considerations like making it a defensible, self-contained center.  But consider this, from a PBS interview with Osama bin Laden in 1998.

After our victory in Afghanistan and the defeat of the oppressors who had killed millions of Muslims, the legend about the invincibility of the superpowers vanished. Our boys no longer viewed America as a superpower. So, when they left Afghanistan, they went to Somalia and prepared themselves carefully for a long war. They had thought that the Americans were like the Russians, so they trained and prepared. They were stunned when they discovered how low was the morale of the American soldier. America had entered with 30,000 soldiers in addition to thousands of soldiers from different countries in the world. ... As I said, our boys were shocked by the low morale of the American soldier and they realized that the American soldier was just a paper tiger. He was unable to endure the strikes that were dealt to his army, so he fled, and America had to stop all its bragging and all that noise it was making in the press after the Gulf War in which it destroyed the infrastructure and the milk and dairy industry that was vital for the infants and the children and the civilians and blew up dams which were necessary for the crops people grew to feed their families. Proud of this destruction, America assumed the titles of world leader and master of the new world order. After a few blows, it forgot all about those titles and rushed out of Somalia in shame and disgrace, dragging the bodies of its soldiers. America stopped calling itself world leader and master of the new world order, and its politicians realized that those titles were too big for them and that they were unworthy of them. I was in Sudan when this happened. I was very happy to learn of that great defeat that America suffered, so was every Muslim.

This is the impression that the Arab world has had of us for the past 30 years or so, that if they just fight back enough we will turn and run, that the US is a paper tiger.  Well, here in Baghdad we’re building a massive monument to show them that not only is the US not a paper tiger, but that we’re not leaving anytime soon, that we as a nation can withstand any low-level attacks that you might make against our soldiers and/or our interests, and that we have the ability to build the most modern, obviously-western structure in the country, big enough to dwarf some of Saddam’s palaces, and we can make it so that your bombs won’t be able to reach it.

From a psychological standpoint, that’s a hell of a message to be sending. It’s exactly the message we should be sending, that no matter how many short term tactical victories you may achieve, you will NEVER achieve your strategic goals.  “You fuckers had your chance at democracy, and you blew it.  You seem to only respond to strong leaders.  Alright, here you go.  You want a strong leader?  We’re the biggest, baddest, strongest fucking leaders in the world.  Try attacking this building, you pricks.  You can cut the water, you can cut the power, you can do whatever you like.  You’re not going to hurt us one bit, we’re self-contained.  The only thing you’re going to do is hurt the Iraqi people.  So hit us with your best shot, the only thing you’re going to do is make us look all the better.”

Bush might not do a lot of things right these days, but he’s absolutely right about this.

Posted by Lee on 04/15/06 at 02:31 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil • Permalink

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