The Right Coast

May 09, 2004
Andrew needs an ambien
By Tom Smith

Andrew Sullivan spent a sleepness night over Abu Ghraib, while I on the other hand, slept fine. True, I had spent some time soaking in the spa and playing with four boys and two dogs in the pool, and watched Master and Commander on the new TV, not to mention drinking a Stone Pale Ale, so I was ready.

Yes, the reports of what went on in that prison are awful. The report that US soldiers actually videotaped Iraqi children getting raped by Iraqi soldiers is, well, what can you say? Obviously, we have a big house in Kansas for those miscreants. But the fact is, none of the revelations change a thing. Yes, it is a great propaganda victory for our enemies, from Paris to Iraq to North Korea. The New Yorker is in a veritable orgasm of glee. It is their favorite kind of scandal. In the feel-think the soft left seems to specialize in, it somehow entails that the US should crawl out of Iraq, turn it over to the UN kleptocracy, elect Mr. Heinz Kerry to the White House, and perhaps go to sensitivity camps to learn about why the world hates us. And poor Andrew Sullivan is up all night wringing his hands.

Some commentators have made the obvious but still worth making points that this scandal exists only because Americans are held to higher standards than Arabs. When Palestinian thugs murder a woman's children in front of her and then the mother it's just part of the cycle of violence. When Saddam murders thousands it doesn't merit notice. It's a tough old world out there.

I suppose some of this is Bush's fault for stressing the nation-building dimension of our invasion of Iraq. Building a democracy in Iraq, however, is just a means to an end, the end being to increase US national security. Tedious to repeat, but we find ourselves in a war against a peculiar enemy. History is just so weird. Who would have thunk that after World War I, the Germans would come under the sway of an ideology that held, among other things, that the race of Aryans (who descended from a pure, white stock from the Himalayas or thereabouts) was the master race, and was being polluted by nefarious, sexually over-powered Jews, and that in order to restore said master race, lots of room had to be cleared out in Europe; then their wonderful culture, which included such things as psychic powers only pure-blooded Aryans had, could blossom again (as it had once in the mysterious land of Thule) under a thousand year Reich? Those darn Nazis! They were just nuts! But it was no joke, of course, or at least not the funny kind. America in the 1940's was no perfect bargain. Jim Crow laws. Lynchings. Don't even ask about prisons. Yet, still not much of a case for irradiating the testicles of Jewish boys, murdering all Gypsies, mentally retarded people, disabled people, dissident Christians, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Here's the thing about the islamo-fascists, or whatever you want to call them--and we still need a good name. They are, not to put too fine a point on it, nuts. Evil and nuts. Their fantasy doesn't involve an Aryan master race or the land of Thule, but it might as well. Curiously, they hate Jews and Christians just like the Nazis did. (What is it about Jews and Christians?) But instead of exterminating people on the basis of race, they want to exterminate people on the basis of religion, so they can establish not a thousand year Reich, but some fantasy medieval theocracy where the men read the Koran and the women wear those parachute-thingies. Bizarre, I know. There is this strong Western, liberal tendency to downplay the irrational in history. It must really be about America's injustices in the third world, or capitalism, or inequality or something. But no, it's because they're nuts. Evil and nuts. A bad combination. But, needless to say, we can't let them win, and we aren't going to let them win. One hopes it won't take a Soviet-era thermonuclear device destroying Dallas or Tampa to convince Americans that there is no alternative to very thoroughly defeating this particular monster that has slithered out of the ideological fever swamps of the Middle East. Tony Blair got it exactly right in his speech. Of course the terrorists would have killed 3 million instead of 3 thousand, if they had the technology. I guess we should be grateful they're from the slums of Baghdad and not the suburbs of Munich. But the technology exists and conceivably could be bought. After it comes to that, or before, Americans will pull together, rise up and smash this threat to our existence. It would be better for all concerned if it is before.

So yes, by all means, we should punish the torturer-miscreants of Abu Ghraib. The highways of Kansas can always use more crushed stone. But unless our enemies undergo some spontaneous mental regeneration, which seems unlikely, we still have to defeat them. Andrew should get some sleep. He's going to need it.