Posted by aogMonday, 17 February 2003 at 16:45
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My friend the Intrepid Girl Reporter sent me the following from her travels in the Middle East:
Jaffah [son of a Jordanian politician] spent much of the flight from Doha trying to explain to me how Arabs feel about this threatened war with Iraq. He, an educated and reasonable person, is absolutely convinced that Bush is launching a religions crusade to eliminate Islam. I told him that I didn't believe that had anything to do with it, though oil and a family vendetta certainly play a role. He was not persuaded, pointing out Bush's conservative Christian beliefs and roots. He was genuinely puzzled that I couldn't see it; I couldn't persuade him, no matter how I tried, that it wasn't true. With those kind of beliefs in the region, the U.S. faces hard times ahead, a lot harder than just confronting Iraq.
My thought was that Jaffah doesn't really believe this, but is simply mouthing the official line (he is a politician's son, after all, talking to a journalist). On the other hand perhaps this belief is real and common. After all, I believe that such a crusade is exactly what they
would do if they had President Bush's power and beliefs. Here we see something that's unique in the West, a general acceptance of the "turnabout is fair play" world view. Everything I've read indicates that most Muslims see nothing strange at all about it being OK for Islam to wage global jihad to eliminate or enslave all other reliions while at the same time being completely offended at the idea that any other religion would do the same thing. It's difficult to see how societies in which this meme isn't prevelant among the population can ever successfully adapt to technologically advance multi-cultural living. That's not to say that everyone in a society must always rigorously apply this "rule of law" but it is necessary for most people to be at least familiar with the concept. As far as I can tell, the Arab culture would consider the idea both unfamiliar and bizarre, and the intersection of Arab and Muslim culture is even worse. So, yes, the conquest of Iraq will be the easy part for the US.