Who’s Afraid, and Who Should Be

The bombings in Baghdad and Jerusalem have this in common: the perpetrators are afraid. And they should be.

The bombings in Baghdad and Jerusalem have this in common: the perpetrators are afraid. And they should be.

Iraq has become a battleground for the forces that fear democratic, liberal society and fear a populace that can make its own decisions about dress, education, civil rights and who leads them. These forces are willing to kill the liberators, kill the NGO and UN staff, kill the civilians who would benefit from liberation, and kill themselves. They are desperate to stop the coalition and the Iraqi Governing Council from proving that Moslem and Arab people are capable of participating in the same sort of enlightened society in the Middle East under which so many of them thrive in the West. Because if Iraq is on our side of the civilizational divide, there is no need for the violent Islamic forces that benefit dictators and ideologues at the expense of the people.

Iraq is the nexus now of terrorists and the states that harbor and support them. Terrorists need the attributes states provide – territory, money, passports and refuge. They are moving in now from Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia to make a stand, to try to force the U.S. out, because if they lose this one, they lose the principle that they can operate as parasites on a national body.

In Israel, the fight is, of course, the same. Palestinian radicals kill women, children, each other and themselves in a desperate effort to force governments to deal with them – and them only. To whatever extent Abu Mazen wants to cooperate with Israel, he is pulled the other way by people who don’t want him to – starting with Yasser Arafat, the chief terrorist desperate to remain relevant.

In that sense, it isn’t Germany or Japan. Both countries were defeated, and while there were assassinations and terrorism in Germany long after the war, the leadership was destroyed. Part of the function of the Nuremburg Trials was to ensure that the German people understood that Nazi leadership faced Allied justice – by 1946 those guys were hanged.

In Iraq and for the Palestinians, the U.S. is determined to provide economic and political freedoms for the people. But reconstruction requires that the Iraqi people participate in the process, and the Palestinian future requires the same of the Palestinian people. In neither case can people make decisions about their lives while they are afraid of retribution. PA summary executions of “collaborators” and the bombing of the new Iraqi police academy make it clear that terrorists will kill their “brothers” as well as others to continue their rule. The U.S. or Israel cannot accept that their people will be sacrificed to the forces of evil to keep these processes just alive enough to be attacked another day.

It is time to go after the terrorist leadership. For Israel, Arafat and Rantisi have to pay. For the coalition in Iraq, reconstruction has to wait until the borders are sealed and Syria, Iran and Saudi Arabia understand the limits of our patience with their support of terrorism. We have the ability; we must have the will to make them realize their fears.