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Thursday, September 20, 2007

The bogus threat of "radical Islam"

I love this columnist. Sometimes he talks about economics and gets it all wrong, and then he discusses foreign policy and gets it all right. (he did this back in May, as well).

Today's lesson: keep the "Islamic threat" in perspective. This is not your daddy's Cold War:

The collapse of the Soviet empire deprived us of what had been a central part of our political identity...That opposition helped define us, and its disappearance left a void.

Most of us soon got over the feelings of drift. But some people have dealt with the loss in another way -- by casting themselves in a grand revival of Armageddon. In this case, it's a titanic war against radical Islam, which often sounds like a war between Islam and the West.

This enemy, we are told, is the heir of communism and Nazism, which President Bush often invokes to justify staying in Iraq.

How far off the mark are these fomentors of wars? Let's look at some of the comparisons wrought between our modern enemies and those totalitarians we've previously cast down:
Start with Saddam Hussein, who was often compared to Hitler -- though his army, quite unlike the Wehrmacht, dissolved on contact with the U.S. military. His Iraq was secular, not Islamist, and if he posed a danger, it was to his neighbors, not to Western civilization.
But what about Osama, he's bad...
Osama bin Laden must rejoice to be depicted as endangering our entire culture and way of life. His movement has failed to gain power in a single country even in the Islamic world, and he hasn't been able to carry out an attack on American soil in over six years.
Almost every sentence in this piece is worth quoting, so I'll finish with Chapman's conclusion:
Radical Islamic elements pose a danger to our security that will demand vigilance, resources and, in some instances, military action. But let's not make it more than it is.
Mr. Chapman for Secretary of State (and as far from Treasury as we can keep him...)

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