Ralph Peters | 11.08.2003 22:21
But it is possible to recognize that the majority of the lower-rank terrorists whose lives their overlords throw away so callously have been set up psychologically by the corruption and hopelessness of their societies.
And those societies have been wrecked by Arabs and other Muslims to whom we cling as partners and whom we even imagine to be our friends.
From North Africa through Arabia's sands to Kashmir, those with whom we do business, upon whom we rely for advice and assurances of stability, with whom we have dinner and play golf - these are the very creatures who have stolen everything they could steal from their own people, who have ravaged educational systems, looted treasuries, corrupted institutions, tortured and murdered populist opponents and turned once-promising states into financial and moral basket cases.
Corruption and hypocrisy may be elements of the human condition, but Arab elites have developed them to a superhuman extreme. If they could, they would steal the air itself and charge the poor for breathing.
The little guy hasn't got a chance in the Middle East, and America should always be on the side of the little guy. Instead, we've given Arab fat cats a license to kill, steal - and betray us.
Even the Saudi delight in funding anti-Western murderers and the regional habit of allowing terrorists to slip through phony dragnets amount to symptoms, not the disease itself.
Yes, we want that 20-year-old terrorist dead or imprisoned. But we are naive and self-defeating if we simply continue to pick off terrorists in ones and twos, or even in hundreds, without recognizing that the very people whom we have embraced in Middle Eastern societies have created the environment in which terror thrives. And those same pals of ours have done their best to deflect all blame onto us.
We have looked away as the few destroyed the chances of the many, as the greedy ground the impoverished into the dirt. Now we are paying a price not for what we have done to Muslims, but for what we have failed to do.
Until the recent war against Saddam's regime, we never stood up for freedom in the Arab world.
We have consistently tolerated or supported those who said the right things to us, who signed the oil contracts, who promised to keep things quiet - and who made a mockery of every value our nation professes.
Our reward? Terror. But the truth is that we should be astonished that there is so little anti-American terrorism, given how long, how dishonestly and how virulently our supposed friends preached their theology of blame to local audiences.
As our political and business partners bankrupted their countries and created stagnant societies careless of human wastage, they accused us. They stole, and said we did it.
They bought mansions in the south of France, in London and Aspen, then told their people that Egyptians and Palestinians lived in hovels because America had stolen the wealth due to them - with the help of Zionist conspirators.
Our willingness to trust those who smile and pick up the dinner tab in Riyadh or Washington has been a bipartisan sin - and a national disgrace. Hillary Clinton embraced Madame Arafat and Pakistan's peerlessly corrupt Benazir Bhutto. Both Presidents Bush refused - and continue to refuse - to acknowledge the vicious strategic agenda of the Saudi royal family.
Administrations from both parties bribed Hosni Mubarak with billions of dollars in aid while his cronies robbed Egypt into destitution. From the Straits of Gibraltar to the Himalayas, we have sold our nation's soul to second-rate devils for small change.
Future historians will regard our groveling at the feet of Saudi bigots and whoremongers as the equivalent of down-market strippers dancing for drunkards' tips.
The present administration has done an admirable job of waging the immediate, tactical fight against terrorism. But we will never achieve an enduring strategic victory until we recognize how cheaply Democrats, Republicans and corporate America have sold out to those who damn us from their pulpits behind our backs, insisting that the only hope for Islam is to destroy Israel and America.
Why isn't there a serious bipartisan outcry to expose Saudi misdeeds? Why do we get nothing but pro forma, made-for-the-microphone complaints from both sides of the aisle?
Because both political parties are horrified at the thought of the Saudis revealing what they know about us, about the sweetheart deals, the retainers-for-nothing, the inflated contracts and the appalling shabbiness of politicians, businessmen and lobbyists willing to look away from human suffering, injustice and the deepest roots of terror in exchange for a game of tennis with Prince Bandar.
We have unleashed a great wave of change in the Middle East. But we will never make decisive progress against terror until we address the underlying causes - and stop supporting the smiling thieves who rob their own people then ask us out to lunch.
For all the blood on his hands, Osama has higher ethical standards than our Arab "friends."