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November 05, 2007

Hitchens on Jihad-Deniers

A great piece, though I'm a little biased because he makes a point I've been making for a while.

I call your attention to the front-page report in the Oct. 30 New York Times in which David Rohde, writing from the Afghan town of Gardez, tells of a new influx of especially vicious foreign fighters. Describing it as the largest such infiltration since 2001, Rohde goes on to say, "The foreign fighters are not only bolstering the ranks of the insurgency. They are more violent, uncontrollable and extreme than even their locally bred allies." They also, it seems, favor those Taliban elements who are more explicitly allied with al-Qaida, and bring with them cash and resources with which to sabotage, for example, the opening of schools in the southern provinces around Kandahar.

Now, if this were a report from Iraq, we would be hearing that it was all our own fault and that the Bin Ladenists would not be in that country at all if it were not for the coalition presence. It's practically an article of faith among liberals that only the folly of the intervention made Iraq into a magnet and a training or recruiting ground for our foes. One of the difficulties with this shallow and glib analysis is that it fails to explain Afghanistan and, in fact, fails to explain it twice.

We have fairly convincing evidence that a majority of Afghans do not, at the very least, oppose the presence of NATO forces on their soil....

I mention all this because there is no way to argue that the Taliban, either local or imported, is the product of some grievance or injustice or root cause. Its gangs are, instead, primitive fanatics making war on a Muslim society. And they are not there only because "we" are there. We know this because, long before "we" got there, they were in effective control of large parts of the place and had turned a terrorized and stultified land into a springboard and incubator for transnational nihilism. Bad as things may be now, they were infinitely worse when we ourselves were being isolationist.

After all, if the usual peacenik logic were to be pursued, and it was to be assumed that "we" are chiefly responsible for magnetizing "them," then it would follow that if we were to leave, they would either give up or go elsewhere. Is there anybody who can be brought to believe anything so fatuous? Well, then, if this logic is self-evidently false in the case of Afghanistan, why should it be any more persuasive in the case of Iraq?

Read the whole thing, as the man says.

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posted by Ace at 06:52 PM

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