Monday, December 17, 2007

"Peace For Our Time," or "Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat" That Lead to Peace?

The year 2007 is winding down. It's been a big year.
  • Cries to set a date for abandoning Iraq are fading as it becomes embarrassingly obvious that Coalition forces and Iraqis are succeeding in rooting out Al Qaeda in that country.
  • "Islamic" wisdom and justice has been on display, in cases like the "Girl from Qatif" and her male companion who were raped - and therefore convicted to imprisonment and lashes.
  • The many facets of Muslim culture and sensitive infidels brought us
  • Presidential election campaigns are recycling the usual nincompoopery ("Here Come the Weird Words: Election's Coming Up!," "Watch for Weird Words: Election's Coming Up!").
That American election concerns me. First, as an American, I'll need to select a candidate from a somewhat unpromising field. Second, as someone living on Earth, I'll have to live with the decisions that the winner makes.

I think that the most immediate, and critical, foreign policy issue for America - and every other country - is the War on Terror.

On the one hand, religious fanatics have a clear vision of the sort of world they want: one in which Islam is safe from blasphemous teddy bears; and where rape victims face the lash and imprisonment (I know: the Saudi King pardoned the "Girl from Qatif" today - there'll be more on that in another post).

On the other hand, I see a western civilization with a distressing unwillingness to recognize that radical Islam isn't an issue that can be solved with encounter groups and an increase in tolerance.

In my opinion, Islamic leaders will have to decide whether they want the Islam of honor killings, or whether they're willing to wrench their beliefs loose from ancient Middle Eastern cultural norms.

I also believe that western leaders must seriously re-think the sort of radical individualism and secularism that has soaked into every fiber of western culture.

And we need to recognize that the War on Terror
  • Isn't limited to a few countries in the Middle East
  • Probably won't be over for many years (or, likely enough, many decades)
  • Won't be over until an enormous amount of work is done in both Muslim and non-Muslim cultures
The good news is that hard-nosed, clear-eyed leaders do appear now and again. Over sixty years ago, England had such a leader. I'm going to end this post with the end of Winston Churchill's first speech as Prime Minister to the House of Commons.

I hope that America gets a leader with this combination of guts and brains. Soon.

"... I would say to the House, as I said to those who have joined this government: 'I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.'

"We have before us an ordeal of the most grievous kind. We have before us many, many long months of struggle and of suffering.

"You ask, what is our policy? I can say: It is to wage war, by sea, land and air, with all our might and with all the strength that God can give us; to wage war against a monstrous tyranny, never surpassed in the dark, lamentable catalogue of human crime. That is our policy.

"You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.

"Let that be realised; no survival for the British Empire, no survival for all that the British Empire has stood for, no survival for the urge and impulse of the ages, that mankind will move forward towards its goal.

"But I take up my task with buoyancy and hope. I feel sure that our cause will not be suffered to fail among men. At this time I feel entitled to claim the aid of all, and I say, "come then, let us go forward together with our united strength."

(Quote from The Churchill Centre (
Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat
First Speech as Prime Minister, May 13, 1940, to House of Commons.)

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.