Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Gya: Letter to the editor

The writer does a better assessment than any I've seen on the editorial pages anywhere.

IRAQ is not so much "George W. Bush's Vietnam," according to U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy (Dem. - Mass.), as much as it is Osama bin Laden's dream that it becomes "America's Afghanistan."

It must be an irony of sorts for Senator Kennedy to recently make such an assertion, knowing that American troops went to Vietnam at a time when a Democratic President was in office, to stop the spread of communism before it reached America's front door. After thousands of American soldiers were lost in the effort, a Republican President reluctantly pulled American troops.

This came to be seen as an American defeat. Still, America went on to enhance its military and economic status as a successful superpower for the next three decades.

But while Senator Kennedy may have irked Republicans, and enjoyed his "fifteen minutes" of fame in the headline news with his remark, it is Osama bin Laden who could wind up lasting longer in the headline news if American troops keep dying in Iraq and American voters, like their Spanish counterparts, turn the major loss of American soldiers and civilians at the hands of terrorists in Iraq as a reason to change their government in November.

And bin Laden would not like anything better than to see a President John Kerry pull American troops out of Iraq. Why?

After the Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan at the tail end of the Cold War, bin Laden was one of the principal figures among the American-backed forces that stoutly resisted the Soviets' advance.

A decade later, the Soviets decided to cut their losses, which were major, and withdraw from Afghanistan. This came to be seen as a Soviet defeat. Not long after this, the great Union of Soviet Socialist Republics collapsed, taking down with it all the surrounding satellite states that supported its superpower status.

With the Soviet Union down, bin Laden wasted no time, as he turned his attention to the United States. At the dawning of the New Millennium, he boasted that just as he was instrumental in defeating the powerful Soviet Union in Afghanistan and watching its eventual collapse, he could do the same thing to the United States. So he continued, through his al Qaeda outfit made up of hardened Muslim fighters, his string of orchestrated terrorist attacks against America and America's foreign interests and allies, of which "9/11" was his biggest trophy.

By tapping into his fellow Arabs' religious fervor, he found a common, fertile ground to sow his seeds of "righteous anger and hatred" of "infidels" (unbelievers of the Islamic faith) to end America's economic ties to the oil-rich Arab region, because Arab societies were being negatively influenced by the "evils" of the "Great Satan" (America). Religion, not poverty, is at the heart of the terrorists' attacks. If poverty were the true cause, then all the Arab governments, and especially those close to America, would have been overthrown by now by Arab terrorists.

More than that, bin Laden felt that if he severed America's economic ties in the region, this would greatly reduce its role and influence there, making Israel ripe and vulnerable for an all-out Arab attack to drive Israel out of the region.

Today, those seeds have become trees bearing bitter and deadly fruits that the world is now witnessing and is being forced to eat in the form of deadly terrorist attacks.

Many of the insurgents now responsible for the lethal ambush attacks against coalition forces in Iraq are turning out to be nationals from other Arab nations, such as Syria, Jordan and Iran. How could this not be the result of bin Laden's 'jihad' to engage his Muslim brothers to help defeat America, the same way the Soviet Union was defeated and went on to collapse?

When we couple that naked ambition to the fact that certain European nations are quietly hedging against the United States, just to ensure the European Union becomes a counterbalance to America, then America's status is definitely under serious threat. Could the withdrawal of American forces from Iraq signal America's defeat, and lead the principal supporters of its superpower status to withdraw their support, thereby triggering America's collapse as a superpower?

Not to be left out in this bold bid, too, are remnants of the failed global communist system, which would also badly want to see America tumble. NewsMax.com reported on March 16 last that during a visit to Iran in May, 2001, Cuba's Fidel Castro said, "The peoples and governments of Cuba and Iran can bring America to its knees." Is this an expansion of the axis?

While this is a powerful eye-opener as to the extent to which forces opposed to the United States are going in their bid to topple America, Osama bin Laden remains the principal figure who may turn out to be a hero, in a backhanded sense, to his Arab brethren, the anti-American Europeans, and the communist remnants in our world if Bush loses in November and Kerry is forced to pull American troops out of Iraq.

Kerry is talking about getting other nations involved in Iraq, but he does not realize that bin Laden is not prepared to settle for any foreigners - U.S. or UN - on Arab soil. So even if he wins in November he already has his work cut out, and it might be - to use a Jimmy Carter line - like trying to sow a button on a pie. The question, and perhaps the best possible interim solution, might be to catch bin Laden, dead or alive, before November and possibly take the sting out of the attacks. The only long-term drawback is, even if he is caught dead or alive before November, will a thousand more like him rise up?
Emile Mervin,
Brooklyn, New York

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