Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Breeding Ground 1

The lie that is repeated frequently enough and remains unchallenged becomes a kind of “truth”, accepted as fact by vast majorities despite its quite evident falsehood.
One such popular lie is the constant refrain from the “mainstream” media and the political left that “there was no link between Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and al Qaeda.” Another is the assertion that the liberation of Iraq has radicalized the Islamic world, and that Iraq has become a “breeding ground” for terrorism. Let’s consider the latter prevarication first.
On Bastille Day last week, the Pew Global Attitudes Project released a global survey covering 17 nations, six of them countries with a Muslim majority. The summary report is entitled “Islamic Extremism: Common Concern for Muslim and Western Publics” and is subtitled “Support for Terror Wanes Among Muslim Publics”. (Remember that subtitle; we’ll return to it in just a moment). The report was widely, if not deeply, covered by the BBC News in “Support for Bin Laden ‘Declining’”, by the Chicago Sun Times in “Support for Osama is Waning”, by the Christian Science Monitor in “Poll: Muslims’ Support for bin Laden Falls” subtitled “Global Study Also Finds Sharp Decline in Support of Suicide Bombings”, by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel in “Terrorism Support in Muslim Nations Wanes” and in the International Herald Tribune and the New York Times in “Muslim Approval of Terrorism Declines, a Global Poll Finds”. Yet paradoxically not a single one of these sources draws the obvious conclusion from the data – a conclusion which would contradict the notion that many of them, if not all, have championed: that the liberation of Iraq has radicalized the Islamic world, and that Iraq has become a “breeding ground” for terrorism. If support for terrorism has declined precipitously in Islamic nations during the past two years – the very two years in which Iraq has been liberated – how can it possibly be radicalizing Islam? Isn’t it instead moderating Islam?
In September of 2002, six months prior to the invasion of Iraq, in Lebanon 73% of the surveyed public believed that suicide bombings or “violence against civilian targets” were often or sometimes justified. Today this support has declined to 39%, while those who believe such acts are never justified has nearly tripled from 12% to 33%, and those who believe these attacks are “rarely justified” has doubled from 9% to 19%. This is radicalization?
In Pakistan, in September of 2002, 33% believed that “violence against civilian targets” was often or sometimes justified. Today, 25% do – in the land of the madrassas. Those who believe such violence is rarely justified have nearly quadrupled, from 5% to 19%. And those who believe it is never justified have increased from 38% to 46%. This, in the nation that nurtured the Taliban and sponsored Kashmiri “insurgents.” This is breeding terror?
In Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic majority country, in September of 2002, 27% believed that “violence against civilian targets” was often or sometimes justified. Today, 15% believe so, while those who believe it is never justified have risen from 54% to 66%.
Likewise, in Morocco, where in March 2004 (no 2002 survey was performed) 40% believed that “violence against civilian targets” was often or sometimes justified, while today just 13% agree. Those who believe it is never justified have doubled from 38% to 79%.
As even the New York Times admits – without, however, drawing the obvious conclusion --“support for terrorism, including suicide bombings, has declined substantially in several Muslim countries in the past two years . . . . [I]n almost all of the Muslim countries where the poll was taken, including Turkey, Indonesia, Pakistan and Morocco, there was less support for suicide bombing as a means to defend Islam against its enemies than there had been in past years. The only exception was Jordan.” (As the Christian Science Monitor’s Tom Regan points out, Jordan, with a “large Sunni Arab population has close ties with Iraq’s Sunni minority” right next door.)
The Pew Global Attitudes Project – co-chaired by none other than Clinton Secretary of State Madeleine Albright – summarizes its findings by observing that “concerns over Islamic extremism, extensive in the West even before this month’s terrorist attacks in London, are shared to a considerable degree by the publics in several predominantly Muslim nations surveyed. Nearly three-quarters of Moroccans and roughly half of those in Pakistan, Turkey and Indonesia see Islamic extremism as a threat to their countries. At the same time, most Muslim publics are expressing less support for terrorism than in the past. Confidence in Osama bin Laden has declined markedly in some countries and fewer believe suicide bombings that target civilians are justified in the defense of Islam.”
There is a slight caveat to our conclusion. As the International Herald Tribune and New York Times carefully note, “the percentage of people in Muslim countries saying that suicide bombings against Americans and other Westerners in Iraq were justified was far higher, with 24 percent in Turkey, 29 percent in Pakistan, 49 percent in Jordan and 56 percent in Morocco approving of such methods.” But the Times admits that “even so, those figures represented declines in most of the countries surveyed.”
It is true that Iraq continues to attract great numbers of FascIslamic jihadists, particularly across the Syrian border, where the Baathist government of Bashar Assad aids and abets the terror. But the survey evidence clearly indicates that Iraq is not a “breeding ground” for terrorists. It is a killing ground.

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