the psychosis of muslim failure

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    The psychosis of Muslim failure has spread to the West, By Mark Steyn

    Last weekend was going pretty swimmingly for me. All over the TV, the news shows reported on the "peace" demonstrations "sweeping" America, though you couldn't help noticing the cameras always stayed in tight, no wide shots, just close-ups in some cases, because there were only six "peace" lovers present; in others, to avoid showing the vast numbers of nutters.

    In Washington, where the pro-Pol Pot, pro-Tiananmen bloodbath Stalinists of ANSWER were running things, the off-the-graph leftism tended to the dour and earnest.

    In San Francisco, the mood was more eclectic, and not just because of the "Transs*e*x*u*a*l Vegan Lesbian Epidemiologist Punk For Peace" (really). The sign designers had put a lot of effort into detailed retouching of photographs: Dick Cheney was der F hrer ("already in his bunker"), but so was Bush ("Stop The Bus*h*i*t*ler"). There was a sign saying: "The Difference Between Bush And Saddam Is That Saddam Was Elected."

    Yes, indeed. No hanging chads in Halabja. There was an Uncle Sam recruiting slogan: "I Want YOU To Die For Israel. Israel Sings Onward Christian Soldiers."

    One woman marched under the slogan "This Bush Is For Peace," accompanied by a picture of ...well, let's not get into that. In a similar vein, another lady waxed eloquent: "Trim Bush." Conspicuously absent were even the pro-forma denunciations of Saddam "Of course, I want to see Saddam removed, but..."

    As John Le Carre put it in The Times of London, "I would love to see Saddam's downfall just not on Bush's terms and not by his methods. And not under the banner of such outrageous hypocrisy." The enemy of my enemy is my real enemy.

    Thus, the main planks of the anti-war platform: It's not all about oil, it's also about Hitler, the Florida recount, dying for those devious Jews, and letting me show you my pubic hair. The much-invoked Gandhi managed to get through a demo without whipping his loincloth off, but then he had a goal he wanted to achieve.

    So I couldn't have been happier. After a weekend-long narcissistic freak show, the pro-war numbers were bound to go up.

    And then Rumsfeld went on TV.

    On ABC, the secretary of defense told his interviewer that war with Iraq could be avoided if "the senior leadership in that country and their families could be provided haven in some other country." Hang on. You mean, if Saddam, his sons and a couple of other A-list psychos move into Robert Mugabe's rental condo, that's it? Game over? In the last year, neither Rummy nor any other administration player has ever expressed such a shriveled war aim.

    At first, I assumed some peeling flakes of lead paint from the dressing-room radiator had momentarily deranged him. But then he chugged over to Fox News and expanded on his remarks. It would appear to be an official "talking point."

    The president's hope is that "Saddam Hussein will leave the country... His neighboring states are in a process now of trying to avoid a conflict there by having him leave the country." No, no, no.

    Swapping Saddam for a less psychopathic Saddamite who forswears extraterritorial ambitions and agrees only to a little light terrorism of his own people would be a total waste of time. It's not about Saddam any more than it was about Osama bin Laden (1957-2001). The issue for the West is how to dismantle not Saddam's warheads but the system that produces the Saddams and Osamas.

    Cherrypicking a more pliable strongman won't do it. What kind of Iraqi president does Rumsfeld have in mind? A man in the mold of such renowned Washington allies as Hosni Mubarak? Mubarak's Egypt produced the leader of the September 11 murderers, the principal Islamist agitator in Britain, the highest-ranking al-Qaida terrorist in Canada, etc. There's no point even bothering with Iraq if you're going to settle for a Mubarak.

    ONE OF the peculiarities of this conflict is that the Left are now the jaded cynics and we right-wing crazies are the idealists arguing that the peoples of the Middle East deserve their freedom. This isn't because we're starry-eyed, but because, being hard-hearted right-wingers, we understand that there's no alternative. As long as the Arab states are such comprehensive failures, their leaders will have a vested interest in making sure their wretched subjects remain mired in a grievance culture that blames that failure on others i.e., us.

    Given the rate of Muslim emigration to Europe, Australia and North America, the psychosis of their failure has already spread to Manchester, Copenhagen, Paris, Sydney

    , Buffalo and Toronto. In the end, difficult as it will be, the problem has to be fixed at source, and the best place to do that with a reasonable shot at success is Iraq the least Islamist of Arab societies.

    In most Muslim countries, as bad as the government is, its opponents are worse that goes for Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Pakistan, the Palestinian Authority.... The Iraqi National Congress is a notable exception to that rule.

    What's more, anyone who says you can't create a functioning civilized society in Iraq overlooks the fact that there already is one: beneath the Anglo-American no-fly zones, the Saddam-free Kurdish areas of Iraq have quietly created democratic political structures including multiparty legislatures and accountable executives and prime ministers; there is a free press and an independent judiciary, including female judges, and universities that teach subjects other than suicide bombing and the descent of Jews from pigs.

    These are imperfect statelets, but then so are Wales and Quebec and California. The important point is there's not a lot of Kurds sitting in English council flats plotting jihad. They've got better things to do.

    Many of us on the Right think the Kurdish experiments are worth spreading to the rest of Iraq and then beyond. The best future for a post-Saddam state is as a loose federation whose central government has minimal powers but international guarantees. You can't do that if you simply transfer power from a Ba'ath Party monster to a Ba'ath Party apparatchik.

    In other words, removing Saddam is a means, not an end. When Joschka Fischer twitters hysterically (as he did this week) about "disastrous consequences for long-term regional stability," he implicitly acknowledges this: He understands that creating a decentralized, secular democracy in Iraq will have a knock-on effect on its neighbors. (Why this bothers him is a more perplexing matter.) The re-making of Iraq is meant to rattle the terror-exporting Saudis.

    The overthrow of Saddam would merely let them off the hook. Again.

    Don Rumsfeld, perhaps the sharpest thinker in the cabinet, must know all this. So the only reason he'd say such a thing is because war's going to start any day now. Isn't it?

    The writer is senior contributing editor for Hollinger Inc.

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