Thursday, June 01, 2006

Give Me an Alternative

Last night I was proofreading a printout of a news page full of mayhem from the Middle East. A copy editor across the desk from me was proofing the same page. He's one of the few here who checks his politics at the door. I actually have no idea how he votes. He'd rather talk about music or sports or beer or your kids -- what a pleasure!

And we're both reading this catalogue of carnage. And my desk-mate says something like, "You know, sometimes part of me thinks we should just get the hell out of there and let them just have at it."

Which is what part of me was thinking, too. What would be the opposite of what we're doing now? Let the Islamists take over, if that's what the people want -- and it seems they do. Let them burn themselves out and gnaw on each other for two generations. Let the people learn the lesson the hard way, which is perhaps the only way. Let them go through what Europe did in the 17th century, but with weapons more wicked. Don't give them any American targets to shoot at.

Americans are a poison in the Islamic metabolism. If we win one friend, we make five enemies. If we plant a grove for them, they'll dig it up and burn it before the next sunrise.

The world media has tarbrushed America so thoroughly that when we discover evidence that our soldiers have killed civilians in cold blood, and we feel shock at that, the people in the Middle East shrug it off: They believe we've been doing that all along. They believe that's why we came among them.

There would be some satisfaction in just walking away from that. But there would be a cost.

For one, you'd have to wall off America behind an immigration wall that admits nobody from those places but the most cleanly vetted refugees. For another, we'd have to get off the oil. Which ought to have been our top priority starting on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001 -- if not ten years before that. And finally, we'd have to hold the ultimate threat as the only threat. On the doors of every American embassy in that region there would be a picture of the Kabaa in Mecca with a crosshairs superimposed on it.

Ugly. Give me an alternative.