Monday, December 1, 2008

Bill Kristol: All You Need is Patriotism

In today's New York Times, Bill Kristol lays out his plan to fight terrorism. Kristol says that while wishy-washy liberals like the invoke things like "the law" and American values like habeas corpus, the people who really know what they are talking about know that the most important tool to fight terrorism is simple: patriotism. But once again, Kristol twists and bends the truth to have things his way; much of what he has to say has been undermined by America's lying about the War in Iraq and other factual misstatements.

To begin with, Kristol falls into the trap set by these psuedo-Muslims for all those who know nothing about Islam. Instead of framing the debate in political terms, Kristol continues to use the "Islamic extremist" moniker for the attackers. The attackers are not Muslim in the traditional sense of the word - jihad is not a global war against non-believers, it is an inner-struggle for understanding of oneself and Allah. Waging a war on non-believers in the name of Islam would be like saying you are marrying gay couples in the name of Catholicism. Secondly, it would make no sense for Muslims to attack citizens of the United States - a country inhabited by numerous Christians - and Israel - a Jewish country - when these two religions are considered to be People of the Book and because they are Abrahamic, they are not seen as enemies but friends according to the Qur'an.

Secondly, Kristol makes an allusion to the fact that the United States should stand with India against our common enemies. I agree with this, but the attackers in this case seem to be more focused on India and its involvement in the Kashmir than with the U.S. Reports have come out that U.S. and British nationals may have been targeted, and if this is true then the U.S. and the other states whose citizens were targeted should assist in the investigation. What is also important to remember is that Lashkar-e-Taiba got a lot of their training from Pakistan's intelligence agency, ISI, and were only banned in Pakistan when American ally Pervez Musharraf felt pressured by Bush and Co. The ISI, of course, was heavily funded and trained by the United States, who brought it out of extinction during General Zia ul-Haq's reign and the Soviet-Afghan War, yet we continue to blame it for problems like the Mumbai attacks or lack of law enforcement in the FATA region. That's like raising a kid until he's 10, unexpectedly leaving, and then wondering why he has attachment issues.

Finally, Kristol believes that the answer to the "barbarism" of terrorist organizations is patriotism. He may be right, but he still needs to define patriotism. Let's not forget that following 9/11, if you questioned the move to go into Iraq from Afghanistan, you were labeled unpatriotic (when in reality you would have saved your country $10 billion a month and global diplomatic embarrassment). Patriotism is indeed a virtue, but one defined in many ways. We cannot allow one portion of this country to railroad us into a singular, concrete definition of patriotism as we did leading up to Iraq. A love of one's country comes in many forms, not just blind loyalty to the ruling party of the time because of reactionary forces. I think patriotism is best summed up in Adlai Stevenson's timeless quote, "What do we mean by patriotism in the context of our times? I venture to suggest that what we mean is a sense of national responsibility ... a patriotism which is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime." Peace.

Photos - Bill Kristol (Fox News), Armed security forces outside of the Taj Mahal Hotel in India (CBC News), The Taj Mahal Hotel (Wikipedia)

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