Op-Ed: What Does Bush Want?
Moshe FeiglinMoshe Feiglin is head of the Manhigut Yehudit [Jewish Leadership] faction in the Likud party and a new member of Knesset.
At the time of the attack on the Twin Towers, I was visiting the US and I expressed my feelings at that time in an article called "Why America Has Lost the War". The article predicted precisely what would happen in the year following the attack, and the lack of purpose in the expected actions of the US. On one point I was completely wrong. I was convinced that the US, with its tremendous technological capabilities and great resources, would rapidly get hold of Osama bin Laden. It is amazing to see how this man still continues to make a fool of the super-power. Bin Laden, using a single audio cassette, succeeds in endangering the US more than all Iraq's soldiers.
Because bin Laden is attacking the US at a place in which it isn't ready to fight. In the cassette broadcast by the al-Jazeera network bin Laden tells all his admirers in the Moslem world (and all of them, without exception, admire him): "The Crusaders (the US) are attacking the ancient capital of Islam, Baghdad, in order to establish there Greater Israel."
In Western terms, bin Laden is telling every Moslem wherever he is that we have here a religious war against the Christians and the Jews. America isn't prepared to accept this. Freedom of religion is one of the American fundamental principles. According to the Western concept, the world order and its borders are determined by nationality. Religion, in contrast, is a matter of choice and it crosses national, community, and even family boundaries. You can be a good American, regardless of whether you are Christian, Jewish, or Moslem, or even a pagan. The US was established on this principle.
At one time it was quite easy - the Japanese Zero aircraft that attacked the American fleet in Pearl Harbor did so in the name of Japanese nationalism and not religion. The Axis powers (Germany and Italy), against whom the US waged a bloody war in Europe, held the same religion in which the majority of Americans believe, and the Vietnam War and the Cold War were waged against an enemy (Communist) who denied the existence of G-d.
Suddenly, bin Laden appears and murders 4,000 Americans in the heart of Manhattan - neither in the name of a nationalist struggle, nor for territorial demands; he does so in the name of religion.
America (and also Israel, which lies in the same position of cultural inferiority) refuses to look the new reality in the eye. It is incapable of taking up bin Laden's challenge. It is incapable of recognizing that this war is one between a civilization based on the culture of Islam, and one based on Christian culture. The significance of such recognition is that in order to fight, the US must itself undergo cultural metamorphosis and become something totally different from the external picture it has, over the years, tried to paint. In order to combat bin Laden, it is necessary to enter his arena, the religious arena, and pay him back in the same coin. America (and Israel) will continue to flee from this truth that contradicts one of the foundation stones of its existence. It will continue to respond in the wrong arena, and will continue to be hit and crushed.
The American (and the Israeli) administration must create a response to this new enemy. The role of the leadership is to defend the lives and honor of the led. A leadership that fails to do so hastens its end. How can the American administration (and in fact, the entire Western world) defend a nation involved in a religious war while avoiding this fact? They invent a new enemy - terrorism.
Islam isn't the enemy, but terrorism. The enemy is the terrible method used to fight against us - not the combatants, but the ideology motivating them. It is amazing to see how the entire Western world has been deceived by this ruse. If Churchill had defined the enemy, during the Battle of Britain, as the Luftwaffe (the German Air Force) and not Germany itself, Britain would not have won the war. And when this definition exhausts itself (after millions of tons of TNT in Afghanistan), and victory is of course not in sight, the US wishes to depict the enemy in a form which it is capable of fighting - an enemy who is a national state.
Saddam is no more dangerous than any other Moslem ruler. Weapons of mass destruction are being produced in Egypt, Iran and Libya. Every Moslem ruler is trying to get hold of such weapons. Virtually all the September 11 murderers came from Saudi Arabia. Saddam is perhaps less dangerous than the other Islamic tyrants. Any prosecuting counsel in a criminal case who offered evidence of the kind produced by Secretary of State Powell against Iraq, in his speech to the Security Council, would have been thrown out of court.
So why is Bush driving his people and the entire world crazy in a stupid military campaign against Saddam?
Simply because it is easy against Saddam. Saddam isn't playing the Egyptian or Saudi game. It's easy to present him to public opinion as an enemy and to create the feeling that the administration is looking after the security of its citizens. Obviously we shouldn't regret the blow that Saddam is going to sustain. However, America (and subsequently Israel, of course) will itself sustain far more. The lack of purpose in this war will be revealed rapidly. The Arab world will unite behind the "Iraqi heroism" and Europe will of course support them. The Americans will quickly understand that victory over Iraq is a pyrrhic one - just like all the wars in which the aim is not clear.
The Americans will then wish to pay the price of their folly and appease both the Moslem and Christian worlds. As usual, they will pay in Israeli currency.
Moshe Feiglin is head of the Manhigut Yehudit faction in the Likud party and a former prime ministerial candidate.
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