We Should Be Masters of Purpose, Not Slaves to Perception
By Alan Nathan
Insight On The News | May 16, 2004

European, Middle Eastern and U.N. double standards are appalling. U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan says that our action against the insurgents in Iraq "is feeding the ranks of the resistance." Apparently he thinks we should not return their gunfire because the more they shoot us the more quickly we triumph. Or, perhaps, the faster we die the faster we win. He further argues that "violent military action by an occupying power against inhabitants of an occupied country will only make matters worse."

Regardless of your position on the war, certain absolutes in life must be accepted: The ground is below you, the sky is above, water is wet, lawyers suck year 'round, and you never make an attack worse by defending yourself. There is also a disparity between occupation to secure freedom and an occupation to prevent self-rule.

On a similar tangent, speaking on ABC's This Week, U.N. envoy to Iraq Lakhdar Brahimi criticized the United States for responding to terrorism with force. He said that, "If you have enemies there, this is exactly what they want you to do, to alienate more people so that more people support them rather than you." He added that our military activities only further enrage the terrorists. Evidently his message is that in response to repeated attacks we should be passive, because otherwise you might offend al-Qaeda and its friends. Talk about a recipe for paralysis.

The recently exposed abuse of captive insurgents at the hands of U.S. service personnel has produced an especially telling reaction. While mistreatment of captives justly has been condemned, Middle Eastern, European and U.N. condemnation of the far greater mistreatment of captives by Muslims has been universally lacking. Their outrage has been so selective as to equate humiliation of prisoners by putting panties on their heads with brutal decapitation. If we see our soldiers mistreat others, we feel shame and punish the culprits. When they see Iraqi, Iranian, Saudi Arabian, Jordanian, Syrian, Egyptian, Libyan or Pakistani insurgents commit atrocities against us, such as the four Americans who were caught, butchered and hung on ropes for public display - they become celebratory. Even when the Arab press sees Islamic fanatics rain terror upon their fellow Muslims, they give those same animals a comparative pass. Forget their rape rooms, their imprisonment and mass torture of children, their ethnic cleansing and genocide.

I'll take their criticism more seriously when they more seriously hold their own accountable.

As long as we put ourselves at the mercy of global approval ratings, we'll operate from a position of weakness in accord with the lowest common denominator of international hypocrisy. What we must do is act powerfully to sustain and defend our own highest principles. The world must be made to understand that, having been subjected to sneak attack by terrorists against the American homeland, our mission now is to fight and win the war on terror. Meanwhile, war opponents say, "We can't alienate the world." Fine, but neither can we allow America's values and interests to be subordinated to the envy, double standards, and false pretensions of the world's poltroons.


Alan Nathan, combative centrist, columnist, speaker and the nationally syndicated host of "Battle Line With Alan Nathan" on the Radio America Network.