Sunday, August 26, 2007

U.S. Must Focus On Larger Purposes in Mideast

Communists and other leftists in India are trying to scuttle the recent nuclear agreement between India and the United States on grounds that its restriction on Indian nuclear testing constitutes an infringement on Indian sovereignty. Both the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have articles on this today, the one in the Post somewhat more pointed.

The agreement between the two countries is vital to both. It is important on the one hand that we show that we are willing to support peaceful nuclear power development in a fast-growing third world economy like that of India. And it is vital too from the standpoint of the war against Islamic extremism that the U.S. and India continue to stand together.

The Indians have possibly an even greater interest than we do in preventing Osama bin Laden and his ilk from dominating South Asia and the Middle East. It has long been evident that the integrity of the Indian state is dependent on retention of Kashmir and a continuation of more or less moderate, even if dictatorial, government in Pakistan. To the extent that the terrorists prevail in either place, India's security is threatened, and India, just as much as the U.S., is endangered directly by terrorist attacks.

We see yesterday in Hyderabad, where bombs believed planted by Islamic extremists blew up in two parts of the city, killing more than 40 innocents, that the terrorists continue to have India as one of their prime targets. A few months ago, hundreds were killed in Bombay in similar attacks.

In the long run, the U.S. must make common cause too with Russia and China against Islamic fascism. Just last week, killings by Islamic rebels resumed near Chechnya of Russian military personnel, and recent developments in both Pakistan and Afghanistan have endangered Chinese and other Asians working or visiting in those countries. China is confronting Islamic sedition in its own northwest provinces.

These relations with major states involve our larger purposes in the Middle East and South Asia, and we cannot afford to be distracted by lesser interests. But neither can the Indians. The leftwing argument now that India has somehow sold its soul to the U.S. in the nuclear agreement doesn't hold much water, since the U.S. has agreed to share much nuclear technology, while not insisting on the safeguards it has in agreements with others.

Meanwhile, the U.S., as New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman points out in a column today, is entirely too shy in waging the propaganda war against bin Laden and his supporters. Contrary to what they and their sympathizers say, it is not us who are responsible for the mayhem in the region. And we are becoming desensitized to the carnage around us. (Yesterday's attacks in India rated only short articles today, buried in the other foreign coverage of both the New York Times and Los Angeles Times).

Friedman remarks, "Dive into a conversation about America in the Arab world today, or even in Europe and Africa, and it won't take 30 seconds before the words 'Abu Ghraib' and 'Guantanamo Bay' are thrown at you. Yes, both are shameful, but Abu Ghraib was a day at the beach compared to what Al Qaeda and its Sunni jihadist supporters have been doing in Iraq, yet none of their acts have become one-punch global insults like Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo.

"Consider what happened on Aug. 14. Four jihadist suicide-bombers blew themselves up in two Iraqi villages, killing more than 500 Kurdish civilians -- men, women and children -- who belonged to a tiny pre-Islamic sect known as the Yazidis.

"And what was the Bush team's response to this outrage? Virtual silence. After much Googling, the best I could find was: 'We're looking at Al Qaeda as the prime suspect,' said Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman. Wow.

"Excuse me, but what exactly are we fighting for in Iraq, or in this wider war against Islamic extremism, if the murder of 500 civilians can be shrugged off? Even if we don't know the exact perpetrators, we know who is inspiring this sort of genocide -- Al Qaeda and bin Laden -- and we need to say that every day."

Amen! At least, there's no doubt which side Friedman is on. He is quite a bit tougher than other parts of the New York Times editorial pages.

On every side, we see American interests assaulted by people whose bad will toward us is manifest.

It is clear when leftwingers in India try to keep India from associating with the U.S. in nuclear affairs, and it is clear when, as today, the Iranian-lining prime minister of Iraq, Nouri al-Maliki, accuses U.S. troops of murdering Shiite civilians in the war in Iraq.

Maliki, as a number of American visitors to Iraq have said in recent days, is no friend of the U.S. and needs to be removed from power. Over many months, he has done everything he could to abet Shiite-inspired ethnic cleansing in Iraq, which our military perforce must resist.

Today, also, Maliki attacked Sens. Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin, saying, "There are American officials who consider Iraq as if it were one of their villages, for example Hillary Clinton and Carl Levin. They should come to their senses."

But Maliki is wrong. Thousands of American soldiers have died in Iraq to bring about a government there more satisfactory to American interests. Hundreds of billions of American dollars have been spent. We have far too much at stake in the outcome of the war to allow a sectarian like the Shiite Maliki to dictate our policies. And when Maliki assails American officials in the opposition who are seeking a successful way to resolve this mess, he is attacking the democratic system in this country, which is far more important to the world than anything that happens in the political squabbling and sectarian strife in Baghdad.

We must keep our eyes on the ball -- our larger interests. We cannot be distracted.

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