Sunday, November 25, 2007

Australia, Poland Opt Out Of Fighting Terrorists

In a depressing demonstration that Islamic fanatics may win after all, the electorates of both Australia and Poland have in recent days voted to bring in governments that are sworn to withdraw these countries' pitifully small contingents of armed forces in Iraq.

The new Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, says he will remove the 550 Australian combat troops in Iraq, and the new Polish prime minister, Donald Tusk, says he will have the 1,200 Polish troops out by next year.

It will probably be unpopular to say so, but these countries are following many others that want the United States to do all the fighting and spend all the money to prevent Middle Eastern terrorists from taking over that region. They think they can live safely, while opting out of the common effort. It is a failure of collective security that has occurred before.

I believe they are wrong, and that the Polish prime minister is ready to follow even more disastrous policies when, forgetting Polish history, he questions details of the alliance with the U.S. and its plans to put defensive missiles on Polish soil. If Poland moves away from its alliance with America, it may well again find the Russian wolf coming through its door, and its long struggle to wrest Polish government from Russian domination will have gone for nought.

Strangely enough, these timorous voters and weak-minded leaders are acting at a time when, at least in Iraq, there are encouraging signs of progress. They are like the New York Times and Los Angeles Times editorial writers who think freedom is free, and that it need not be fought for, that we can just get out and all will be well. It sounds like the fatally weak, uninvolved American policy toward Europe in the 1920s and 1930s that did so much to allow tyrants to follow through on their aggressive designs. It took finally the loss of millions of lives to stop them.

It is too bad too that these avowals of pacifism come just before, after major efforts, the Bush Administration has been able to convene a peace conference in Annapolis, with both Arab and Israeli participation, on the issues in the Holy Land. This conference faces many obstacles, but the obstacles will be even greater when the participants see the electorates and governments of Australia and Poland following the socialist government in Spain in trying to escape their responsibilities in the region.

Just in recent weeks, as oil prices have soared toward the $100 mark, there have been reports that many of the foreign fighters coming into Iraq to fight on the side of the terrorists have been coming from Saudi Arabia, the country that was the origin of many of the hijackers of 9-11. And, at the same time, that country has been demonstrating once again just how primitive it is, with its plan to beat a young rape victim within an inch of her life and imprison her for having met with a man who was a male friend who was not her husband, prior to both being assaulted. Her lawyer is now threatened with disbarment for making a public case of it. The whole world is protesting, but the corrupt Saudi monarchy refuses to intervene.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, serious if sporadic attacks by the terrorists continue, despite a falloff in numbers.

In Pakistan, terrorist attacks are increasing, and, just today, an enemy of the U.S., Nawaz Sharif, has returned from exile to foment more trouble for the regime of Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The question posed here is whether the needs of U.S. security should trump our general backing for democracy. I agree with Sens. Dodd and Clinton that security must take priority when terrorism is involved.

To Rudd, Tusk, Sen. Harry Reid of Nevada and other doves around the world, a clear message must be delivered: Their efforts, while perhaps well meaning, are abetting the barbarians. Like ancient Romans against the Huns, they think the world can stop fighting the extremists and nothing will happen. This, I believe, is totally wrong.

That people in many countries are tired of violence is readily understandable. But the consequences of quitting the battle at this stage could be a new dark age, and not only in the Middle East.



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