Several thousand Turks gathered in Istanbul and other cities to protest against the bombs and what some said was the underlying cause of the attacks -- the United States and NATO member Turkey's close links with the world's only superpower.So radical Islamist operatives, sworn enemies of the United States and Britain, sneak explosives into Istanbul and deliberately set them off in a busy street, knowing but not caring that many Turks will die as a result -- but the fault is not with those who set the bomb, but those who were targeted by the bomb. Fascinating.
. . .
In the Istanbul protests, some demonstrators blamed U.S. policies for the suicide bombings.
"People think what's happened in Istanbul was a result of America's policies in the world," said one demonstrator in Ankara who asked not to be named. He said it was dangerous for Turkey to be close to the United States, whose invasion of neighboring Iraq (news - web sites) was deeply opposed by most Turks.
Let me first point out that this article is from Reuters, which has always made a point of finding the anti-American angle to every story. Let me also point out that such a sentiment is hardly unique to Turkey -- every time a terrorist atrocity happens to allies of Western Civilization, some people always feel the need to demonstrate their ability to "think outside the box" and blame the West and its policies -- Iraq, Israel, Christina Aguilera, whatever. So the rest of this post is not just talking about Turks who feel this way.
What strikes me is not so much the illogic of this view, but its sheer cowardice: better turn against the U.S., or else terrorists will bomb us. Forget principle, or who stands for what, just take the path of least resistance and try to make terrorism someone else's problem. Again, this isn't just a view of some Turks: much of European policy seems to be based on it. The entire worldview is based on fear, and they figure they might as well oppose those whom they fear least. So forget standing up to North Korea, or Iran, or radical Muslims -- they might do something crazy and hurt people! Better to give the royal shaft to Americans and Israelis; they'll just take it, maybe mount a feeble protest -- but without street riots. That can be handled.
The irony, of course, is that America can make it very dangerous for people to "stand up to us." We don't have to use suicide bombers or jury-rigged trucks to scare cowards: we can drop munitions right in their living rooms. Ditto for Britain or Israel. We don't actually have to take it; we can turn entire opposing nations into corpses and rubble -- but our own morals will not permit this course of action. In the eyes of many people, those morals are not something to fight for and defend, but to take advantage of in finding the path of least resistance.
In the days after September 11th, some people in the United States called for the U.S. to distance itself from Israel, lest we should anger more Muslims and invite more terror. It never occurred to them, of course, that Israel has plenty of its own jetliners and qualified pilots, not to mention well-trained commandos more than capable of taking over an airliner -- and Manhattan still has lots of skyscrapers. The appeasers didn't concern themselves with this possibility because they knew perfectly well that Israel would never murder Americans that way; it was far too moral of a nation. And as far as those cowardly appeasers were concerned, Israel's morals were their own weakness: Israelis won't take up terrorism against the United States, but the Arabs will, so we should do what the Arabs want, and to hell with the Israelis.
Of course, such views were held by a small minority in America, but in much of the rest of the world, including Western Europe, they are quite popular. After all, Arabs can withhold oil or send truck bombs, but Israelis will do neither -- so Arabs win. One comes to the awfully depressing conclusion that the only way for Israel to get a break from the likes of France is to start setting off bombs and demanding that Europeans ask themselves why. Similarly, the only way to shut up the morons demanding that Turkey distance itself from the United States would be for the U.S. to make a few threats of its own. A few strategically-aimed cluster bombs, and being anti-American will suddenly lose all its lustre.
I am not advocating any of this, of course. In fact, the notion is horrifying, and I'd dedicate my life to unelecting any American government that dared try it. But there is a lesson here, one known to Caesar and Machiavelli: with some people, it really is better to be feared than loved, especially if "loved" isn't really an option. Arabs and Muslims are certainly not loved in Europe, to put it mildly -- but they are definitely feared, and that gives them power. Jews aren't loved, either -- but they are also not feared, and therefore get the shaft. The Turks marching in anti-American demonstrations don't really fear America, but they fear al-Qaeda, and want to yield to their demands.
It's also why I find the idea of world peace through negotiations and understanding to be bogus. In the end, peace is built on fear first, mutual understanding second. Our peace with Canada and Mexico was achieved after several wars; peace in Europe was the result of a devastating world war and a subsequent need for Western Europe to be protected from the Russians (there's that fear again). Common understandings break down, as our disagreement with Europeans over Afghanistan and Iraq has shown; fear endures, which is why for all their protests and wailings, they stayed out of the way after Iraq was invaded. Fear is what kept the peace throughout the Cold War. Fear is what keeps the North Korean regime in power. Fear is what keeps Arabs from attacking Israel en masse. Ultimately, fear is the only thing that works.
We know all this, of course -- have for millenia, and a few dumb ideas from post-Great-War era aren't going to snow us any time soon. Still, the U.S. and its allies are trying to find a new way to lead and inspire, without the use of intimidation; to get people to see things our way and stand up for what we think they know is right: an end to tyranny, to mass-murder in the name of religion, and personal freedom for all. It's hard, not just because some reject this view outright, but because many would rather not stand up for anything, and hope every conflict is just dropped or goes away, to be replaced by "peace." The question is whether their attitude will prevail -- really allowing terrorism to win and prosper -- or whether they will be eclipsed by people with actual principles and actual backbone.
I don't know. But the fate of much of the world depends on it -- quite literally.
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