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Wednesday, July 23, 2003

G-d forbid, "The West might be too civilized to win"
Al-Qaida destroys airplanes and buildings that it itself could not possibly build. The Palestinian Authority has failed in every field of endeavor except killing Israelis. Saddam Hussein's Iraq grew dangerous thanks to money showered on it by the West to purchase petroleum Iraqis themselves had neither located nor extracted.

How, despite their general incompetence, has this trio managed to guide the course of events as if they were powers in the traditional sense? The cause of this anomaly, [Lee] ]Harris replies, is that the West plays by a strict set of rules while permitting al-Qaida, the Palestinians, and Saddam Hussein to play without rules. We restrain ourselves according to the standards of civilized conduct as refined over the centuries; they engage in maximal ruthlessness.

Had the United States retaliated in kind for September 11, Harris tells me, the Islamic holy places would have been destroyed. Had Israelis followed the Arafat model of murderousness, the West Bank and Gaza would now be devoid of Palestinians. Had the West done toward Iraq as Iraq did toward Kuwait, the Iraqi polity would long ago have been annexed and its oil resources confiscated.

While morally commendable, Harris argues, the West's not responding to Muslim ruthlessness with like ruthlessness carries a high and rising price.

Read the whole thing, by the esteemed Daniel Pipes.