Thursday, May 24, 2007

Learning From History in the War on Terror

Last night I began the DVD series Lord Mountbatten: The Last Viceroy. The story is about the British delivering a self-ruling government in India in 1946. The Jewel in the Crown, as India was described, then operated under a half system of self governance called the Raj. Under the Raj, tribal leaders ruled territories but ultimately answered to British authority. The Crown gave Lord Mountbatten authority to aide the Indian leaders in establishing a democratic Parliament and ultimately complete self-determination.

The comparisons to our work in Iraq are very interesting. One of the problems the blossoming Indian Parliament faced was religious animosity between Muslim, Sikh, and Hindu. Different leaders had their own desires for the future of India. Genocide followed as religion divided the nation into three parts. The British had been able to keep order, but as they discussed pulling out to allow self rule, factions sprung up to take advantage of the situation. There are historians that say the British set an unrealistic date for the Indian government to gain control and settle differences.

This sounds very close to the current situation in Iraq. The Iraqi government must have authority across the entire country and over each tribe and faction within their border. Some Indian Muslims, lead by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, wanted their own country; a complete Muslim state. Some Muslims, Sikhs, and Hindus wanted to remain where they currently lived with the freedom to practice their own religion. If the United States were to pull out our troops too soon, could what happened in India happen in Iraq? There are even more comparisons.

The DVD shows Mohammad Ali Jinnah, leader of the Muslim League, stirring up a mob by declaring, "We will have Pakistan or we will destroy India!" It is hard for our pragmatic western minds to understand such thinking. However, when we recall the kamikaze pilots of WWII, Buddhist monks torching themselves in protest of the Viet Nam war, and the current crop of suicide bombers, we should realize that self immolation has been a route to paradise in the eastern mind.

The undeclared war between Muslim and Sikh along with the usually fate-driven Hindu in the Punjab is reputed to have killed between 200,000 and 360,00. This number could be higher if the 10 years before 1946 are counted. The migration of the different ethnic peoples to the portion of India they preferred to occupy was a dangerous journey because of violent attacks by other factions. The anger boiled over and blood flowed freely.

President Bush is wise to stand firm against any timeline for American departure in Iraq. The Congressional leaders that demand America pull out now have not studied their history and because of this educational lack, the blood of Iraqi innocents would be on our hands. It is very disturbing that the people that preach "caring" for others to their vassals here in the United States deride our military for being in Iraq and taking the time to empower this new democratic government.

Today India and Pakistan have joined us in The War On Terror. Maybe the memories of the brutality they endured spur them to action to join us. Whatever their reason, we welcome them in this fight. If the Democratic Party joined the fight maybe Ahmadinejad and Bashar al-Assad, the Mohammad Ali Jinnahs of today, would not be openly supporting insurgent terrorists with money and tools of destruction or threatening to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.

Human nature dictates that when benevolent authority is perceived as weak, evil men will rise to fill the void. If the American troops leave Iraq and Afghanistan before self-rule is strong, evil will respond as it will. Most of America seems to understand this, but Bush-hating tunnel vision has destroyed the Democratic Party and innocents are being slaughtered every day because of their weak and selfish rhetoric. I suggest they be quiet, sit in their comfortable chair and read The Life of Reason by George Santayana because "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

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