February 25, 2006

Prayers to the Assassin - On Terrorism

HH: All right. So you're like most Americans, except you spent the last year and a half researching Islam. Tell people your reaction when you saw this unfold yesterday.

RB: Well, my reaction was that it was a brilliant move on the part of our enemies, a devastatingly intelligent attack at the weakest link in the Iraqi government, which is the fragmented nature of the problems between the Shiites, the Sunnis, and to some lesser extent, the Kurds. It exacerbates the problem, and it must have taken all of ten minutes of course for the president of Iran to blame Israel and the United States for the bombing.

HH: I told Mark Steyn in the last segment, who by the way, didn't know you were coming on, but brought up the fact about your book again. So obviously, it's got all of us captivated.

RF: He reviewed the book, and it's an astounding review.

HH: Oh, is it posted over at Steynonline?

RF: I got if off a Canadian newspaper, McLeans. And I would imagine it's probably up soon.

HH: I'll have to go get that. Now that's an amazing thing, because Steyn's people will buy books that Steyn recommends, because Mark knows what he's talking about. But the fact of the matter is, I said it's the Reichstag fire. Hitler's people sent it, Goebbles comes out and Gehring comes out, and they blame the Jews for it, and the Communists, and immediately, they have Germany in the palm of their hand. And when the Iranian president walked out and blamed America for this shrine bombing, there's no denying that they have a nasty, nasty end game in mind. They're not just being nutty, they're being provocateurs.

RF: It also, to me, there's a clear linkage between this and the cartoon furor. I mean, the Muslim world is already in a high state of excitment, fury over the cartoon furor, which I think, and many other people think, was largely orchestrated. And now this follows it up, and it's just, like I say, if you're on the outside, and if you're an observer without any interest other than intellectual, it's brilliant. But I also think there is an opportunity for the United States in this, to turn the game against them, personally.

HH: Let's expand that. Tell us what you think the opportunity is.

RF: Well, the opportunity is the same kind of...first of all, the President should resist the urge, which he's already said that we are going to step in, we're going to help to rebuild this Mosque, and we're going to...this is exactly the wrong thing. This is the last thing that the Iraqi government needs to see the United States in any way involved in rebuilding one of the holiest shrines in the country. We handled things really intelligently in October of 2004. This Mosque, the Golden Mosque, was occupied by the terrorists. And to root them out, the Americans wanted to go in. And we wisely waited until Iraqi commandos could do it. In other words, we didn't want to see images on Al Jazeera, and probably ABC, CBS, of American "storm troopers," barreling into this holy Mosque. Iraqi commandos did it. The opportunity here is the same opportunity as existed in the South during the Civil Rights Era. When black Churches used to be burned to the ground and bombed, the impetus was for the government to step in and help people out. It was so much more effective when white Church people and black Church people, white and black Christians together, would rebuild these Churches. The opportunity for us is that hopefully, somebody is at this moment talking to the Ayatollah al-Sistani, who is the most revered Shiite leader in Iraq, and have him work with the Sunnis...I mean, can you imagine the powerful images it would be if Sunnis and Shiites and Kurds were involved in rebuilding this, brick by brick, to show that we are, we have religious differences, but we are all Iraqis. I think it could turn the tables, and it will be extremely difficult to get that kind of cooperation. The Sunnis are already not even wanting to meet about the problem. But if someone, or if cooler minds could prevail, I think it would be an overwhelmingly powerful image to the people of Iraq, and to Muslims around the world, that the differences between these factions are important, but overall, they are all still Muslims.

It really is a grand propaganda coup, an excellent example of organization and psychological operation. War in the 21st century doesn't stop just because you aren't on the battlefield in Iraq.


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