Andrew Sullivan has a sickening, heart-rending post about the execution of two gay youths in Iran. It brings home the importance not just of the war in Iraq and the war against terrorism but--I know, we're not supposed to say this out loud--the culture war with Islam as practiced in the Middle East.
This is a daunting project and many people, understandably, are simply unwilling to confront it. But this isn't a fight between Middle Eastern Islam and America or Democracy or even Liberalism. It's a fight between Middle Eastern Islam and modernity. A culture which is compatible with the modern world is simply incapable of this barbarism. And remember, this isn't an isolated example.
What worries me most about America's democratization project in the Middle East isn't the pictures of Nick Berg having his head sawed off. That is, in its own misguided way, part of war, with people who style themselves as soldiers acting the part of butchers. It is barbaric, but you can, after much struggle, dimly comprehend it.
No, what worries me are the pictures of Iraqis the charred bodies of American contractors. The pictures of Palestinians joyously waving their hands, stained purple with the blood of Jews, out the windows in Ramallah to a cheering throng below. This picture of two kids who barely look old enough to drive being trussed up on the gallows because they're gay. There is no comprehension available here. The people in these pictures are not grimly carrying out politics by other means. They are rhapsodic about death.
You can stop an insurgency. You can kill and capture terrorists. It is not clear to me how you instigate a reformation in a major sect of a religion which breeds this sort of hatred and bloodlust.
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