(You can purchase In the Red Zone: A Journey Into The Soul Of Iraq for only $27.95 from the FrontPage Magazine Bookstore.)
Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Steven Vincent, the author of the new book, In the Red Zone: A Journey Into The Soul Of Iraq. You can visit his blog at www.redzoneblog.com.
FP: Steven Vincent, welcome to Frontpage Interview.
Vincent: Thanks for the opportunity to be here, Jamie.
FP: You went to Iraq in the fall of 2003, and the winter and spring of 2004, traveling on your own, with no bodyguards or security of any kind. Are you courageous, noble or crazy? Or a bit of all three?
Vincent: I’ll defer notions of courage and nobility to our soldiers in Iraq—as for being crazy, that’s what my friends thought. But in truth, I managed to stay safe by slipping below the radar screen, so to speak, blending in with the Iraqi people, sometimes disguising myself, keeping as low-profile as presence as possible. Nowadays, I’m afraid that even that incognito approach would prove impossible, with terrorists paying criminals to find and kidnap foreigners.
FP: You put your life at risk to give us a view of Iraq from within. You deserve the utmost respect and gratitude from everyone who cherishes freedom. For Iraq is, at this very moment, the battlefield between freedom and totalitarianism – and that battle will decide which one will prevail in the 21st century.
So tell us a bit about what motivated your odyssey to this battlefield.
Vincent: September 11, 2001. As I describe in In the Red Zone, I stood that morning on the roof of my building in lower Manhattan and watched United Airlines Flight 175 strike the south tower of the World Trade Center. At that moment, I realized my country was at war—because of the 1993 attack on the Trade Center, I figured our enemy was Islamic terrorism--and I wanted to do my part in the conflict. I’m too old to enlist in the armed services, so I decided to put my writing talents to use. The results were numerous articles supporting the war, and, of course, In the Red Zone.
FP: Tell us one story that leaves you with a happy memory and another one that leaves you haunted.
Vincent: I’ll start with “haunted.” As I describe in the book, last March, I disguised myself as Shia pilgrim and attended the religious commemoration of Ashura, held in the south-central Iraqi city of Karbala. (The “holy” city of Karbala, as the media never fails to remind us.) The festival of Ashura is the veritable heart of Shia Islam; it memorializes the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, Mohammad’s grandson, who perished in battle near the city in 680 AD. Four million pilgrims packed Karbala that day. Everywhere you looked, you saw rituals and images reflecting the Shia’s fascination with death and martyrdom—men slicing their heads with swords; processions of hundreds of male worshippers flagellating themselves with metal chains; a fountain spewing red liquid meant to resemble blood; pictures of severed hands, severed heads; Arabic banners inscribed with words that appeared to drip blood.
At the height of the festivities, Al Qaeda attacked—six bombs detonated among the pilgrims, killing over one hundred people. Confusion, panic, terrified pilgrims, Iraqi police and black-shirted religious militiamen shouting at people not to enter the city center, chaos everywhere. I saw streams of ambulances screaming toward the Karbala hospital, followed by flatbed trucks piled high with bleeding and broken bodies, and a taxi cab filled with corpses. The sight was terrible, as you might imagine—but the thought that a festival commemorating a 1,400 year-old martyrdom had created real martyrs—that the ritualistic blood had become real blood shed by real people whose only crime was to pursue their faith—was too much for me. Shaken and horrified, I cried nearly all the way back to Baghdad.
As for a “happy” memory—will “bittersweet” do? In In the Red Zone I dedicate an entire chapter to the most memorable Iraqi I encountered: a beautiful Shia woman named Nour. She works for a major NGO in the southern city of Basra, where she’s helping Iraqis learn the fundamentals of democracy (because her life is under threat by religious extremists, I can’t reveal her last name or the NGO’s identity). I spent several weeks with Nour, crisscrossing Basra, interviewing everyone from religious radicals to tribal leaders, newspaper editors to the families of Christian wine merchants murdered by Islamic terrorists. Along the way, she saved me from at least one potentially dangerous scrape with mysterious “intelligence agents” who detained me one morning in my hotel.
Young, intelligent, vivacious, Nour is the embodiment of what liberated Iraq could become. But the more I came to know her, the more I discovered how difficult her life had been. She had suffered beatings from her brothers, imprisonment by Saddam’s secret police, the murder of her fiancé, and today, along with the daily tensions of war, she experiences constant harassment by thuggish Iraqi men who thrive on humiliating and intimidating women. And yet she is determined to stay in Iraq and fight for women’s rights and democracy. One thousand Nours set loose in Iraq would transform the country overnight; I just pray the one I met survives.
FP: You discuss how crucial words are in describing the war in Iraq and how the liberal media has damaged the cause of freedom by manipulating them.
For instance, you stress how important it is that we refer to the American “liberation” rather than “occupation,” since “occupation” infers certain meanings that do not apply to anything the Americans are doing in Iraq.
What startles me is how the media refers to the terrorists as “insurgents.” This is simply incredible. We have foreign fighters coming in from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Libya, Pakistan and other nations to fight a holy war against the West in an effort to impose Islamo-fascism on the Iraqi people. And yet, somehow, the media is informing us that this is some kind of domestic “resistance.”
Can you talk a bit about this -- how the Left shapes the boundaries of debate and dialogue by controlling our language?
Vincent: Words matter. Words convey moral clarity. Without moral clarity, we will not succeed in Iraq. That is why the terms the press uses to cover this conflict are so vital. For example, take the word “guerillas.” As you noted, mainstream media sources like the New York Times often use the terms “insurgents” or “guerillas” to describe the Sunni Triangle gunmen, as if these murderous thugs represented a traditional national liberation movement. But when the Times reports on similar groups of masked reactionary killers operating in Latin American countries, they utilize the phrase “paramilitary death squads.” Same murderers, different designations. Yet of the two, “insurgents”—and especially “guerillas”—has a claim on our sympathies that “paramilitaries” lacks. This is not semantics: imagine if the media routinely called the Sunni Triangle gunmen “right wing paramilitary death squads.” Not only would the description be more accurate, but it would offer the American public a clear idea of the enemy in Iraq. And that, in turn, would bolster public attitudes toward the war.
Supporters of the conflict in Iraq bear much blame for allowing the terminology—and, by extension, the narrative—of events to slip from our grasp and into the hands of the anti-war camp. Words and ideas matter. Instead of saying that the Coalition “invaded” Iraq and “occupies” it today, we could more precisely claim that the allies liberated the country and are currently reconstructing it. More than cosmetic changes, these definitions reflect the nobility of our effort in Iraq, and steal rhetorical ammunition from the left.
The most despicable misuse of terminology, however, occurs when Leftists call the Saddamites and foreign jihadists “the resistance.” What an example of moral inversion! For the fact is, paramilitary death squads are attacking the Iraqi people. And those who oppose the killers--the Iraqi police and National Guardsmen, members of the Allawi government, people like Nour—they are the “resistance.” They are preventing Islamofascists from seizing Iraq, they are resisting evil men from turning the entire nation into a mass slaughterhouse like we saw in re-liberated Falluja. Anyone who cares about success in our struggle against Islamofascism—or upholds principles of moral clarity and lucid thought—should combat such Orwellian distortions of our language.
FP: The problem we face in our enemy is, as you note, the blurring and intersection of militant Islam and Arab tribalism. You call this “tribal Islam.” Tell us a bit about this phenomenon.
Vincent: I have “borrowed” the term from Irshad Manji, the wonderful reformist Muslim. In her book The Trouble with Islam, she argues that an Arab mindset, born of the desert and Bedouin traditions, has hijacked Islam, transforming the religion into a creed fit more for the medieval tribesman of the Hijaz. That seems correct to me, but having traveled through Iran, I witnessed the same abuses of the religion, particularly against women. And, of course, the Iranians are not Arab.
But my real inspiration was Nour. As I describe in the book, she hated anything that had to do with tribal culture. To her, “tribal norms,” as she call them, represented ignorance and oppression—and the nightmare of living under a system dominated by patriarchal customs. To her, Islam offered females basic rights that checked the arbitrary power of custom. Nour (and other Islamic feminists I spoke to) hoped that democracy could then expand on those rights for Iraq’s approximately 16 million women.
Unfortunately, the trend seems headed the opposite direction: Islam in Iraq (and elsewhere) is becoming more tribal, more insular, more sunk in a backwards mindset of misogyny, obsession with honor and a kind of bi-polar oscillation between self-loathing and self-importance. We see the effects of this dysfunctionality north and west of Baghdad where Sunni Arabs, disgraced by their fall from power, attempt to kill American soldiers in order to reclaim their “honor” rather than negotiate a future for their children in a democratic Iraq. Islam has long been aware of the corruptions of tribalism—Wahhabism and other Salafist movements are attempts to return the religion to its “pure” state. But as we see with Al Qaeda and Zarqawi, the results are just as intolerant, misogynistic and bloodthirsty—in a word, fascistic.
FP: You illuminate very powerfully radical Islam’s cult of death (i.e. the Shia obsession with martyrdom etc.) In many respects, our enemy in the War on Terror is a death cult, isn’t it? And as Paul Berman has argued in Liberalism and Terror, Islamism is related to communism and fascism, two ideologies that were death cults as well. What is this cult of death and why does it keep resurfacing in mutated forms?
Vincent: Regarding your question, the word that kept returning to my mind in Iraq was “grandiosity.” We are limited creatures, proscribed by God from obtaining too much power or knowledge, and yet we constantly entertain the fantasy of throwing off those limits to become godlike. When, as individuals, we succumb to this temptation, the result is narcissism—or, in the most extreme cases, schizophrenia. In cultures, this delusion can spawn a fetish for the all-powerful warrior—or, more often today, the terrorist. Nazis, Communist revolutionaries, Islamofascists are warriors and terrorists—all believe in their superhuman will to transcend the ego and possess the Infinite. But as religion has instructed us, Life is limitation, the acceptance of imperfection, mortality and the finite-ness of sin. It is difficult to accept human limitation. But anything else represents the cult of Death.
Today’s Islamofascist leaders have learned to imprison the lives and moral imaginations of their followers in this cult. What are the rewards for the shahid who pilots a plane into a skyscraper or a car into a line of Iraqi policemen? The knowledge that, for a split-second, he is a god, holding the power of life and death over his victims; the realization, too, that for eternity, a grateful umma will revere his memory as a true mujahedeen. And--for men, at least—there’s the never-ending pleasures of Paradise. No wonder the Islamofascists declare that they “love death more than we love life.” In truth, they are enraptured by a kind of malignant narcissism, exacerbated by the grandiosity that lurks at the heart of Islam.
FP: One dark phenomenon you encountered in Iraq was the barbaric treatment of women by a culture controlled by tribal Islam. Tell us a bit about the suffering of women that you witnessed.
Vincent: My experiences in Iraq, together with what I witnessed in Iran in 2000, led me to wonder why the civilized world doesn’t rise up en masse and say Enough! We will no longer tolerate the way that Muslim nations in the Middle East treat women! Alas, in today’s multicultural world, such outrage is impossible.
Meanwhile, in Iraq the compass of women’s lives—their legal and social rights, hopes and dreams and image of themselves—slowly constricts. Criminals prey on females, forcing them to remain indoors after dark. Islamic clerics pressure them to don black abiyas—even when the heat tops 140 degrees. Tribal leaders and Shia imams agitate for shari’a—misogynistic Islamic law—to regulate every aspect of a woman’s existence. Polygamy, honor killings, divorce by repudiation, temporary marriages (essentially religiously-sanctioned adultery) have returned, at least as matters of serious discussion.
What I learned from Nour—and what I discuss in much of In the Red Zone--is the psychic claustrophobia of Iraqi society. Reputation and virginity are everything—should a woman lose the first, she is ostracized from “good” society; lose the second before marriage and she risks being murdered by her “shamed” family. On the street, in restaurants, taxi cabs, mosques, and public place, men (and women) stare at females, waiting—hoping—they will do something that will disgrace themselves and fuel invidious gossip. “The relationships between Iraqi men and women are sadomasochistic,” Nour told me. From what I saw, she is right.
FP: You make the observation that the future of democracy in Iraq is interlinked with women’s rights. History bears this out: wherever freedom takes root is a place where women are free. Wherever death cults and tyrannies prevail, women suffer most. Why do you think that despots always target women and seek to enslave them? What is it in women that threaten tyrannies and tyrannical men?
Vincent: Femininity represents half of the spirit of Man. To construct a society based on grandiose fantasy, fetishized masculinity and death, the tyrant must suppress, excise or otherwise channel and control that feminine half. Islam has devised perhaps the most effective way of wielding such psychic domination--by convincing women that it is their duty to God to accept a condition of social inferiority and, in many cases, virtual slavery.
Malignant narcissists—or, the members of tyrannical death cults—are terrified of the feminine. The ecstasy of death mirrors the bliss of the womb, and the narcissistic warrior’s worst enemy is his secret desire to regress to infantile nonexistence. His moral rigidity, lack of imagination and obsession with physical and religious purity are attempts to suppress this Oedipal desire--think of Mohammad Atta’s burial instructions to wrap up his genitals and allow no women to approach his bier.
The female spirit can dominate, fool or inspire men--many Iraqi women told me they wear hejab to protect men from their own weakness. The more repressive the man, the more he secretly fears the ability of the feminine to undermine his power. To put this in the context of Islam, the only way the religion will grapple with its fantasies of masculine omnipotence is to come to terms with the feminine. As any adolescent male knows—and Islam is an adolescent religion—once you settle into a relationship with a woman, you exchange the excitement of fantasy for the more limited, but more satisfying, realities of maturity and love. But of course, this acceptance of limitation is precisely what the Islamofascist fears and detests.
FP: I loved the question you asked of one Iraqi who was styling himself as a democrat in front of an audience and saying that political Islam was compatible with democracy. After he said there could be freedom of speech in political Islam, you asked if, under such a system, people could say in public that the Koran was not the word of God and whether women could have premarital sex without fearing for their physical safety. All logical and rational thought in this individual ended after your question.
I have asked precisely these questions of many Muslims who have boasted to me that political Islam can offer peace and freedom. After their great boasts, I ask if, under their systems, women can engage in casual sex with whomever they desire and to live without fear. And whatever we might morally think of such women, it is their business and not ours. That is what a free society is about.
In any case, I usually become the victim of a violent tirade after asking this question and it ends up, not very surprisingly I must say, that the definition of the word “freedom” is something very different for these individuals than to us.
Why is even the thought of a woman’s right to do what she wants with her sexuality and body something that makes Islamists and Arab tribalists start acting like the possessed girl in the Exorcist after holy water is sprinkled on her?
Vincent: Because Islam has been corrupted by tribalism, the tribal view of women predominates. Tribalism is an ethos suited for an agricultural society, where bloodlines, female fecundity and extended families are of supreme importance. It’s not surprising, then, that among many segments of Iraqi/Arab/Muslim society, men consider women as little more than delivery systems for male heirs. They see it as natural, and it suits their patriarchal mindset. As you put it, the mere thought of allowing women control of their sexuality raises for men the terrors of emasculation, confused bloodlines, raising children sired by other men, living perpetually in the dark about the true lineage of their offspring. Next come birth control and the unmentionable: abortion. To the psychology of the patriarch, women’s sexual freedom is an express lane to libertinism, the unraveling of the social fabric and ultimately, sterility and the extinction of the tribe--to say nothing of the loss of masculine privileges.
FP: You note in your book that at one point you were sitting at the Al-Hamra Hotel, where Western journalists hang out. Beside the swimming pool you heard two American women laughing and you said a “chill shot” went right through you. You then realized that you had not heard a woman laugh in Iraq, “not in a free and unguarded manner, at any rate.” That laughter became like music to your ears.
This part of the book touches a special chord in me, as I am researching why Arab tribal culture and militant Islam forbid women to laugh, regarding it as an evil. Many totalitarian cultures, actually, frown on frivolity, especially among women and, in turn, especially among young women.
This is a quite a phenomenon. What is laughter and what does it represent? What does it represent in a woman?
Vincent: To me, laughter is that brief moment when we, in our limited capacities as human beings, express the joy of creation. It is a suggestion of grace, when we become possessed by the Spirit “that bloweth where It will,” making fools of the patriarchs, tyrants, death-cult warriors and Islamofascist clerics who attempt to stop It.
As for a woman’s laughter—objectively speaking, I don’t think it’s any different from a man’s. Both represent a moment when men and women unite with the creative element of the Spirit.
But to answer your question more precisely, for me—a male—hearing women in Iraq (but not, sadly, Iraqi women) laugh for the first time in weeks represented the most beautiful sound imaginable. A sound of the human spirit that I’d always taken for granted, now seemed inestimably precious. The fact that I hadn’t heard this feminine music in so long brought home to me the horrors of despotism—whether under the Baathist regime or the Koran. And, as I write in In the Red Zone, I became a feminist at that moment.
FP: Somewhere here, in the demonization and repression of a woman’s laughter, we see the heart of darkness in the recesses of evil totalitarianism. The laughter of a female clearly poses a great threat to despotism, and most times religious despotism. Could you enlighten us with your wisdom on this matter?
Vincent: Remember Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose? The murders of the monks in the English monastery were part of an attempt by religious despots to conceal the existence of Aristotle’s lost treatise on Comedy. They knew that laughter is uncontrollable, subversive—especially to the clerical mindset. This is especially true in Islam—which demonstrates no sense of humor whatsoever. Combine the seditious nature of laughter with the equally dangerous--to the patriarchal tyrant—power of femininity and you have a force that can sweep away the kings of the earth.
I have this fantasy that fills me with particular joy. I think of some cranky bearded cleric—say, Moqtada al-Sadr—spouting the usual anti-American, anti-Semitic bilge when suddenly the women in his mosque—laugh. Imagine that moment! All that Islamofascist hatred and resentment and grandiosity washed away in a torrent of feminine amusement and ridicule. How could the clerics hold over the imaginations, spirits and desires of his flock withstand the charisma of feminine laughter? Add in the even more volatile force of sexual freedom and you would reduce 90 percent of Islam’s ulema to pathetic old men in back street mosques, preaching their misogynistic claptrap to ever-dwindling congregations. And no better fate could befall them.
FP: In your reaction to the women laughing, you said something that has its own profound eye-opening meaning: you said the laughter was music to your ears.
And isn’t it interesting that the despots (usually religious ones) who furiously hate women’s laughter and cannot even hear it without starting to gnash their teeth and foam at the mouths, also often do the same when hearing music.
I have always been fascinated and intrigued with this phenomenon: individuals and regimes that detest music. Why? What does it say about them?
We know that Lenin frowned on music, in part because he feared that it might reduce humans’ rage and make them disinclined to kill in a revolution. We know that Stalin was threatened by certain music that didn’t even have lyrics (e.g., Shostakovich, the Eighth Symphony of 1943). Khomeini despised music and banned most of it from radio and TV. The Taliban illegalized music. Etc.
The utopian impulse to purify humans, which Islamism surely is, often interrelates with the demonization and illegalization of music.
Why do you think many despots and totalitarian regimes are so petrified and threatened by music -- or certain kinds of music?
Vincent: The answer might be found in a quote from Nietzsche: “In music the passions enjoy themselves.” With an effect unlike any other art form, music transports the listener out of the light-realm of the rational, of Logos, into that dark and mysterious place of the soul. Some totalitarian leaders view music’s ability to bypass rationality as a helpful adjunct to their power—the Nazis, as we know, had no shortage of martial anthems to rally their spirits. On the other hand, those movements that reject the bonds of traditional culture and attempt to remake their followers’ souls along spiritual lines view music as a lure to old patterns of behavior—one reason why Plato rejected music for the higher education of his Republic’s Guardians.
Islam doesn’t say much about music—but its clerics do. As you noted, Khomeini detested music and the Taliban even outlawed the possession of song-birds. Grand Ayatollah Sistani, the spiritual leader of Iraq’s Shia and the man upon whom the U.S. places its hopes for a democratic Iraq, believes music is haram that is meant for “diversion and play.” In Baghdad, around the time of Ashura, Shia taxi drivers replaced the Arabic pop you usually heard blasting from their cabs with religious “music:” lugubrious recitations of the Battle of Karbala, underscored by groaning chants from audience members. Finger-poppin’ time, this wasn’t.
As Nietzsche and Sistani both recognize, music is play, freedom, indulgence in passion, an awakening of the heart to the beauties of nature and the venerable traditions of the communal soul. Salafists interested in purifying their followers of such earthly banalities will naturally suppress the distractions of melody and rhythm. Remember, too, that the first word that Gabriel spoke to Mohammad was “iqra”—“read”—and not “listen.” On the other hand, to a devout Muslim, Islam is inconceivable without recitations of the Koran in Arabic, a language which imparts a rich mellifluousness to the word of Allah. In a sense, then, music returns to Islam—but definitely not for diversion or play.
FP: In your book, you point out that women constitute 60% of Iraq’s population. Doesn’t this bring us a lot of hope if women will be allowed to vote in the coming Iraqi elections?
Vincent: Would that were true. But millions of Iraqi women live in rural areas, regulated by tribal customs more oppressive than Islamic law. There, amidst date groves and miserable hovels of brick and mud, young women have multiple children even as their literacy rate plummets—mainly because “ignorant men” are taking their teen-age girls out of school (what use is an education to a baby-making machine?). Worse, many men refuse to give women “permission” to vote—as we saw in rural areas of Afghanistan. Because of the scourge of tribalism, we can hardly expect that Iraqi women outside of the cities will become knowledgeable or even active voters overnight. The transition from slave to citizen usually takes generations, if it happens at all.
FP: You conclude that “women are the Achilles heel of Islamic states. . . .gender equality is one of the most – if not the most – potent weapons against the social factors that breed terrorism.”
You have hit bingo here my friend. Fighting for feminism under Islamism, in my view, is like fighting for private property and freedom of speech under communism, or fighting for equality for Jews under Nazism. Once Gorbachev initiated Glasnost and Perestroika, he destroyed the very system he was trying to save. If a potential Nazi system started letting Jews into the political process, Nazism would cease to be what it is supposed to be overnight. Once gender equality infiltrates and assimilates within Islam, it will no longer be Islam.
Sorry for seemingly answering my own question, but it is meant to stimulate further discussion. Please give your thoughts on this matter and how we can best fight the feminist war against our contemporary enemy.
Vincent: As I’ve noted here and elsewhere, suppression of the feminine—whether it be feminine sexuality, freedom or laughter—is the foundation upon which the death-cult of Islamofascism rests. Undermine that foundation, and the entire edifice, from al-Sadr to Zarqawi to bin Laden will collapse.
But for the West to encourage such an event, we must overcome our own fears of liberated women. By that I mean, the Left must discard a multicultural mindset that refuses to use Western standards to criticize other cultures, even when Western values—such as feminism--are clearly more beneficial to those cultures. As I describe in my book, one afternoon in Baghdad I listened to a group of Western anti-war activists complain that the American invasion of Iraq was an imperialistic attempt to crush the country’s native culture. When I suggested that some aspect of this “native culture” should be crushed—like forcing women to wear black sacks in blistering summer weather—one of the activists looked at me with a shocked expression. “But feminism has brought such destruction to the American family, do we want to wish that on Iraq?” And she was no post-feminist youngster, but a woman from the anti-Vietnam War days!
This—along with an unwillingness to support the Bush Administration in anything—explains in large part the silence of the Left as Islamofascists repeatedly violate their core beliefs of secularism, human rights and creative freedom (where are the outcries about the murder of Theo van Gogh? They come mostly from the Right). I remember my Iraqi friend Naseer telling me how impressed his mother was to see American women soldiers. His mom didn’t realize such gender equality was possible, or that women could interact so easily with their male counterparts—and millions of other women across Iraq are learning similar feminist lessons. The Left has got to accept one fact that has stuck in their craw since the Vietnam War: where the American military goes, so goes human freedom.
But the Right has to bite some bullets, too. Let’s face it: many of us prescribe for Iraq the very measures that conservatives detest about the 1960s—particularly when it comes to feminism, sexual freedom and rejection of patriarchal authority. So the Right—especially those on the religious right—have to accept the fact that once you let the feminine genie out of the bottle, the results are unpredictable and not always to a conservative’s liking. That means here in America, as well.
Communists, libertarians, leftists, neo-cons, Christian evangelists, Hollywood celebrities and NASCAR Americans ought to be able to rally at least one point: women must be free in the Islamic Middle East. It’s an issue that combines visionary idealism with hard-nosed, America-first realism. By uniting the progressive energies of the Left and the Right, the U.S.—I’d like to say the West, but Europe is too busy appeasing its Muslim minority--will exert the same sort of slow, steady, unyielding pressure against the misogynistic imams and shari’a-wielding ayatollahs that brought down the apartheid regimes of the antebellum south and South Africa.
FP: From your experiences, you conclude that the terror war and the Iraqi war
are linked together. Tell us why.
Vincent: We are fighting Islamofascism. Whether the enemy takes the form of some soft-spoken “pious” Muslim plotting the destruction of American from the mountains of Tora Bora, or a Baathist thug dreaming of becoming the next Salah-ad-din, doesn’t matter. They are twin faces of the same fascist death-cult.
To the people who protest that Saddam never attacked America, I say—how many Luftwaffe pilots bombed Pearl Harbor? And yet our nation sent the bulk of its war machine against Nazi Germany. To fight Al Qaeda without taking out Saddam Hussein would have been like striking Japan after December 7, but ignoring the Germans. Somehow, FDR and the American people realized that the Japanese, Germans and Italians (and later, the Soviets) were part of the same hydra-headed monster of totalitarianism. I can’t understand why our generation can’t grasp the same fact.
FP: Who will win the fight for Iraq and, ultimately, the War on Terror? By what means will it be done?
Vincent: Jamie, is there any doubt we will win? Even if—God forbid—the Islamofascists and the American Left drive us out of Iraq, we will survive to fight another day. Having said this, it’s true that our country must remain resolved and supportive of our troops. We need to also do our homework: study Islam, know what makes the religion tick, seek its weak points and places where we can bring the pressures of our religious and constitutional freedoms to bear. We should learn, too, about the effects of malignant narcissism and how to counteract the grandiosity that conceals itself like a nemesis star in the soul of the Muslim world.
We should keep in mind that we are fighting a death-cult. Eventually, such enemies succumb to the power of civilization—even with its maddening limitations, rules and ethics—or become consumed by their own nihilism and resentments. Still, we should steel ourselves for a difficult war, one that may last a generation or more (although, should we find a way to weaponize feminism, the conflict would end virtually overnight). Though we may suffer numerous reversals and even defeats, victory will be ours in the end. We didn’t start this fight, but by the grace of God, the power of the U.S. Constitution and the strength of the American people, we will finish it.
FP: Thank you Mr. Vincent, our time is up. We are very grateful to you for your courage and the knowledge and inspiration you give us all.
Vincent: Thanks, Jamie--but like I said, its the American soldiers and members of the true Iraqi resistance who embody real courage and inspiration.
FP: I hear you Mr. Vincent. It was an honor to speak with you. Take care.