Michael Totten

What About Our Hearts and Minds?

As forces loyal to Libya’s cruel and deranged tyrant Moammar Qaddafi reconquer one rebel-held city after another, the Arab League and the Arabic press are calling for a no-fly zone over the country to tip, or at least even, the odds. While I’m inclined to help the Libyans on humanitarian grounds and to advance our own national interests, the American public’s appetite is low for intervening on behalf of the rebels — and it’s largely the Arab world’s fault.

Last time Americans led a coalition to topple a mass-murdering dictatorship in the Middle East, the Arab League and the Arabic press hysterically denounced us as imperialist crusaders fighting a war for oil and Israel. Egged on by al-Jazeera, they cheerleaded the “resistance” that killed thousands of our soldiers with roadside bombs in the years that followed.

Here at home, liberals fear and loathe the very idea of another Iraq, which to them is “Vietnam” conjugated in Arabic — and many conservatives are hardly more willing to risk American treasure and lives for people who aren’t necessarily our friends, who may well take shots at us after they’re liberated and who might build a new aggressive regime of their own.

Few expected Iraq to transition smoothly to a stable democracy after so many years of repression, sanctions and war — but if Iraqis hadn’t responded with such a vicious campaign of violence against our soldiers and each other, the thought of helping Libyans who suffer under similar circumstances wouldn’t frighten or disgust quite so many of us.

Iraqis didn’t have to attack us after we toppled Saddam Hussein. Contrary to what some seem to believe, guerrilla warfare and terrorism weren’t the only options available. The Kurds in Northern Iraq certainly didn’t shoot at us — they like us and welcomed us. They are some of the most pro-American people on earth. Not one person in their autonomous region ever attacked US forces. Only Arabs in central and southern Iraq thought a violent insurgency was the right way to proceed.

Read the rest in the New York Post.