Jewish World Review April 8, 2003 / 6 Nisan, 5763

Jack Kelly

Jack Kelly
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It's a mad, mad (Arab) world


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | DOHA, Qatar The war with Iraq has made Arabs really, really mad. Egypt's top Muslim cleric has endorsed jihad against the United States, Reuters reports, and hundreds of Egyptians have signed up to fight for Saddam Hussein.

Don't count me among the terrified.

Arabs fight with their mouths. Arabs are big on symbolic victories, because real ones are hard to come by. The last time an Arab army defeated a Western army was when Salah al-Din recaptured Jerusalem from the Crusaders. But that was 1,000 years ago. And Salah al-Din was a Kurd, not an Arab. The Arab record of being 0 for the last millennium is not going to improve in Iraq.

The fighting, such as it's been, in Iraq pretty much illustrates the Arab way of war for the last 10 centuries: treachery, brutality toward the helpless, cowardice in the face of the enemy and constant empty boasting. Arabs bluster, then retreat.

A good example of this came last Saturday. A battalion of the Third Infantry Division (Mechanized) launched a lightning raid into the heart of Baghdad, driving up the main road from the south into the center of the city, then leaving town on the main road coming in from the west. The battalion killed between 2,000 and 3,000 Iraqi soldiers and irregulars in the course of that raid, at a cost of one U.S. soldier killed, three wounded and one Abrams tank destroyed. After the raid, Iraqi irregulars crowded around the disabled tank, mugging for the cameras of Arab TV. They shook their fists in the air, fired off their Kalashnikovs and acted as if they had won a great victory. In their minds, they had.

Arabs have a low threshold for what they consider courage. They think abusing prisoners of war is brave. They think ambushing people under a flag of truce is brave. But with Republican Guard units more likely to park their tanks and walk away than to face American armor, I guess you have to take your examples of Arab "courage" where you can get them.

One of the few failures of the Coalition so far has been an inability to shut down Iraqi TV. I kind of hope the efforts continue to fail. I enjoy the comic relief. In the unlikely event that Information Minister Mohammed Said Sahhaf survives this war, he has a future as a guest host on "Saturday Night Live."

Just hours before U.S. forces seized Saddam International Airport, Sahhaf declared that there were no Coalition forces within 100 kilometers of Baghdad. As the Third Infantry was conducting its raid on the center of Baghdad, Sahhaf was declaring that the U.S. troops at the airport had been wiped out by the Republican Guard.

The amazing thing is that there are millions of Arabs who still take Sahhaf seriously. According to Al Jazeera and other Arab networks, Saddam's forces have been moving from triumph to triumph. When it comes to anti-American propaganda, you can sell Arabs the Brooklyn bridge not just once, but over and over again.

But there is a limit to the gullibility of even the most gullible. Iraqis who live in Baghdad have to feel the way Dorothy must have felt when she pulled down the curtain concealing the Wizard of Oz. The Americans are 100 kilometers away, or wiped out, or running for their lives. So who are those guys in the tanks around the presidential palace in the heart of Baghdad?

Some in the Arab world are starting to smell the coffee:

"As in earlier wars, the Iraq war is expected to leave the Arab world weaker than it ever was," said the Riyadh Times of Saudi Arabia. "The rejoicing over the handful of Anglo-American casualties and deifying of Saddam Hussein are all clear reflections of Arab weakness in the face of the crisis."

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JWR contributor Jack Kelly, a former Marine and Green Beret, was a deputy assistant secretary of the Air Force in the Reagan administration. Comment by clicking here.

04/03/03: Ah, the life of a war correspondent this time around
04/02/03: The difference between hopes and expectations
03/31/03: Iraq is a steppingstone, not a final stop
03/24/03: European media and former 'human shields' are beginning to get it
03/20/03: Was getting the UN involved worth it?
03/18/03: South Koreans no longer behaving as if they were the French of Northeast Asia --- why?
03/11/03: Ultimatum's moment of truth
03/11/03: Thank you, Turkey, we needed that
03/07/03: The fight against Saddam isn't a distraction from the war on terror --- it's is the main event
03/04/03: Bioterror nightmare approaching --- how it could likely happen
02/27/03: Iranian student: Can America hurry up with Iraq already, so they can get on with attacking us?
02/25/03: Yahoos on both the Left and the Right are trying to prevent government from maximizing technology in protecting us
02/20/03: Anti-war group gets it right about great humanitarian tragedy in last Gulf War
02/18/03: Iraqis: Why are these people marching for tyranny?
02/07/03: French kiss(ed)-off
02/05/03: Does the FBI have the ability to protect us from terrorists already here?
02/03/03: The "Axis of Weasels"
01/29/03: A bit of the jitters
01/27/03: The world's mediocre intelligence agency
01/21/03: By reaffirming GOP opposition to racism, president demonstrates willingness to confront liars
01/16/03: Why the United States should withdraw all of its military forces from South Korea as rapidly as we reasonably can
01/14/03: Federal incompetence driven by political correctness, not trampling of civil liberties, is what we should fear
01/09/03: Bag this boondoggle: The V-22 Osprey would hurt our national defense
01/07/03: Another Korean war?
01/02/03: Ostriches
12/26/02: Learning from Canada's economic suicide
12/24/02: A moral dilemma: Support a vicious fascist dictator or the poor and downtrodden?
12/20/02: Time to tell the truth: The great movement of blacks to the Democratic Party took place for economic reasons, not because of civil rights
12/18/02: Nothing better illustrates Trent Lott's unfitness for the post of Senate Majority Leader than his desperate efforts to cling to it
12/16/02: Debunker mentality: It's hard work not seeing ties between Iraq and al-Qaida
12/12/02: GOP ideologues turning on Lott --- better sacrifice the leader than the party
12/06/02: Curing our democracy of afflictions
12/02/02: Conscription, like the horse cavalry, is an artifact of a bygone time
11/27/02: What Saddam faces
11/25/02: Why war with Iraq can be averted
11/19/02: A draft would harm the military
11/12/02: The 2002 elections and Nixon
11/07/02: Democratic overreaction to our recent "cosmically important" election
10/30/02: Show North Korea we're serious: Polish off Saddam
10/22/02: The squealing in the Pentagon is a proof of Rummy's effectiveness
10/16/02: The tactical challenge we face
10/10/02: Silence more despicable than seditious noise
10/08/02: Bu$h and the bu$ine$$ of war
10/01/02: Gore's calculated risk may well get him the Dems' nomination
09/25/02: Schroeder may find the fruits of victory sour
09/25/02: Making Saddam change his spots
09/19/02: Bush's resolve already has paid dividends
09/17/02: Courageous Iranians
09/13/02: If you never served in the military, you have no right to an opinion
09/10/02: Why the 'air marshals' will fail
09/05/02: Resurrecting the "Happy Darky"
08/31/02: Are Bush's inactions against Iraq calculated?
08/23/02: Dems can't take the minority vote for granted any longer
08/20/02: No proof of Saddam's wrongdoing? Yeah, right
08/15/02: Mineta's war on what?
08/13/02: When Gore said he wanted to be his 'own man,' what was he thinking!?
08/08/02: Picking a tree for Cheney's hanging
08/06/02: Fears about the Department of Homeland Security are misplaced
08/01/02: The greatest strategic deception since Eisenhower convinced Hitler the Allies were going to land at the Pas de Calais?
07/30/02: State Dept.'s anti-American actions
07/26/02: Journalists are making sure Americans can't differentiate between the stock market and the economy
07/23/02: Iran's is on the verge of a social and political explosion. So why is media ignoring it?
07/17/02: FBI isn't supposed to stand for Foolish, Blind and Incompetent
07/12/02: The ICC tramples on rights Americans take for granted
07/09/02: Was LA International Airport shooting, in fact, good news?
07/02/02: What the "intelligence community" can learn from Alexander the Great
06/28/02: Muslim link in Oklahoma City bombing revisited
06/25/02: A good environmental scare needs two ingredients - an impending catastrophe, and someone to blame for it
06/21/02: Stirring the security pot
06/18/02: Why the military is so messed up
06/14/02: Vast majority $68.7 billion proposed for weapons will be spent on systems of little use in the war on terror
06/12/02: Bush saw them and raised them, and he's holding the aces
06/10/02: Some heads need to roll
06/04/02: A new draft for the 'war on terror'?
05/31/02: So the FBI has finally caught up to our priorities?
05/29/02: Taking on common sense
05/23/02: Political terrorists
05/21/02: There is a great deal to fret about, but I've never been more optimistic
05/15/02: If there is a way for America to lose the war, Gen. Tommy Franks can find it
05/13/02: Impartial justice against Americans by the UN?
05/07/02: Want to win the 'war on terror'? Reinstate the draft
05/03/02: An expanded NATO is needed as a counterweight to the UN and the EU
04/29/02: Islamic 'smarts'
04/26/02: Did Bush play his Aces with Abdullah wisely?
04/23/02: Why peace in the Mideast is closer than ever
04/19/02: What the Arabs of Gaza and the West Bank gained from the "peace accords"
04/17/02: Logical Muslim allies
04/10/02: How to guarantee an infinite Mideast war
04/08/02: Saddam's American friends
04/05/02: Arab winners and sinners
04/01/02: Why is the commander of U.S. Central Command not coming clean to the American people?
03/31/02: Dubya under attack by conservatives
03/26/02: Saddam watch coming to an end?
03/21/02: Get the Jews!
03/19/02: It's time pols and gov bureaucrats be held to the same standard of accountability we insist for corporate execs
03/15/02: Khaki Throat
03/12/02: Making foreign cheaters pay
03/08/02: Timidity and indecision by senior American commanders
03/04/02: Why 9-11? Ex-CIA officials come clean
02/25/02: Don't rule out a quick victory --- even if prez says otherwise
02/21/02: Saving our military from itself
02/19/02: Front Page fiction
02/15/02: Our European allies are like the fat kid who wants to play quarterback
02/13/02: Is the Army in danger of becoming "irrelevant"?
02/11/02: So, I "propagate hatred"
02/06/02: Bush whacking the media
02/04/02: Why serious folks disregard the European Union --- and why Bush must, too
01/30/02: Give economy pneumonia in order to protect it from a cold
01/28/02: Media is its own worst enemy
01/25/02: Journalists making road to peace a bumpy ride, or: A case study in stupidity
01/23/02: Toward a stronger defense at a lower cost
01/21/02: How Bush could be Generations X and Y's Kennedy ... and guarantee a GOP victory in the midterm elections

© 2002, Jack Kelly