Chris Reilly's smug defense of the war on terror is insulting because his analysis is based upon lies and distortions of fact, and because it fails to grasp the very "root causes of extremism" Mr. Reilly so sanctimoniously adumbrates.
Let us begin by considering all who "preach hate" not just "the mullahs." I see little difference between Taliban and Protestant evangelicals when it comes to respect for democracy, human rights and law. Let us take a hard line with "state sponsors of terror" beginning with the United States' efforts in Afghanistan in 1979, or American support of Nicaraguan paramilitary death squads in the 1980s, or American military aid to none other than Saddam Hussein, not to mention the atrocities that can be attributed to American involvement in many African nations.
Perhaps Mr. Reilly would prefer to concentrate attention on our own domestic terrorists, the Ku Klux Klan, which have long enjoyed the tacit support of state legislatures throughout the South. Maybe Mr. Reilly's dispassionate willingness to face facts will also permit a close inspection of the terror a foolish rationalization of greed causes. Especially irritating about Mr. Reilly's "reasonable" defense of this war for oil is his penchant for arguing with counterfactual assertions. The "what if" clause is an expression that has no place in an analysis based upon realpolitik.
In fact, Iraq is descending into a quagmire according to the BBC's world affairs editor, John Simpson. "The US and British governments saw the invasion of Iraq as a liberation, a way of getting rid of a particularly nasty regime. Instead, things are getting much worse. This isn't how things were supposed to turn out here" (BBC World News, July 19, 2005). Meanwhile, the Taliban have regained control of much of Afghanistan.
Don't be alarmed, Mr. Reilly assures us that "[w]e can expect cooperation from countries such as Egypt and Pakistan." Egypt, that paragon of idealism and hope in the Middle East - not. And Pakistan, our dear dictatorship which has long played Americans for the fools we are, while managing to develop actual weapons of mass destruction with which to threaten whomever they choose, especially the world's most populous democracy, India. Never mind that Egypt and Pakistan happen to be the very countries in which the ideals of Muslim extremism were most forcefully articulated.
Wars can't eliminate hateful ideologies, but they can strengthen them. The next rational, intelligent war could be civil and right here.