President Bush acknowledges that Yasser Arafat has "failed as a leader" and recognizes that his promises to fight terrorism are nothing but empty lies. So why does his administration oppose Arafat's elimination? If Bin Laden or Saddam Hussein were holed up in a compound surrounded by U.S. troops, is there any doubt as to what the outcome would be? Why is Arafat different?
The answer is that the Bush administration continues to uphold the absurd contradiction of appeasing Palestinian terrorism while supposedly fighting the broader phenomenon of Islamic terrorism elsewhere in the world. According to Colin Powell, the result of Arafat's removal would be "rage throughout the Arab world, the Muslim world, and in many other parts of the world." But where is the rage - in this case a morally justified rage - of Mr. Powell and the U.S. government toward the terrorists who repeatedly murder Israeli civilians?
America has failed to learn the full lesson of September 11, 2001: that appeasement only invites more and worse attacks. The atrocities of that day were merely the most egregious attacks against us by Islamic terrorists. They had kidnapped our diplomats in Teheran, murdered U.S. servicemen in Lebanon and Saudi Arabia, bombed our embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, attacked the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen - and for more than two decades we did nothing to defend ourselves. For the same reason that we reversed our policy of appeasement after September 11 and began defending ourselves with force, we should allow and encourage Israel to defend itself with force.
For years the U.S. government has pressured Israel into suicidal negotiations with Palestinian terrorists. Israel had Arafat and the PLO surrounded south of Beirut in 1982, and was ready to eradicate them, but was restrained by President Reagan, who pressured the Israelis to allow Arafat and his organization safe passage to Tunisia. Despite the price paid in blood by innocent Israelis and Americans since, and despite Arafat's empty promises to fight Palestinian terrorism, the Bush administration continues to urge Israel to keep its troops out of the West Bank and to exercise "restraint."
For several compelling reasons the United States must desist from restraining Israel. The death of Arafat and the destruction of murderous groups like Hamas and Hizbullah will eliminate terrorists who hate the United States. It will strengthen Israel, our sole ally in the area, who will no longer have to live with constant suicide attacks. And the demise of Palestinian terrorism will prevent the creation of a Palestinian state, which given the hostility to the West of Palestinian leaders, would only add another independent nation to those already supporting terrorism.
There are also deeper moral reasons for setting Israel free to defend itself. The U.S. government needs to understand that more than Israel and America are under attack by terrorist organizations and regimes: Western Civilization is. At its deepest level, this is a struggle between two philosophies and two civilizations. Our murderous and tyrannical enemies are morally committed to their anti-Western ideology. Are we committed to our ideology? The terrorists know of our overwhelming military might - but they sense, too, our vacillating moral weakness. The U.S. government must fight this war in the name of the right and supremacy of Western Civilization, a culture vastly superior to Islamic culture in its ability to promote man's life on earth.
Israel is the lone country in the Middle East that stands for freedom, individual rights, secularism, reason, science and prosperity. Every Arab government is a dictatorship - be it a monarchy, theocracy or military state. Only in Israel is there freedom of speech and of the press, freedom of religion and the right to private property. The honest, nonviolent Arab living in Israel enjoys far greater freedom than he would under any Arab regime, including Arafat's. Israel, as the sole Western nation in that region, must be encouraged to apply its military superiority to achieve victory over the terrorists.
Urging the Israelis to destroy Arafat and to fight terrorists aggressively is good for the United States, both militarily and morally. We will then have an effective, trustworthy ally fighting by our side. More important, it will show the world that we are committed to the values of Western Civilization, that we will defend them to our last breath, and that we will not yield. Such uncompromising commitment to freedom and to Western values is a weapon far more powerful than any in our military arsenal.Andrew Bernstein, Ph.D. in philosophy, is a senior writer for the Ayn Rand Institute in Irvine, California.