There's an interesting story in the Old Testament where the enemies of God's people began fighting among themselves. Instead of attacking the Israelites, they turned on each other. "When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army," the book of 2 Chronicles documents, "they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped."
The good guys didn't lift a hand and didn't lose a single soldier. Perhaps there's a lesson here.
Saddam Hussain is dead. The people of Iraq have an unprecedented opportunity to live free from oppression. Same for those in Afghanistan and, frankly, any other Muslim country that wants it.
President Bush repeated his beliefs in an interview with Middle East news outlet Al Arabiya:
"The Iraqi citizens must understand America is not going to leave until the job is complete. We want to help Iraq. We've made a commitment. And the United States will keep that commitment because we believe in freedom and we believe the people of Iraq want to be free."
Sometimes, I have my doubts. Much of the Muslim mindset rejects what we call freedom. Some call it a cultural difference. Others label it licentiousness. Many just call it un-Islamic.
In Iraq, the Wehrmacht simply shifted from war with Iran to war with America. When Americans aren't around, it just becomes war with each other. Shiites against Sunnis. Hard-liners against moderates. Whoever it is, the blood continues to flow.
If the Muslim world is so bent on destruction, as they often appear to be, does it really make sense to intervene? It is a pessimistic view, for sure, but one can't help but wonder if a strategy of containment, much like the one fought against the Soviets throughout the 20th century, would be more effective than a strategy of engagement.
The Kurds are a relatively peaceful people, especially compared to both the Shiite and Sunni leaders in Iraq. The United States could establish a base in or near Kurdistan, fortify the bases in Afghanistan, and quietly work to keep the bloodshed contained. Granted, the spectre of 9/11 will continue to hang over us as long as the ideological descendants of bin-Laden are alive, but we could take our military personnel out of the direct line of fire and allow the various Muslim factions to fight each other.
In a culture where grandmothers strap bombs to themselves and parents strap bombs to their children, the logical conclusion to engagement is a bloodbath. Perhaps it's better to let the blood be theirs instead of ours. And who knows, perhaps one day we will look across the desert at their vast armies and see nothing but dead bodies. And then, we will finally have peace.