Tuesday, October 24, 2006

The Peace of Ramadan?

Does anyone remember, as I vividly do, concerns that were loudly voiced by critics of the Bush I and Bush II Administrations, regarding the timing of combat operations during the Gulf War, the war against the Taliban in Afghanistan and the current war in Iraq? The United States must not conduct combat operations in Ramadan, the critics warned--that would show insensitivity to Moslem feelings, since Ramadan is a time of peace.

Here, for example, is a story from USATODAY on October 14, 2001, which stated that prospect of raids in Afghanistan in the coming weeks "raises fears that the United States will deeply offend Muslims worldwide, when the holiday starts Nov. 16 with images of the Christian West at war in Muslim regions and Muslims fighting Muslims as well." An Islamic scholar was quoted as saying "We need to keep in mind the sensitivities of the Muslim world. If [President George W. Bush] fights during Ramadan, that will give (Osama) bin Laden one more tool to argue to the Muslim world that the United States is disrespectful of their religion."

Well, as near as I can tell, the whole concern was a crock. Quite apart from the fact that Moslem nations have never shown the same sensitivity toward the holy days of other religions--Exhibit A being the deliberate decision by Syria and Egypt in October 1973 to launch a surprise attack on Israel on Yom Kippur--Moslems themselves seem to have no compunction whatsoever about fighting and killing during Ramadan. Indeed, apparently they view Ramadan as the season for violent jihad, matyrdom and the murder of their enemies. In fact, the Yom Kippur War is called the Ramadan War in the Arab world because it was launched on the 10th day of Ramadan.

In Iraq in 2003, a sharp surge in guerrilla attacks ushered in an insurgent effort that was termed the "Ramadan Offensive", as it coincided with the beginning of Ramadan. This year Ramadan in Iraq was marked not only by the highest death toll suffered by American troops since November 2004; but by the constant murder of Iraqis by Iraqis, Sunnis killing Shiites and Shiites returning the favor. Yesterday, as Ramadan ended with the feast day of Eid al-Fitr, shoppers in the marketplaces were greeted with bombs planted by their Muslim brethren. It was reported that at least 44 Iraqis were either killed Sunday or their bodies found dumpted along roads or on the banks of the Tigris River.

I respect Islam. I respect Moslems. I respect the observance of Ramadan. However, please respect my intelligence and don't try to tell me that the United States armed forces must refrain from conducting military operations during Ramadan.

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