Wednesday, February 08, 2006

More On the Cartoon Wars

A very striking point comes from this Washington Times Editorial:

The spontaneous appearance over the past few days of dozens of Danish flags ready for the burning raises further questions about where the flags came from.

A lot of this "spontaneity" was clearly staged. The cartoons gained a wider audience when radical Danish clerics toured the Middle East last month, showing the offending cartoons to the heads of several of the major Islamist groups in the region. Just in case the originals weren't offensive enough, the clerics also supplied a few of their own cartoons, ever more inflammatory, and said they sprang from the pens of the infidels. One of the clerics, Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Ladan, explained in an interview that the tour was meant to "internationalize this issue." The clerics told their hosts that Muslims do not have the right to build mosques in Denmark, and repeated other ridiculous lies to foment discord and ridicule the Danish government.

The radical clerics in Denmark have succeeded, a fact pundits and analysts on both sides have largely missed. The focus has been on the assault on freedom of expression in the name of religious tolerance, as it should be, but that was not what Abu Ladan and his travelers had in mind when they toured the Middle East. They wanted to create a groundswell of discontent among Muslims in Europe, put pressure on Denmark -- and other nations -- to abide by sharia law and to build a sympathetic base for further terrorist attacks. The placards of British Muslims, demanding more "7/7s," a reference to the London subway bombings on July 7, went straight to the point of the clerics' Middle East tour. This was an exercise in agitprop to further the goals of Islamofascism, and it worked.

This raises again the issue of the Syria-Iran factor. The involvement of these two governments in the riots and protests over the Danish cartoons becomes ever more apparent as events are unfolding. Austin Bay captures this concept well:

The Danish “Cartoon War” is an information warfare operation by conducted Islamist terror groups and at least two Middle Eastern dictatorships (Syria and Iran).

Understaning this key fact is central to understanding the significance of the issue, and without a grasp of this concept, it is not possible to adequately address the situation. President Bush appears to have caught on:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Bush condemned the deadly rioting sparked by cartoons of the prophet Muhammad on Wednesday, and his secretary of state accused Iran and Syria of trying "to inflame sentiments" across the Muslim world.

Bush urged foreign leaders to halt the spreading violence and to protect diplomats in besieged embassies.

Seeing the Syria-Iran connection is to see just how significant the uproar over the cartoons is to the War on Terror. The MSM may not see this, but the stakes are high indeed.

In his column today, Tony Blankley offers some insightful commentary on the cartoons. Notably, he suggests that there is no end to the causes of the West that offend the radical Islamists. The people who call for understanding and sensitivity in dealing with the extreme reactions of fanatical Muslims do not understand what is happening, and they do not understand the stakes.