Monday, July 15, 2002

MICKEY KAUS ASKS:
And why do we think that encouraging the Islamic schools to "modernize" -- by offering "computer classes" and making "the Internet available" to students -- will produce fewer potential Islamic terrrorists as opposed to potentially more effective, modernized Islamic terrorists, at least in the short run?

Warning -- This is one subject on which I am an unrepentant naive idealogue.

Because if these students are exposed to the Internet, and from there can see pictures of Americans and Westerners, and interact with us, maybe they'll be less likely to believe crazed leaders who want to recruit them to kill themselves while blowing us up.

I think the emergence of global technology is one reason why it's somewhat difficult to get Americans behind any foreign war. Whenever we attack another country, we see pictures of the the people who were just bombed, and get vivid images of their suffering. It brings the reality of war home, and for me at least, it makes it hard for me to approve of doing it again to someone else. I think this is a good thing.

Yes, familiarity doesn't always breed peace. Jonah Glodberg is fond of pointing out that Palestinians and Isrealies are quite familiar with each other, as are Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireleand, and that hasn't stopped them from waging bloody street wars against each other. But these are age-old conflicts. Muslims may have an ancient grievance against "the West" in general, but not the US in particular. Leaders are trying to scapegoat the US as to blame for all of its problems, and that's going to be hard to do if "the Arab street" is a little more familiar with us.

Kaus is right about one thing in his last sentence -- "at least in the short run" this may give some terrorists a leg up. But Muslims are not going to be without computers forever, and it seems to me that it would be good if when they do get them, they come with some directions written by the US.

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