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On Point

What the US Needs is a Liberal Hawk

by Austin Bay
January 8, 2003

Someone needs to tell Washington state Senator Patty Murray that Osama bin Laden's daycare centers are helping foment terror, not stop it -- and the ideal someone is a liberal Democrat who knows America needs left-wing hawks.

But first, meet Jemaah Islamiya (JI), Al Qaeda's nom de guerre in Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. JI seeks to establish an Islamic state extending from southern Thailand through the Filipino and Indonesian archipelagoes. Last October's Bali night club bombing was JI's headline-grabbing handiwork.

And part of JI's long-term strategy is funding youth schools.

Just before Christmas, I returned from Southeast Asia, where I was working on a forthcoming magazine article on the terror war in the region. One afternoon, a Malaysian scholar walked me through JI's "childhood education" program, something Murray's staff failed to do for her.

The short version is money. JI uses the terror payola "from Arab sources" to muscle out public and Muslim moderate education programs in Malaysian villages.

It's symptomatic of an intra-Islam religious and cultural conflict. I've heard Malaysian and Indonesian Muslims complain of "the Arabization of our religion." Arabization is a highly nuanced term, but the general drift among the people I interviewed is it represents a movement toward an aggressive anti-Western, anti-secular and, frankly, racially-tinged ideology. Here's the race angle JI preaches: Singapore is a Chinese city, which is why it needs to be smashed by an Islamic uprising.

JI-funded schools teach hate, not reading. Over tea, the Malaysian scholar reinforced his point, telling me undermining the schools "preys on a (strategic) weakness in Malaysia."

Then I returned to the states to read Sen. Patty Murray's comments.

If you aren't aware of them, that's a telling point, and it ultimately relates to a strategic weakness in my country, the United States of America.

Here's what Murray had to say about Osama bin Laden, on Dec. 19:

"We've got to ask, why is this man (Osama bin Laden) so popular around the world?," Murray said. "He's been out in these countries for decades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, building daycare facilities, building health-care facilities, and the people are extremely grateful. We haven't done that."

I know, it's jaw-dropping. A U.S. senator exalts a terrorist who's funded a propaganda infrastructure designed to destabilize Third World nations and teach kids to kill Muslim moderates and Americans.

It's easy to smack her with sarcasm, and say, hey Patty, you don't know a soccer field from a battlefield. Sleepless in Seattle ain't the same as Breathless in Baghdad.

But Murray's comments and the lack of criticism from her liberal pals is indicative of a very serious American strategic weakness, one that Al Qaeda preys upon just as it preys upon Malaysian and Indonesian vulnerabilities.

America desperately needs a new generation of defense Democrats, liberals with clear heads and sharp swords. America needs them now. Sam Nunn is retired. Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson is dead. Gary Hart, now billing himself as a defense guru, helped kill Scoop politically in 1972 and 1976. Richard Perle, still a registered Democrat, is anathematized by liberals as a prince of darkness, instead of the defense whiz he is.

But no major Democrats have publicly condemned Murray's outrage. Silence doesn't cut it, folks. Perhaps a stonewall prevents "political damage" to her, but it continues to seed deep doubts about Democrats on national security. Sure, in a well wrought counter-terror strategy, daycare centers can complement destroyers, but that wasn't Murray's message.

A U.S. senator's office so out of touch that it doesn't know Al Qaeda's and Jemaah Islamiya's game is inexcusable. The general lack of critique from the national media also suggests a national media culture still not aware of 9-11's historic challenge.

Maybe Hart can recreate himself. Perhaps former Gen. Wes Clark, if he shakes his Clinton umbilical, is the liberal warrior who can rebuild the Harry Truman-wing of his party. But to rebuild and recreate means damning the Democrats' Patty Murrays, whose myopic and highly politicized domestic focus leads them to laud a vicious American enemy.

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