by Austin Bay
January 8, 2003
Someone needs to tell Washington state Senator Patty Murray thatOsama bin Laden's daycare centers are helping foment terror, not stop it --and the ideal someone is a liberal Democrat who knows America needsleft-wing hawks.
But first, meet Jemaah Islamiya (JI), Al Qaeda's nom de guerrein Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia. JI seeks to establish an Islamic stateextending from southern Thailand through the Filipino and Indonesianarchipelagoes. Last October's Bali night club bombing was JI'sheadline-grabbing handiwork.
And part of JI's long-term strategy is funding youth schools.
Just before Christmas, I returned from Southeast Asia, where Iwas working on a forthcoming magazine article on the terror war in theregion. One afternoon, a Malaysian scholar walked me through JI's "childhoodeducation" program, something Murray's staff failed to do for her.
The short version is money. JI uses the terror payola "from Arabsources" to muscle out public and Muslim moderate education programs inMalaysian villages.
It's symptomatic of an intra-Islam religious and culturalconflict. I've heard Malaysian and Indonesian Muslims complain of "theArabization of our religion." Arabization is a highly nuanced term, but thegeneral drift among the people I interviewed is it represents a movementtoward an aggressive anti-Western, anti-secular and, frankly,racially-tinged ideology. Here's the race angle JI preaches: Singapore is aChinese city, which is why it needs to be smashed by an Islamic uprising.
JI-funded schools teach hate, not reading. Over tea, theMalaysian 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'scomments.
If you aren't aware of them, that's a telling point, and itultimately relates to a strategic weakness in my country, the United Statesof 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 populararound the world?," Murray said. "He's been out in these countries fordecades, building schools, building roads, building infrastructure, buildingdaycare facilities, building health-care facilities, and the people areextremely grateful. We haven't done that."
I know, it's jaw-dropping. A U.S. senator exalts a terroristwho's funded a propaganda infrastructure designed to destabilize Third Worldnations and teach kids to kill Muslim moderates and Americans.
It's easy to smack her with sarcasm, and say, hey Patty, youdon't know a soccer field from a battlefield. Sleepless in Seattle ain't thesame as Breathless in Baghdad.
But Murray's comments and the lack of criticism from her liberalpals is indicative of a very serious American strategic weakness, one thatAl Qaeda preys upon just as it preys upon Malaysian and Indonesianvulnerabilities.
America desperately needs a new generation of defense Democrats,liberals with clear heads and sharp swords. America needs them now. Sam Nunnis retired. Sen. Henry "Scoop" Jackson is dead. Gary Hart, now billinghimself as a defense guru, helped kill Scoop politically in 1972 and 1976.Richard Perle, still a registered Democrat, is anathematized by liberals asa 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 "politicaldamage" to her, but it continues to seed deep doubts about Democrats onnational security. Sure, in a well wrought counter-terror strategy, daycarecenters 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 AlQaeda's and Jemaah Islamiya's game is inexcusable. The general lack ofcritique from the national media also suggests a national media culturestill 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 rebuildthe Harry Truman-wing of his party. But to rebuild and recreate meansdamning the Democrats' Patty Murrays, whose myopic and highly politicizeddomestic focus leads them to laud a vicious American enemy.