Sunday, March 26, 2006

Not Even Half a Victory

Thoughts about the pending release of Abdul Rahman, the man who faced the death penalty in Afghanistan for converting to from Islam to Christianity.

First, that he is to be released on what is, essentially, a technicality (lack of evidence?) isn’t a good thing. It’s a loss in the sense that it doesn’t change legal precedent in Afghanistan--it was merely a maneuver to save the Afghanistan government from a confrontation with the United States.

Second, had Rahman been executed it would have represented one of America’s biggest setbacks: an ideological setback that proves that meaningful change in the Middle East remains illusory. Our purpose in the Middle East isn’t to establish an empire, but to establish ideological changes that make the Middle East a breeding ground for a more liberal Islam rather than bloodthirsty terrorists.

Third, with the issue essentially undecided (Rahman will be released because of that technicality not because of a new sense of religious tolerance), it leaves a sense that the only reason the man will live is because of America’s direct influence and continued presence in the region. That hardly stands as a victory for American or for the hopes of expanding liberalism in the Middle East.

This might be me being too cynical or even letting a little bit of defeatism creep into my mind, but I feel this as a huge loss for our side and a win for the militant Islamists.

Update: Read Roger Fraley’s intelligent dissent in the comments and then check out his post.


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