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Supporters and opponents of the war in Iraq finally have something to agree on. Both are justifiably sickened by the abusive photographs coming out of Abu Ghraib prison. Both argue that American credibility has been eroded in the Arab world and that the photographs have inflamed Islamic hatred of America.

Get real. The Arabs hate America with or without these photographs. They detested the United States before these pictures were published, and they would detest the United States had these pictures never been taken. They hate us when we liberate them, and they hate us when we are wicked enough to abuse them. In short, they hate us no matter what.

Indeed, the Arabs have reached a point of such implacable hatred toward America and Israel that that it has become positively self-destructive. They are even incapable of identifying their own interests. When Lincoln humbly sauntered through the conquered Confederate capital of Richmond on April 2, 1865, he was positively mobbed by ecstatic crowds of newly freed slaves who held their children up to see the great emancipator. But President Bush had to sneak into Baghdad last Thanksgiving in absolute secrecy for fear of any number of crazy Iraqis who might kill him. Amazing. The Arabs hate their own liberators.

Bullets, rather than gratitude, currently welcome the soldiers who freed them from the Butcher of Baghdad. But the Arab world is incapable of offering a thank you because that sense of indebtedness would only increase their sense of humiliation at the hands of America.

Let’s be blunt. Islam is losing its ability to mold and shape good and decent people. A religion that once distinguished itself for its benevolence and religious tolerance is producing a generation of disgusting, ungrateful and hate-filled malcontents.

The Arabs are constantly speaking about their “humiliation.” Indeed, Mahathir Muhammad mentioned the world “humiliation” five times in his infamous, anti-Semitic address at the Organization of the Islamic Conference. How strange that the Arabs do not seem to be embarrassed at the fact that they are now the poorest people on earth, have a female illiteracy rate of more than 50 percent, have translated fewer books into Arabic over the past 1,000 years than Spain does in a single year, and are giving birth to children who in all likelihood will never taste a single day of political freedom. Yet none of that embarrasses them. What does humiliate them is the sight of American soldiers in their cities trying to build power grids and write a constitution.

Imagine a man who, due to being a hothead, cannot hold a job, fails to support his family, and watches his illiterate kids walk around in dirty rags. His family’s lowly station causes him no embarrassment. But what does humiliate him is when kindly neighbors leave food parcels at his doorstep. He hates them because they make him feel beholden. This warped sense of Arab pride is the major cause of Arab hatred. But, in truth, it no longer matters why the Arabs hate us. The far more important question is how to respond.

Alarmingly, many American commentators are now arguing since the Arabs are so implacably hostile, it’s better to fight a dirty war against them, and be successful, than fight a humane war and fail. Rather than lose soldiers in deadly street-to-street combat, shouldn’t we just pulverize Fallujah and carpet-bomb Najaf? Since neither the United States nor Israel will ever be given credit for their humane war tactics, and the torture of a few rogue soldiers will be used to misportray all American soldiers as sadists, why not just remove the restraints and inflict upon Arab terrorism a crushing blow?

Here’s the answer: If we do so, not only is it immoral, but, because it is immoral, we will ultimately lose the war. America and Israel are strong not because they have market economies, but because they are good. And if there is one lesson history has taught us it is that, in the end, good always triumphs over evil and light always gains the upper hand over darkness. Any country that is interested in its long-term survival better ensure it is an upright and virtuous society, or, as history has shown, it will not last.

Far from being an obscure theological concept, the triumph of good over evil is a demonstrable human truth. When countries are good, their populations become proud to be their citizens, and will therefore sacrifice greatly on the country’s behalf. Israelis have little compunction in handing over so much of their lives for military service because they absolutely believe in the justice of their cause. Contrast that with the Arab armies where conscripts are taken by the barrel of a gun to serve, which accounts for their usually dismal performance in war.

Good always triumphs over evil because people are honored to be associated with the good and will fight doggedly to be attached to the light. Hitler’s armies lost the World War II because the darkness of his cause could ultimately never inspire his divisions the way the cause of liberty could inspire the allies.

We often hear that the Arabs are a proud nation, but that is in appearance only. If the Palestinians were proud a proud people, they would pick up bricks to build schools and universities rather than to hurl at Israeli soldiers.

No people could possibly be proud of what the Arabs have become. A once majestic civilization that has now become synonymous with religious murder, perpetual violence and poverty has little to take pride in. And since self-esteem can’t motivate them, the only thing the Arabs have left is hatred. But what they really hate is themselves. They are miserable and dejected, so they lash out at almost anyone in their path, much as a man who failed at life begins to torment even his wife and his children.

Little do the Arabs realize that part of the reason that they hate themselves is that they have become so grossly immoral. Time will tell whether they will summon the courage to better their actions rather than blame others for their ills.

But the lesson for the United States and Israel is that so long as they never impugn the justice of their cause with tragic abuses such as at Abu Ghraib, they will continue to inspire new generations of patriots who are willing to irrigate the tree of liberty, even if, as Jefferson said, it must be done with the blood of patriots.

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