STAYING MORALLY SUPERIOR TO SHARKS

By Yashiko Sagamori

Here's a joke so old that some of you may not have heard it. A young officer of Her Majesty's Navy fell overboard and was attacked by a shark. He tried to outswim it, which, as you understand, was a pretty hopeless task. Fortunately, he was saved at the last possible moment, and while he was standing, all wet, on deck and the disappointed shark was still snapping its terrible jaws in the air, one of the sailors asked him, "Lieutenant, you have your dagger on you. Why didn't you try to fight the shark off?" The lieutenant's response was, "You don't cut fish with a knife."

What's really funny about this joke is how precisely it describes the civilized world's approach to the War on Terror. We have one hell of a dagger on us. We could've fought it off. But we've been taught to never cut fish with a knife, and we are not going to, despite a very significant difference between the maladroit naval officer and us: there is no one to pull us out of the water. If we don't save ourselves, the shark will eat us. It's as simple as that.

However, at this particular moment, we, along with the rest of the world including all our false friends and genuine enemies, have more important issues on our mind. We are busy condemning the terrible crimes committed by the US military at the Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad. While Saddam was still in power, the prison was famous for atrocities against its inmates. Nevertheless, while Iraqis were enthusiastically torturing and killing other Iraqis there, the world had many more important issues to take care of. For some strange reason the prison, where untold thousands of people suffered brutal torture and painful death for the terrible crime of displeasing Saddam, became the center of the world's attention only after a happy looking young woman in an American military uniform was photographed standing next to a naked, hooded prisoner. On some of those photographs the young lady is laughing her head off, pointing at the prisoner's genitals. The spot that attracted her attention was modestly edited out of the pictures, so we will never know whether her laughter was an expression of happiness at the sight or meant as ridicule. Not that it makes any difference. The participants in that unsavory affair have once again proven that no matter how incredibly disgusting and idiotic a sick person's imagination may be, someone has already done something much worse and enjoyed it tremendously.

The common outrage against this incident is perfectly understandable. What I find very hard to understand, however, is a total lack of common outrage against certain other recent events. Take, for instance, the spontaneous celebration in Fallujah, which culminated in the murder of four American civilians and mutilation of their bodies. Or consider the execution-style murder, also by Arabs, of an 8-month pregnant Jewish woman and her four young daughters. A few governments and international organizations made some vaguely appropriate but totally meaningless sounds. Arabs unanimously pronounced the killers heroes; nobody objected to that. Neither the EU nor the US stopped their financing of Arafat's gang of murderers; nobody expected them to.

The most eloquent reaction came from the British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw. He strongly condemned a terrorist attack in Saudi Arabia, but managed not to even mention the murder of the Jewish woman and her children although the two attacks occurred within hours from each other. Had he sent Arafat an open letter congratulating him on his latest accomplishment, the effect would've been exactly the same.

Why does the world take the murder of Jews and Americans by Arabs in stride, while even the slightest perception of mistreatment of Arabs at the hands of Jews or Americans causes such widespread protests? I think two factors are at play here: first, the fact that the murderers are Arabs; second, that their victims are Jews or Americans. It's quite possible that I have it all wrong, and the truth is exactly the opposite: first, it's the fact that the victims are Jews or Americans; second, that the murderers are Arabs. Or maybe the world doesn't really care who does the killing as long as the victims are Jews and Americans. Especially Jews. Do you have a better explanation?

Let's now talk about morals. Why was bombing innocent civilians of Belgrade moral, while decisively putting down the vicious rebellion in the completely irrelevant and inherently hostile town of Fallujah was not? Why were Arabs allowed to desecrate Joseph's Tomb? Why is Muqtaba al-Sadr allowed to use the "sanctity" of another irrelevant Iraqi town, Najaf, to evade capture and prosecution? Why would evicting Israel's enemies from Israel's land by the Israeli government be immoral, but evicting Israelis from Israel's land by the Israeli government would not be?

The usual reference to the Geneva Conventions is moot in this case. The Geneva Conventions assume that both sides of the conflict follow them and explicitly free one side of obligations when the other side doesn't comply. During WWII, responding to German violations of the international rules of war, the Allies began systematic destruction of German cities, ruthlessly killing civilians. Was it cruel? Very much so. Was it unfair? Not at all. German civilians brought Hitler to power; German civilians had to pay a terrible price for that mistake. There was not a single military object in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki. But the civilian population of those cities, and, to a lesser degree, the rest of Japan, had to pay for their support of the militaristic policies of their government. Without such inevitable cruelty, we wouldn't have won the war.

By the way, there were no military objects in the Twin Towers. The Madrid commuter trains were 100% peaceful. The car and the pregnant woman with her four children were going about their business presenting no danger whatsoever to anyone at all. The two reservists lynched in Ramallah in 2000 were soldiers, but the treatment they received at the hands of the Arabs was a blatant violation of the Geneva Conventions, as was the murder of the four American civilians in Fallujah. The list of unpunished Arab crimes is long and getting longer by the hour.

By common sense, by basic fairness, and in full compliance with the international law, Arabs have lost their right of protection that the Geneva Conventions grant to innocent civilians during armed conflicts. Arab innocence is no more. And if our civilization is to survive, sooner or later, Arabs will have to pay a terrible price in blood for their celebrations of mass murders and mass murderers, for their systematic turning of their own children into cannibals, for their support of terrorism, for their jihad, for their hatred towards everything healthy that exists in our world. This will be terribly cruel, but absolutely fair.

Unfortunately, the obvious fact that our enemies happen to be less moral than even sharks does not mean that our own morals are beyond reproach. The perverted games that a few American soldiers played with the inmates at Abu Ghraib are far from the worst of our deeds. For instance, the compensation paid with our hard earned money to the families of killed enemies is shamelessly immoral. This whole war for which we are paying with hundreds (soon, it will be thousands) of our soldiers killed and tens (soon, it will be hundreds) billions of dollars is itself an obscenity. Don't take me wrong: I am not suggesting that Arabs should be left alone; I am saying that our war against them should have been conducted in a way that would render them forever incapable of ever again hurting the United States or Israel, and it is getting more obvious every day that this is not going to happen.

Bush's humble apologies are way more obscene than whatever those soldiers have done to Iraqi prisoners. Someone should've explained to him that demonstrating good will towards people whose culture has failed to produce the concept of good will is counterproductive and, therefore, immoral: when we let them live, they perceive it as our weakness, because they themselves never miss an opportunity to murder those who are weak.

Even more obscene is the celebration by the Democrats of the scandal during a presidential campaign. They would gladly sacrifice the country if only they could rule over its ruins. What makes it even worse is the obvious futility of their efforts. The powerful Clinton clique will never let a Democrat win the elections this year, because such a victory will destroy Hillary's presidential ambitions. And in 2009, when Hillary moves into the White House, the immorality of the United States will need a different scale for measurement, a scale which will leave sharks barely visible even with a powerful microscope.

But the most immoral of all today is the government of Israel, which is ready to surrender its land to an evil, but impotent, enemy, while substituting the defense of its citizens' lives with symbolic gestures, unable to postpone the next mass murder of Jews by Arabs even by a few hours.

In response to my calls for an honest war, a reader sent me a letter asking how the Jews would keep their moral superiority over the Arabs if the former finally start fighting the latter in earnest. I explained to him that in the eternal struggle between good and evil, good inevitably wins, because the right to decide what's right and what's wrong invariably goes to the victor. Therefore, the only way to lose one's moral superiority to a shark is to allow oneself to be devoured.

My sincerest apologies to the sharks for the unflattering comparison to Arabs.