If you accept the analytical posture of critics of the Iraq invasion, it makes no sense for the NYPD, the Port Authority, and the Secret Service to veto the request by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to lay a wreath at the site of the World Trade Center during his visit to the United Nations this weekend.
After all, Ahmadinejad is the leader of Shia Iran. And Shia Muslims, war critics are quick to remind us, are the mortal enemies of Sunni Muslims, who constitute the vast majority al Qaeda — the outfit that brought down the Twin Towers. Shouldn’t the enemy of our enemy be our friend?
In fact, don’t war critics argue that the ancient antagonism between Shias and Sunnis is the reason our efforts to bring democracy to Iraq, with its mix of the two sects, is doomed to fail? Shias and Sunnis, such critics insist, will never cooperate with one another.
Except, of course, when predominantly Sunni Syria allows the Shia terrorist organization Hezbollah to operate within its borders. Or when the Sunni terrorist organization Hamas is funded by predominantly Shia Iran. Indeed, Sunnis and Shias have always been willing to set aside their differences in their confrontations with Israel.
Islam, to be sure, is beset by historical fault lines. There’s the theological rift between Sunni and Shia, the ethnic rift between Arab and non-Arab, the socio-political rift between secularist and scriptural literalist. Moderate Muslims recognize such differences but, by and large, just want to get on with their lives.
America, on the other hand, is at war with totalitarian Islam, which may represent a minority of Muslims worldwide but which traverses every fault line. Whoever embraces a universalizing vision for the religion, whether in the form of a pan-Arab Middle East, cleansed of Jews, or a worldwide caliphate, cleansed of Enlightenment values, he is America’s enemy.
That includes Ahmadinejad — who has no business fouling the hallowed sidewalk near Ground Zero. He might not have had a hand in the attacks of September 11, 2001. Neither, as far as we know, did Saddam.
But that’s just because they weren’t invited to the party.
–Mark Goldblatt is a writer in New York.