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 US 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, many Arabs have reached a point of such implacable hatred toward America and Israel that it has become positively self-destructive. They are even incapable of identifying their own interests. When Abraham Lincoln humbly sauntered through the conquered Confederate capital of Richmond on April 2, 1865, he was mobbed by ecstatic crowds of newly freed slaves who held their children up to see the great emancipator. But President George W. Bush had to sneak into Baghdad last Thanksgiving in absolute secrecy. 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 us be blunt. Muslim civilization is losing its ability to mold good and decent people. A religion that once distinguished itself for its benevolence and religious tolerance is producing a generation of hate-filled malcontents.

Many Arabs and Muslims talk about their 'humiliation.' Indeed, Mahathir Muhammad mentioned the word "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%, 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. What does humiliate them, however, is the sight of American soldiers in their cities trying to build power grids and help them formulate a constitution.

Imagine a man who, due to being a hothead, cannot hold a job, fails to support his family, and watches his illiterate children 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 that since the Arabs are so implacably hostile, it is 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, should we not just pulverize Fallujah and carpet-bomb Najaf? Since neither the US nor Israel will ever be given credit for its humane war tactics, and the torture of a few rogue soldiers will be used to misrepresent all American soldiers as sadists, why not just remove the restraints and inflict a crushing blow upon Arab terrorism?

Here is 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. Any country that is interested in its long-term survival better had ensure that 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 about putting in so much time 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 Second World War 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 a proud people, they would pick up bricks to build schools and universities rather than hurl them at Israeli soldiers.

No people could be proud of the direction Arab civilization seems to be taking. A once-majestic civilization that has now become synonymous with religious murder, violence, and poverty has little to take pride in. And since self-esteem cannot motivate them, the only thing the Arabs have left is hatred. But what they really hate is themselves. Little do the Arabs realize that part of the reason that they hate themselves is that they have become so 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 Thomas Jefferson said, it must be done with the blood of patriots.

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