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Lions Roar : September 2006
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2006 43 any novelist can achieve, hoping that a sectarian civil war between Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds can be avoided, and that the Middle East will not be further destabilized by the dream of jihadists spread across eighty countries: namely, a modern holy war between Muslims and Christians (and Jews). As I have followed the unfolding events in dangerous neigh- borhoods like Iraq and Afghanistan, I have been shocked and sickened by the almost surrealistic images of prisoners humili- ated at Abu Ghraib, by the videotaped decapitation of Ameri- can businessman Nicholas Berg by al-Qaeda led by Iraq’s then leader Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, by the seemingly endless sui- cide and car bombings, by the kidnappings and torture of in- nocents, and by the deaths and mutilations of between 30,000 and 100,000 Iraqis, and over 2,000 Americans and coalition forces (and counting). Even Stephen King’s feverish imagina- tion doesn’t compare to this real-world horror story. Across the border from Iraq, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad questions the abundantly documented reality of the Holocaust, promises in his speeches that the state of Israel must be “wiped off the map,” and works with his na- tion’s mullahs toward the production of enriched uranium that could be used to make a nuclear bomb. In the first let- ter to an American president from an Iranian leader since 1979, Ahmadinejad attacked the fundamental values of the West, stating that liberalism and Western-style democracy “have not been able to realize the ideals of humanity. ... To- day these two concepts have failed. Those with insight can already hear the sounds of the shattering and fall of the ide- ology and thoughts of the Liberal democratic systems.” Meanwhile, in Sudan’s Darfur region, where an Arab mi- litia called the Janjaweed has raped, killed, and driven ethnic African villagers from their homes in the past three years, 20,000 people have died. The United Nations calls this “one of the world’s worst humanitarian disasters.” (Given so much admirable work done by the UN, I would rather not dwell on distasteful reports of its peacekeepers, aid workers, and Blowback