In less than two decades, there have been American campaigns of rescue in Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Iraq. Two of these American wars, the ones in the Balkans, were on behalf of Muslims stranded in a hostile European landscape. In its refusal to acknowledge the debt owed American power, Muslim society tells us a good deal about its modern condition, and about that false, mindless anti-Americanism on the loose in Muslim lands.
- Fouad Ajami, in the Wall Street Journal, February 29, 2008
In April 1996 I traveled to Bosnia-Herzegovina as a part of NATO's Implementation Force or IFOR. I still have my IFOR identification card. When I was stationed in Germany from 1975-1978 I traveled throughout Europe and even Yugoslavia, but I had never before been to Bosnia. In 1978 I traveled along the Dalmatian coast through what is now Croatia, then around Albania and through Macedonia to get to Greece.
In April 1996 Bosnia was still very much a war torn country. This fragile nation was bisected by the Inter Entity Boundary Line (IEBL), a scar of fortifications, minefields and shattered buildings. The most remarkable part of my journey was seeing the Muslim minarets rising from the center of European towns. Bosnia had the misfortune to be at the geographic center of the battle between three religions: the Russian Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church and Islam. To this day I can't understand why such a conflict in the back yard of the European Union required the assistance of the United States military and my own precious time to resolve.
Fortunately, in 1999 the United States was able to lead the helpless Europeans to the assistance of the Kosovar Muslims with out my help. I would have gone if asked, but at that time I was busy assisting the Colombian military to fight a vicious thirty year insurgency.
Considering the Europeans could hardly handle the smaller Bosnian and Kosovo problems we are asking a lot that they travel half way around the world to save Afghanistan from Islamic extremism. They are providing troops for the effort, and we should be grateful for small favors. But their instructions to the troops that they offer are to avoid risk, which means no casualties and definitely very little fighting. Except in self defense, of course.
While Fouad Ajami rightly brings up the unreasoning attitudes of the Muslim lands to American accomplishments, I see plenty of "false, mindless anti-Americanism" in European lands that we have rescued on multiple occasions. But I shouldn't complain. The actions we took were not done to seek approval of the world, but because they were the right thing to do.
For this reason, I am not disturbed at the current unpopularity of the U.S. in the world. I am proud that we have the clear vision to be able to do what must be done.