Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Spoken

One of the persons following the Belmont Club discussion over whether it is necessary to confront political Islam as an anti-Western ideology is a Marine in Anbar province. His email to me has been reproduced in toto below. It is clear and eloquent. I am grateful for it, not in the least because it lends some substance to my hope that "because of the size of the stakes this whole question will be resolved, not by some politician but by the 'decision of crowds'." Here's his email in toto.


I was just perusing your site and caught the bit about the Hesher-Coughlin controversy.

I have been in a small city in Anbar province for four months now and it seems to me that the whole "is it a religion of peace or not" debate is largely misplaced. This is coming from a guy who once wrote, on his own blog, a post entitled "The Real Strategic Question" which I put as "Is Islam compatible with democracy?"


The Iraqis in Anbar have completely rejected Al Qaeda. A while back I told the police chief in my town that I thought the reason the terrorists are weak is because their ideas have been rejected. He said,

"In 2002 and 2003, we thought Al Qaeda was just another Muslim group. Now, you can go far out into the desert and talk to even a shepherd, and he will tell you that he hates Al Qaeda. One hundred years from now, you will be able to go into the desert and talk to a shepherd and he will still tell you that he hates Al Qaeda."

So, having rejected extremism, what is left? They are still Muslim in my town, but I wouldn't call them devout -- they go to the mosque and pray, and mention God in everyday conversations -- as do I to them -- and granted, I certainly don't know or interact with all of them, but I don't think that "moderate Islam" fully captures who they are. In fact, religion is almost irrelevant in the conversations I have with local leaders.

The real text to turn to in understanding what comes next is not the Koran but the Leviathan. The Iraqis have lived in a state of nature for the past 5 years, and in a state of nature there is no law, no order, no justice or injustice, only survival, period. And so, their ability to care about each other is stunted a bit. Not only that, but the history of Saddam's regime is that of playing people off against each other and destroying the trust between them. These are the crucial issues today in my town in Iraq -- social trust, how to incubate it, and especially how it relates to good governance. Nepotism and corruption are part and parcel of life here, as I imagine they are in many parts of the developing world, Muslim or not. Advancing democracy in Iraq is not a question of Islam, it's a question of helping the Iraqis move past the concept of "me against my brother, me and my brother against my cousin, all three of us against everyone else." Perhaps it seems a gargantuan task, but so did defeating Al Qaeda in Anbar about a year ago.

That's how I see it from my neck of the woods. I recommend David Kilcullen's article "Countering Global Insurgency" and his advocated strategy of disaggregation -- which is really the opposite of trying to lump everything together as a "war on terror" or a "clash of civilizations". Perhaps other places are different. This is the other problem with trying to develop a unifying theme that sums everything up: each locality is dramatically different. I don't know if working with the tribes in Pakistan is going to work as well as in Anbar. In Anbar, many of the successful sheiks are semi-westernized, having studied in Europe at one point or another (like the one in my town) and Al Qaeda was essentially a foreign invention that wrapped itself into local grievances. In Pakistan, Al Qaeda has been there, really developing, for a long time. There is no one cookie-cutter solution.

I invite you to Google Kilcullen's "Countering Global Insurgency" and Raymond Millen's "The Hobbesian Notion of Self-Preservation Concerning Human Behavior During An Insurgency," and Art Chrenkoff's "Post-Totalitarian Stress Disorder". These are by far the best and most relevant works I have read for what I do on a day to day basis.

Well, feel free to use this, if you'd like, Richard. You can use my name too for this one. By the way, here's the city website, which still needs a lot of work: www.barwanah.com

Semper Fi,
-Josh Manchester



53 Comments:

Blogger RattlerGator said...

Well done, Josh.

There is no one magic bullet. And the genius of America is this truism: we can deal with that, better than anyone else on the planet.

But disengaging surely isn't the answer.

1/30/2008 04:26:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Couldn't agree more with the multifacetedness of the struggle, and comments, esp re: Pakistan.
The Pakistan-England Corridor carries on.
Then there's the Saudi Funding round the World, including DC and institutions throughout the land.
---
On the Homefront:
THE EDITORS: FISA reform will increase our security, while aligning the responsibilities of different parts of our government with their capacities. Congress should enact that reform — permanently. “ Reform, Now
---
In his State of the Union address, President Bush pointedly reminded Congress that, if it fails to act by Friday, last August’s stopgap measure to prevent disruption of vital intelligence-collection will expire. “We’ve had ample time for debate,” the president concluded. “The time to act is now.”

His assessment could not be more correct. The ill-conceived Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) is outmoded. An overhaul has long been under consideration, and there is strong bipartisan consensus on several of its major points. Yet top Democrats are resisting a solution.

Some Democrats oppose the legislation because they want the FISA court to have more authority. They laud it as a responsible manager of intelligence collection, even though tribunal is unaccountable and has a spotty record. (The most important part of the Patriot Act was its dismantling of the “wall” between agencies that obstructed intelligence gathering before 9/11. The FISA court tried to undo that part of the act, but was thankfully unsuccessful.) We have less confidence in the judiciary’s ability to manage wartime intelligence operations.

Americans want security from mass-murderers. FISA reform will increase our security, while aligning the responsibilities of different parts of our government with their capacities. Congress should enact that reform — permanently.
---
9-11 Could have been stopped simply by examining 1 hard drive.
Not allowed.
No Biggie.

1/30/2008 04:40:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

Wolla Dalbo said...
"The false and unpalatable picture that those who do not want to admit that Islam is at war with the West present if we do name Islam as our enemy, is of the West at war with all 1.2 billion Muslims.

I think that, in reality, the situation that the West would have if we admitted the truth about Islam would be that we in the West would be fighting the active Jihadists, while attempting to discourage the majority of Muslims from actively entering the fight;
not trying to get them to like us, not trying to carry the torch of democracy into the Umma, but, rather, trying to convince them and their leaders that to fight us invites their own destruction.
"
---
Fred said...
"So, you ask how one can avoid a cataclysmic war with over one billion Muslims. Which is a way of asking how we can refine our self-deception and continue to enable their deceptions.

The first duty we owe to ourselves and our posterity is the truth. Nothing more. We need to know the truth that Islam is not a true religion, but rather is an ideology of domination and subjugation, and to not enable this ideology to further its aims. We can do this. We've done it before. We named Communism for the ideology of domination it was/is. That does not mean that we marked each and every person who lived under Communism for death. We armed ourselves with the truth, marked off our borders with it, and took measures to try to stop this virus from attaching to our protein layers.

The way forward is not through self-deception.
"

1/30/2008 05:01:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

This is the first time on a blog other than this one I have seen the Arabic saying: My brother and myself against our cousin. Our cousin, my brother and myself against my neighbor. . . (or at least a variation).

Many people alive in this region can remember when a family or tribe member being killed did not mean one called 999, but grabbing their Martini rifle and evening the score. These were/are the parents, grandparents, and great grandparents of the current college level students.

One generation these nations are ill defined and quite insignificant the next generation they are wealthy beyond belief and play a critical geopolitical role. It takes time to set up and understand living does not have to be a zero sum game.

The other interesting item of note is how the population of Iraq is Muslim like many of us are Christian. There are a large number of us who are Christian on Sunday morning but not so much so Tuesday afternoon. Many in Islamic societies are expected to demonstrate publicly they are pious but many of those same people will be found in the desert at night with a case of cold ones and their buddies or at the pub in the international hotel.

I was visiting a Filipina friend from the UAE who had settled near Springfiled IL. One of her colleagues had a "friend" from Oman visiting, obviously he was Muslim. I offered him a beer (noting, no pressure but I would feel bad not offering) and he said he was too hung over from the night before. I also offered him a good ole Wisconsin brat and he also turned it down (often times I find Christians from Pakistan & Lebanon are also leery of pork). Point being, when he is in Oman I bet he is at the Mosque 5x a day.

I think in the end we will find we are seeing more of a Islamic civil war. Certain creatures do not like the way Islam is going and are attempting to devolve Islam back to its founding days. Bin Laden, Zawahiri, the late Al-Qutb, et al do not like the direction Islam is headed and are attempting to bring it growth to a halt. They have the upper hand in the fact they are very willing to use violence to achieve their ends, but their message from the hinterlands of Pakistan/Afghanistan do not market very well outside of that region.

1/30/2008 05:52:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

I'm glad to see the previous thread continued. I do believe that how we deal with Islam is the most significant issue of the century because it encompasses so many other aspects of our political and social life.

I'm firm in my belief, as Benedict alluded to at Regensburg, that "Islam has added nothing to humanity." It is actually much worse because Islam as a philosophy, ideology, or relgion, no matter how you want to slice it, is supremacist, hostile to free inquiry and free exprtession and is therefore anti-human.

Many commentators thought that Islam could somehow be "contained" and barred from the West. That horse left the barn some time ago. The Brussels city council is already majority Muslim. Even a casual reader of European newspapers and blogs can find evidence of how native European culture and politics are being disadvantaged by Islamic threats and Islamic influence.

We don't have the same degree of intrusion in the USA but that doesn't mean it's not going to happen. A timely article about Muslim Organization in Nashville highlights the nature of the problem. When Muslims organize they demand privilege. It's inherent. Privilege is zero-sum. My privilege will be your disadvantage. My "right" to not be criticized disadvantages your right of free inquiry and free speech. You are not taking your children to the public park on Muslim Day.

The battleground is your back yard.

1/30/2008 05:58:00 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Funny, I was just thinking about Josh, having checked out his (now dormant) blog.

Excellent commentary, will check out the recommended reading.

And Josh, stay strong as you complete your mission. Many of us will look forward to any online return, if you find the time -- or when you return home safely.

Godspeed.

1/30/2008 06:23:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

I dispute the notion Islamic society has not contributed anything to global society. Admittedly, it has been sometime since it has contributed but when Western society was languishing after the fall of Rome Islamic societies were engaging in learning.

The recent history of Islamic society I think it proper to state is one of minimal contributions to the global society, but there is nothing inherent about Islam that says it has to be that way any more so than there is inherent loathing of discovery in the Catholic Church.

As far as Islamic groups demanding special rights, how does that differ from any other identity group demanding special rights and privileges for themselves? Western societies need to regain confidence in what we believe in as being best for humanity. It isn't a strong Islam that is the problem, it is a weak will here in our societies.

1/30/2008 06:50:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"As far as Islamic groups demanding special rights, how does that differ from any other identity group demanding special rights and privileges for themselves? "
---
CAIR demanding immunity for those preaching death to America, supporting subversive Madrassas, and sending money abroad to support Jihad is no different than Christians struggling for the right not to be prosecuted as hate mongers for expressing their opinions?

1/30/2008 07:05:00 AM  
Blogger Doug said...

"They have the upper hand in the fact they are very willing to use violence to achieve their ends, but their message from the hinterlands of Pakistan/Afghanistan do not market very well outside of that region."
---
Radicalization of successive generations in the West argues against that, tho I agree that this is also a result of weakness in the West, subverting our own cause in so many ways.

1/30/2008 07:14:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

The Muslims of al Anbar being described in Josh Manchester's letter are what are called "cultural Muslims." I'm willing to bet that the ones who are more deeply into Islam are not advertising it. Otherwise, his letter is interesting, particularly when he describes the way in which Baathist Iraq sowed the seeds of total distrust among the population. For some strange reason, this is an aspect of Iraqi society that the MSM never bothered to bring to American audiences, and in part it accounts for why the insurgency was as effective as it was.

The return to traditional Islam is always possible within a context of nominal Muslims. This is already happening in Turkey.

Also, Sharia Law in Iraq is a reality, as it has veto power over any legal articles being debated. It's part of the kit and caboodle. The same in Afghanistan.

Don't make the mistake of equating the true Islam with AQ, because we still have The Muslim Brotherhood and all of its organizational offshoots. And the Muslim Brotherhood is based on the full Qur'an and ahadith.

And I believe the thoughts about Islam coming from David Kilcullen have been tossed around a lot here and at JihadWatch.org. No one disputes Kilcullen's counterinsurgency doctrine and its effectiveness. But lots of folks, including me, dispute his grasp of Islam, its scriptures, its history, and its ever-present tendency to revert back to what Muhammad intended.

1/30/2008 07:17:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

fred wrote:

"The Ummah MUST be contained within its own sandbox. Wherever they have gone in history it has not turned out well for the target societies and states. Look at what is happening in Asia: in Thailand, in the Philippines, and to the remaining non-Muslim minorities in those lands dominated by dar al Islam.

Some grimace at the specter of the deportation centers, but I would submit to them that it is a far better solution than well armed groups laying into the Muslim communities. You think what happened in the Balkans in the nineties was ghastly? This would be far worse. And then there are visions of the mushroom clouds over the planet.

It is a far more humane option to segregate these over one billion ticking time bombs into their own lands governed by their cherished Sharia law. I am convinced that without access to the West - to its science, industry, technology, communications, and everything else we excel at they would wither on the vine. They would slaughter each other or their populations would contract under the burden of growing poverty.

If we want to save humanity from the Dark Age that they would bring down on civilization, then sift them out and deport them. And then they will bring themselves to extinction and save us the trouble."



Do you know who you remind me of Fred? Joseph Goeebbels. Here are a few things he wrote:

"
Mimicry

by Joseph Goebbels

The Jews are masters at fitting in to their surroundings, without in any way changing their nature. They are mimics. They have a natural instinct that senses danger, and their drive for self-preservation usually gives them the proper ways and means to escape danger at no risk to their lives or any need for courage. It is difficult to detect their sly and slippery ways. One has to be an experienced student of the Jews to recognize what is happening. Their response when they have been uncovered is simple and primitive. It displays a perfidious shamelessness that is successful because one usually does not think it possible to be so shameless. Schopenauer once said that the Jew is the master of the lie. He is such an expert on twisting the truth that he can tell his innocent opponent the exact opposite of the truth even on the plainest matter in the world. He does this with such astonishing impudence that the listener becomes uncertain, at which point the Jew has usually won."

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb18.htm

"
The War and the Jews

by Joseph Goebbels

The naivete, not to mention ignorance, with which certain European circles see the Jewish Question in the fourth year of this gigantic struggle is astonishing. They cannot or will not see that this war is a war of the Jewish race and its subject people against Western culture and civilization. Everything that we Germans and Europeans, defenders of the principle of a moral world order, hold dear is at risk. The above-mentioned circles are too inclined to see the Jewish Question as a humanitarian issue. They make their judgments on the feelings of the moment rather than on the knowledge and insight resulting from clear and calm reason. It is clear that if during this war we show the least weakening of our determination to resolve the Jewish Question, the result will be the gravest danger to our people and Reich and all of Europe.

Jewry wanted this war. Whether one looks to the plutocratic or the bolshevist side of the enemy camp, one sees Jews standing in the foreground as instigators, rabble-rousers and slave drivers. They organize the enemy's war economy and encourage plans to exterminate and destroy the Axis powers. England and the USA recruit from among them bloodthirsty and vengeful agitators and political lunatics, and they are the source of the terror commissars of the GPU. They are the mortar that holds the enemy coalition together. In the National Socialist Reich, they see a power that resists their drive for world domination both militarily and intellectually. That explains their rage and deep hatred. Do not think that the Old Testament tirades of their newspapers and radio are merely political propaganda. They would carry it all out to the letter, should they have the opportunity.

Our state's security requires that we take whatever measures seem necessary to protect the German community from their threat. That leads to some difficult decisions, but they are unavoidable if we are to deal with the threat. This war is a racial war. The Jews started it and they direct it. Their goal to destroy and exterminate our people. We are the only force standing between Jewry and world domination. If the Axis powers lose the war in Europe, no power on earth could save Europe from the Jewish-Bolshevist flood. It may seem surprising that such a small minority possesses such great power and is such a deadly danger. But it is so. International Jewry uses certain criminal methods to gain world domination that are not evident to uneducated nations. The same is true in private life. The Jews do not enjoy economic success because they are more intelligent than non-Jews, but rather because they follow a different moral code. They attempt to conceal their methods for as long as possible, until it is too late for the affected nation to defend itself. Then it takes a revolution to dislodge them. We know how difficult and tiresome that is."

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/goeb37.htm

1/30/2008 07:29:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Doug,

Marcus Aurelius needs to read Bat Ye'or's "The Decline of Eastern Christianity Under Islam: From Jihad to Dhimmitude" in order to find the myth of Islamic learning exposed. The reality is far different from what the post-modernist, Eurabian revisionist historians would have it. That shining light of al Andalus was really built on the intellectual labors of educated dhimmis, Jews and Christians. The wealth that made it possible was compliments of the ever-increasing jizya compelled from the dhimmi populations all across the caliphate.

Their scholars who attempted to steer Islam away from the literal understanding of the Qur'an as a divine dictation, Averroes and Avicenna, were eventually condemned. They were forbidden to use Aristotle, then forced to recant their works, their works were collected and destroyed, and they were personally compelled to submit to the authority of Qur'an and Sharia.

And the legacy of that was that their theological works were never resurrected.

Finally, out of those Frankish, Saxon, and Briton mud hut villages arose the work of the high Middle Ages, eventually the Renaissance spread across Europe. The religious wars did interrupt things briefly, but learning and science resumed. The Catholic Church (which I am a member of)did not have any lasting effects on science during that period. The Enlightenment happened without the help of said glimmering Islamic civilization.

Whew... you stay with these discussions about Islam across several reputable sites and you are going to see the gamut of arguments, and see them over, and over, and over again. Occasionally, we will get through to one of their proponents to actually read the Qur'an and some English translations of ahadith, and then, voila, they finally "get it" - what we've been trying to explain all along.

In a course on comparative religion I took back in the Fall of 1980 when I was a sophomore at the University of New Hampshire I got the same viewpoints expressed by Marcus Aurelius and others. I even had an Iranian Shia for a roommate my junior and senior years, and began to see the hard edge to this religion that was so glowingly appraised in that course's materials. I didn't start reading the Qur'an until 2003, and a long, hard slog it was, as it is the most difficult, boring book you can read. It has no narrative structure and no real flow to it. It reads as a cobbled together compendium of aphorisms, injunctions, commands, and invective. But, it is, according to the most authoritative scholars, the eternal, uncreated, literal words of al illah.

1/30/2008 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Ash,

Are you being an insolent provocateur? Morally equivalizing Serge Trifkovic's advice of segregating Muslims from the West with the labor camps of das Reich? You flatter yourself as a sophisticated commentator of what I posted.

1/30/2008 07:50:00 AM  
Blogger Peter said...

but there is nothing inherent about Islam that says it has to be that way any more so than there is inherent loathing of discovery in the Catholic Church

And the fact that there are no credible universities anywhere in the Islamic world, and that most of the prestigious universities in the West were founded by religious groups is irrelevant?

I don't even know where your loathing of discovery rant comes from. Nor do I want to.

1/30/2008 08:11:00 AM  
Blogger Mastiff said...

Fred,

I must concur in disputing your assertion that Islam has contributed nothing to the world. I can speak only from a Jewish perspective, but many of our finest scholars from about 800-1200 were trained in a Muslim context of philosophical rigor, deep knowledge of science and astronomy, and grammatical detail. One of the scholars in particular, Maimonides, had influence that extended well into the Christian world—and he was very much a product of the intellectual atmosphere in Moorish Spain and Cairo.

(It may perhaps be more accurate to say that Islam has contributed nothing for several centuries.)

1/30/2008 09:02:00 AM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

I believe that the Ummah misses the point entirely where the future is concerned.

They dance in the streets at the death of thousands of office workers.

They collect jihadi videos and wait for Rueters, the NYT, and CNN to serve up the latest Western appeasement or surrender.

They don't know much history. At least where killing is concerned.

Three thousand in an afternoon?

Pikers. They have no idea how this will end. And the end will make Lepanto look like a shoving match at Chuckie Cheese.

So be it.

1/30/2008 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger sbw said...

Josh: the opposite of trying to lump everything together as a "war on terror" or a "clash of civilizations"

An important way to look at a "clash of civilizations" differently is as a clash FOR civilization -- where civilization doesn't mean "we are civilized and you are not" or visa versa. To be civilized requires two minimum requirements for interaction between any two cultures.

Those requirements are humility and respect. They are deduced independent of culture and from one's personal expericence, It answers your other question, "Is Islam compatible with democracy?" The answer is yes. The Islam of Ibn Khaldun in the 1300s was comfortable with the doubt that brings humility and the respect for others equally in doubt and trying to learn how best to live life.

Al Qaeda undermines all society. It undermines civilization itself. That simple disaggregation is critical. The other leaves on the tree that make up different flavors of Islam and Iraqi culture will similarly determine their own status as friend or foe by how they treat others.

Future victory will not be military. it will not be winning cooperation, or be bought. It will require understanding the minimum requirements for society and why they are such -- in a manner everyone can see is in their own long-term self-interest.

1/30/2008 09:19:00 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

What other nation on the face of the earth has jarheads that can think like Josh?

This letter shows a quality of thought that I rarely saw in my professors when I was in college.

More and more each year, the marines make me proud to be American, and individual marines astound me with their insights. This has an exact inverse relationship to my respect for Academia over the same period.

1/30/2008 09:49:00 AM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

I also made this comment on the Unspoken thread.

If you have not read the Koran in chronological order, you should. You don't need to read it closely. Just skim each time period and compare what you see there to find out why the doctrine of abrogation ensures violence from Islam. I assembled a Chronological Koran of the Yusuf Ali translation (the one that most English-speaking Sunnis prefer and that Saudi Arabia sends everywhere).

When I assembled it I packed multiple chapters together in order to give some idea of the context, instead of breaking it up and decontextualizing it as is the result of using the standard order (longest to shortest chapters). It's remarkable how lucid and brief the very early Meccan passages are compared to the violent, obsessive, repetitive, and long Medinan passages that follow and supersede them.

1/30/2008 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Oh boy, a lot to talk about.

First, I do add the proviso the Islamic world has not contributed much lately, but to say there are NO contributions ever from Islamic society is not correct and we don't have to point to Andalusia for that.

Now, onto speech double standards. Where do I support that double standard? I don't, a large proportion of Westerners are self-loathing or constitutionally unable to take own side in a debate.

If we will not or can not stand up and defend and assert our culture then there is no way we can stop a more assertive culture?

Poor Pakistani boy in the UK has a choice. To join a group that empowers him and gives him self-worth (even if it is through becoming a 'xplodey dope) or to join UK society, become a shopkeeper, and then get taxed to death and derided for being a capitalist and for contributing to global warming, planetary destruction etc.

1/30/2008 11:12:00 AM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

I think it's the tribalism of the Muslim world that is the problem more-so than Islam itself. Josh seems to agree when he quotes the Arabic "me, my brother, and my cousin against the world" aphorism.

Bin Laden and the other Jihadis use Islam as a tribe in order to rally others to their cause.

Islam is certainly a tribal religion but it's possible that most of its practices can be separated from the tribalism aspect.

It is obviously difficult for us in the West to differentiate between Islam and tribalism in Muslim societies, and maybe its not our job to do this but theirs.

1/30/2008 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I can see why a Marine in Iraq would concern himself with issues of tribalism and Islam fanatacism and Arab social mores. But increasingly, I just cannot see why I should concern myself with what a goatherder in the desert in Iraq thinks or doesn't think. It's not my world, it's not my problem, and I can't see any reason why I should slow down my life or my culture so the goatherder can catch up.

I think if there *is* a civil war between Muslims while they hash out what's the best way for them to live, that's fine and dandy. Actually, it's preferrable than if we force it on them.

But do we Americans -- either our military or average taxpayers -- really need to insert ourselves into their war to the point of each of us adopting our own Muslim to explain why we find their actions to be so objectionable?

I have Iraq fatigue. Judging from the lack of interest in it as a topic in the Presidential campaigns, so do all the candidates as well as all of the people who have so far voted in the primaries.

We Americans just want to go back to living the American dream, trying to work our way out of the subprime debacle before anyone else loses their homes, and be more or less good allies to those people overseas who want to be allies with us. We do *not* want to have to rebuild the whole entire Middle East with the blood, sweat and tears we have poured into Iraq.

I will support people like Josh the Marine in any way I can, but I just can't bring myself to give a rat's ass about his tribal "leader" nor his desert goatherder ... and I'm really really certain that I want both the tribal kingpin and the goatherder to stay where they are and work it out, and not try to bring whatever their brand of "ism" is to the United States.

* * *

(For what it's worth, Fred, you've just had Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies laid on you in a major big way. Good for you. When they start yammering about Nazi's and Hitler and Goebbels it means you've won, and they're out of valid arguments.)

1/30/2008 12:26:00 PM  
Blogger DoubleTapper said...

Justice, forgiveness and love are what set western society apart.

In Judeo-Christian society all three are practiced jointly.

In Islamic society, they cut off your hand if you steal to feed your starving children.

It's not Arabs vs the West. Just look in Europe and see how well the Muslims are integrating. (Kosovo, Serbia, Paris, and London)

1/30/2008 12:27:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

gee golly wilikers... will wonders never cease - not only is Nahncee ready to withdraw from Iraq she also sees how similar Fred's writing is to Goebbels.

1/30/2008 12:46:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

DoubleTapper said...

"Justice, forgiveness and love are what set western society apart."

How do you reconcile this statement with:

"Since 2000, only five countries in the world are known to have executed juvenile offenders: China, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Iran, Pakistan and the United States"

http://www.amnestyusa.org/abolish/juveniles.html

and

"According to the International Centre for Prison Studies at King's College London, the U.S. currently has the largest documented prison population in the world, both in absolute and proportional terms. We've got roughly 2.03 million people behind bars, or 701 per 100,000 population. China has the second-largest number of prisoners (1.51 million, for a rate of 117 per 100,000), and Russia has the second-highest rate (606 per 100,000, for a total of 865,000)."

http://www.straightdope.com/columns/040206.html

1/30/2008 12:57:00 PM  
Blogger whiskey_199 said...

Thanks to Josh for his service. But he misses the point. Iraq is not important (for now) because it does not have nukes nor is it likely to have as long as we stay there.

Nukes (nuclear proliferation) plus Muslims perpetually enraged (Teddy Bears, Cartoons, the Pope, etc.) equals Western Cities dying.

That is the equation for the age. We can't change the Muslims enraged part. Muslims are NOT like us: their young men are denied sex and family formations, and are forced to substitute gay sex which is demeaning and shameful and enraging. The ugly outgrowth of polygamy. Anything and everything the West does enrages Muslims for this reason. Add no top-down hierarchy and central control but rather kinship networks and it's a disaster.

THAT social structure has lasted for 1,500 years and shows no signs of changing. So we're left with pissed off Muslims always being pissed off. [Out of the 19 hijackers only one 9/11 hijacker had any sexual relationship with a woman, and he nearly backed out until his peers successfully pressed him and convinced him his German wife was not a "real Muslim wife."]

Defeating AQ is largely irrelevant. Muslims will always look for social peace by attacking weak outsiders unlikely to bring horrific reprisals.

Kicking out all Muslims from the West, putting them into camps, "reforming" Islam, being "nice to them" is not going to do anything because the fundamental social structure of Muslim society guarantees Muslim Rage at any Western triviality, and modern communications and globalization make sure that something the Pope says or a Danish Cartoon will be heard in Lahore or Tehran.

Pre-emption to prevent the nuclear proliferation part on dangerous states is likely to work, but the high cost of self-image and clueless idiots in the Press wanting to be "nice" instead of alive will cause a sleepwalk to the abyss.

Pakistan NOW is at the point where anything in Europe or America could cause some Colonel or General to transfer nukes to a pissed off cousin determined to avenge -- any trivial insult to Islam's "honor."

1/30/2008 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger Doug said...

From Fallujah [Noah Pollak]

My pal Michael Totten has another report from Iraq up on his blog, and as usual it's an excellent combination of narrative, analysis, and photography. This anecdote is about an Iraqi police officer working with the Marines:

“His family was killed by Al Qaeda,” a Marine added helpfully. “They were killed because he's a police officer.”
The Iraqi Police officer nodded.
“He went out all by himself and killed the people who did it,” the Marine said.
The officer nodded again.
Unreal.
Read it all here and feel free to hit the man's tip jar to support his future travels.

1/30/2008 05:52:00 PM  
Blogger Wretchard said...

I think Josh Manchester is onto something important. Society isn't a linear system. It's complex. From a reductive perspective the idea of quarantining Muslims or Islam make sense. If we do x then y will follow.

Maybe.

But the key phrase in Josh Manchester's response was "disaggregation", a term which suggests that in some respect because Islamic society is complex it won't always behave in a linear manner. Changing things on the ground creates incalculable changes -- literally things we can't anticipate. So from a straight-ahead perspective there may be no apparent sense in engaging Islam because, to one way of thinking, its roots are fouled. But from another perspective it's not futile at all. When I talked about my hope that "this whole question will be resolved, not by some politician but by the 'decision of crowds'" it was a crude and not very precise description of this idea.

Personally I don't know how this present conflict with radical Islam will end. I know how it can end under certain scenarios. But I also feel that we still have degrees of freedom before. There's still a chance. But it lies in getting in there, not standing off as the anti-war guys would have it, and then maybe lobbing a nuke at them if a big dust-up comes, like the ex-NATO chiefs have suggested.

I'm really grateful to Josh for speaking out as he did.

1/30/2008 06:08:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/30/2008 07:17:00 PM  
Blogger Ash said...

Well, yeah, we can linerily extrapolate from the Koran, as Fred does, that all muslims are like 'x'. We can also extrapolate from the holy books of all faiths in our self centered way and state clearly we KNOW what the adherents of said faith are like. Or, yes, we can realize that people are complex creatures acting not as some individual determines a good book says but rather a complex humans with odd belief systems.

1/30/2008 07:18:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Please notice how "ash" has set up a straw man in stating that I've stated that all Muslims are "X." What I've written about in my posts is the opinion that Islam has source material that is traditionally treated in a certain way. If you take the time to read that material, as I'm sure "ash" has not, there are overarching themes and commands, best summed up in Surah 9, verse 5 - and there are dozens of others from the Medinan period which restate this command in varying ways. Also, that in many mosques Muslims are encouraged to do two things. The first, which also has a surah and verse which commands it, is to not take unbelievers as friends. Second, they are encouraged to deceive us as to their intentions. Notice that I am talking about doctrine.

So, within the Ummah there are seeds which incubate the jihad. They are the founding source material, which celebrate the deeds and words of Muhammad, as the receiver of the words of al illah conveyed by the Angel Gabriel to the mind of Muhammad at the convenient and appropriate time.

If you could truly aspire to the level of analytical elegance, ash, you would appropriately call me a shrill, shrieking Cassandra rather than a knuckledragging Nazi. But, subtlety is not your stock in trade.

1/30/2008 07:49:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

I find Josh's insights to be consistent with my own thoughts on the matter.

In Iraq it is the decision of the crowds. They have, constitutionally, rejected sharia as a national basis for settling certain disputes, and embraced individual rights and the rule of law. It is not the same as what we are used to but it is a start, and as the local populations learn how to make and maintain an accountable government the culture of both the Sheik and the sheep herder will change. Their perceptions of what is right and wrong will be affected and so will interpretations of custom and social law.

The question I have is not "is Islam compatible with democracy?", but rather can the causes of the formation or resurrection of radical religious and their acceptance by even a small number of potential devotees be averted through sectarian representative government?

Why Pakistan has failed so miserably in it quest to be a model Islamic state, is intertwined with the things that are going on in villages all over Iraq and Afghanistan. It can aid tremendously our efforts throughout the globe, and it is vital to maintain the effort. What is happening today in Sadr City, Baghdad will determine the length and ferocity of this GWOT. The duties guys like Josh are performing daily in the dessert and in the Mountains of the Orient are going to determine the outcome.

1/30/2008 08:57:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

Could someone explain to me why Turkey's people are moving back towards the Islamic sources of Qur'an and ahadith? After all, they have been a democratic country for awhile.

Cultures in the Muslim orbit can mutate and undergo micro changes, but Islam itself remains resilient in its scriptural basis and is the constant source of revivals.

I prefer to look at things from the wide angle of fourteen hundred years. Yes, what is happening in al Anbar is wondrous to behold. I will never kick a gift horse in the mouth. Still, I have not yet met a Muslim who will publicly and freely declare before other Muslims that the Qur'an is NOT the eternal, uncreated, perfect, and literal words of Allah. When I begin to hear a few million doing that, I might consider the fact that we have something going on worth watching.

1/30/2008 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Marcus Aurelius said...

Utopia, you grasp what the saying I refer to means.

Most of Arabia was organized along tribal lines (despite whatever the lines on the map said) until recently and those ties are still very strong. The students I taught were just starting to see themselves as Emirati instead of Al Shamsi or Al Rasid, etc. I keep coming back to Thessiger's book because it is recent and genuine exploratory history he had little idea what he would find when he went chasing after those locusts (no this is not the screenplay for Exorcist III). What he found was a very different way of living.

Heck, the ruling family in the UAE hails from Yemen originally there were no lines on the sand when the Abu Fallahs migrated from Yemen to Al-Ain.

Doubletapper,

In general, Sharia takes into account circumstances every bit as much as Western law. Sharia isn't cold and mechanistic. Just Islamic societies will readily kill those deserving of it and pardon the deserving as well.

1/30/2008 09:31:00 PM  
Blogger Grim said...

Heh. You made us read all the way to the end before we learned it was Chester, of "The Adventures of Chester."

Glad to hear he's out here again. We need folks like him.

1/30/2008 11:21:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

To Marcus Aurelius,

I hesitate to claim any sort of superior familiarity with the History of Islam, because I am shamefully ignorant. Your post with the timestamp "1/30/2008 06:50:00 AM" spoke of the contributions made by Islamic culture while the West languished. It caught my attention because of some information I'd lately seen.

In a post Monday by another Belmont commenter, there was a reference to the Islamic term of jurisprudence "Ijtihad." A bit of your time spent looking up this term will be well rewarded. A starting point good as any would be the Wikepedia article I found last night. As usual, I would recommend looking at several sources to be sure you're not getting a load of bushwa.

Still, it appears there was a time in Islamic culture that there was a lively and generous debate among legal scholars about how much latitude their religion allowed in interpretation of the Qur'anic scriptures in applications of Sharia to secular affairs. In this context, the term "ijtihad" had the meaning of an internal struggle, or struggle with one's self to arrive at a legal decision not necessarily dictated by precedent, but by one's own wisdom. Evidently this was allowed in the early centuries of Islam, among those scholars whose legal acuity was informed by long training in Islamic law.

The telling point that emerges from the article is that about the time that Fernando and Ysabel were finally successful in ejecting the Moorish Caliphate from the Iberian Peninsula and so unifying Spain, a long debate among several legal traditions came to a climax. There was a "closing of the door" as those several traditions finally became fixed and defined. At that point, many Islamic scholars felt there was no further need for questioning or challenging or re-examination of the sort that "ijtihad" seemed to involve. (Hmmmm. Why does that remind me of certain Liberal screechings that "NO MORE DISCUSSION WILL BE TOLERATED! Global warming is PROVEN because WE SAY SO!")

Interestingly, the Wikipedia article mentions that the "closing of the door" in legal matters coincides with a similar extinction of investigation & research in other important areas of culture. It's as though all Arab-Islamic culture had achieved a super-saturated state, and the decision that independent legal judgment would no longer be allowed was the event that lead to a general PRECIPITATION. Just as the Western nations were emerging from their long slumber and starting to read Arabic translations of Classical Greek and Roman wisdom, the Arabs who had preserved those classics were sliding into intellectual and cultural stupor, persisting to the present. Google the writing of Egyptian-American scientist, especially on the pathetic state of science and education in the Arab-speaking Islamic world. I mind in particular an article in the Chronicle of Higher Education from spring of 2004 that lays out his concerns very well.

You might also be interested in an article about a vast underground lake Dr. El-Baz helped discover by examining satellite imagery.

1/30/2008 11:28:00 PM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Ooops.

I meant to say:

"Google the writings of Farouk El Baz, Egyptian-American scientist..."

1/31/2008 12:03:00 AM  
Blogger Mad Fiddler said...

Wretchard, thank you for posting the note from Josh Manchester.

He reminds me that an awful lot of history has been made by young men like him. Placed in extraordinary circumstances, people with his maturity and breadth of vision in times past were left to make monumental decisions that committed first their senior officers, then the general staff, then the nation, to courses that now seem to have been inevitable.

It's interesting that even in these days of astounding penetration of cellular and satellite phone and radio service, it still boils down to the readiness of extraordinary individuals to see clearly and act with deliberateness under fire and in confusion.

I am repeatedly humbled by the quality of the young men and women serving in the U.S. Military. It's about the only aspect of the present that gives me hope. Otherwise, it looks to me like a few Western cities are doomed to be vaporized before a lot of people give up their delusions.

1/31/2008 12:35:00 AM  
Blogger Ash said...

fred wrote:

"Please notice how "ash" has set up a straw man in stating that I've stated that all Muslims are "X.""

Well, Fred, how then do you reconcile that with your urging us to "segregate these over one billion ticking time bombs into their own lands governed by their cherished Sharia law." and "If we want to save humanity from the Dark Age that they would bring down on civilization, then sift them out and deport them.”? Is there some sort of test you have that will delineate these 1 billion “ticking time bombs” other then that they are Muslim?

And yes, it would be appropriate to call you a “shrill, shrieking Cassandra” but the “knuckledragging Nazi” is also appropriate for there are remarkably similar thoughts expressed by you and Goebbels. The notion that ‘they’ disguise their true intentions, that one must be “experienced” in the details of ‘their ways’, that the evil is their essence, that they must be segregated from ‘us’ and deported. Read some of Goebbels writings, not just the few paragraphs I’ve cited here and reflect on your own writings. I think even you will also notice the similarities. You seem to have taken a very harsh reading of their texts and projected it as being indicative of how the whole group will act. Even if they thought as you say you are prosecuting them not for their actions but for thought crimes.

1/31/2008 07:33:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Salaam eleikum!, ash. Allahu Akhbar!

On behalf of the Ummah, we thank you for your efforts on our behalf, as you do battle with the evil Nazi, "fred." May Allah bless your further efforts with victory.

1/31/2008 08:43:00 AM  
Blogger PeterBoston said...

You seem to have taken a very harsh reading of their texts and projected it as being indicative of how the whole group will act.

As resident leftie you follow the script and avoid the issue with an inane analogy.

Have you read the Koran and biographies of Muhammed? Better still, have you read them together in chronological order so that you can evaluate if the revelations managed to arrive at the exact time that provided the maximum benefit to Muhammand's personal ambitions?

Have you compared the statements of bin Laden and Zawahiri with the Koran and biographies? I suspect not because you would have found a striking similarity, all of which supports the thesis that people who follow the texts do indeed model their behavior after them.

1/31/2008 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

The Iraqis in Anbar have completely rejected Al Qaeda. A while back I told the police chief in my town that I thought the reason the terrorists are weak is because their ideas have been rejected.

Just because Anbar residents have rejected al Qaeda in no way means that they have concomitantly discarded terrorism or its root cause, jihad. In light of how jihad is one of the absolute fundamental imperatives of shari’a law, any assertion that Iraq’s Muslim population has renounced terrorism is dubious at best.

SBW: "Is Islam compatible with democracy?" The answer is yes.

There is absolutely no evidence of this anywhere in the Islamic world. Wherever Muslims constitute a population’s majority, they swiftly put Shari’a in place. Democracy is widely regarded as utter blasphemy. The Muslim mind simply cannot and will not accept manmade laws as having more force than those decreed by Allah. Thus, shari’a will always trump democracy and representative government will never materialize in the MME (Muslim Middle East) save by forceful imposition.

Utopia Parkway: I think it's the tribalism of the Muslim world that is the problem more-so than Islam itself.

Both tribalism and Islam, respectively, are direct byproducts of high context cultures. Without understanding the role of context in culture, there can be no comrehension of the Arab or Muslim mind. I have posted about this repeatedly and maintain that cultural context drives much of the civilizational conflict being encountered just as it has between other high context cultures and the West.

Islam is certainly a tribal religion but it's possible that most of its practices can be separated from the tribalism aspect.

This is a very dubious proposition at best. Shari’a demands that women outside the home be escorted by a male relative. This one facet alone reinforces tribalism to an almost irremedial degree. While not shari’a specific, consanguinious marriage—a deeply entrenched Islam tradition—perpetuates a significant proportion of tribalistic tendencies as well. There is nothing to indicate that Islam and tribalism are wholly separable.

It is obviously difficult for us in the West to differentiate between Islam and tribalism in Muslim societies, and maybe its not our job to do this but theirs.

As with many other Muslim-specific tasks—like expelling their jihadist co-religionists—it is something that goes almost totally unaddressed and is purposefully ignored by choice. Tribalism and Islam are both so deeply ingrained into Muslim culture that neither are likely to be extricated execpt at gunpoint. Even then, such an obligatory act is just that, something that will be abandoned the moment any force is no longer applied.

Wretchard: Personally I don't know how this present conflict with radical Islam will end. I know how it can end under certain scenarios. But I also feel that we still have degrees of freedom before.

The only problem remains with how Muslims have the greatest measure of freedom in determining their fate. Islam itself utterly constrains that latitude to a degree or two and thereby seals its fate. The West only has any leeway in how many needless deaths and billions of dollars squandered before it gives up on what has always been an impossible task. Stopping terrorism is a Muslim problem and until we are willing to place the ball squarely in Islam’s court, there will only be further bloodshed.

WadeUSAF: They [the Iraqis] have, constitutionally, rejected sharia as a national basis for settling certain disputes, and embraced individual rights and the rule of law.

Please provide some cites that give more firm footing to this assertion. I’m not trying to diminish the potential importance of a development like this but would like some hard proof to validate such a desirable turn of events. Much of what I’ve seen does not substantiate this notion, especially when Iraq’s government is reviewed on a top-down basis. If Iraq’s Prime Minister, Noor al Maliki, is any indication, it’s business as usual:

The only contradictory statement, which shatters much of the flattering talk revolving around Maliki, was made by Khudayr Taher, a US-based Shi'ite writer who has known Maliki since their days in exile in Syria in the 1980s.

Taher wrote an editorial in Arabic saying that he used to meet Maliki at the local library in Syria, where he would be doing research for his master's degree in Arabic literature, pointing out: "I do not claim that we were friends." Taher said Maliki had "modest general knowledge ... he will be a puppet in the hands of Jaafari, Hakim, the Kurds and Sunnis". He added that Maliki "does not believe in democracy because of his ideological commitments" in al-Da'wa Party, claiming that political Islam and democracy do not meet for someone like Maliki.

In a private discussion held when both men were in Syria, Maliki told Taher: "We declare our acceptance of democracy, but in reality, we are tricking them [the Americans] in order to topple Saddam and come to power." Taher writes: "I swear to God that this is exactly what he said!"

Taher adds that Maliki does not believe in the equality of women and will refuse to give any cabinet posts to Iraqi women, unless those imposed by the Kurds. He wraps up by saying that Maliki is anti-American, and has expressed his anti-American views to friends and in private discourse.

[emphasis added]

Furthermore, while shari’a law may have been rejected “as a national basis for settling certain disputes”, Iraqis have most certainly NOT rejected shari’a law’s horrible discrimination against women and numerous other violations of human rights embedded within it. This dilutes whatever significance such a move might have had.

I’ll also ask that people note how—in perfect concordance with Fred’s own observations—al Maliki freely engages in taqiyya and kitman to the plain detriment of his own American liberators and the Iraqi people he supposedly leads. It seems as though there is little to prevent the canopy of Iraq’s government from crashing down about the ears of its electorate. Obsession with shari’a enfeebles any embrace of democracy whereby it can just as easily slip from their grasp. Especially so when regional Shiite leadership—in the form of Iran—would like nothing better.

… can the causes of the formation or resurrection of radical religious and their acceptance by even a small number of potential devotees be averted through sectarian representative government?

All signs point towards extremely negative results. Fred has already noted how nearly universal adherance to principal Koranic doctrine militates against such an outcome. I am obliged to agree.

Note to Ash: In your constant attempts to impose moral relativism upon Fred’s erudite and extremely well-argued points against Islam you consistently fail to note how Nazi persecution of the Jews was wholly unwarranted while suspicion and mistrust of Muslim intentions is more than a little justified.

Left unfettered, Islam will race towards a precipice of genocide and nuclear war. The Jews of World War II were engaged in no such thing. Nor did they award themselves the right to use deception, lies, betrayal and treachery as religiously sanctioned political tools.

Muslims—like World War II Japanese in America—will find themselves fortunate if all that happens is internment, not to mention deportation and containment after repatriation in their respective countries of origin. Already, Islam has been responsible for untold MILLIONS of deaths and ENDLESS human suffering on an UNIMAGINABLE scale throughout its entire existence. Attempting to compare Nazi propaganda with proper criticism of such endless Islamic perfidy and supreme maliciousness is puerile at best.

I invite you to reconcile your own observations about Fred’s comments with how Adolph Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”—retitled “Mein Jihad”—continues to be a bestseller in the MME (Muslim Middle East). I further invite you to explain why Hamas and numerous other genocidal Palestinian factions use the Nazi “sieg heil” salute in their military parades. Additionally, please explain why Jews are routinely portrayed as Nazis in Arabic cartoons. If you cannot respond to these simple challenges, please consider yourself to enjoy complete and total disregard in all further encounters.

1/31/2008 09:53:00 PM  
Blogger some said...

Josh is surely onto something, but I wonder how broadly it applies.

The nominally Muslim people of Iraq seem to be doing fairly well in rejecting the worst, but how much of that, I wonder, is because their relationship to the West -- aka modern existence, aka the Other -- is mediated by the US military and neither the domestic multiculti welfare state nor an insulating local Islamic polity?

Between AQ and the US armed forces the strong horse is clear -- not only physical but moral. But what about between AQ and the self-loathing lefty intelligensia? AQ and the grotesque shadow of us projected by local Islamic preachers and the aforementioned self-loathing westerners?

Iraq, in many ways, has the *best* conditions for non-extremist Islam. That good wins there does not mean it'll win in, say, Canada.

1/31/2008 11:13:00 PM  
Blogger sbw said...

Zenster, disaggregate to one-on-one.

What matters is how individual Muslims treat the people they deal with. What matters is how you treat the people you deal with.

Take your sweeping generalization home with you and come back when you see that crimes are committed by one individual against another. Muslims who respect me shall be respected in return. Those who don't will get dealt with accordingly.

Gosh. It seems so simple.

2/01/2008 11:28:00 AM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

Does that mean that you are simple, sbw?

2/01/2008 11:53:00 AM  
Blogger Zenster said...

SBW: Gosh. It seems so simple.

Only when you willfully ignore how Muslims adhere to a Koranic doctrine that intrinsically seeks the total destruction of all other cultures. Any Muslim who is willing to excise violent passages from the Koran, reject shari'a law and forego jihad is an apostate or blasphemer and the enemy of Islam.

crimes are committed by one individual against another. Muslims who respect me shall be respected in return. Those who don't will get dealt with accordingly.

You are citing the "Law Enforcement" mode of combatting global terrorism. Regardless of your own confusion, Islam is not seeking to perpetrate individual criminal acts. Islam represents one massive crime against humanity and must be neutered on a wholesale basis before it can inflict further harm upon this world.

World War II was not won by merely responding to any particular Nazi incursion against its neighbors. Victory was obtained by taking the fight all the way into Germany and crushing such aggression in its own lair.

Neither will any victory against global terrorism be gained by frittering away at the edges of Islam's constant border wars. At some point a dramatic intrusion upon the MME (Muslim Middle East) will be required to cripple Islamic radicalism.

Afghanistan and Iraq are mere police actions in the aforementioned law enforcement mode. Neither operation will deliver the significant pressure required to give Islam pause in its war against the West.

While it is your privilege to not like what I have to say, it is extremely ill-mannered to suggest that it does not belong in a forum dedicated to open discussion of what remains one of the most significant problems facing our modern world. Your own attitude more closely resembles Islam's disregard for free speech than it does any democratic ideal.

I'm going to take the liberty of cross-posting a reply to Wretchard made over in the "Unspoken" thread:

Wretchard: The Devil is straining to be unleashed behind the door. And for that reason we are reluctant to open it, because once he is out, his countenance will be horrible to behold.

Again, it's too late. The damage has been done and it has been wrought by Islam.

Wretchard, all too often you seem to place the onus upon American or Western forces that are merely responding to Islam's predations. While it is true that we alone possess the actual firepower to wreak destruction on a massive scale, we aren't the ones who are in hot pursuit of such slaughter.

It is Islam that wants the Devil to slip his leash. It is Islam that is trying to unbar the doorway to wholesale destruction. In no way is the West to blame for this. At every turn in history, Islam has ALWAYS sought to bring about such massive havoc. Nothing has changed save an awakening modern awareness of an ancient pattern.

The West has no alternative but to show Islam what awaits them should they continue to pursue Total War. Nowhere have we given them the least glimpse of this and the lack of such a demonstration permits the delusion that we are locked in a Cold War scenario.

Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no deterring Islam. That is why my list of functional deterrents to terrorism just as often contains elements of disproportionately massive retaliation.

Positing a Cold War situation assumes that there is a degree of strategic stasis. No such thing is happening. Islam continues its infiltration of Dar al Harb while the West continues to delude itself that diplomacy and minor kinetic engagements are efficacious when nothing could be farther from the truth.

Some sort of stasis will only come about by dramatically terminating all further proliferation of WMD technology in the Islamic world. Iran must see the catastrophic dismantling of its nuclear aspirations and Pakistan must have a lid clamped upon its nuclear arsenal. North Korea must taken off line and Syria's biochemical weapons facilities must be blasted into rubble.

Containment has little chance of working without the most brutal military cordoning of such a barrier. However, much like the current effort to democratize the MME (Muslim Middle East), it is something we are obliged to do if only for the sake of our own collective conscience.

So it will also be with any attempts at containment. It represents the only alternative to the death camps. Only when Islam's persistent aggression reveals the futility of either measure will it finally be made clear to the West that simple atrittion of Islam's followers is the only thing that can discourage its endless assault upon the West.

There is absolutely NOTHING arising from our current situation that indicates any other potential sequence of events. Islam must unleash Total War if its tottering Neanderthal ideology is to thwart modernization's onslaught. Muslim radicals are desperately trying to unbolt Hell's gateway and none of their co-religionists have the moral fiber or integrity to beat back such an obvious threat to humanity.

The West is in no way responsible for Islam's reckless and deeply malignant conduct. That we may well be obliged to obliterate large portions of the MME in our own defense is something that Muslims alone are responsible for. I feel it is vital to lay the blame where it belongs.

Wretchard, if you are so—understandably—fearful of such a violent outcome, then please make sure to pinpoint the prime movers that lever events towards that precipice. The West would just as soon be left alone but Islam persists in antagonizing all and sundry in their pursuit of global ascendancy. Our only responsibility is to ensure the West's survival. If Muslims wish to avoid near-total extermination, then they must begin to rein in their radicals. If—as has been repeatedly demonstrated—they abjectly refuse to do so, then the consequences are theirs alone to bear.

2/01/2008 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Zenster,

WadeUSAF: They [the Iraqis] have, constitutionally, rejected sharia as a national basis for settling certain disputes, and embraced individual rights and the rule of law.

Please provide some cites that give more firm footing to this assertion.


There is anecdotal evidence aplenty to support this narrative. The Interpretation is my own.

Your reply to Wretchard, Stopping terrorism is a Muslim problem and until we are willing to place the ball squarely in Islam’s court, there will only be further bloodshed.
is, as near as I can determine, exactly how the effort is proceeding,

The greatest and most fruitful efforts are being made from the bottom up, and with a great deal of sweat and stubborn determination Iraqis are gradually affecting a sea change in how government operates, and how disputes are being settled. It is not universal, and it is not laid out in bench marks or time tables, but the timidity required to submit to some half baked clerical notion of what is and is not in the individual Iraqi’s interest is being replaced with a more secular approach. In Al Anbar it is The Sheik Vs. the Cleric’s POV with Al Q and classic Sunni Shari’a loosing to common sense (their’s not ours) and the greater common good.

In Basra the long struggle against Saddam and straining against Iran has left a power vacuum which too many players struggle to fill. This situation should favor the Al Maliki Government and supporters, yet as the struggle continues it is not favoring the Iranian Shi’ite Revolutionary Islamist position you ascribe to Al Maliki.

In a culture that reveres a Quietist approach it is a secular battle, Clerics like Al Sadr are loosing face and power. Gains in local governmental actions and the integration of most of the security forces is progressing along with a vetting of suspected terrorists and terror supporters. The recent De-Ba’athification law allowing many former members of the Saddam regime to participate in government can only lead to further reconciliation and integration of the government.

These are gains that are being made daily, and while the going still is slow, the effort and the intention are genuine. I do not nor would I expect any country to adopt overnight, our thought process given the long history and tradition of cultural as well as individual survival built into their society. Unfortunately this would include women’s issues. To humanity’s credit the process of change, having been raise with one set of cultural norms, only to have them replaced with another, is achievable It is easy to understand how a chauvinistic culture would resist such sweeping changes.

But there is a process in motion in Iraq. While al Maliki may not be your or even my idea of the ideal leader of his country, the process under his administration is moving forward. It is not difficult to understand that the same sexually charged and violent behavior that caused them to question the claims of Al Q to being pure much less Muslim, is the same behavior witnessed when ever too much power over individuals is given to a small unchecked group.

The Obsession with the radical forms of Shari’a is the weakness of the Taliban and AL Qaeda. It is the weakness of the Iranian Revolution and the weakness of KSA. IMO, the biggest obstacle that Pakistan has never faced and never resolved is the same, having detemined to function under Shari’a, they never agreed whose version of Shari’a law will be enforced. Note it is never what mandate or candidate will be followed. It is the debate that local governments in Iraq, are resolving with checks and balances.

When given the opportunity to build their own community and make them work, without and in many cases in spite of radical influence the result is very satisfactory. As self confidence and confidence in government grow, regional authorities can go to hell, thank you very much because these folks aren’t going to return gracefully to anything like the existence they experienced under Saddam, while in the grip Al Qaeda, or the IRC. And others in the region, including stifled clerics, are watching.

What the GWOT has done thus far is taken Israel out of the equation and placed the burden squarely on Islam itself. It is not finished, it could easily come crashing down, but Lets see where it goes from here.

2/01/2008 12:12:00 PM  
Blogger sbw said...

Nawncee, Zenster, thanks for the levity. I glad to see people enjoy themselves in between the useful exchanges of ideas.

Josh, thanks for phrasing the thought as you did. Disaggregation is a worthwhile consideration. And, Wretchard, thanks for quoting Josh's email.

2/01/2008 01:02:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

WadeUSAF: When given the opportunity to build their own community and make them work, without and in many cases in spite of radical influence the result is very satisfactory. As self confidence and confidence in government grow, regional authorities can go to hell, thank you very much because these folks aren’t going to return gracefully to anything like the existence they experienced under Saddam, while in the grip Al Qaeda, or the IRC. And others in the region, including stifled clerics, are watching.

What the GWOT has done thus far is taken Israel out of the equation and placed the burden squarely on Islam itself. It is not finished, it could easily come crashing down, but Lets see where it goes from here.


WadeUSAF, while I really appreciate your sincere answer and the obvious amount of thought involved, it remains difficult for me to have any such degree of optimism.

The entire situation cuts in either direction far too much of the time. While it might seem good in how locals are saying that "regional authorities can go to hell", there arises the question of reemerging tribalism versus respect for central authority. The endemic corruption of al Maliki’s government only cements sectarian differences, thus contradicting claims that “the process under his administration is moving forward”.

I find it especially difficult to regard Iraqi adoption of shari’a law as anything but an intensely retrograde influence. As with Afghanistan, that Coalition forces liberated these countries merely so they could return to Islamic repression is far from any sort of victory. What’s more, there is an extremely destructive effect in allowing these two nations to pretend that they have joined the global community even as they defy international standards of humanitarian conduct. By this, I refer to how both Afghanistan and Iraq—as UN members—are signatories to the UDHR (Universal Declaration of Human Rights). Yet an ongoing farce is made of this by their adoption of shari’a law. Moreover, the West gives wholly unwarranted moral authority to shari’a law by countenancing its return amidst this Muslim charade of respect for human rights.

If there is one single condition that must be imposed upon formerly Islamic countries, it is a permanent ban upon the practice and enforcement of shari’a law. This must be the case even if it requires installing a harsh military dictatorship to overcome any regression into Islamism. By not having done so, an unmistakable signal has been sent to Islam that the West will overlook shari’a law’s cruelty and fundamental incompatibility with all humanitarian traditions. This is an error of profound magnitude as it inhibits all messages regarding how important Islamic reform is. Moreover, it only increases the magnitude of conflict that will arise once this becomes an actual sticking point.

It is to the immense discredit of Western leadership that they have neglected to make shari’a a bone of contention from the onset. Shari’a is a primary driver of jihad—and by extension terrorism—while also promoting the very worst types of Islamic fundamentalism. Ignoring its intolerable brutality and rigid societal control only legitimizes what should be a wholly unacceptable feature of Islam.

By allowing this to happen, we have most definitely NOT “placed the burden squarely on Islam itself”. There are numerous burdens that must be thrust upon Islam. The elimination of terrorism and compliance with worldwide humanitarian standards are not least among them. This simply is not happening and it both prolongs the ensuing conflict and continues to up the inevitable butcher’s bill.

SBW: thanks for the levity

Here’s a clue. There was not one iota of levity intended in my rejoinder to your comments. What little I did see in NahnCee’s remark seemed to be wholly at your own expense.

2/01/2008 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger sbw said...

Zenster: There was not one iota of levity intended in my rejoinder to your comments.

But there was sarcasm in mine. The presentation didn't offer as much to work with as that from Josh or Wretchard and didn't encourage one to read on. I admire how they do it. Natural teachers.

2/01/2008 05:29:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I find it especially difficult to regard Iraqi adoption of shari’a law as anything but an intensely retrograde influence. As with Afghanistan, that Coalition forces liberated these countries merely so they could return to Islamic repression is far from any sort of victory.

Zenster, on the whole I agree with both your comments here and elsewhere, and your sense of pessimism that the Muslims are ever going to wake up and smell the roses before we are forced to genocide them in self defense.

However, in reading the comment above, the thought does occur to wonder if that is not the psychology to be expected -- the fall back to what is know and the rules that are understood -- before starting to move forward with changes.

Especially in Iraq but also in Afghanistan, I think the people there have been kept dirt ignorant for centuries -- they simply didn't know what was possible outside of Taliban whippings and Saddam's paper-shredder.

There's a combination of influences in both countries now that *should* work towards both of those people throwing off the chains of Sharia: (1) the example of American and allied soldiers as they go about their duties, working and taking responsiblity and demonstrating The Right Stuff, and (2) the media and international communication which is now pouring in through formally closed windows in the desert in the form of cell phones, satelite dishes, the internet, and movies.

You cannot tell me that Josh's goatherder will ever want to go back to Saddam (or Al-Queda's) papershredder now that he's seen that he can educate his children and they can grow up to become President (of something even though we won't let them in the United States).

And Mrs. Goatherder in both Afganistan and Iraq is certainly having her eyes opened, too, and must be wondering to herself why she is putting up with all this nonsene, and for what. Saudi Arabia is even getting ready to allow its females to drive, which should tell you something about the power of information to make people unhappy with their life's lot.

THe one I watch with trepidation is Turkey. Turkey was making strides towards joining the EU and being considered a civilized country. If Turkey returns to Sharia law going backwards, which there is some agitation for it to do, then you are right and I am wrong and there will be nothing left to do but to bomb the lot of them because they're hopeless.

2/01/2008 06:02:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

NahnCee: the thought does occur to wonder if that is not the psychology to be expected -- the fall back to what is know and the rules that are understood -- before starting to move forward with changes.

The problem I see is that shari’a serves the explicit function of discouraging change of any sort. A prime example is the death sentence for apostasy and blasphemy. What modification of Islam is possible when such a calcified legal code rules the day?

Much like men and boys in the Turkish army, it will take a crowbar to separate Muslims from shari’a. I fully understand your argument for incremental change. However, please consider how very little change there has been in the Islamic world for many hundreds of years.

Further, I maintain that we do not have the luxury of allowing Islam’s shari’a law to midwife the birth of further untold THOUSANDS of jihadis. While your concerns are not unfounded, they simply may not be affordable with respect to the West’s security and overall survival.

There's a combination of influences in both countries now that *should* work towards both of those people throwing off the chains of Sharia: (1) the example of American and allied soldiers as they go about their duties, working and taking responsiblity and demonstrating The Right Stuff, and (2) the media and international communication which is now pouring in through formally closed windows in the desert in the form of cell phones, satelite dishes, the internet, and movies.

Again, I feel that you underestimate the timeline which we in the West have available for eradicating jihadist Islam. Even in the face of—desperately needed—free and open communication, allowing Islamic radicalism to run its course requires us to leave open a window that will just as easily admit nuclear terrorism alongside the potential for gradual, peaceable change. This represents an unacceptable degree of risk and if preventing that peril requires the ruthless subjugation of our sworn enemies, so be it.

Our entire world has spent over ONE THOUSAND YEARS suffering at the hands of Islam. The party is over. The piper must be paid. The ball is in Islam’s court and they have chosen to whiff the pitch. How is that our fault?

You cannot tell me that Josh's goatherder will ever want to go back to Saddam (or Al-Queda's) papershredder

How can you be so sure? Please recall that Saddam’s Ba’athist regime had little or no resemblance to a truly Islamic regime. His was a semi-modern dictatorship devised solely to permit him and his sons untrammeled access to wealth and power. Should Josh’s goat-herder be confronted with uncovered women, Danish cartoons and Internet pr0n, exactly which direction do you think he will head in? I can assure you that it will not be towards representational government via the enactment of constitutional law. Far too many centuries of hidebound Islamic servitude will usher this rustic nomad into the arms of shari’a-based totalitarianism.

And Mrs. Goatherder in both Afghanistan and Iraq is certainly having her eyes opened, too, and must be wondering to herself why she is putting up with all this nonsense, and for what.

Please reconcile how Afghanistan—which once boasted unescorted women lawyers and teachers on the streets garbed in Western attire—could so easily have succumbed to Taliban governance and then be liberated only to readopt much of what their Islamist oppressors stood for.

Turkey was making strides towards joining the EU and being considered a civilized country.

This is only because the single most powerful Turkish institution—namely, their military—explicitly forbade anything less. As Islamism continues to swell its ranks, there is little—save direct military intervention—to prevent further regression throughout the MME (Muslim Middle East).

Pessimistic? Yes. Culturally imperialistic? Yew betcha. Intent upon retaining the last several centuries of progress we have made towards a free and open global community? Damn straight!

Finally, NahnCee, please remain assured that we are largely in raucous, violent agreement. I have no desire for a Muslim holocaust but would rather have that than see you or any other American woman be forced to don a burqa. Period.

2/01/2008 07:01:00 PM  
Blogger Wadeusaf said...

Zenster,

I have been accused of being overly optimistic before.

Radical Shari'a is the biggest obstacle to moving past terror in the modern era. Seen as a religious imperative breaking the bonds of Shari'a improbable.
But viewed as the impetus and excuse for the sick and sadistic behavior of the Talaban, Iranian Islamic Revolution and Al Qaeda puts their radical form of Shari'a in a new light.

I am told and find reason to believe that Shari'a is open to interpretation, and not set in stone. To the extent that Islamic law can be determined by council then it is Squarely in Islam's lap.

I agree, that without formal structure in law, shari'a is too volatile, its application too arbitrary and punishments too final, to go unchallenged. It is a plague on the individual, a tool used by the unscrupulous, and when seen in that light can be challenged.

Saddam ran a classic Stalinist regime, replete with the social engineering of paranoia and avoidance of reprisal. Hell of a way to exist. The IIR and AlQ offer little better. Given the option, and the realization that it can stick, which would you choose? Even the folks in the roughest and tumble-est provinces of Afghanistan, when given the option, will choose the rule of a law that is not the extreme version of Shari'a.

I don't think optimism has too much to do with it, but there I will defer to men like Josh.

2/01/2008 11:24:00 PM  

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