Thursday, March 27, 2008

The Wilders film

Geert Wilders has posted his long-awaited film critical of the Koran.

The BBC reports:

The opening scenes show a copy of the Koran, followed by footage of the attacks on the US on 11 September 2001. The 15-minute film was posted on video-sharing website LiveLeak.

Its planned release had sparked angry protests in Muslim countries. The Dutch government has distanced itself from the views of Mr Wilders. The film is called "Fitna", a Koranic term sometimes translated as "strife". Dutch broadcasters have declined to show it.

It's a 15 minute film which makes some effort to avoid gratuitous insult to Islam, ending for example, with the image of a hand about to tear out pages from the Koran while the subsequent tear sound is described as derived from a the sound of a page being torn from a phonebook. But it's clearly an act of calculated defiance. Here's the link to Liveleak.

By publishing the film Wilders has accepted responsibility for crossing a line in the sand. This act will provoke two possible responses. Protests, boycotts, demonstrations and legal action are almost certain to follow demanding the withdrawal of the film of Wilder's censure. There is also a high probability that attempts will be made to attack Western targets in general in reprisal. Radical Islamists, perhaps accustomed to authoritarian social situations, may regard the Dutch broadcasters unwillingness to broadcast Wilder's film as a mere exercise in "plausible deniability" and hold Western society "collectively responsible" anyway.

But the real significance of Wilder's film is to illustrate the growing loss of control by Western governments over the narrative over the nature of the War on Terror. By criticizing Islam itself, a growing number of voices including Geert Wilders and recent convert Magdi Cristiano Allam (who called Islam "inherently evil") have taken one more step towards tearing down the notion, so carefully constructed by George Bush after September 11 of separating terrorism from the "religion of peace".

By repeatedly invoking Islam as the cause or, alternatively, the justification, for violent behavior, both the Left and the Right have jointly undermined the strategy of forming political coalitions with certain elements in the Islamic world to prosecute other elements. This coalition strategy undergirds the actions in Iraq and Afghanistan; it is implicit in US cooperation with Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. In those places the US associates itself with certain elements of the "religion of peace" (such as Grand Ayatollah Sistani) against other elements.

But this down-the-middle approach has earned itself many enemies. It is viewed on the Left as a persecution of Islam; or worse, as its corruption. And because a coalition approach takes a long time to succeed it is often rejected out of hand by pacifists, who would either simply deny that any War on Terror exists or insist that the Jihad is justified (as exemplified by Jeremiah Wright's theory that "America's chickens have come home to roost"). Conservatives have grown to distrust coalition warfare as a collection of half-measures. And there is little room between those who would regard the handling of a Koran with anything but white gloves as blasphemy and those who would criticize it as inherently evil. And there may be less room with every passing month.

If the Left had been smart they would have supported Bush's war on targeted elements of Islam. But by falling back on a reflexive pacifism, they gradually deligitimized this appoach without providing a viable warfighting strategy of their own. The Left's own rhetorical unconsciously painted them into the corner of inaction. Both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, for example, rely on the slogan of "getting troops out of harm's way" in place of any real program for resolving the current world crisis.

With Bush's coalition warfighting strategy under attack both from liberals and conservatives, the public may be left with stark choice of either regarding Islam as an misunderstood ideological "friend" -- the abstract equivalent of a protected minority class -- or as an implacable enemy, one bent on the destruction of the West. The problem with this formulation is that the pacifist approach is certain to be discredited over time because Islamic radicalism will implacably attack. And without the coalition strategy available policy will oscillate between the extremes. The price for not fighting the War on Terror effectively is that it eventually degenerates into a War of Civilizations.

The Belmont Club is supported largely by donations from its readers.


Blogger PeterBoston said...

As usual not a single Muslim scumbag or apologist will make the case that the film does not accurately represent the Koran and the haidith. They will just pillage and kill to prove that Islam is the religion of peace.

Maybe the Muzzies got something with that convert or die thing.

3/27/2008 01:51:00 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

This marks the point at which the US hands the baton to Europe in the battle against militant Islam. The US huffed and puffed, but in the end did not have the stones to take on the Saudis, the real sponsors of radical Islam. Instead the Bush Administration openly surrendered to their Saudi masters after being attacked in 9/11.

And as if that wasn’t enough the US then literally handed Iraq over to Iran. The idea that now Iran is somehow backing the Arab nationalist Sadr and not their puppets running Iraq is laughable. The Iraqi Army forces moving into to Basra are basically made up of the militias of the Islamic Da’wa Party and the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (SIIC). These are the two pro-Iranian radically Islamist political parties with slightly differing political philosophies. While both claim that Allah is sovereign, they disagree and who should actually determine what Allah is willing since he is somewhat silent about it himself. The SIIC are straight-up Khomeinists -- they believe it is up to the ulema (Islamic scholars) to govern while Da’wa are more Khatamists, they insist it is the ummah (the wider Muslim community) who determe Allah’s will. In any case Iran's President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad just visited his puppets in Baghdad a few weeks ago. He would have given his permission for this move against Sadr at that meeting. This is the last nail in the coffin concerning the US’s ability to lead any sort of campaign against militant Islam. Iran and Saudi Arabia have won round one.

So now it is up to Europe to defeat radical Islam. But round two may not be on a traditional battlefield more like a cultural one.

3/27/2008 02:13:00 PM  
Blogger VA Gamer said...

You are quite the defeatist, aren't you, Kevin? The US is incapable of leading the effort against radical islam because 1) we have not declared war on Saudi Arabia and 2) because we allowed Iran to take over Iraq? I disagree with both of your assertions, but that is off-topic.

I just watched "Fitna." I love how Wilders paired the brutal scenes of terrorist carnage with passages from the koran. He did not interject his own editorial opinion in the dialogue of the movie. Rather, he completely used the words of the koran and of the hate-preachers of islam against them. There is nothing new in this movie, but it is a nice synthasizing of the existing material.

3/27/2008 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger LarryD said...

In Capt'n Ed's comments section about the film, RushBaby pointed to Frontpage Interview’s interview with Bill Warner, the director of the Center for the Study of Political Islam:

"Let’s examine the ethical basis of our civilization. All of our politics and ethics are based upon a unitary ethic that is best formulated in the Golden Rule:

"Treat others as you would be treated.

"The basis of this rule is the recognition that at one level, we are all the same. We are not all equal. Any game of sports will show that we do not have equal abilities. But everyone wants to be treated as a human being. In particular, we all want to be equal under the law and be treated as social equals. On the basis of the Golden Rule—the equality of human beings—we have created democracy, ended slavery and treat women and men as political equals. So the Golden Rule is a unitary ethic. All people are to be treated the same. All religions have some version of the Golden Rule except Islam.

"FP: So how is Islam different in this context?

"Warner: The term “human being” has no meaning inside of Islam. There is no such thing as humanity, only the duality of the believer and unbeliever. Look at the ethical statements found in the Hadith. A Muslim should not lie, cheat, kill or steal from other Muslims. But a Muslim may lie, deceive or kill an unbeliever if it advances Islam.

"There is no such thing as a universal statement of ethics in Islam. Muslims are to be treated one way and unbelievers another way. The closest Islam comes to a universal statement of ethics is that the entire world must submit to Islam. After Mohammed became a prophet, he never treated an unbeliever the same as a Muslim. Islam denies the truth of the Golden Rule.

"By the way, this dualistic ethic is the basis for jihad. The ethical system sets up the unbeliever as less than human and therefore, it is easy to kill, harm or deceive the unbeliever.

3/27/2008 02:25:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Kevin misses the point entirely, as usual. The battle is between the Left, which apologizes or actually encourages the atrocities seen in the movie, and the Right which characterizes Islam (rightly IMHO) as innately evil and a threat to all Western Civilization.

The Left, is completely behind Islamisation, and believes it to be inevitable and desireable. The Right defends Western Civilization.

I'm sure Moveon, Obama, Hillary, ANSWER, Code Pink, all the European governments, leftists all, will condemn this movie.

However, the tools that Islamists use can also be used against them. No one watching that film cannot be powerfully moved. It presents very well the view that Muslims and Islam is the enemy of the West, in all areas.

Watching this film, Europeans and Americans will feel it is wise to:

*Throw most/all Muslims out of the West.
*Not allow Muslims to preach or convert Westerners.
*Treat Islam like Nazism.
*Hit Muslims HARD and without mercy when they commit atrocities.
*Permit no space in the West for Islam.

The Left is opposed to this and tells Westerners to submit to atrocity and degradation. Such as depicted in the film. A complete degradation in all areas of life.

The Right argues that Western Way of life is worth defending. Worth fighting for. Against an enemy degraded and terrible and disgusting. Muslims come off as very disgusting in this movie, and their religion one of terror and horror.

Yes the fight will be cultural. Between the Left (surrender to Islam) and the Right (fight for freedom).

3/27/2008 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...


This site is a counter-example of your proposition that "this marks the point at which the US hands the baton to Europe in the battle against militant Islam." Geert Wilders acted as a private person in releasing Fitna. It is no more an act of "Europe" than the Belmont Clubs is an act of "America".

This is both the point and the danger. A gap is opening up between political leaders and their populations. And that's due to a failure of leadershp by the politicians. It will only get worse until the politicians finally wake up and do something -- not extremist -- but effective. Until then, all I can say is that "it's only the beginning".

3/27/2008 02:47:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Al-Qaeda is almost certain to respond. They have to. Wilders, to use the Continental expression, has crapped in their face. When al-Qaeda's revenge takes place then "Europe" and "America" -- that is to say the governments -- must choose between cracking down on any speech that criticizes Islam or allowing more criticism to take place.

Neither path is safe. The Wilders challenge is powerful because it demonstrates how ordinary Western life has become incompatible with the existence of radical Islam. While radical Islam was something that went on only in the distant hills of Afghanistan it was safe to ignore. But now that Islam is claiming veto power over Western political and intellectual life the struggle has moved to where it cannot be put aside.

Now will governments risk an almost revolutionary change in the constitutional basis of Western government by appeasing Islam or will they risk confronting Islam? There is no safe course.

And had governments been wiser they would have taken the lead in fighting extremism instead of falling behind their populations. That way they could have controlled the pace. If were the Dutch Government I would have offered Wilders the expulsion of every suspected Islamic terrorist from the Netherlands in exchange for not releasing Fitna. "Let us do it" should have been their policy.

But no. That would have caused them pain from the Left. But as Churchill pointed out, they will have their pain anyway -- and from the Left too.

3/27/2008 03:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cannoneer No. 4 said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

3/27/2008 04:02:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

I predict neither Europe nor American government will do anything significant. They will move on a case-by-case basis to more or less protect whatever freedoms we currently have under our social laws, but they will not ban the Koran nor will they start deporting Muslims.

They will leave it to ordinary citizens like Wilder to rattle the cages and will continue to protest to governments in the Middle East that really - we all agree that Islam is a religion of peace.

Muslims will more and more attempt to use our courts to sue us into muteness, and I can only hope that Americans and Europeans learn how to start suing those sandy souls back.

I think there will be a response over and above Al-queda. But journalists in the Middle East have caught on that if they inflame their muslim readers the only ones who then become dead are Muslims ... and how much we love watching that. I look for more boycotting activities by Muslims, of yogurt and McDonalds and Coca-Cola.

Be interesting to see if anyone has the gonads to try to restrict the flow of oil in retaliation. My guess is not. Cheney just visited Saudi Arabia. Even the Saud's must be getting the memo that we're getting REAL tired of being jerked around by them and are ready to take it to the next level.

3/27/2008 04:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A simple YouTude video! If this is an international incident, anybody can create an international incident now. So there's no excuse for not chipping in! I think I posted my idea of putting up the Mohammed cartoons on power poles. Why not desecrate some Korans also? Anybody can get a permit to burn an American flag in the public square, why not burn some Korans? I believe they are readily available at bookstores, although you may need to have the original Arabic rather than a translation to be truly blasphemous.

The Left is pretty invested in free speech- even "hate speech." Let's make their heads explode, that would be really cool

3/27/2008 04:43:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

A simple YouTube video! If this is an international incident, anybody can create an international incident now.

Exactly. This is the most remarkable aspect of the whole Geert Wilders affair. The tyranny of political correctness lasts only as long as no one successfully challenges it. Then it can go viral.

And once it goes viral, al-Qaeda's problems go to a whole new level. And so do those whose careers are invested in fake, as opposed to authentic tolerance. It's like watching one of those "I am Spartacus moments".

3/27/2008 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Jewish Odysseus said...

It has been clear for at least 3 years now that the whole "religion of peace" conceit was simply not tenable. However, I think we need to review the history of that conceit to see that it had, for a time, significant utility.

Immediately following 9/11, it became clear that the US intended some major, SUSTAINED smashes on the Islamists in and around Afghanistan. However, such major operations were simply not sustainable without acquiescence/support from countries like Pakistan, Uzbekistan, etc.

Therefore, it became important for a fictional but plausible public diplomacy to be constructed that such operations/alliances WERE NOT DIRECTED AGAINST ISLAM, even tho all its targets were Muslims, as were the overwhelming # of non-targeted casualties. Given the venomous influence of al-Jazeera & co, such a construct had significant value.

I DO think GWB went overboard a bit, and he needed to ease away from the fiction in the past few years (esp. as we implanted robust bases in Afgh and Iraq), but at the time it was worth the gritted teeth.

3/27/2008 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

The sole hope of averting a catastrophe is, ironically, the kind of viral opposition that we are now seeing. The nature of Western civilization is such that most of the opposition to Islamism will be symbolic. There is not a recent and large tradition of vigilanteeism in the West. Plus, Western countries have highly developed controls which will prevent any kind of mob activity against Muslims.

But it doesn't hold true going the other way. Islam has a well developed Jihadi tradition. And we will soon see its effects in retaliation for the Wilders video. So the probable scenario going forward is an increase in symbolic resistance by the West and an increase in physical violence and intimidation by certain, but by no means every, Islamic community.

I think the biggest casualty in this scenario will be the Western Left. Unless they adapt, formerly fringe parties in Europe will suddenly become viable. How the Democratic Party in the US will fare is another matter. But that Party is even now being torn apart by the ethnic politics it has brewed. The Democratic Party is the canary in the coal mine for their own policies, they just don't realize it.

It will be a while yet but the political effects of the war on terror are only just beginning.

3/27/2008 06:57:00 PM  
Blogger cctropics said...

kevin, typical strawman argument from your side of the aisle. I'm sure that the moment the U.S. defined the Saudis as the enemy you would dig up some other real culprit that we didn't have the stones to take on.Very curious take from an ideology that spends most of its political capital groveling at the feet of their tormentors rather than fighting for anything.

3/27/2008 07:07:00 PM  
Blogger Derek Kite said...

Wilders' film does not show anything new. It doesn't say anything that hasn't been said many times over the last few years. The images are all ones we have seen many times. The film is incredibly tame. Compare it to the anti-catholic books from two generations ago.

That such a tame, even light film would create a diplomatic crisis and be discussed in a legislature is very weird.

A while ago Ezra Levant, who now is being called before a 'Human Rights Commission' for publishing the danish cartoons, was interviewed by the CBC. The interviewer was questioning him why he would do such a thing. He responded by saying that the CBC had openly criticised the christian churches, for example, a series called the Boys of St. Vincent, which described how a school run by a catholic order had sexually abused boys. The interviewer responded with 'but it was a true story!', and he said back, 'and so is this.'


3/27/2008 08:13:00 PM  
Blogger Storm-Rider said...

"There is nothing more powerful than an idea whose time has come." Victor Hugo

America has had a powerful idea since 1776: All men are created equal and that they are endowed by their Creator with the irreversible rights to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness; with Constitutional restraints on government power in restricting our liberty.

Islam today has a powerful idea: All Muslims are created superior to non-Muslims, and there is no such thing as liberty - only submission to their totalitarian religious Sharia Law and their violent Jihad.

Our great idea has for the most part been placed upon a dusty shelf. It must be dusted off and shouted from the rooftops. Our great idea of God-given liberty must be placed into thousands of You-Tubes and Live-Leaks. If Hollywood won't make movies supporting the superiority of American Liberty over Totalitarian Islam, we need to create a new Hollywood - maybe in Texas or North Carolina.

At the end of the day our idea must find residence in the minds of billions.

3/27/2008 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Here Wretchard I differ from you and lament what "might have been."

Certainly I agree that Islam will respond, and the response will be brutal and punishing. But systematically Western governments and nations, being mostly Leftist, cannot and must not and will not respond.

This creates a power vacuum that invites vigilantism. Particularly in the US with a well developed vigilante tradition. Precisely because there has been a power vacuum on the frontier. There seems a vigilante tradition in Europe as well. Soccer clubs and various criminal gangs.

3/27/2008 08:59:00 PM  
Blogger Fat Man said...

"Global View: How al Qaeda Will Perish" by Bret Stephens in the Wall Street Journal on March 25, 2008 at Page A22

Do minors require their parents' consent to become suicide bombers? Believe it or not, this is the subject of an illuminating and bitter debate among the leading theoreticians of global jihad, with consequences that could be far-reaching.

* * *

Last year, imprisoned Egyptian radical Sayyed Imam Al-Sharif, a.k.a. "Dr. Fadl," published "The Document of Right Guidance for Jihad Activity in Egypt and the World." It is a systematic refutation of al Qaeda's theology and methods, which is all the more extraordinary considering the source. Sayyed Imam, 57, was the first "emir" of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad, many of whose members (including his longtime associate Ayman al-Zawahiri) later merged with Osama bin Laden and his minions to become al Qaeda. His 1988 book, "Foundations of Preparation for Holy War," is widely considered the bible of Salafist jihadis.

Now he has recanted his former views. "The alternative" to violent jihadism, he says in an interview with the pan-Arab daily Al-Hayat (translated by Memri), "is not to kill civilians, foreigners and tourists, destroy property and commit aggression against the lives and property of those who are inviolable under the pretext of jihad. All of this is forbidden."

Sayyed Imam is emphatic on the subject of the moral obligations of the would-be jihadist. "One who lacks the resources [to fight jihad] is forbidden to acquire money through forbidden means, like [burglary]," he says, adding that "Allah does not accept martyrdom as atonement for a mujahid's debts." As for a child's obligations toward his parents, he adds that "it is not permitted to go out to fight jihad without the permission of both parents . . . because acting rightly with one's parents is an individual obligation, and they have rights over their sons."

"This has become pandemic in our times," he adds in a pointedly non-theological aside. "We find parents who only learn that their son has gone to fight jihad after his picture is published in the newspapers as a fatality or a prisoner."

These "Revisions," as Sayyed Imam's book is widely known in Arab intellectual circles, elicited a harsh and immediate response from unreconstructed jihadists.

* * *

But whatever Sayyed Imam's motives, it is the neuralgic response by his erstwhile fellow travelers that matters most. There really is a broad rethink sweeping the Muslim world about the practical utility -- and moral defensibility -- of terrorism, particularly since al Qaeda began targeting fellow Sunni Muslims ...

No less significant is that the rejection of al Qaeda is not a liberal phenomenon, in the sense that it represents a more tolerant mindset or a better opinion of the U.S. On the contrary, this is a revolt of the elders, whether among the tribal chiefs of Anbar province or Islamist godfathers like Sayyed Imam. They have seen through (or punctured) the al Qaeda mythology of standing for an older, supposedly truer form of Islam. Rather, they have come to know al Qaeda as fundamentally a radical movement -- the antithesis of the traditional social order represented by the local sovereign, the religious establishment, the head of the clan and, not least, the father who expects to know the whereabouts of his children.

It would be a delightful irony if militant Islam were ultimately undone by a conservative, Thermidor-style reaction. That may not be the kind of progress most of us imagined or hoped for. But it is progress of a kind.

3/27/2008 10:31:00 PM  
Blogger 10ksnooker said...

Not much difference in the lefties view of this film and the lefties view of Rev Wright.

3/28/2008 05:36:00 AM  
Blogger 3Case said...

Now will governments risk an almost revolutionary change in the constitutional basis of Western government by appeasing Islam or will they risk confronting Islam? There is no safe course.

Wrong. There is no course without significant cost. The safe course is the latter. In time, the ability to pursue the latter course may be frittered away, making it not safe.

And had governments been wiser they would have taken the lead in fighting extremism instead of falling behind their populations. That way they could have controlled the pace. If were the Dutch Government I would have offered Wilders the expulsion of every suspected Islamic terrorist from the Netherlands in exchange for not releasing Fitna. "Let us do it" should have been their policy.

Governments, being agglomerations of bureaucrats hooked up directly to the public treasury, are more interested in continuing the fatting of their own nests and those of their families. As a result of that preoccupation, they lose sight of their primary responsibility to protect the people and, being driven by the bliss of their access to the treasury trough, they are too shallow to understand that the government that fails to protect it's people is illegitimate, which renders their time at the treasury trough to be little more than theft.

But no. That would have caused them pain from the Left. But as Churchill pointed out, they will have their pain anyway -- and from the Left too.

The Left is the government; has been for 75+ years. To believe the government is somehow center with fears of pain from it's Left is to submit to the Left's paradigm, which people are beginning to see and question, much to the Left's dismay and violent reaction.

3/28/2008 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger dla said...

Wretchard, I think I'm missing something here. As I see it, GWB has been using a form of triangulation against Islamo-facsism - and it is working quite well. We have 3 players in this game - the US which has demonstrated supreme military might and dedication to the fight, "nice" Islam which is publicly opposed to acts of terror, and "radical" Islam which we all know and hate.

The US supports "nice" Islam and showcases how western ideas and development allow "nice" Islamic children survive their childhood, become doctors, etc. This is then contrasted against "radical" Islam's children who become bomb triggers and/or die from bad water.

Part of the US's "triangulation" is GWB's public support of concepts of "nice" Islam.

It is true that blind allegiance to ideology ignores the benefits of being "nice" Islam, but over time, eyes are opened.

"opened" because Allah doesn't grant victory over the US. "opened" because Allah allows their children to die because of bad water. "opened" because 70 clueless women in heaven doesn't look as good as enjoying one's grandchildren.

Now maybe I'm giving GWB too much credit. But GWB has consistently defeated the people who call him an idiot, which makes me wonder who the "idiots" really are.

There are 4 schools of Islamic thought and only one of them supports the Islamo-nutballs donning suicide vests. Another way to view is that there are 1.2billion Muslims and only a tiny minority detonating car bombs in shopping markets. As triangulation works, pressure from the majority of Muslims will stop the Islmo-nutcases.

What GWB is engaged in is very, very different from a broad attack on the fundamentals of Islamic theology. This film, the Danish cartoons, Mr.Rushdie, the film "what the west needs to know about radical Islam" represent a second front.

3/28/2008 08:10:00 AM  
Blogger Captain USpace said...

Go Mr. Wilders! Great job! Short and to the point, very powerful! I want my Fitna DVD too! Behold the multitudes of crawling and cowering Dhimmis.

It will be interesting to see how many of them will watch this. Eventually, most probably will. SPREAD THE WORD to the world everyone! :)

All freedom starts with freedom of speech. If there is no freedom of speech, there will be no freedom. The Christians and Jews don’t riot when somebody makes fun of Christ or Jews. People must learn to be civilized. Rioting MUST not be tolerated.

That’ll be great if there’s no rioting, how very mature that would be. Geert Wilders is a hero telling the painful truth. Definitely show it in Denmark ASAP.
absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
weak and insecure is BEST

the best way for religion
KILL those who question it

absurd thought -
God of the Universe wants
Islam for everyone

submit to glorious life
slavery and servitude

absurd thought -
God of the Universe says
outlaw self-defense

exposing violent crimes
shall be deemed hate speech



3/28/2008 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just went to LiveLeak and the video is gone. An explanation is posted that it was too dangerous to leave it up.

3/28/2008 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger Joe Katzman said...

It goes without saying that our media is a big part of the problem, but until you see an example of real reporting, it's hard to grasp how big.

No, I'm not talking about Fitna - I'm talking about Michael Totten in Iraq. Reporting from Karmah in the Sunni Triangle, once a center of al Qaeda's power, he does what he often does - talk to, and quote, people in the Mideast:

"...The Middle East beyond Israel strikingly lacks anything resembling political correctness. I hear much more severe denunciations of radical Islam there than I do in the U.S., and I don’t mean from Americans. I hear it from Arabs, and from Persians and Kurds. I hear it in Lebanon all the time, and in Iraq too.

Sabah Danou walked with Commander Summers and Admiral Driscoll. He’s an Iraqi who works for the multinational forces as a cultural and political advisor in Baghdad. “Look,” he said to me and gestured toward a local man with a long beard and a short dishdasha that left his ankles exposed. “He’s a Wahhabi,” Danou hissed. “He is linked to Al Qaeda. That’s their uniform, you know, that beard and that high-cut dishdasha. God, what pieces of shit those fuckers are.”

I never hear soldiers and Marines talk about Iraqis like that, but no one objected to what Sabah Danou said...."

This is hardly the first time Michael has heard stuff like this, or talked about it, in places ranging from Beirut to Mosul and Kirkuk to the Sunni Triangle. The problem is, you'd never see a statement like that published in a mainstream newspaper. Even though anecdotes like this are important data points.

Now throw in the prevalence of YuuTube, LiveLeak, et. al., which shift the locus of information warfare from professional elites to all-on-all (something the jihadis grasped a while ago), and Wretchard's warnings are thrown into sharp focus.

3/28/2008 03:28:00 PM  
Blogger Phoenix_Blogger said...

"We stood for what we believe in, the ability to be heard, but in the end the price was too high"

3/28/2008 03:34:00 PM  
Blogger Pangloss said...

What did the British media irresponsibly do to force Liveleak's hand?

3/28/2008 04:16:00 PM  
Blogger NahnCee said...

So what, exactly, did LIveleak *think* was going to happen? Haven't they been paying attention?

So that now, in addition to seeming to be cowards, they appear to be stupid cowards.

3/28/2008 06:10:00 PM  
Blogger demosophist said...

In the opinion of another Wright (Lawrence) "Islamic radicalism" was transformed by the injection of the ideological heirs of Hegel (Marxism and Fascism/Nazism). Bernard Lewis concurs. I think it's reasonable to regard Islam as a risk factor, so the question is "how big a risk factor is it?"


I think you're right that one sure way to amplify the radicalization, or totalitarianization, of Islam is to isolate it. But the primary contribution of commentaries like those of Wilders is to compel "the West" to face up to its "sufficing" strategy. It's also true that if we allow a minority group to extort subsidies and other favors through the credible threat of violence, the minority group will become more violent. Buying off the Vandals, or accommodating the Hell's Angels, is short sighted. It only works for awhile, and tends to make things worse in the long run.

I don't think the argument that Islam is inherently evil is very convincing, frankly. The acceptance that it's an enormous risk factor would encourage both Westerners and some Muslims to take steps to mitigate the risk. I don't see why this can't be the outcome. Most of the people I know who claim Islam is inherently evil also regard Lawrence Wright with some degree of respect. That is, there are few of them who are totally convinced of their own argument. I suspect even Wilders would subscribe to the "risk factor" concept, but perhaps the argument needs to be taken up with more energy and directness.

3/29/2008 09:01:00 AM  

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