Thursday, November 04, 2004

No, I'm not talking about Diplomad today but a piece from American Diplomacy that takes a view of Islamist terrorism on a scale of seriousness somewhere between the challenge of the Cold War and WWII. It's not that the information therein is new or that the author's suggestions have not been made by others but it is the tone is refreshing. It demonstrates the awareness that Islamism - not just the tactic of terror- is " a clear and present danger" and that America's elite may finally be accepting the nature and scale of the conflict.

(Hat tip: Milt's File)
These diehard anti-Islamist concepts are biting us in the ass. Just as our government once integrated a great deal of Christian doctrine into its processes, it's normal for the Middle East to integrate their religious and cultural identity into their government. Moderate Islamism is no more dangerous than politically active Southern Baptists, and pretending that all Islamists are extremists, or that all extreme Islamists are agressively anti-Western is ridiculous. That concept is on par with saying that coffee and crack are both addictive stimulants, so coffee should be regulated the same way as crack. Turkey's new Islamist leaders are shockingly pro-Western, and many commentators have suggested that Turkey's way into the Core lies through them rather than the old, secular leadership. Our way forward should involve developing relationships with moderate Islamists until movements like Sulafi Islam can produce a Moslem John Locke.
BT if you read the piece referenced by Mark, the author Michael Barrett goes out of his way to define the enemy as "Islamic Fundamentalist terrorism." He makes clear throughout his essay time and again that he is talking about those elements within Islam that are extremist projection, jihadists, Islamic extremist power, etc. Additionally, he also prescribes a strategy that takes into account the distinction between extremist islamists and moderate islamic elements in the muslim world. Barrets's strategy calls for "firmly and vigilantly diminishing the appeal of their extremist beliefs while simultaneously defeating the core terrorists who are actively plotting to attack the U.S and its interests." Diminishing the appeal of extremist beliefs denotes plainly the fact that not all muslims are extremists, otherwise we would not need to worry about defeating the ideology of hate propounded by Osama Bin Laden and his ilk. To say that moderate islamist is no more dangerous than politically active Southern Baptists, is correct but only when those moderate Islamists accept the principle pluralism. They don't need a democracy identical to ours, but they do need a government where people can have disagreements without one party or the other deciding that the other should not longer live. You argue that it is ridiculous to say that all Islamists are extremists and that all extreme Islamists are aggressively anti-Western, however I think you are arguing solely with yourself. Barret does not argue that all Islamists are anti-Western, he argues that those that prescribe to Extreme Islamist Ideology are against the current world order. Islamist extremists depending on the region where they are, are likely to be either anti-western, anti-hindu, anti-jewish, anti-Russian, anti-Chinese, or anti-anyone else who doesn't subscribe to their interpretation of the word of God. What is dangerous, and I believe Barrett identifies superbly is that Osama's ideology is takes the hatred and animosities of all these groups and refocuses them on the West, particularly the US. For example, anti-jewish groups are indoctrinated to believe that the Zionist lobbyists control Congress and hence the US is just as responsible as the government of Israel. Anti-hindu extremists are taught that the U.S. sells weapons to India, is its ally and hence the US is just as guilty of what Indian forces do as the Indians themselves. The same holds true for the other anti-anyone groups that are driven by extremist islamist ideology.
You bring the example of Turkey to the fore to prove your point, however I think it proves the point that I am making, and I think that Barret and others would agree, that as long as moderate islamists accept the principle of pluralism we are unlikely to have any problems with them. Barrett is not arguing against moderates like the islamists in Turkey, he is arguing against the Wahhabi extremists clerics in Saudi Arabia, the clerics of the madaris in Pakistan and their students, the mullah's in Iran (not the people, mind you)and others that excuse the killing of countless innocent people throughout the muslims world in the name of Allah. He is arguing against all those muslims who cry foul everytime the U.S. allegedly desecrates a Quran, but don't say a peep everytime Zarqawi blows up a car bomb in a crowded market place, which desecrates not only the book but its spirit and all the religion stands for. Your final prescription of developing relationships with moderates until they produce a muslim John Locke is actually part of the strategy Barret prescribes. His main point in this essay and the dangers of militant extremist islam is we gotta make sure that when the muslim Locke develops he doesn't get torn to pieces by a car bomb blast near his house or on the way to the library.
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