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A Profound Question of Strategy

Reader comment on item: Red Mosque in Rebellion

Submitted by Ron Thompson (United States), Jul 19, 2007 at 15:19

In reading about this latest example of lunatic Islamic violence (and other similar acts of mass carnage in Baghdad, Kurdistan, and elsewhere in Pakistan) a question of strategy seems to present itself ever more insistently.

Does the West, and its leaders, and public intellectuals and others, have to finally decide to articulate the question of whether Islam itself is incompatible with the Modern World, and even any sort of livable world for Moslems themselves wherever it is the dominant religion?

A good case can be made that's it's still premature or unwise to do this. For it may trigger dormant fanatical violence that may be simmering, but not at flashpoint.

It may trigger a sharp increase in fanatical violence in countries which have already experienced it, such as Spain and Great Britain.

It may, by being perceived as a cultural attack, undermine peaceful Moslem minorities in countries that do not, or do not yet, appear to have extremists lurking in their midst. This is of course is a particularly important and unsettling question about the apparently well-integrated Moslem minority in the United States.

And yet the evidence slowly and ominously mounts, almost with every news cycle, that violence is more and more acceptable, and self-starting, in more and more countries. Apparently, 25% of young Moslems in the supposedly well-integrated US Moslem community, think indiscriminate lethal violence agianst civilians is perfectly in accord with Islam in "some circumstances", just as Jordan's population overwhelmingly felt before Zarqawi decided a major hotel in Amman was such a "circumstance".

So we have what psychologists call a "double-bind" here, with apparently mutually unacceptable choices. (It's otherwise known, with a considerably longer cultural pedigree, as the Scylla and Charybdis problem)

Well, here's suggestion of a political idea that might deal with the dangerous choice of either remaining verbally passive about Islam itself in the face of globally mounting threats and acts of violence, and the equally problematic challenge of frontally taking on the religion which is, calamitously, such a central aspect of the human identity of most Moslems,

Rather than criticizing Islam per se, we should consider lambasting Moslem clerics everywhere for their direct advocacy of violence as allegedly justified by the "Holy Koran" or "Islamic principles",

We should equally criticize all "moderate" clerics who do not - without any 'exception language' or caveats whatsoever - criticize suicide bombings against any civilians for any reason whatsover

Aggressive calls for such universal condemnation would of course include explicitly condemning attacks against Israeli civilians and that even more vulnerable and much larger population, scores of millions of Moslems in the Middle East and elsewhere, as they get slowly sucked into the maelstrom of indiscriminate Islamic violence occurring potentially everywhere on the planet.

In short, we should in effect, accuse the collective Moslem priesthood of having hijacked the religion of the Moslem peoples in the service of contemporary, secular, and political agendas that have nothing to do with the religion of Islam as so many ordinary believers claim it to be. That is, we would be deliberately assuming Islam is a peaceful religion (regardless of whether there is all that much evidence this is in fact true).

Although it may seem there are sleight-of-hand elements in framing the 'story' of the planetary crisis of Islam in this way, it has two virtues. For it is neither a maximium confrontation with the abstarct reality of Islam. At the same time it is a dramatic departure from the disastrous decades-old policy or remaining merely reactive in the battle of ideas - of appearing weak and appeasement-minded, while the advocates or apologists of islamic violence get away with saying things like, "we hate you all", or (to the world) "convert and you will be safe".

We would, at long last, be taking the initiative in THE foreign policy and national security issue of our time. Ron Thompson

Submitting....

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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