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Radical Islam as its own Antidote

Reader comment on item: Radical Islam as Its Own Antidote[, Argues Reuel Gerecht]

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), Jun 23, 2005 at 22:37

Actually, if you have correctly reported Gerecht's views (and I think you're a good enough scholar to have done so), I admit to a certain sympathy with them. Ideological burnout happens, and I doubt that radical Islamicism will prove immune from it.

One reason why traditionalist monarchies, authoritarian republics, and other Middle Eastern governments lost their legitimacy was because they failed to undo "an-nakhba". Yet, can you imagine for a moment what would happen if a coalesced Arab state under Islamofascist leadership gave Israel the usual choice of clear-cut victory or extinction, then launched some "Glorious Army of Martyrs for the Liberation of al-Quds", and then saw it become, well, just that, while losing the West Bank, Sinai, and Mt Hermon all over again--possibly Amman and Damascus as well? I daresay certain leaders would lose their legitimacy pretty quickly.

Radical racial nationalism as a political option (in the West at least--it is alive and well in China) died with Hitler in the rubble of Berlin. V-E Day also succeeded as well in making certain topics of discussion, no matter how politely and delicately posed, or aware of the counterfactuals, taboo in social science.

In China, Marxism-Leninism as an ideology is dead. The regime now legitimatizes itself using a combination of rising prosperity and jackboot, Hohenzollern-style nationalism. This is because Mao's radical egalitarian Marxism burned itself out and discredited itself in the Cultural Revolution. Indeed, after Mao got through with it, China had almost nowhere to go but up economically--despite all the promises of unleashed productive forces that would accommodate the Marxist revolution's "ecoomic justice". The economic failure, especially with ethnically Chinese Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore on the doorstep, was perhaps the most glaring failure of this particular radicalism.

An anti-Christian enlightenment in the West also depended on political Christianity's self-discrediting in the French Wars of Religion, German Thirty Years' War, and Britain's 17th century intra-Protestant upheaval. So powerful are these theological-cum-political conflicts as negative images that they are undisputed even today--despite the fact that radical secularism managed to wrack up more victims in the 20th century alone than suffered for the wrong kind of Christianity or none at all in the 15 centuries between Constantine and Ruggles v. New York. Perhaps the re-Christianization of eastern Europe and the rise of an Evangelical right (which would probably crack the minute a credible Democratic candidate shook an olive branch in its face) also represent widespread disillusionment with triumphant secular radicalisms.

Apart from slogans, which are always easier shouted than performed, radical Islamicism has nothing to unite the Islamic countries or solve their important economic and social problems. It specializes in the politics of ruthlessness and intense emotion, which can briefly create a desert and call it peace, and, in so doing, lose its own ability to answer questions about itself. This would probably intensify rather than solve national and sectarian divisions in Islam. Already the revolutionary Islamic regime in Iran is losing touch with a rising generation. In Lebanon, the Sunnis and Druze have sided with Christians against the pro-Syrian and radicalized Shi'ah. In Sudan, Arab and Fur are in conflict despite their common Islam; possibly because the long-standing influence of people like Turabi has made everyone more radical.

I'd also keep the USA out as much as possible. It's highly significant that the US has a positive image among the people in states where the government is fiercely anti-American, and a negative one where the governments are US allies. This tells me that the Islamic world still has an enormous talent for misgovernment and the ever-unstable combination of regimes at odds with their own people--and the USA does itself no good by serving as the enabler in such cases. We probably did have to do something about the Taliban and Sodom Insane in the wake of 9/11 and the latter's Catch-me-if-you-can game with the UN inspection regime; but otherwise, it would be wisest to let the Islamic world stew in its own juices for a while. There are limits to US power, and remaking an entire civilization and religion of over a billion people is a very tall order.

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Reader comments (36) on this item

Title Commenter Date Thread
1Islam as an ideology [249 words]Paul Smith NavelOct 11, 2005 00:0526774
Islam not a religiion [7 words]Ja HAug 5, 2008 18:1526774
Militant Islam Burning [7 words]MordechaiJul 11, 2005 01:2023315
Mr. Pipes may be right [65 words]Stephen BlockJul 3, 2005 22:5623093
A pox on both ideas [77 words]ron thompsonJun 27, 2005 20:5722891
Trojan horse [178 words]praful bidwayJun 27, 2005 00:5722882
So what do we do in the meantime? [268 words]PatJun 26, 2005 20:3022880
Radical Islam is not the cure [157 words]Dvora H.Jun 26, 2005 19:0322879
Gerecht proposes deja vu [228 words]GreyGhostJun 26, 2005 17:1822877
The situation in Iran [223 words]H. YazdiJun 26, 2005 02:3922871
Tested to destruction? [133 words]Victor StoneJun 25, 2005 18:3222868
2Al-Taqiya [570 words]
w/response from Daniel Pipes
YonasonJun 24, 2005 18:3722855
Distinction Without A Difference? [376 words]orange yonasonOct 28, 2009 16:1322855
Dream of Eradicating Radical Islam is Futile [99 words]JaladhiJun 24, 2005 11:3122847
1Burning the house to kill the rodents? [68 words]S.C.PandaJun 24, 2005 04:2622844
One must always fear th evils of negative nationalism! [710 words]Karole du PontJun 24, 2005 00:1022842
Radical Islam as its own Antidote [687 words]Peter J. HerzJun 23, 2005 22:3722841
Islamic Democracy: One (necessary) step backward, then two steps forward [206 words]Billy ChosenJun 23, 2005 22:3122840
Respectfully questioning your views on moderate Islam [193 words]AlwaysOnWatchJun 23, 2005 18:4622837
How Many Decades Will It Take? [432 words]Mike RamirezJun 23, 2005 18:4522836
The Reality [128 words]JohnJun 23, 2005 17:5622835
I agree - please comment on a diverging opinion [171 words]Josh GJun 23, 2005 17:4522834
A Big Story [611 words]Just a readerJun 23, 2005 16:5622833
Your prescription left out something. [92 words]Si LondeJun 23, 2005 13:2422830
Curing the disease, or merely mutating it? [166 words]Joshua TruaxJun 23, 2005 12:2822829
Gerecht critique [166 words]george rosenbaumJun 23, 2005 12:1722828
Democracy vs Republic in Iran (part II) [734 words]Tom MartinJun 23, 2005 11:1822827
What is the solution? [193 words]Roger RickJun 23, 2005 11:1122826
Radical Islam as Its Own Antidote [383 words]IlluminatiJun 23, 2005 10:4722825
Moderation in Islam is flawed [257 words]Arvind MadhavanJun 23, 2005 10:4422824
Full agreement with Arvind Madhavan's comments [88 words]Daniel SchultzDec 30, 2005 10:2922824
1There is no solution [120 words]Dr. Richard TombackJun 23, 2005 10:2822823
The freedom epidemic in the mideast and Iran [320 words]Tom MartinJun 23, 2005 10:2022822
Homeopathic Remedy in Islam courts disaster [202 words]David SabghirJun 23, 2005 10:0922821
Thank you so much Dr Pipes [30 words]Neila Charchour HachichaJun 23, 2005 09:5122820
This is the kind of journalism that I like! [191 words]Octavio JohansonJun 23, 2005 08:1622818

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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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