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re Pipes on Islamism's "moderates" and his comments on Muravchik'

Reader comment on item: When Conservatives Argue about Islam

Submitted by Jascha Kessler (United States), Jul 6, 2007 at 23:46

I was entertained by Pipes passing allusion to Joshua Muravchik as a descendant of Shachtman, the leader of a 200-strong Trotskyite splinter group. I happened to hear Shactman himself, a raving spellbinder, when he gave a talk in NYC at the Washington Irving HIgh School [?] auditorium in about 1948. I was perhaps a sophomore or junior college student at the time. Oh, my! but he could orate, much as his idol Leon Trotsky presumably had until his exile and murder in Mexico. But ...200 adherents? And the name still resonates? Oh, my! But Schactman pulled no punches whatever that night, a firebrand indeed. Whereas the Muravchik sort in their sinecure Think-Tank chairs temporize and pullulate, politically and pusillanimously. Pipes is too gentle by half in citing Muravchik's views.

Indeed, Muravchik the other week published a big OpEd piece in the Wall Street Journal, which I, writer of poetry and fictions, found rather wanting in a sense. I wrote a Letter to their Editors, but the Journal is careful and always temporizes, as if spades were not always to be called spades, because ... it all depends. Since the WSJ did not publish my rather severe and serious communication, I quote it here, if the blog will post it for the edification of policy amateurs, which I myself am scarcely qualified to be associated with.

Letters to the Editor
New York City

Dear Letters Editor:

Joshua Muravchik's argument that democracies have most often prevailed under attack from totalist entities may on the whole seem a valid review of the last century's history ["Winds of War," 25 June 2007]. Yet the key element is lacking: what is serious at this eleventh hour is the intention of the men who control Iran. From our historical perspective, which began in Classical Greece, the president of Iran seems a mad chiliast. But the lunatic Imam who directs Admadinejad is the source of his threats. Essentially, this is not the weak millenarianism of a suicidal Jim Jones in the jungle with a few score fanatic followers.

What we must contend with is the very core of Shiite belief, which is driven and drives towards total destruction of life on earth in order to conjure the coming of its Messiah, the longed-for, last, hidden Thirteenth Imam. The leaders and dictators of the Moslem world have begun to apprehend it, and are more or less paralyzed by fear, realizing they have led themselves into in a lose-lose dilemma. The Western powers are fixated, it seems, on bin Laden's Al-Qaeda and the commonplace bomb-terrorism preached by this or that blind or besotted sheik; and unable to concentrate their attention on Tehran's step-by-step progress towards the creation of the nuclear means it must obtain in pursuit of that fantastic end.

Before then, however, the map of the Middle East must change; that is, be changed utterly, meaning Israel, Gaza, Lebanon and Western Syria, including Damascus, Jordan, and Cairo and Alexandria are to be wiped from the map. It has been proclaimed; it's being prepared for. Those who hold nuclear weapons will be the first attacked, and the retaliatory destruction of Tehran is not feared — even a necessary part of the grand goal — to bring forth that greatest, the Thirteenth Imam. Europe at this hour seems to have convinced itself its best course is the diplomacy of supporting "moderate terrorists," who will be relatively moderate for as long as they hope to remain alive, even though the mullahs of Iran intend everyone to perish.

The imagination of the West remains intrinsically locked within the boundaries of life; whereas the Shiite leaders have already entered and made their beds in the palace of death. In short, on this side, life; whereas Ahmadinejad and his masters believe, and declare, on their side, nothing. What is most disheartening: those who extol and preach democracy for the world have forgotten that in ancient Greece democracy endured but a mere forty years or so. It perforce remains our model — notwithstanding, a failed model.


Jascha Kessler
Professor of English & Modern Literature


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