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Still, a quagmire is possible

Reader comment on item: Bush the Radical

Submitted by Peter J. Herz (Taiwan), Nov 12, 2003 at 20:44

Bush's impatience with the doctrine of Middle Eastern exceptionalism is understandable, yet there are real dangers involved. One is that the possibility of a major civilizational clash seems almost inevitable.

Both Islam and Christianity are "imperialist" religions in that both want to see the conversion of the whole world. However, the Old and New Testaments offer a very ambiguous picture of political power; and while the New Testament is full of argument, persuasion, and narrative-recounting as means of spreading the Word, it nowhere speaks of waging armed warfare with unbelievers. Islam, however, begins as both state and church, and is premised on the subordination and humiliation of non-Muslims where they cannot be converted. It strikes me as very significant that no Muslim voices in Pakistan are raised to protest the appalling conditions in which a small Panjabi Christian community lives; or that absolutely no-one in the Muslim world seems willing to even acknowledge the Armenian and Assyrian atrocities of the early 20th centuries--except to say the Christian minorities of eastern Anatolia and Kurdistan had it coming. The abduction of underage Christian girls in Upper Egypt, Kurdistan, and other places remains common, and unchallenged by the Muslim powers-that-be. If certain Evangelical groups make tours to Turkey and such places to apologize for the Crusades, where are the Muslim groups who will tour the Balkans and Spain to apologize for the wars of conquest? Is the Islamic imagination even capable of considering how it may have wronged others in the age of Islamic expansion?

For these reasons, I believe the interesting ride ahead will meet a great deal of resistance, and even if military successes follow it, festering guerrilla activity will be the rule everywhere.
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