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We need a cold war on political Islam

Reader comment on item: Tehran holds Obama re-election wild card [in Iraq]

Submitted by shashank (United States), Feb 4, 2012 at 15:49

Dear Dr Pipes:

If we use the terminology from the past decades, any war by Israel or USA against Islamic Republic of Iran will be a hot war. United States and the other western countries could avoid a real war against the communist-bloc because we waged a very effective cold war against those countries. There is no such cold war against the political Islam. And, that is why the world is not able to solve the problem of political Islam. The cold war against the communists had very distinct components:

1. Strong deterrence: Our missiles were very openly targeted toward the Communists and we were not shy about admitting that.

2. Effective propaganda: We were not shy of saying that communism was bad and our goal was to stop its spread.

3. We were not sleeping with the enemy: While the western bloc had limited cultural ties with the communists, we had no qualms about declaring our system better than the communist system.

Unfortunately because political Islam hides under the umbrella of religious Islam we cannot wage this cold war against it. That is why the fight against Islamic expansionism is so difficult.

More and more people and countries need to develop moral courage to openly say that they have no problems with religious Islam. Religious Islam is what can be practiced by a person in his personal conduct. But the same people need to develop courage to state that they have significant objections to the political and social Islam. If we can do that, we will take the first step toward solving the problem many see as Islam.

As soon as Islamists start infringing on other people's territory, the social, political, and militant Islam starts. And that is where the "cold war" against Political Islam must be openly waged without fear. Your site and many of your responders are already waging this war but not enough of it is being done. This war needs to be fought on the intellectual, philosophical, political, and national levels. If an effective cold war against political Islam is fought, the need to bomb Iran will reduce.

What should be the components of this cold war?

1. While Islam does not differentiate between Mosque and State, the rest of us must. So any criticism of the content of Quran must not be a part of this cold war. Quran, if practiced inside the confines of a house, while preserving the safety of all residents of that house, is perfectly ok. The practitioners can pick and choose whatever parts of Quran they want to follow or not follow inside their homes.
By extension, this cold war should vehemently oppose any infringement of others rights by the practitioners of Islam. Let me cite some examples:

2. Any action that leads to a person or the society inhibiting reasonable freedoms of others by Islamists should be opposed. For example, any violence against women (it happens in all societies; not in Islam alone) inside home must be severely criticized as a civil matter. Similarly, any societal injunction against a person's right to move and be educated must be severely opposed as a civil matter (the fact that women are/were not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia must be criticized as a civil matter). Similarly, the heads of states, journalists, and free thinkers --that is, all of us-- must openly object to any situations where a person's right to choose or change his religion is challenged.

3. No matter how uncomfortable it gets to any one of us, preaching of other religions and conversion of people from one religion to other must not be stopped. That is because a human being must have complete control on what he chooses to think. So an important part of this cold war must be to oppose any actions by Islamic nations that prohibit the preaching and practice of non-Islamic religions. That is, if Saudi Arabia does not allow idolatry, it is just as bad as if, say, America were to ban Islam. Open and severe criticism of any such actions must be a part of this cold war

4. Rights of minorities in Islamic nations should be based on equality and not on 'separate but equal'. So, for example, different treatment of minorities by Islamic countries must be openly criticized.

5. Wars of independence whose sole justification is establishment of theocratic nations must be opposed. So if the only justification for creating an independent Kashmir is to create an Islamic Kashmir, it must be openly criticized.

Let us now consider how the situation will change if we apply the above principles against Iran:

1. We would declare that if Iran makes a nuclear bomb, every missile that we have will be targeted at Iran and every one of our naval ships will be in the international waters close to the Iranian shores. We will make it very clear that just as it was in the case of Soviet people, it is not our intention to destroy Iranian country or people, but we have every right to be afraid of anyone.

2. We will admire the Iranian people's right to be Muslims in the true spiritual way and without infringing on others rights.

3. We will openly challenge if human rights of women, Sunni Muslims, and other minorities are infringed in Iran or other Islamic countries. We may not be able to stop this infringement. We could not stop communists from killing people. But, at least, we openly criticized those killings. In the case of political Islam, we let sugar quoting replace open criticism and that is a problem.

4. We will openly declare that we give no support to Palestinian, Kashmiri, or Chechnyan wars of independence because their sole reason is establishment of theocracies which involves creating second class citizens.

5. Iran has every right to her oil including that of sealing all its oil wells and not selling a drop of it to us or anyone else. If any of the western wars were oil wars, we must stop them.

6. Similarly, Iran has every right to build a nuclear bomb. Even Japan, Thailand, Portugal and Nepal have that right. Iranian nuclear war must be fought on an intellectual basis and not on the military basis.

Political Islam exists because there is no honest and intellectual opposition to it. If we start an honest and intellectual war on political Islam, things will precipitate extremely quickly. Every one of us will be forced to think and take a stand. And everyone will be forced to and free to speak the truth as they see it. Courageous countries of the world will join one of the other sides in this war based on their convictions. The timid countries will join a side for convenience. But the good news is that the wrong side will economically and socially collapse faster.


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