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Some good answers, some silly questions.

Reader comment on item: "The Battle against Islamism Has Not Yet Started"

Submitted by Michael S (United States), Aug 25, 2016 at 15:00

Wow, Daniel. You bring up some interesting points:

"The real divisions, as always, remain political, not civilizational"

When you say "real" divisions, I imagine you are speaking of divisions that make the headlines. Other than that, I would definitely side with what you say is Huntington's take.

Political differences are so fleeting, I have all I can do, to keep up with changes in them. Take Libya, just as a random example. In 1900, it was part of the Ottoman Empire. In 1911, it became an Italian colony. In 1943, the Allies drove out the Germans and Italians; and it remained divided between the British and French until becoming an independent monarchy in 1951. In 1969, Gaddafi came to power. Then, in 2011, he was overthrown; and the country has since been effectively in anarchy. Throughout all these changes, the social landscape of the country has changed little: Nearly all Libyans are Muslims of the Maliki school; the Arabs still predominate in the north, Berbers in the mountains, Tuareg in the southwest and Tubu in the southeast. The Arabic script is still used throughout the country, along with widespread reading of classical Arabic literature; Among the Tuareg, who have changed their nomadic ways little over the centuries, while the Tifnagh alphabet used by the Tuareg predates Roman times.

The cultural landscape of Libya, then, moves as slowly as a camel; but I have to check the Internet at least once a month, to get a reasonable picture of who's in power where, in what part of the country; as well as which major powers are involved where and how.

I agree concerning Islamism: It is a movement WITHIN Islam.

Concerning "Confucianism", I don't think Mr. Ostner knows what he is talking about. Confucianism is an enduring social philosophy, a framework upon which the Chinese have built their interpersonal relationships through thousands of years. The native Han, Tang and Min Dynasties worked with it, to maintain social order in their day; the Turkic, Mongol and Manchu invaders built their governments upon its institutions, and so did the Kuomintang and the Communists. It has been said that perhaps 80% of "The Thought of Chairman Mao Tse Tung" reflects Confucian thought rather than Marxist-Leninist. Having read the book, I will note that Mao's style does not at all resemble that of the great Communist leaders; but is in the form of proverbs that Mao dictates as though they have been given to him by the Mandate of Heaven (though he claims they come from "social practice").

In summation, Confucianism has never been "brought low" in China, through waves of Taoist, Buddhist and Western teachings, and throughout thousands of years of history. "Religion" in China has also changed little over the years: It is, and ever has been, a group of superstitious practices collectively called "Taoism". Communist Party members, of course, are coerced into avoiding them; but it is impossible to escape them, and holidays are even set aside by the Party to accomodate them. My Chinese son-in-law is devoutly Christian, but he still joins hundreds of millions of fellow Chinese virtually every year, to sweep the tombstone of his ancestors.

You went on to say,

"I worry the most about the subtle, infiltrating Islamists. When it comes to force, we can easily defeat them. But when it comes to our own institutions – schools, law courts, media, parliaments – we are far less prepared to defend ourselves."

This is correct. The problem, however, is not infiltrating Islamists: It is the collapse of faith among Christians and Jews. It is because of this, that our schools, law courts, media and parliaments do not know which way is up.

You went on to say,

"The real dynamic here is Islamism creating anti-Islam parties."

This is certainly much, much more on the mark than than Ostner's remarks.

Concerning Erdogan and NATO, I recall that France's Charles de Gaulle withdrew from NATO's joint military command in order to free the French from American dominance. The problem today, is that the US (under Obama) is no longer dominant: We have become a loose canon, with policies so confused that our allies (Turkey, France and the rest) do not know what we will do next.

You said,

"Electing such leaders as Obama and Merkel, however, means going to sleep. The best counter-jihadi strategy is one that takes ideas seriously."

That is true. I would add Hillary Clinton to the list of "sleep-walkers". Not only does she walk in her sleep, but she also talks in her sleep. I find it impossible to connect her various contradictory proclamations and testimonies into a single narrative.

"GR: It took the West two decades to get rid of fascism and 70 years to get rid of communism. How long do you think will it take to get rid of Islamism?"

From what I understand, Franco's Spain was always called "Fascist"; and he was in power from 1936 to 1975. Mussolini, another Fascist, came to power in in 1922. That gives Fascism a lifespan of 53 years, not 20. Communists were in power in the Soviet Union since 1917, and have ruled China, Vietnam and Cuba to the present day -- a lifespan of 99 years and more to come. Since the question was based on ignorance, your response was appropriate:

"The battle against Islamism has not yet started."

In its current state, I see the "Battle Against Islamism" being more like Caligula's battle against Neptune than a coherent, actual "battle". People are certainly dying, by the lakhs and by the millions; but the sides change so often, I have to follow them daily in the press. It's like Caligula's "battle": No sooner has one of his valiant Roman soldiers triumphantly hacked the head off of a wave, than another one sneaks up on him from the rear. Every now and then, a world leader celebrates a "triumph", like GW Bush's "Mission Completed" carrier landing and speech; but the war has never ended, and seemingly never will. To say it "has not yet started", is as apt a description of the situation as any: We are definitely shooting and being shot at; but we don't seem to have any idea what we are actually doing.

I smell breakfast cooking. Enough about this phony war -- I'm going down to set the table.


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