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Understanding Islamism, Effects on American Policy

Reader comment on item: Combating the Ideology of Radical Islam

Submitted by Yirmeyahu Ben-David (Israel), Apr 13, 2003 at 03:06

[Graham Fuller] Islamism is an ideology with a much broader reach than radical terrorists have...

[Yirmeyahu Ben-David, Paqid 16, The Netzarim (‘Nazarene' Jews), www.netzarim.co.il, opinions in Convention Center]
Speaking as an American vet, it seems to me that radical terrorists include, among others, South American and Irish Christians. Though Islamism predominates terrorism, nevertheless, Islamism is a subset of terrorism, not the reverse.

[Fuller] An Islamist is anyone who believes, and actively attempts to implement, the notion that the Qur'an and the tradition of the Hadith should be used to help guide the way societies and governments are run. This definition includes a large spectrum of Muslims...

[Paqid Yirmeyahu] My impression is that no honest Muslim escapes this definition. Moreover, advocating that the traditions of any religion should be prevented from being "used to help guide the way societies and governments are run" is a blatant anti-religious stance that promotes the narrowest of American views concerning secular government.

[Fuller] Islamism is part of the universal struggle to make sense of a troubling world, in this case using religion... The tensions between the West and the Muslim world are not a result of a clash of religions; they are rather a symptom of deep-rooted clashes of interest.

[Paqid Yirmeyahu] . ...This is like the defendant in a divorce case arguing that it isn't a marital problem because the defendant doesn't see it as a marital problem. (That's often the essence of the marital problem.)

[Fuller] The United States must be careful not to create more bin Ladens in its attempt to root out bin Laden himself. This is the most likely scenario if Washington continues its current policy of supporting states that crush Islamists. Such a policy is likely to backfire.

[Paqid Yirmeyahu] Where are all of the candidates to take over Saddam's regime? The canard that there is no military solution is amply contradicted by history. The only solutions have been military. In the Arab culture particularly, power is respected while weakness is disdained.

[Fuller] The solution is to support moderate Islamists even if they do not explicitly renounce violence as a political tool.

[Paqid Yirmeyahu] . ...Islamists who don't explicitly renounce violence as a political tool are, by definition, not moderate Islamists. Islamists who don't explicitly renounce violence as a political tool are terrorists. They are the problem, not the solution.

[Fuller] Democracy is the best option for the Muslim world, an end to rule by unpopular leaders would be in the best interests of the United States. These leaders constantly direct hostility at the United States rather than take action against such sentiment.

[Paqid Yirmeyahu] One word is sufficient to destroy Mr. Fuller's argument: Algeria. If Muslims elect a Muslim government a second time or thousandth time cannot be incorporated into the definition of democracy. If a people desires and elects a religious government then democracy guarantees their right to have it so long as it doesn't endanger or deprive its own minorities or international neighbors.
Mr. Fuller seems to transparently define "unpopular leaders" as leaders who aren't popular relative to the best interests of the United States. What Arabs and other Muslims need is freedom to determine their own destinies at the individual level, freedom that allows those who wish to pursue a moderate form of Islam that doesn't cause harm to non-Muslims, freedom to shake off tyrants and dictators. Moderate Muslims cannot overcome extremist Muslims through ideological argumentation or altrusim. It isn't altogether clear that Arabs and Muslims have a desire to revolt against their Arab and Muslim tyrants. In any case, whether internal or external in nature, shaking off tyrants and resolving the conflict between extremist and moderate Islam both imply military solutions.
What America needs to do is continue its spectacularly successful policy in Iraq. Power is respected in the Arab culture while Arabs view negotiating and compromise as weakness to be scorned and taken advantage of. To demonstrate that America isn't anti-Islam, we should deal with North Korea next; peacefully if they will permit, forcibly if they will not. Then, hopefully Syria will have taken the hint. If not, then deal with Syria, and so on until moderate Islam stands on firm and defensible footing against the extremists in the Muslim world. America must demonstrate that it simply will not tolerate hostile threats from any source. Dealing with North Korea will show that religion has nothing to do with America's policy.

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