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Kind letter by Ianus

Reader comment on item: A Million Moderate Muslims on the March
in response to reader comment: The age of reason in Islam that will never come

Submitted by Guy Leven-Torres (Agricola) (United Kingdom), May 14, 2007 at 19:41

Now that is what I call scholarly debate!

Well said, and I must admit you are probably right. My parents and I spent time out east and my father (still living) would agree with your comments whole heartedly! He regards Islam as a 'stupid religion' after serving in Iraq while it was still under British rule. He admired the Kurds though greatly. As for the rest he thought them totally incapable of improvement. He had good reason to believe this one suspects because of pals of his being bumped off (killed). Things do not appear to have changed much do they?

I have the luxury of being a scholar and one must always maintain an optimistic view of life otherwise one would have no faith in any of humanity. My parents belonged to the old British Empire, and so I probably am a little romantic and want to believe the best in people. I must admit my life and travels in the East were most enjoyable, even if sometimes events proved perhaps otherwise, such as the murders of British soldiers by those opposed to British rule. Although this was fact, it did not change my basic assumption that individuals at least can make a difference. In an age when Imperialism and memories of it are fading fast, and the lessons to be learned from it that could be applied to modern day Iraq, it is tempting to see things a little less cynically than many modern people do unfamiliar with the past and a time when the West played a bigger role in the Islamic world than it does now.

We can learn from the past nevertheless. It seems we are at present relearning the lessons my father's generation learned 70 years ago in respect of Islam and especially Iraq, and in fact the whole MIddle East.

This is a pity since one would have thought the lessons should have been learned by now. Classical history has a similar situation in the post war period of the Second Punic War (218-201BC). Fifty years after that affair, Roman armies fared poorly in Spain, that like iraq was an unpopular war with Roman citizen soldiers. They too had to relearn the lessons only so recently learned 30 years before, by their fathers and grandfathers against Hannibal. The same poor leadership, lack of a proper understanding of the nature of the enemy, even appeasement.

One General Mancinus surrendered 40,000 Roman legionaries to Numantia in Spain. These were only saved by Tiberius Sempronius Gracchus, whose father had taken on the Numantines and their city as postwar clients some years before. Gracchus did a deal with the Spaniards but the whole affair was rejected by the Senate and the treaty destroyed. Mancinus was handed over to the Spanish in disgrace and a 'surge' under one Scipio Aemilinaus saw off the Numantines, their city destroyed and themselves sold into slavery. That war like Iraq was more brutal than most wars but there are lessons here for us surely?

Cicero said something about 'a man not knowing history, has no future' I seem to remember. Is this perhaps our problem today with Iraq and extremism? or rather one ignores the lessons of the past with peril? George W may just have the answer with his 'surge' after all!

I think your President is far cleverer than many give him credit for!

Again thank you for your excellent and informed debate. I enjoy such!

My website is a www.guyleven-torres.co.uk

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