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On The Tragedy Of Opposing Islam

| 42 Comments

This post was prompted by the thread of the post Who's Afraid of Islam? by Joe Katzman (link), AMac's request, (link), and a number of very good statements made lately by outstanding people who are Muslims, speaking more than five years after 11 September 2001, but still (or for the first time) speaking as isolated individuals, when history has moved on.

Now that Iran is embarked on what looks like a final drive to manufacture nuclear weapons and now that North Korea is nuclear armed and may put its products up for sale, some regrets are too late. I think time is running out, and we have to deal with the Islam we have already encountered, not with a post-reform Islam that we might imagine and would prefer to have encountered.

I will say what it is that I think we have encountered as it relates to us as a challenge and a threat (not in itself, as I have no claim to be an expert on the inner spirit of Islam), and some of what is to be done, in what spirit.

I think that considering the splendid personal character of many of the people who are on the opposite side in this fight, or who will wind up on the opposite side as events unfold, we ought to regard this as a bloody tragedy. And I think we have to accept that, and press on anyway. I think we should fight boldly, fiercely and proactively for certain key values such as freedom of religion and freedom of speech, to protect the lives and dignity of those who exercise those freedoms, especially against Islam, and intentionally to diminish Islam, which threatens them. I do not think that we can get out of this fight or prevail otherwise.

What Tashbih Sayyed is saying here (link), and what some other splendid people who are Muslims have said lately, is what I expected Muslims in general to say after 11 September 2001, when I was still very pro-Muslim and I expected Osama Bin Laden to live six months at most, because his fellow Muslims would turn against him for associating the name and image of their religion with shocking crimes.

History has taken another course, and it is now clear that Muslims will turn against crimes in the name of jihad in decisive numbers only when these crimes are against Muslims, or under Western pressure of various kinds, or in atypical cases, such as when Westernized or just individually great people who happen to be Muslims are speaking eloquently and that is all that is required.

When Westerners fight against aggressive Muslims, even when it's against genocidal terrorists like Hamas, or simply terribly tyrants like Saddam Hussein, the global Muslim nation (the "umma") unites more than not against the unbelievers, and with double fury against Jews and their friends. This means that if all you want is to be less unpopular with Muslim populations, such as the population of Iran, this is possible to some extent, but you can't fight the crazy jihadists, you have to let them win, otherwise you unite the moderates with the radicals against you.

While unbelievers fighting against Islam provoke deep, lasting, widespread and deadly reactions, Muslims fighting against unbelievers (or sometimes Muslims fighting against non-Arab or otherwise "lesser" Muslims as in the Darfur conflict) provoke only sad musings by isolated individuals, reactions that are inconsequential and can easily be set aside later, because, hey, we won.

This is why, speaking to gamers, I liken our relations to the global Muslim community to a bunch of reaction rolls where we get a permanent penalty of one pip on a 1d6 roll, making friendly reactions weaker than might have been expected and unfriendly reactions more common and more deadly than would have been the case if we were not dealing with Islam. Individual reactions genuinely differ, and reactions to individual cases are pretty random. (For example, nobody knows in advance which opera or other art-work will spark Muslim rage next.) Each individual case, such as the Muhammed cartoons jihad, could have been different. But the dice are loaded against us, and in the long run bad reactions, grievances and struggles mount up.

And of course friendly reactions are disaggregated because the system of Islam is against them (even to the point of the Koran declaring specifically against Muslims being friends with Christians and Jews), while unfriendly reactions are readily rewarded, collectivized, organised and acted on in sharp, consequential ways by the system of Islam, which is inherently political and which strives (makes jihad) for Muslim domination without limit.

We have seen all this play out, year after year, after 11 September, 2001, which ought to have been enough to make anyone take pause.

So five years ago, had decisive numbers of Muslims said what Tashbih Sayyed, Ph.D. is saying, I would have said "Here is the strongly moral Islam I was talking about. Organizations like Al Qaeda are doomed, because sooner or later they will all trespass over the boundaries that the dominant majority of good Muslims will permit, and then they will each be destroyed." But today I say "Tashbih Sayyed, Ph.D. what a great guy!" And I attach no further significance to all such friendly opinions.

On the question of whether Islam is inherently political, I don't think we have to get into amateur theology and speculate on what the Koran "might" lead to or which verses "should" be abrogated, I think history has answered that question and the answer is yes, too often.

On whether political Islam inherently aims at sharia, I think it tends to, inherently, as that will alway be the preferred solution, all things equal - but in history all things are rarely equal, and jihad (which I think Islam does produce inexorably) can be carried on under its natural color as we see today, or under any "mask", such as pan-Arabism or Socialism or Arab Nazism, that demonstrates advantages such as winning over allies (for example by gaining German backing in World War II or Soviet backing during the Cold War) and gets the job done. If aiming directly at sharia is less effective at achieving key Islamic goals such as the destruction of Israel, it can be rejected, as Soviet-influenced socialism was. (However, it will never be rejected once and for all, as it has a legitimacy in Islam that alien ideological "masks" for jihad can never have.)

Can success be defined and ideological "masks" be evaluated by different, friendlier goals approved by Israel and the rest of the West? Unfortunately, no. Islam must dominate, and it is very big on making those who have been subdued feel painfully every day that their position is humiliated and inferior. This hasn't changed in Islam's long history, and there is no indication that the mentality that strives for domination and fears the domination of the other will alter.

It's not personal. It's a system, and it's in the Koran and in the example of the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) and in history and in the systems of laws and the cultural influences derived from all of the above. This, you can't alter. You can't get a fundamentally friendly Islam.

What you can have is simply less Islam, and more of other alternatives which aren't so hostile. And that is what I advocate that we aim at.

I think we should use the most moral, humane and I hope effective means, such as protecting and enabling people who want to quit this bloody and onerous religion. We should stand up for freedom of religion, not occasionally and reactively in high profile cases such as that of Abdul Rahhman in liberated, democratic Afghanistan, but boldly, globally and pro-actively. We should stand up boldly and pro-actively for other values and customs that militant Muslims have declared incompatible with their religion, such as freedom of speech including freedom to criticise religion, including Islam. What militant Muslims say will destroy their religion we should give them in spades, including broadcasts of the Miss World contest yearly. (As they chanted while they rioted: "Death to beauty! Miss World is sin!" Well then...) And when fatwas calling for assassination are issued, as they are from time to time (typically with those who issue them paying no cost to send others into hiding for fear of their lives) we should make it more dangerous to issue them than to receive them, so that the practice stops and those who want to criticise Islam or even leave it can do so boldly and safely, or at least with complete confidence that they have our full and muscular backing, not just empty words calling for "tolerance" and "tact" (sending the tacit message that those who are threatened by militant Islam are on their own). And we should seek alliance with and support people throughout the world who are threatened by the fearful pressure of militant Islam.

If we do that, Muslims are sure to say that their chronic accusations that the "crusaders" want to change their religion have been validated, and moderate and radical Muslims will rally together on that basis, and we will lose the moderate Muslim goodwill we have invested so heavily in cultivating. (Without, however, impressive results to show for it.)

But if we do not aim to diminish the intractable source of our troubles, the jihad-driven clash of civilizations will continue anyway, and one-sidedly, to our detriment. If someone pounds on you, not as hard as he can, but still hard enough that you can't keep taking that, and he won't see reason (as after five years from 11 September, 2001 it is clear that the Muslim world will not see reason), but he will get really mad if you fight him - you have to fight him.

This is an adversarial view of Islam, and an adversarial set of recommendations about dealing with Islam. I do not advocate avoiding a conflict of civilizations, because I think we are already in one and we can't get out of it, and the sooner that we recognise that we are in a struggle and start fighting to win, the better our chances are to emerge as the winners.

This is also a tragic view of the position of good people who are Muslims and our relations with people in Iran and other places who are willing to be friendly, though of course not if we fight their leaders and their religion and thus them.

The tragedy can be denied if we deny that there are really moderate Muslims and friendly and upright people on the other side of the line that Islam draws between itself and the non-Muslim world, but I don't agree with blinding ourselves to the goodness of other people, even if we may not be able to avoid fighting them.

Rather, we are called by history to face up to a tragedy: that we have to oppose and diminish a system that is intractably and (in the context of proliferating nuclear weapons) fatally hostile to us, even though that will enrage and alienate the large absolute numbers of genuinely good and moderate people within that system, people who would like Islam to be friendly, kind and fair, even though, friendly or unfriendly, kind or unkind, and fair or anciently wedded to prejudices and violent supremacism in practice, it is still their religion, and since it is a political religion, still their side.

42 Comments

The grim Wall St. Journal Op-Ed excerpted below ($, but here's the link) almost seems timed to emphasize the points David Blue raises in his essay.

Darkness in Dhaka
by Bret Stevens, 10/10/06

...[Salah Uddin Shoaib Choudhury, a Bangladeshi journalist], is running for his life. [He faces] charges of blasphemy, sedition, treason and espionage... His crime is to have tried to attend a writers' conference in Tel Aviv on how the media can foster world peace. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

Welcome to Bangladesh, a country the State Department's Richard Boucher recently portrayed in congressional testimony as "a traditionally moderate and tolerant country" that shares America's "commitment to democracy, human rights and the rule of law." ...

"When I began my newspaper [the Weekly Blitz] in 2003 I decided to make an end to the well-orchestrated propaganda campaign against Jews and Christians and especially against Israel," he says... "In Bangladesh and especially during Friday prayers, the clerics propagate jihad and encourage the killing of Jews and Christians. When I was a child my father told me not to believe those words but to look at the world's realities."

... Mr. Choudhury's only crime: By attempting to travel to Israel in November 2003, he violated the Passport Act, which forbids citizens from visiting countries (such as Israel and Taiwan) with which Bangladesh does not maintain diplomatic relations. Violations of the Passport Act are usually punishable by a fine of $8.

But that wasn't the sentence meted to Mr. Choudhury. Following his arrest he was taken into police custody and, as he tells it, blindfolded, beaten and interrogated almost incessantly for 10 days in an attempt to extract a confession that he was spying for Israel. He refused to offer one. He spent the next 16 months in solitary confinement in a Dhaka jail.

... In July, the offices of the Weekly Blitz were bombed by Islamic militants. In September, a judge with Islamist ties ordered the case continued, despite the government's reluctance to prosecute, on the grounds that Mr. Choudhury had hurt the sentiments of Muslims by praising Christians and Jews and spoiling the image of Bangladesh world-wide. Last week, the police detail that had been posted to the Blitz's offices since the July bombing mysteriously vanished. The next day the offices were ransacked and Mr. Choudhury was badly beaten by a mob of 40 or so people. Over the weekend he lodged a formal complaint with the police, who responded by issuing an arrest warrant for him.

...The Bush administration ... has made a priority of identifying moderate Muslims and giving them the space and cover they need to spread their ideas. Mr. Choudhury has identified himself, at huge personal risk, as one such Muslim. Now that he is on the run, somewhere in the darkness of Dhaka, will someone in the administration pick up the phone and explain to the Bangladeshis just what America expects of its "moderate and tolerant" friends?

Bravo! [not facetious]

I think if I translate, you've just said,

We have to get them before they get us (since our core philosophies are at odds), even though many moderate-to-amenable people will get hurt in the process

Well, maybe. Assuming I got the jist right, then consider this: would a people free to make a choice when preached the various faiths choose to remain with their Islam, should that they discover the intractable non-violence of pure Buddhism, or the unshakeable fellow-human love of Christianity, or the all-are-welcome homeopathic faith of Mormon (founded again on inalienable love)...?

What I'm saying here is that the "enemy" is repression, or fear. The weak religion of Islam has mandated that all who leave it are not just infidels, but apostates - to be scorned, persecuted, crushed, ultimately killed. Buddha, Christ, Smith, Abraham in no part of their teaching ever even implied that to leave the faith was subject to such politicized posse censure. The truth - the great and painful truth is that the submission of Moslems is self-induced, self-policed, and sadly, rendering them unable to make a free choice in their individual lives as to a system of beliefs to follow. They truly are prisoners of their Prophet.

This is why crypto-missionaries are killed upon discovery in Indonesia, Philippines, Malaysia, the Middle East, Pakistan, West India, Afghanistan, and Old Persia. They preach freedom. The freedom to choose, the freedom to compare, the freedom to think, to wonder, to cautiously realize that freedom itself carries responsibility, but can never be replaced by wanton, mindless, insouscient grovelling to a belief that holds their minds captive through all their days.

Where do the deepest fears of the psyche emerge, I ask? In hatred, censure, persecution, obsession, oppression, inequalities, suppression and teaching one's progeny to equally carry these spiny cactuses of strife in the heart.

It is fighting for absolute freedom then, that is the weapon of greatest humanitarian righteousness! And it is the formal religions of both the East and the West - Buddhism, Catholicism, Christianity, Mormonism, etc. - that embody this great and irrepressible pursuit of freedom

We need not attack Islam with bombs, tanks, UN sanctions, ecomonic stricture, ... but rather with a 24/7 100 channel bombardment in their own native tongues of TV and Radio messages of the power of freedom, the absolute leadership of love, and the opportunity for any person of any background to embrace these, being both redeemed here in the present, and in the future for all generations to come.

But we also must work assiduously against the Dark Forces that wish to suppress (demand submission) of the people to their own wacked out superlatives. It is so easy to be a Nazi - you only need to put on the brown cloth, lean the goose step, polish your jack-boots, memorize the chants, publicly excoriate a few yellows, and sing the praises of the great all-for-all moderne faith. But it is so wrong: a people undividided is a people in chains. There is no freedom when there are no differences. One cannot truly build a great society without both the responsibility and the benefit of carrying freedom in the bosom, freedom in the mind, freedom in the classroom, the workplace, the sanctuary of government, the privacy of the boudoir.

When all men are free to choose, all people will be free to be.

GoatGuy

I've read two good surveys: The Arab World by Kirk Sowell (who blogs at threatswatch.org) and Islamic Imperialism by Efraim Karsh.

In tracing the ascendancy of the first two caliphates, the Umayyad (~632-750) and the Abbasid (750-~908) both authors make clear that the overwhelming triumphs of the imperium that Mohammed begat have been accompanied by political, dynastic, religious, and philosophical schisms from the beginning. If the unified ummah of legend ever existed, it had a very short lifespan, shattering shortly after Mohammed's death in 632. The Arab conquests over Persian, Byzantine, and other opponents were achieved by a society that, internally, resembled a kaleidoscope more than a Nuremburg-style ein volk. This theme of strife internal to the Muslim world carries forward through Medieval times and into the present day. Many people prove to be surprisingly unenthusiastic about playing Subject as a foreigner ascends the throne. Even though that Caliph is a co-religionist.

We shouldn't fall prey to a fearful view of Muslims as a single-minded, faceless horde. They are not, and never have been. The fractures in Western civilization--the oxymoronic "International Community" if you wish--are painfully obvious. Deep divisions also rend the Islamic world.

Amac -- what does it matter if Muslims debate or fratricide among themselves about who will be Caliph if the Louvre, Statue of Liberty, and Big Ben are all destroyed in an orgy of Muslim violence?

Yes Muslims have differences but the common thread among them is that they wish to "dominate" i.e. rule the world and make every place look somewhere between Pakistan and Malaysia.

THAT is a recipe for a war of civilizations.

>Amac -- what does it matter

Having a clear, nuanced, reality- and history- based view of a situation is often helpful, in my opinion.

Mr. Blue, I have always gone on the assumption that much of the state of affairs in the Middle East was a matter of psychology and power; i.e., that the 3,000 Saud princes and princesses in Saudi Arabia are very reluctant to give up their status and position, as was Saddam, as is Assad, as are Iran's mad mullah's.

Equally, the clerics and imam's and religious cops must love the power and authority they have attained with very little effort and no education.

If I'm reading you correctly, however, it is your posit that everything in the Middle East is based upon a strict religious interpretation as bade literally in the Koran, as well as a genuine fear of Allah and anticipation of a Paradise well-stocked with virgins.

Am I being accurate in interpreting what you've said, and that personal power and profit does not have the same effect on a Muslim as it would on an American?

Joe Katzman has linked over the years to numerous examples of Muslims speaking out against OBL and the jihadist radicals that are trying to hijack Islam. The problem is that for the most part they are speaking out from non-Islamic countries.

There is at least one notable exception, which were the demonstrations in Iran. But that underscores the reality of millions of Muslims held in place by men with guns.

And the state of the Islamic world is not necessarily based on Islamic tradition. The Arab autocrats are not in the tradition of consultation. The Iranian republic is completely in opposition to the shiite tradition of religous quietude. The fatwa is transformed from a legal judgment to a hit contract. Its important to recognize that the bad guys are innovating, taking old concepts and adopting to modern realities. There is no reason moderates cannot do the same.

But what David Blue appears to want is more moderate Muslims to risk their lives in places that matter. Surely OBL has chosen his hiding place well. Its not enough to cast judgment on Islam because he was smart enough not to hide in Morroco or Turkey or Indonesia.

I believe if a serious number of Muslims stood up to the men with guns in places like the Northwest Territories or in Qom or in Gaza, a serious number of moderate Muslims would be dead. Before casting a final judgment, we should take a few serious shots at their jailors.

Wow, you guys are honoring my entry with a thread of beautifully thoughtful posts. Thank you.

I note the repeated phrase "if I understand you correctly," and I'll strive for clearer expression. Of course that comes with long practice and correction, not quickly and easily.

NahnC: "If I'm reading you correctly, however, it is your posit that everything in the Middle East is based upon a strict religious interpretation as bade literally in the Koran, as well as a genuine fear of Allah and anticipation of a Paradise well-stocked with virgins."

Your history shows you are a perceptive reader, so the fault is with me as a writer. No, that is not what I mean to say.

I see it like this:

Top level: Islam generates a basic world-view and political culture with a harsh line between "us" and "them", a tool-kit dominated by a big hammer (jihad), and a constant eye out for nails to hit.

Second level: Grievances and big problems (that is nails to hit), with Israel being an ideal example. These are seen as problems by various parts of the umma, even those like Indonesia that, apart from Islam, would have no dog in that fight.

Third level: A thousand schools, factions, tribes and would-be empires fiercely contend, but legitimacy is won by those who solve real problems as defined above. In this contest, traditional Islamic schools of jurisprudence have a big advantage, as they can never be put out of the fight permanently, but they are still just contestants like any other. Pan-Arabism could do the job better than stringent Islam, and legitimacy would flow to Pan-Arabists and away from the mullahs.

Fourth level: on this level, you get the grand strategy of individual states, and so on down much as in the West.

An Arab Muslim businessman wants much the same as what an American Mormon businessman wants, just in a different contest of taken for granted notions of the general good and different feelings about what is acceptable or infuriating.

I'm not saying Islam directly dictates anything much. It surely is not monolithic at the level of being a contestant in its own game of domination. But, it sets the broad rules of that game, and the rules are biased in important ways.

... we have to oppose and diminish a system that is intractably and ... fatally hostile to us, even though that will enrage and alienate the large absolute numbers of genuinely good and moderate people within that system.

On the contrary, the system is fatally hostile to the genuinely good and moderate people within that system, and those people will support our attempt to diminish that system. Many Germans supported even the Allied bombing. Surely the genuinely good and moderate Muslims will support the much more mild Koran flushing that we better start doing as a way of saying NO! to their masters.

#7 from PD Shaw: "But what David Blue appears to want is more moderate Muslims to risk their lives in places that matter. Surely OBL has chosen his hiding place well. Its not enough to cast judgment on Islam because he was smart enough not to hide in Morroco or Turkey or Indonesia.

I believe if a serious number of Muslims stood up to the men with guns in places like the Northwest Territories or in Qom or in Gaza, a serious number of moderate Muslims would be dead. Before casting a final judgment, we should take a few serious shots at their jailors."

Again I take responsibility for any misunderstanding.

My post was not addressed to moderate Muslims, saying, guys, we need you to do this, that and the other. We have already asked moderate Muslims for years to do things that we can see now were always beyond their power. Why should they, in dangerous countries, and going against the main tendencies of their religion and the umma, give up their lives for us, with no real hope of success? They're beat, and those that try anyway are lightening their souls with good deeds but without major effect in this world.

My post was addressed to non-Muslim Westerners. I'm trying to say what people on United 93 said in one way or another. Here's what we are up against. No help is coming, and here's why. We are going to have to do this ourselves.

Here is the spirit in which we have to act: boldly, and for freedom. We have to back up those who Islam threatens for speaking out and for rejecting it, and we have to look for non-Muslim allies and, we have to, bluntly, diminish Islam.

Doesn't that mean moderate Muslims, who we have been trying to make friends with, will turn against us and there will be a tragedy?

Yes it does, now that nuclear proliferation is a given, a tragedy is what we have to face up to and deal with.

#9 from LTEC: "Many Germans supported even the Allied bombing. Surely the genuinely good and moderate Muslims will support the much more mild Koran flushing that we better start doing as a way of saying NO! to their masters."

When we fiercely and proactively defend Islam's intended victims such as apostates and girls in danger of honor killings, when we support people who criticize Islam so strongly that it is more dangerous to threaten men like Theo Van Gogh than to be them, and when we deliberately as national and alliance policy look for non-Muslim allies and try to diminish Islam in key places like Nigeria, then I think we can expect moderate Muslims to support us ... about as much as ordinary good Germans in Hamburg supported the fire-bombing of Hamburg.

(By the way - this thread is now officially Godwined. Can we leave the National Socialist bit there?)

#2 from GoatGuy: "Bravo! [not facetious]"

Thanks for the cheer, GoatGuy!

#2 from GoatGuy: "I think if I translate, you've just said,

[i]We have to get them before they get us (since our core philosophies are at odds), even though many moderate-to-amenable people will get hurt in the process[/i]"

That's close enough, unfortunately. Kim Jong-Il's got the bomb, wishing very hard won't stop the Islamic Republic of Iran, and a part of the nuclear-armed Islamic Republic of Pakistan (that is Waziristan) now enjoys the same sort of relationship with Al Qaeda that Afghanistan used to, so I think it's the right time to abandon any thought of being rescued by moderate Islam. That's a long wait for a train don't come, and time is up.

Now we have to nail our colors, such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion, to our masts, fight for them proactively, and seek effective non-Muslim allies where we can find them.

That means moderate Muslims world-wide, the same people we've been wooing and promising that we are friends of Islam, never enemies, will be very betrayed and say: "So you are crusaders after all! You are enemies of Islam!" And we will have to fight our friends, these good folk.

That's a tragedy. We shouldn't blind ourselves to that or give in to hate. But we have to win.

The rest is a quick tour of why the train don't come, why a different school of reformed kumbaya Islam is not about to arise, drive off the bad guys and be our friend (it won't be able to achieve hegemonic legitimacy without accomplishing key tasks such as obliterating Israel and humbling the Great Satan), and a gesture at how my notions of what we are up against and how to beat it work.

The moderate mullahs in Afghanistan were insistent that Abdul Rahman be killed "in the worst way" because Islam can't survive if everybody gets a free choice in religion and uses it safely. I believe them. I can't think of a better way to destroy our tyrannical enemy or a nobler cause to fight for.

And anyone can like that idea, or propose a better one, or deny the problem as many do, or start raving about burying people in pigskins. But as for "wait-and-see" - time's up.

GoatGuy, the rest of your post is also in line with my own thinking, and I hope there are lots of other people who think like you.

David --

Firstly, given everything you've said about Islam, I fail to see why you would object to trying to learn something from Nazi Germany.

Secondly, my point is that "supporting people who criticize Islam so strongly that it is more dangerous to threaten men like Theo Van Gogh than to be them" is a LOT less harmful to innocents than Allied bombing; given that many of the innocents accepted at least some of the bombing (I don't know about the fire-bombing of Hamburg), I would expect almost ALL of the Moslem innocents to accept almost all of whatever it is you are proposing. I think the real difference between us is that you have a very low standard for "moderate". I think that most of the people you call moderate are people that I would describe as being nasty but cowardly.

#1 from AMac - thanks for the quotes, which are good and to the point, as the link is to a subscriber-only document.

...The Bush administration ... has made a priority of identifying moderate Muslims and giving them the space and cover they need to spread their ideas. Mr. Choudhury has identified himself, at huge personal risk, as one such Muslim. Now that he is on the run, somewhere in the darkness of Dhaka, will someone in the administration pick up the phone and explain to the Bangladeshis just what America expects of its "moderate and tolerant" friends?

That's one easy way for us to have lots of moderate Muslim friends: just define any Muslims in power and/or willing to lie to us as "moderate" till the numbers look good. We do this a lot. I have said before, in The Fire Ants of Allah and Second-Order Effects (link) that I don't think this is a winning idea.

#14 from LTEC: "David --

Firstly, given everything you've said about Islam, I fail to see why you would object to trying to learn something from Nazi Germany."

Typically I don't find the comparison aids the discussion.

#14 from LTEC: "Secondly, my point is that "supporting people who criticize Islam so strongly that it is more dangerous to threaten men like Theo Van Gogh than to be them" is a LOT less harmful to innocents than Allied bombing; given that many of the innocents accepted at least some of the bombing (I don't know about the fire-bombing of Hamburg), I would expect almost ALL of the Moslem innocents to accept almost all of whatever it is you are proposing."

Obviously, I'm counting on about none. And I'll try to clear up whatever it is that I'm proposing in another post some other day.

#14 from LTEC: "I think the real difference between us is that you have a very low standard for "moderate". I think that most of the people you call moderate are people that I would describe as being nasty but cowardly."

I think we disagree on exactly that.

I also think it doesn't matter, because in the real world nobody is doing anything I'm proposing. So let's not argue about it. :)

I rather object to being quoted and obviously misread. I do in fact advocate extreme punishments for those who plan to kill and maim. Not for all their co-religionists.

I said "those who plan to" because those who manage to pull it off are usually beyond punishment. The people who send them off, however, are usually not.

I think that those who conspire to kill and maim large numbers of people with whom they have no personal quarrel, simply because of being in the wrong country, should be executed; and in such a way that they will suffer extremely in the process. And they should also know that, according to their own beliefs, they will not get the reward that lunatic clerics promise them. Hence the bit about pigskin.

"Por encourager les autres".

Think of them as educators.

They sorely want to teach us certain lessons.

The only questions are, which lessons are we willing to learn?

And when, if ever, will we learn them?

Yes, educators.

#17 from Fletcher Christian:

"I rather object to being quoted and obviously misread. I do in fact advocate extreme punishments for those who plan to kill and maim. Not for all their co-religionists."

It's easy to do someone an injustice online, and doubly easy when you don't like what they're saying. And, no offense intended, I haven't liked what you've been saying at all.

Therefore, if you ask me to remove the quote and the reference to you from my post, I will do so, no argument required. Leave or cut: your call.

Electricity, color TV, satellite TV, internet, washing machines, indoor plumbing, sewage treatment, potable water from the tap.

Most of all the www. Jihadis fear the 'Net.

Internet Cafe Burns in Gaza

I would indeed appreciate the removal of that quotation and reference from your post. Obviously, also please remove this comment; I can't figure out how to contact you more directly or I would.

As for not liking what I'm saying; well, at least we both live in free countries. For now.

Credit is due to you for allowing my comments in the first place.

David, I understand where you are coming from and don't disagree with your main points. Let me try to focus things a bit.

There has been no obvious change in Islam since 9-11 because, IMO, for the average 'good, moderate muslim', they are in a 'win/win' situation. What do I mean by that?

If said muslim thinks that the classical islam/jihadi ranting: 'the world must acknowledge the superior truth of Islam, or else!' is wrong and keeps his or her mouth shut, they get to keep breathing. This is a win.

If the classical islam/jihadi firebrands carry the day and in the end get a majority of the 'power centers' on this planet to bow to their will, they become members to the new 'power elite'. They win. Under that current set of circumstances they have NO incentive to 'rock the boat'.

The current crisis we face is not new. Tours, Lepanto, the 2nd seige of Vienna, Orduman (just to name a few...) are all crescendos to surges in the muslim ummah. What makes these events notable is that they were all crushing, soil-your-pants-at the-mention-of their-name defeats.

Some of you are asking yourselves: why now? Because the window for sweet Caliphate dreams is slowly begining to shut.

Several factors come into play.

Oil. Not since the Caliphate controlled the Silk Road has such wealth poured into their hands. However, there is a time limit; within 3 decades (my opinion...) technology will minimize the importance of hydrocarbons [that and discovery and exploitation of oil reserves outside the muslim sphere of influence...]. That tipping point will have the same effect as the Europeans braving the journey around the Horn of Africa and in the end, snatching India and SE Asia away [and ALL of it's attendant wealth] from the Caliphate. In short, they're gonners.

Technology. In five decades, or less, the west (and E. Asia) will be so far ahead of the muslim-dominated countries that ANY future conflict will end in utter ruination for islam. Bear in mind that any technological advancement within the islamic world has its origins in the west. The tools and weapons the classical/jihadi muslims wield in their campaign of murder and submission come from us; the will to use them is their only domestic asset.

And intertwined with technology is...Culture. If you listen to retoric of the classical/jihadi muslims carefully, you can taste their fear of losing cultural dominance within the ummah. Yes, I know that it is an overly broad term but think there's been enough discussion on the issue that we have a common understanding of the term. It is also, the thorn that pricks us as well as them. I'll say no more than that; we could easily fill a room with our own self-examinations, let alone a confluence of opinions between conservative muslims and western conservatives.

So, where am I going with all this? Bottom line: our 'Tours', our 'Orduman' is fast approaching. There will be NO silver medal for 2nd place, no 'Your Special' consolation trophy.

Win or die time.

If it has not already been done [I have no access to the secret corridors of power...] we must make it starkly clear to the major players on the field: the Pakis, the Sauds (and thereby the Wahabs...), the Arab League and the Iranians that there is an absolute limit to their actions and a limit to who gets what toys to play with. Period. Yes I know the Pakis have the bomb, but I suspect that they're abundantly certain of the punishment for their misuse.

For what is coming there is NO 'work-around'. It will be bloody and horrifying. It will make the 'Highway of Death' look like a dustup at a Sunday-school milk and cookies party. And it will be sadly, NECESSARY.

The ummah doesn't do, 'Can't we all get along.' The pat phrase amoungst muslims is: inshallah [if God wills it]. For muslims NOTHING says, God didn't will it better than a crushing, humiliating defeat. That's why EVERY victory (even the ones they lie to themselves about...) is critical to them, and their momentum.

That is the dividing line. Remember the phrase you were taught (maybe): God helps those who help themselves.

#18 from Barry Meislin: "Think of them as educators."

I think we are fighting Islam, or more precisely Islam is fighting us.

I don't think of Islam as a "them" at all. It's a system.

I agree with Glen Wishard. (link) The enemy has little to offer intellectually or spiritually. Rather, it strives to set up chronic coercive relationships, to which the targets eventually respond by converting, dying or knuckling under.

The surface area of Planet Earth is only so big, and Islam presses for all of it. When it is all under Muslim rule, it has to stay that way. The End.

In referring to the original version of this post, earlier on this thread F.C. wrote:

I rather object to being quoted and obviously misread.

The author has offered to revise his post to accomodate your objection. However, the record should show that he quoted you exactly, completely, and in context--with a link to the original. This may be a case of "I didn't express what I meant to say"--fair enough, we all have experienced that. It cannot be an example of being quoted and obviously misread.

#21 from Fletcher Christian: "I would indeed appreciate the removal of that quotation and reference from your post."

Done.

#21 from Fletcher Christian: "Obviously, also please remove this comment; I can't figure out how to contact you more directly or I would."

Nope. I have no authority to allow, disallow, edit or remove comments, and I don't want any. I'm just a semi-regular poster and that's fine by me.

Anyone who reads this thread is going to see you called me on the quote, and I showed by removing it I agree with you. There's nothing discreditable to you in that. The one who might want to cover up the traces of his errors is me, but I lack the authority. :)

#21 from Fletcher Christian: "As for not liking what I'm saying; well, at least we both live in free countries. For now."

We do have common cause in that. And that's a beautiful and important thing. :)

#21 from Fletcher Christian: "Credit is due to you for allowing my comments in the first place."

It was very gracious of you to give credit to me, but of course, no. When commenting on posts, including mine, our positions are entirely equal, as they should be.

Re: #24 from AMac: Thanks. The record will show that everybody acted entirely in good faith, and that settles that.

Re: #22 from CPT. Charles: that was a very good post, and to make an adequate reply to it would require more time than I have right now. ... So I'll make an inadequate reply.

I think Mark Steyn is right and demographics also have to be taken very seriously.

Two technological developments are favoring Islam: global networking, which is making the umma as a self-conscious and active force more real than it ever was in history, and the spread of nuclear weapons.

Therefore, for a while, Islam will have an increasing capacity to dominate by population replacement, violence and fear. We will not get out of being tested. Victory is possible; a result of "game called on account of the universal spread of peaceful feelings" is not.

The internal cultural resources of Islam are not growing, they are shrinking. To illustrate this rather than because these things have strategic weight in themselves, pious Muslims are going a great job of destroying the past in Saudi Arabia and Iraq.

I've pointed to the adaptability of top level Islam: it can reach its goals not only under an explicitly Islamic flag, but with a "mask" supplied by the winner of Islam's endless status battles - Turkish, Pan-Arab, Arab Nazi, Soviet or whatever. Fine, but if this mask fails, what is the next one? There is no obvious claimant to the role of great patron. I can illustrate this with Egypt. What did the Russians ever get out of all their investments in Egypt? The got sold out, and the Americans were next. How much love have the Americans gotten for all their billions to Egypt. (I put that in deliberately - in a tough world, it's good to give people a laugh from time to time.) I suppose the Saudis could bankroll Egypt next. And then? The Chinese? I think they can smell a bad credit risk better than that, and they are entirely self-interested.

The external cultural resources of Islam seem to be shrinking to the hate-America left, and to international fora Islam can dominate with money and numbers. To take one example the pro-Islam establishment in the Catholic Church is not being purged (to my surprise), but it is not being either renewed or listened too much either. Too many dead religious people are having an effect.

Except where the demographic weapon can be applied directly, the prospects for global Islamic gains by non-violent means may be peaking.

Just checking: is there anyone who did not get my analogy of -1 on a 1d6 reaction roll?

Because that's the kind of thing I'll try to cut out it future. It was important, and I couldn't think of another way to say it, but jargon is still undesirable.

I haven't a clue what the 1d6 thing means.
I suggest we stick with Nazi analogies.

re. 1d6, I figured it out. A good illustration, but kind of obscure.

I think "pip" is more regional than 1d6. Even I used to play D&D. "-1" should be easy to understand.

Electricity, color TV, satellite TV, internet, washing machines, indoor plumbing, sewage treatment, potable water from the tap.

Most of all the www. Jihadis fear the 'Net.

I have thought for a while now that we need to focus on the soft spots of Arabs and Muslims to encourage them to change. One such soft spot would be taking away their air conditioning. If they want to boycott Danish and Israeli goods, I think the West should boycott sales of freon and air conditioning components to that part of the world.

Another soft spot is the concept of nudity. If it freaks Muslims out to be naked, how can we take that out of their control so that every time there's a riot in the street an eye-in-the-sky suddenly beams down and all of the rioters have no clothes. Or can our soldiers have some kind of weapon that will disintegrate cloth from a distance, leaving the jihadists to limp home with their tails between their legs and only their AK-47 between them and the elements.

I'm seeing where the up-armored vehicles can now withstand their IED's -- surely we can get creative in other ways besides bigger and better explosions, too.

Re: your question about the jargon, I haven't a clue what you were referring to.

And what did I (re)learn today?

That if you express yourself in jargon, that is to say poorly, even smart, articulate and self-assured people generally won't say "I don't understand". They'll struggle on as best they can guessing from context (in this case well on average), but without really being able to argue back on that point, since nobody knows what you said, if anything.

Which if you're a French post-modernist means you are set for your career, but at Winds of Change means more lucidity is in order, and it's a good idea to ask for feedback.

OK.

A 1d6 reaction roll chart is an idea from games like Dungeons and Dragons, and it's a savage thing, because you've reduced the range of reactions to six equally likely results, each with a 16-17% chance of happening.

The range of reactions would look like this (using Sam Huntington's five categories of friends and enemies of America, and making the total self-interest the likeliest result):
6. Friends through thick and thin. (Example: Australia)
5. They're inclined to be reasonable and even give you a break but not complete freebies.
4. Totally self-interested.
3. Totally self-interested.
2. They're enemies or they just don't like you, but you can still bargain with them.
1. They'll do you all the harm they can. (Example: Al Qaeda, or the ruling regime in Iran)
Fill in your own intermediate examples. It can be enlightening to write down where you think people really stand.

The failure of the American alliance with Turkey in the run-up to Operation Iraqi Freedom is an example of a state not being in the box it was thought to be in - and the consequences of the general unfriendliness of the Muslim world. That is: stubborn and hot enemies, cool, duplicitous and unreliable allies.

If you consistently get -1 on reaction rolls on a chart like that, this is going to end in tears. And I think our relations with the Muslim world are indeed going to get uglier than they already are.

Of course all results being equally likely is not valid for the real world. I just picked a simple image.

The size of the penalty (-1 on 1d6) is not random. I first used the idea here (link) in response to survey data from Iraq indicating that there was "growing support for attacks on American forces, with 61 percent of the respondents saying they approved, compared with 47 percent in January. Support for the attacks was strongest among Sunnis, at 92 percent. But support among Shiites rose to 62 percent in September from 41 percent in January. Only 16 percent of Kurds favored attacks on American troops."

If 16% of Kurds approve of attacks on Americans, in total contradiction to their self-interest and in a state where enough approval readily translates into actual, bloody attacks, then that suggests 1- on 1d6 is not an exaggerated picture of how severe the bias to bad reactions is in the Muslim world.

In saying that, I'm not denying the sincerity of any individual friendly to America. Individual reactions are random. But the cumulative effect of a multitude of reactions permanently biased to less friendliness or even to hostility by influences such as the Koran is something we need to come to terms with. That each individual reaction could have been different doesn't mean we can evade the consequences of the total effect.

#32 from NahnCee: "Electricity, color TV, satellite TV, internet, washing machines, indoor plumbing, sewage treatment, potable water from the tap."

I don't understand.

#32 from NahnCee: "Most of all the www. Jihadis fear the 'Net."

Do they? Is there evidence for that? It surprises me. I could it among their assets. The kind of dispersed, swarming war they are fighting benefits from it.

#32 from NahnCee: "I have thought for a while now that we need to focus on the soft spots of Arabs and Muslims to encourage them to change. One such soft spot would be taking away their air conditioning. If they want to boycott Danish and Israeli goods, I think the West should boycott sales of freon and air conditioning components to that part of the world."

Surely the Chinese would just sell more air conditioners?

And if we put pressure on with lack of air conditioning, what do we want them to do in return for turning it back on?

#32 from NahnCee: "Another soft spot is the concept of nudity. If it freaks Muslims out to be naked, how can we take that out of their control so that every time there's a riot in the street an eye-in-the-sky suddenly beams down and all of the rioters have no clothes. Or can our soldiers have some kind of weapon that will disintegrate cloth from a distance, leaving the jihadists to limp home with their tails between their legs and only their AK-47 between them and the elements."

There are two likely options here, the modern ray and the blast from the past. Either we should build tripods as in the War of the Worlds (2005) (link) and change the poles of the ray generators from positive to negative and from negative to positive to turn clothes to ash while sparing flesh, or we should revisit The Nude Bomb (1980) (link).

But again, after we build our terror weapons, what result are you looking for?

I've already said what sorts of results I'm looking for: less Islam, more apostates, free thinkers, free speakers and critics of religion in general and Islam in particular, and a balance of fear that favours people like Theo Van Gogh and punishes those who try to shut up critics with fatwas of death. In general, these are not things I'm asking the Muslim world for. Rather, they're things like turf that I would encourage non-Muslim allies to take.

#32 from NahnCee: "I'm seeing where the up-armored vehicles can now withstand their IED's -- surely we can get creative in other ways besides bigger and better explosions, too."

I hope so, but I think we need better goals more than anything. Using Steven Den Beste's favorite five aspects of war (hey, they may not be received opinion but I like them) I think we need improvement in
1. Goals
2. Morale/willpower
3. Strategy
4. Logistics (e.g. buying enough of the right kinds of transport planes)
5. Tactics

If the tripod with reverse clothes-sparing death rays and the nude bomb were realities, I would still put them in my bottom category.

#32 from NahnCee: "Re: your question about the jargon, I haven't a clue what you were referring to."

Thanks. That's good feedback. Like I said, I'll try to cut out that kind of poor communication.

#29 from LTEC: "I haven't a clue what the 1d6 thing means.
I suggest we stick with Nazi analogies."

Bah! I hate Nazis! :P

> Using Steven Den Beste's favorite five aspects of war...

It's interesting to look at US military procurement decisions in that light. Economic decisions informed by threat perceptions are made by our society (that is, Congress & the Executive, with input from contractors, military services, academics, pork-barrellers, allies, etc.). My impression is that the spending is not aligned very well with your perception of the threat. E.g. F-22s and Crusader artillery systems add little or nothing to the fight on this battlefield.

David, I thought you were one of the people who run this blog and had deletion authority. Hence the comments.

It seems to me that the greatest obstacle we (shorthand for "The West") have is the fifth column actively working in all the countries affected. By this I do not mean the jihadists currently residing here - they are simply enemy agents that we for some strange reason allow to continue operating - I mean the apologists for Islam, and those who seem to think that all points of view and all religions are morally equivalent.

This leads, for example, in the UK, to rabble-rousing jihadists being allowed to break existing laws with impunity, and in fact be financed by the State, while the occasional committed Christian who hands out anti-homosexuality leaflets at a march has the book thrown at him.

It also leads to the sort of nonsense that recently happened in London, where a serving police officer, sworn to preserve the peace and follow lawful orders, and having volunteered for the Diplomatic Protection Squad, was allowed to pick and choose which orders to follow on the basis of his religion.

(For those who don't know, this was a case where a Moslem officer was excused from duty outside the Israeli embassy.)

The correct response to this officer's unwillingness to follow orders was: "Fine. You are quite correct - I can't force you to follow that order. You're fired - and by the way forget about your pension."

I love lists of principles of war in general.

My favourite list by far is the Soviet Seven:
1. Mobility and high tempo of operations
2. Combat activeness
3. Concentration of effort
4. Surprise and security
5. Conformity of the goal
6. Coordination
7. Preservation of the combat effectiveness of friendly forces
But it doesn't perfectly suit every case.

I have a pet theory that every well-designed set of principles of war is a mirror of that country or organization's history of failure. Nobody needs to tell a Russian about "simplicity" and "mass", but keeping the men alive and able to fight requires specific instructions. The British on the other hand think "Administration" is a principle of war, and the Crimean war from their point of view is a great argument for that.

Organisations like Al Qaeda have their own lists of principles too. And the great grand-daddy of them all is Sun Tzu, who in a moment of godlike self-awareness included "doctrine" in the basic winning factors in war.

Steven's Den Best's list (link)
was dreamed up by a smart guy who was focused on wars that were not necessarily terrifically competitive in a technical sense, but where it was hard and vital to step back and get a good perspective on who was fighting who for what and why. It's almost an "unfrozen caveman" theory of war. And I have big respect for unfrozen cavemen.

Anyway, yes, C17 transport planes (link)
would be higher on my list of priorities than artillery right now.

#37 from Fletcher Christian: "It seems to me that the greatest obstacle we (shorthand for "The West") have is the fifth column actively working in all the countries affected."

I don't think that's our greatest obstacle. I think our greatest problem is and has for a long while been demographics, which as the War Nerd Gary Brecher (link) says have no more mercy than a glacier.

But the internal enemy is also a problem. However I don't have much to say on this. For one thing I think Michael Barone has already said ir better than I could. (link)

In, On The Tragedy Of Fighting Islam, my focus in not on means (logistics and tactics) or on obstacles (the covert, internal enemies of the West), but on setting the correct goals, and facing up to the tragic implications of those goals, but also facing up to the reasons why such goals are essential.

Greater tactical efficiency in the pursuit of counterproductive goals, like empowering Islam in the hope that it will then be our friend, will not do. (Did it earn us the love when we aides jihadis against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan?)

Less press opposition to half-right policies won't necessarily help things either. For example, it doesn't matter what the mainstream media would say about American efforts to force Saudi Arabia to stop funding madrassas, because George W. Bush has no intention of trying to do any such thing anyway.

We actually have to select correct goals and try to beat our enemy: the jihad system, in effect, Islam. As long as that system continues to win, we are not winning.

As a Former Christian and now a very knowledgeable Atheist who has forgotten more about the Christian religion than most Christians will ever learn, it pisses me off to read someone say Islam is the enemy.

ISLAM IS NOT THE ENEMY!

It is the Moslem FANATICS who are the enemy!

Just like the KKK the Neo Nazis, The Aryan Nation, The Posse Comitatus, Tim McVeigh and Eric Robert Rudolph are NOT like most Christians. the Moslem fanatics are not like most Moslems.

And at least the Moslem Holy Book does NOT tell them to KILL EVERYONE who does not believe as they do.

NO, It IS the Christian Bible which does that.

So Christians, get off your high horses and get the facts.

Neil C. Reinhardt
"Airborne"

#40 from Neil C. Reinhardt: "As a Former Christian and now a very knowledgeable Atheist who has forgotten more about the Christian religion than most Christians will ever learn, it pisses me off to read someone say Islam is the enemy."

Well, clean yourself up as best you can.

#40 from Neil C. Reinhardt: "ISLAM IS NOT THE ENEMY!"

I thought the same thing on 11 September, 2001, and even on 12, September 2001, but I had a finite willingness to ignore evidence to the contrary. Evidence mounted up that I was wrong, and so I changed my mind.

Is there a finite amount of evidence that would change your mind?

#40 from Neil C. Reinhardt: "It is the Moslem FANATICS who are the enemy!

Just like the KKK the Neo Nazis, The Aryan Nation, The Posse Comitatus, Tim McVeigh and Eric Robert Rudolph are NOT like most Christians. the Moslem fanatics are not like most Moslems."

No, a few lunatics in antique costumes, rightly despised and heavily policed by Christians are not like terrorist armies operating with warm tolerance, funding, passive support and often popularity and approval in the umma. The cartoon jihad was an expression of the moral requirements of the Muslim world, enforced with violence and terror, and not an equivalent to Tim McVeigh. There is no equivalence.

The Muslim world operates by its own internal logic. It isn't obliged to mirror us, and it doesn't.

#40 from Neil C. Reinhardt: "And at least the Moslem Holy Book does NOT tell them to KILL EVERYONE who does not believe as they do.

NO, It IS the Christian Bible which does that.

So Christians, get off your high horses and get the facts."

Islam preaches aggression, violence and unfriendly forms of domination to an extraordinary extent, to an extent very much atypical of religion. Worse, it influences political and social culture in malign ways. Legitimacy, status and power in the Muslim world flows away from the reasonable and toward people who solve or promise plausibly to solve problems like the very existence of the Jewish state. Unfortunately, this matters. More power for Islam means less peace (and/or less freedom and worse future prospects) for us. That is why we should strive to diminish Islam.

#40 from Neil C. Reinhardt: "Neil C. Reinhardt
"Airborne""

Thanks for your service.

I have made much of the same journey from thinking it was only the extremists to recognizing the problem was deeper and more tragic that that. I have good Muslim friends and I also feel that this situation is moving inexorably to a tragic end. I thought the long view comment of where the two civilizations will be by 2050 was helpful - when Arab owned oil is used up then things will change. I would add that the Chinese will also be challenged eventually and I don't like the Muslim's chances in that confrontation. What the Chinese did to the relatively peaceful Tibetans or thier own Falun Gung will be small beer to how they will treat any Islamist challenge. I don't pretend to know how it will play out, but the Chinese will not stand for Islamist nonsense like the West does. As for the West I think you are right - like Flight 93 we have to take care of it ourselves.

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