Monday, July 18, 2005

Good News And Bad News

Below is an excerpt from the July 18, 2005 edition of Newsweek Magazine:

How We Can Prevail
New hope: Defeating terror requires Muslim help—and much more than force of arms.
By Fareed Zakaria

"Muslims are finally, slowly, moving toward recognizing that there is a great dysfunction in the world of Islam, which has allowed Muslims to concoct wild conspiracy theories, blame others for their problems and, worst of all, condone grotesque violence.

"Now things are changing. The day before the London bombs, a conference of 180 top Muslim sheiks and imams, brought together under the auspices of Jordan's King Abdullah, issued a statement forbidding that any Muslim be declared takfir—an apostate. This is a frontal attack on Al Qaeda's theological methods. Declaring someone takfir—and thus sanctioning his or her death—is a favorite tactic of bin Laden and his ally in Iraq, Abu Mussab al-Zarqawi. The conference's statement was endorsed by 10 fatwas from such big conservative scholars as Tantawi; Iraq's Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani; Egypt's mufti, Ali Jumaa, and the influential Al-Jazeera TV sheik, Yusuf al-Qaradawi. Signed by adherents of all schools of fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), it also allows only qualified Muslim scholars to issue edicts. The Islamic Conference's statement, the first of its kind, is a rare show of unity among the religious establishment against terrorists and their scholarly allies.

"This hardly puts an end to the struggle within Islam. The same day the Jordanian statement was issued, Al Qaeda in Iraq said that Egypt's ambassador to that country, Ihab al-Sherif, would be killed as an apostate. The day of the London bombings, an Internet message purportedly from Zarqawi's group said the 'ambassador of the infidels' had been killed.

"These kinds of events will continue. There should be much, much greater condemnation from mainstream Islam. Moderates must adopt a zero-tolerance policy on terrorism, regardless of what they think of Iraq, Palestine or any other policy issue. But those clamoring for such condemnations should bear in mind that this will not solve the problem. Even if the moderates win and overwhelm the extremists, there will always be some number of unconverted jihadists, who either out of depravity or conviction seek to do evil. If 99.99 percent of the Arab world rejects terrorism, that still leaves 20,000 people to worry about. If 99.9 percent of the Muslim world is against the terrorists, there's 1 million people out there who are dangerous. And the technologies of destruction ensure that they will, on occasion, be successful."

With all the oil dollars pouring into Saudi Arabia, home to Wahhabism, the most radical of Islamic sects, reformation will be difficult to achieve and a long time in coming. In his 2003 book Preachers of Hate:Islam and the War on America, Kenneth Timmerman asserted that Saudi pours dollars into the madrassahs of Pakistan and into mosques and other Islamic centers throughout the world. Is Saudi still funding those institutions?

In effect, Zakaria points out that we are locked into the crisis-management syndrome. World history is filled with crisis-management situations because hate-filled ideologies require only a minority of followers to wreak havoc, even if that havoc is on a limited scale. But to families who have lost loved ones in terrorist attacks, havoc on a limited scale is small consolation.


At 7/19/2005 6:49 AM, Blogger Jason Pappas said...

Why is it that the gathering of these Islamic leaders reminds me of a gathering of Mafia families? Perhaps it’s because of the farcical nature of their code of honor. Note that the Muslim leaders just want to protect other Muslims from being killed. Leaving the religion is punishable by death. The ability to declare someone an apostate is equivalent to saying they can be killed. Of course, this doesn’t address the killing of infidels who are not part of the religion in the first place.

Note there is no universal condemnation of murder – i.e. lethal aggression against others.

The implicit statement from the Islamic conference is that it is still acceptable to kill infidels or anyone who leaves Islam and becomes an infidel. Such technical details are a poor foundation for morality – indeed, they are a rejection of morality. It’s hardly surprising that everyday in Iraq, 20-50 Shiites are targeted and killed by suicide bombers – Sunni jihadists – who have decided that Shiites are not Muslim enough.

Of course, the problem lies at the heart of Islam. As a supremacist ideology of conquest and oppression, there will always be some who want to actually live the full religion as exemplified by Mohammad.

At 7/19/2005 2:03 PM, Blogger Esther said...

Very good points, Jason. Yet, it's at least something. Not much, I agree...but something. I won't be holding my breath for much more. And if there is, not sure I'll believe it.

Great post, AOW!

At 7/19/2005 7:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, I just got a brain storm. Let's all pool our resources and order some T-shirts with the words INFIDEL written across the front; sell them for a little over cost. Wouldn't that be a great, and typically American message to send to these Islamic butt plugs? Yeah, we can do it!!!

At 7/19/2005 8:43 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Your comment "The implicit statement from the Islamic conference is that it is still acceptable to kill infidels or anyone who leaves Islam and becomes an infidel" is the ugly truth, and I don't believe we'll ever get the Muslims to back off from those tenets. As you know, many who have left Islam have had to assume different identities, and all who have left Islam and have publicly so started have received threats.

I know that you're not of religious bent, but I have a story to relate to you. Years ago, when I was teaching in a Christian school, a young Pakistani-Muslim girl named Amina secretly converted to Christianity. I believe that her conversion was real because she was very attentive during Bible lessons (though she never took the school-furnished Bible home) and committed to memory lots of verses. She also stopped cheating, a procedure which her older sisters were notorious for; her family faulted her for her poor grades, but Amina insisted upon getting her marks honestly, and I, of course, supported her in her new-found integrity (though she hadn't yet shared with me that she had become a Christian). At the end of the year, Amina told me that if her father found out about her conversion, he would kill her; so she kept her new faith a secret, and she wanted my reassurance that Jesus would still love her if she kept silence long enough to grow up and escape from her family. Back then, I thought what Amina told me was adolescent hyperbole; I've since found out that she wasn't exaggerating. Amina's family returned to Pakistan at the end of the school term, and I have no idea what happened to her.

At 7/20/2005 2:52 AM, Blogger beakerkin said...

We will prevail but only when we look at the enemy for what it is.
We also need to deal with the far left politicaly. If they are olbstructing we need to call them out.

At 7/20/2005 7:25 AM, Blogger LA Sunset said...

Renouncing terrorism and issuing fatwas condemning the labeling of apostates and infidels, is a good start but it does not go far enough.

Muslims need to state openly that they accept the fact that others have a right to their own religions and belief systems, if they so choose. And, they need to start teaching this concept to their young now.

Instead of them trying to convert by the sword, they should try evangelizing. Having someone standing on a street corner preaching the Quran, may be irritating, but it is certainly preferable to being blown up.

At 7/20/2005 7:26 AM, Blogger LA Sunset said...

Oh and btw Mustang, put me down for a case, to start. If they sell I will order a skid next time.

At 7/20/2005 8:45 AM, Blogger Jason Pappas said...

The story about Amina is poignant. Imagine living with those fears. Back in March, I believe, I wrote how important it is to advocate freedom of religion and freedom of conscience (as LA Sunsett has reminded us). Even if places like Saudi Arabia show no signs of changing, it is healthy to reaffirm our ideals and the greatness of our country. And we will give moral support to people like Amina. That’s the least we can do. It is certainly a start.

At 7/20/2005 8:54 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

While my blog has not, as yet, dealt with the leftists' support of the enemy, I agree that focus is needed on how the left subverts our victory. Our nation must continue to elect leaders who "get it," at least to a greater extent than the left does.

At 7/20/2005 9:10 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

LA Sunsett,
I agree with your statement "Renouncing terrorism and issuing fatwas condemning the labeling of apostates and infidels, is a good start but it does not go far enough."

Oh, how I wish that Islam would embrace evangelizing! Such a step would put it on an equal footing with other religions, in part because Islam is a political ideology all dressed up as religion. I don't see Islamic evangelization happening any time soon. Meanwhile, madrassahs, in Pakistan and around the world, continue to poison young minds, even to the points where those who have experienced Western freedoms reject those freedoms and detonate themselves.

History shows that the only way to stop megalomaniacs it to contain them. Such containment always results in loss of life on both sides. Islamists have already embraced the us-or-them approach to spreading their hate-filled ideology. Isn't it time for us to embrace the us-or-them approach? I fear so because I see no alternative. To me, the progress we have made has been putting out brush fires while the firestorm itself continues.

I cannot, at this point, advocate extermination. However, a good start on containment is to stop all Muslim immigration to the United States. Harsh statements? Yes, but so was 9/11 (as well as other events dating back at least to the embassy takeover in Iran). Let's not forget that the Islamists view 9/11 as an opening salvo on our shores.

At 7/20/2005 12:32 PM, Blogger Σ. Alexander said...

Strangely enough, there are few Islamic priests among jihadists. If suicide bombing is an act of sacred war, mullahs should do it.

Also, how can Osama bin Laden assume himself an authority of Islamism? He is just a guerrilla fighter. If Osama self-claims religious expertise, then, a high school dropout can be a professor of Harvard or Oxford.

Muslims will eventually understand how stupid it is!

At 7/21/2005 8:02 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thanks for stopping by. I don't agree with you, however.

Is "eventually" an acceptable timetable? The death of innocents, at the hands of jihadists, continues.

Jihadism itself seems stupid to me as well, but it's happening. Why? Perhaps the mullahs aren't saying what we wish they would say: "There's another way to Paradise" or "Jihdadism is a misinterpretation of the Koran, and here's why."

Also, stupidity doesn't seem to be a governing factor with zealots. These suicide-bombers are into martyrdom and heroism. Those are very difficult ideals to combat, ideologically and militarily.

At 7/22/2005 7:47 AM, Blogger Timothy Birdnow said...

I`m with you, Jason! You understand the situation perfectly!

Hey Mustang,
Maybe we can send those shirts to the poor, suffering martyrs at Gitmo! I`m sure they would welcome a clean white T. to accessorize their neon orange jumpers!

At 7/22/2005 9:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shah: My understanding of Islam, and I have to defer to AOW and Jason on this because they have forgotten more than I've ever known about Islam, is that any person can become a religious leader. There is no IMAM school, only the general acceptance by other morons that you are speaking the kind of Islamobabble that they want to hear.

Tim -- You and LA are my only possible investors at this point. We could market these on line as well as with Google (a left leaning entity if ever there was one) just to even up the score a bit.

Heh heh heh

At 7/23/2005 11:20 AM, Blogger unaha-closp said...

Terrorism has always been a way of making war. It is generally much easier to kill a few civilians than attack an army or a fortress. It is common in most wars. Point is a war is being fought.

I contend that the war is between Wahhabist Sunni Islamic radicals and the West. The West is not winning because it is not disrupting the suppy of men and material (funding) to the Wahhabist fighters. Wahhabism is Saudi, the West remains allied to Saudi for oil. Until the West can make Saudi a more compliant ally it will not win this war.

Now Islam may have problems, but it is not going to help the war effort by telling all Muslims that they are the enemy. To do so could expand the war to include all Muslims - escalate it from a low level engagement to WW3.

At 7/23/2005 8:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For UC:

I agree with you that by definition, war is terrible, but the engagement is not terror. Armed conflict by opposing armies, consisting of people in uniform, similarly armed, and with the ability to attack and defend, is a far cry from attacks by people in civilian clothing who seek out the weakest point within a community for the purpose of murdering unarmed and innocent people. Terrorism is the way of spineless cowards, while armed conflict is the way of warriors.

Wars are fought when one nation notifies another that a state of war exists. No Middle Eastern nation has declared war on the United States, and while true that Usama bin-Laden has, he is not an official of any government. According to international law, he is not empowered to make such a declaration; in doing so, he is an outlaw. As a departure from past eras, President Bush has declared war against terrorism (a strategy, as opposed to a nation). Indeed, this may be one of America's darkest periods, and the WOT may be one of our greatest challenges.

In my view, the WOT is not as simple as one set of Muslims against others. I believe this because Muslims who remain silent are cooperating in a most contemptuous manner with those who plan and execute acts of terror. As an American, I don't care what religious group these people belong to, or what they believe, or how what they believe differs from another sect. What I do care about is that people who represent the most moronic of the human species, acting in some half-witted belief that they will be rewarded for the murder of innocents, are engaged in a form of genocide. They must be discovered, and they must be stopped.

If Muslims do not appreciate being categorized as "the enemy," then Muslims ought to be doing something more than bitching about being profiled. They should be refusing to attend any mosque that preaches hate, murder, or the subjugation of the human spirit. I contend that silent Muslims ARE part of the problem, and they alone are in a position to do good, or remain mute and condone bad. My personal belief is that God will judge us on acts of commission, as well as acts of ommission. If you stand by silently and watch your neighbor being murdered, and do nothing to help that neighbor -- not even calling the police, then I believe you contributed to the crime by ommission. You can disagree, of course . . . but you'd be wrong.

The likelihood of escalating the WOT to World War III is highly remote; I daresay that if terrorists detonate a nuclear device inside the US or UK, there will be an awful lot of Muslims meeting Allah toot-sweet. They cannot win a major engagement against the US and UK; we've proven this to them time after time. I'll admit that they are not fast learners -- certainly not the brightest bulb in the lamp,but I do hope that they are smart enough to know they are climbing a very slippery slope.

At 7/23/2005 9:04 PM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Your paragraph 1: Do people in the United States really understand that we are living under war conditions? From what I've seen on the news, London understands this reality. Yesterday a man was shot when he refused to halt, and present evidence indicates that he was not a terrorist. Will this mistake, if it turns out to be one when the investigation concludes, result in a backing-off by the authorities?

Your paragraph 2: You posted this comment at Liberty and Culture..."The Saudi regime needs to be destroyed, needs either a denocratic state or a brutal dictator not alignedf to the religious establishment."
If Western forces destroy the House of Saud, will that cause further problems in engaging moderate Muslims? Mecca and Medina are located in Saudi and are holy sites to all Muslims.
Will the destruction you mentioned open the door to another Wahhabist regime?
A conundrum, I believe.
I agree with you that buying Saudi oil may well be funding, directly and indirectly, Wahhabist terrorists. Cutting off the dollars seems, to me at least, to be the best way to make an ally out of Saudi because Saudi runs on oil dollars.
How to reconcile this step with our need for oil is another conundrum.

Your paragraph 3: Any reform of Islam must come from within Islam. What I'd like to see, and what would give me some reassurance, is the turning in of radicals BY moderates. Is there a practical way to foster this?
Maybe we are in a "low level engagement," as you put it, but it's an engagement which has many of us very uneasy because the arena of combat (i.e., terrorist attacks) is unpredictable.

PS: As I was previewing this comment, I noticed that Mustang had left a much better response. Nevertheless, I'm putting my comment up too--for what it's worth.

At 7/23/2005 10:52 PM, Blogger unaha-closp said...

Mustang - Supposing you were a civillian, under gunned and facing the worlds greatest military machine, would you be stupid enough to attack them head on knowing that by doing so you guaranteeing yourself defeat (see your last paragraph)? Or would you find another way of attacking them?

Warriors only do battle on the battlefield and do not resort to striking against civilian targets? A policy of attacking civilians is the work of spineless cowards? The cold war was won by a policy of MAD, the Nato forces in western Germany were unlikely to match the Soviet forces in a man to man battle. The MAD policy of killing all possible civilians kept the USSR from invading, the warriors who instigated this policy were not spineless cowards.

The WoT - You must understand and define your enemy to fight them. If you define your enemy as the Muslim world then you will have to fight the Muslim world. Good luck fighting 1/4 of the worlds population, this is what I mean by WW3.

I define the enemy as Sunni Wahhabist fanatics, who to this point in time are the only ones carrying out terrorist attacks against the West. We can stop the terrorist attacks by destroying this group. The easiest way to stop this group is to cut off their money supply. If I am correct then this no where near the USAs darkest hour, all that needs to be done is to stop funds flowing from Saudi Arabia to the terrorists and madrassa. Bush does not do this, why?

AoW - I suggest democratisation of Saudi Arabia, to be carried out very quickly. If it is stalled by the regime then the military support currently provided should be withheld, as a minimum first step. From there on forward the Saudi government should be treated less like a blessed ally and more like Pakistan - a partner. It is a long way diplomatically between here & now and western troops overthrowing the regime. In all liklihood the regime will fall over of its own accord.

Conundrum 1 - worst case scenario (and this might not happen) the worlds largest superpower will be in a direct conflict with a 3rd world state that has no military. Scary - not. Conumdron 2 - oil is a commodity, Jason Pappas sums it up well. The price would spike in the short term, perhaps as much as double, but then the new rulers would need to sell oil.

Is there a practical way to foster this? Bushs plan of democratisation would work, if he would just apply it.

At 7/24/2005 12:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I understand your point, UC . . . but I do not agree that terrorism a legitimate form of warfare. The US (including many pilots and senior officers) deeply regretted such incidents as the bombing of Tokyo and Dresden that created a fire storm. Many Americans were astonished by the atomic weapons used in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I am not one of them. Hitler, Hirohito, and Hussein developed defense industries within civilian communities, and in doing so they were using the civil population as a defense shield. In the first instance, they under-estimated America's will to win. They, more than we, bear responsibility for what happened in those cities, even after we agree that the mood of many (if not most) Germans and Japanese was a commitment to total war. Hussein was a different story altogether and American forces did what they could to limit “collateral damage” to civilian populations.

In the post-World War II Era, you cannot seriously suggest that the Cold War resulted in the mass destruction of entire cities and their populations. Mutually assured destruction was no more than high-stakes poker played at the highest levels of international politics. Facing nuclear retaliation the USA/USSR realized that nuclear war was a lose-lose proposition. The threat may have been there, but reasonable men prevailed. As it turns out, the USSR was completely unprepared for the onslaught of American military technology, which would have decimated the Soviets on any eastern European battlefield. I spoke with a former Soviet officer who told me that when they observed the 1st Gulf War, high ranking soviets were shitting themselves with our display of advanced weapons systems and the manner in which they were employment.

I agree with you that if we are to engage terrorists, they must be identified. I am personally not satisfied with our efforts in doing that up to this point. The enemy is not the entire Muslim world, nor did I mean to infer that. What I did suggest is that if there are moderate to secular Muslims, and if they feel persecuted because of radical Wahhabists, then they need to become proactive against that group who bring them anxiety and (I hope) shame. If they remain silent, then they are simply contributing to a growing feeling among westerners (Americans and Europeans) that Muslims are the enemy. I personally do not think that it is true, but we are discussing perceptions here. Nevertheless, you give Islamic nations more credit than they deserve. We will not be fighting ¼ of the world’s population we will be fighting that select group of morons who think that they can even come close to winning.

I do not disagree with your identification of Wahhabists as the problem, and I also agree that our government is not doing enough to stamp those bastards out. I also agree that by removing their source of funding, you can eliminate the problem, but I do think you are underestimating their resources. They are being funded by the Saudis (who are a major part of the problem), Iran, Syria, and no doubt China and North Korea. From a practical standpoint, however, I do not see the US government severing its ties to the Saudis because I think they are viewed (essentially) as the lesser of several evils. Such is the nature of politics at the global level. We may not agree, but we aren’t making these decisions, either. I also think that President Bush is acting somewhat naively; I believe he assumes that there is good in everyone. I tend to be more Machiavellian in thinking that good is what good does. Terrorists, and everyone associated with them are bad eggs and they need to be eradicated — it would be advisable to do that violently and soon.

At 7/24/2005 7:01 AM, Blogger unaha-closp said...


Everyone has a conspiracy theory don't they? Well this is mine.

I contend that the House of Saud not the lesser of any evils.

I used to think that Al Qaeda was a Saudi rebel group. I now think Al Qaeda are a way of channeling religious extremism that could fuel a revolt against the House of Saud dictatorship into terrorism against the West.

If Al Qaeda truly wanted to overthrow the House of Saud they would have targeted the oil infrastructure of Saudi. Without the oil the House of Saud is bankrupt and vulnerable. Al Qaeda could have attacked princes of Saudi Arabia directly, there are more than enough of them and some are quite lightly protected. Al Qaeda does neither.

The House of Saud is brutal dictatorship that has no qualms whatsoever about killing people for their beliefs and yet the relatives and ex-comrades of UBL live freely in Saudi. His family runs a very profitable construction company. If he was a rebel would they allow this?

Al Qaeda is a Wahhabist jihad organisation, they get recruits from Wahhabist madrassa world wide. These madrassa are funded by Saudi and preach jihadism. The Saudis are paying to instruct children to be Al Qaeda, this would be a very strange thing for the Saudis to do if Al Qaeda was a rebel group aimed at overthrowing Saudi.

The House of Saud is the evil at the heart of Al Qaeda.

PS. Beaker if you wish to call me a clown based on this theory please feel free.

At 7/24/2005 9:40 AM, Blogger Always On Watch said...

Thank you for participating in this discussion. I hope that my thoughts below are coherent....

When I wrote "What I'd like to see, and what would give me some reassurance, is the turning in of radicals BY moderates. Is there a practical way to foster this?" I was thinking more along the lines of the domestic front. In the last few decades, within our borders, Saudi has financed the establishment of mosques, Islamic centers, and schools (such as the Islamic Saudi Academy in Northern Virginia); within those institutions are many Wahhabists. We need to stop the spread of Wahhabism here in the United States because, otherwise, we will face significant attack from within, along the lines of what's going on in London. I co-wrote an article "Our Own Gullibility" back in June about the Saudi-Wahhabism problem; if you're interested, you can find the article in the archives of this blog.

Do you recall the fundamentalist/Wahhabist takeover of the mosque in Mecca? I'm not sure as to the date of that event, but I believe that it occurred in the 70's or 80's. I believe that, since that time, the House of Saud has been walking a fine line between holding power and placating Al-Qaeda, which has no use for any of Saudi's involvement with the West. Wahhabists brought the House of Saud to power and could very well remove the House from power.

I fully agree with Mustang's comment "[I]f there are moderate to secular Muslims, and if they feel persecuted because of radical Wahhabists, then they need to become proactive against that group who bring them anxiety and (I hope) shame. If they remain silent, then they are simply contributing to a growing feeling among westerners (Americans and Europeans) that Muslims are the enemy." Are the moderates cowards? Are they terrorized into silence? Are they waiting for some kind of signal from the West, a signal which would bring them conspicuously forth? Are they in fear of losing eternal life if they oppose jihadism? That last question was, more or less, the subject of one of my earlier posts entitled "Sleeper Cells May Not Be the Problem."

To make the issue of moderate Muslims even more complex, we have cases like that of Alamoudi, one who presented himself as a moderate and had the ear of both Clinton and Bush--until 2003, when Alamoudi was convicted, I believe, of shuttling funds to Hamas. Hmmm...

I agree with you that Wahhabism is the most serious Islamic threat today. Unfortunately, Wahhabism has become the strong-arm man within Islam, and that bullying/hijacking began a few centuries back, when Qtb (Do I have this name correct?) brought Wahhabism into the 20th Century, so to speak. As far back as John Adams, there have been Western condemnations of Wahhabism. But with the advent of more-powerful modern weaponry, the danger has increased, and continues to increase, exponentially.

I agree with you that, one way or another, Saudi provides the bulk of the funding for terrorists. Until this issue of funding is properly addressed, we are only putting out brush fires while the big fire gains strength and rages on [Pardon my cliched metaphor]. I don't see the Bush administration doing what I'd like to see, but I don't know what goes on behind the scenes. Bush could be naive, or he could be sly. And, as Mustang has pointed out, global politics is a convoluted matter.

You wrote "If Al Qaeda truly wanted to overthrow the House of Saud they would have targeted the oil infrastructure of Saudi." Have there been many attacks on the oil infrastructures during any of the conflict with Wahhabism? I'm asking this question because I didn't start thinking about Middle Eastern matters until after 9/11.

BTW, I appreciate your responses to my two posited conundrums, and will think some more about your responses.

At 7/25/2005 1:27 AM, Blogger unaha-closp said...

AOW - Just read you June piece, liked it alot.

At 10/31/2005 10:56 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

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Semper Fi!

Bill Adams


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