This is not a war against Islam

By jadedmara Posted in Comments (56) / Email this page » / Leave a comment »

Forgive me for reposting a comment as a diary. This is a topic that has been saddening me for a few weeks: namely, the prevailing view of Islam here at RedState.org.

I haven't posted a diary on this topic because I can't leave my emotion out of it. It's hard for me to not make this about myself, or my family, and to keep this a dispassionate response to some of the arguments I've seen on the site. Generally, RedState deserves better than that type of diary.

However, I give in. This is my 80% solution. I want to be heard. I want other detractors here to be heard also, not hidden in a larger story about nuking Mecca or the great divide.Wmoriaty wrote this comment in response to Leon's latest diary on Tancredo:

Tancredo's remarks were wrong on at least two levels. First, any moderate Muslim (especially those in our military, those in the Iraqi and Afghan militaries and police forces, and dissidents in Iran and Syria, all of whom face more danger than Rep. Tancredo does on a daily basis) has just cause to be extremely offended by the comments. For that alone, Tancredo should apologize.

and was met by this response:

What moderate muslims?  The ones you're saying would be turned into violent opponents of Iraqi and Afghan freedom because of one statement?  When these people unite against terrorism the way you say they could unite against us, then I'll believe they exist.

This is my reponse:

No, not the ones he's saying would be turned into violent opponents.

He's talking about those of us who are working day in and day out to stop fellow Americans from dying, those of us who are loyal and loving citizens, those of us who respect our government and try to be patient with the fear and misunderstanding that emanates from the rest of the Western world in response to these horrible attacks, those of us who refuse to hate despite constant attacks on our beliefs and our peoples.

WE are the Muslims that are offended by Tancredo's remarks. WE are the Muslims who do denouce terrorism and Usama and al-Qaida and all those who support him, whether overtly or by sympathy. WE are the ones who are trying what we can do to change the Muslim worldview that most on RedState so denouce,yet WE are being blamed for doing nothing.

I'm not usually melodramatic; I'm not usually PC. After all, I'm a fellow Republican. However, the prevailing view of most of the editors on RedState regarding Islam saddens me. I understand that we shouldn't whitewash and say that Islam is a peaceful religion, without any sort of atoning for what is being done in our name. I am furious with the Muslim masses who consider any form of terrorism justifiable. But I'm sick and tired of myself and my family being painted with a broad brush as belonging to a community of hatred.

Again, I'm posting this diary in bad form, but I had to speak, and that comment encapsulates it all for me. I've argued theology in the past; I've argued strategies regarding the hearts and minds portion of the War on Terror. This is far more personal.

One can find any amount of Islamists groups who fail to denounce terrorism and silently support al-Qaida, in their own hearts and minds. There are many more who strongly denounce it, who want democracy, who have many and differing views of the Qu'ran. I suggest instead of Googling the hatred, Google it's antithesis. Here's one to start your search: http://www.freemuslims.org/. Oh, the first article in the site may rankle some; it's about combating intolerance against Muslims. Go ahead and read that article; it's not as bad as you think. Keep looking around. This is me. This is my family. This is (these are) most American citizens of the Muslim faith. I know Muslims of other nationalities in the same mold. They are not the ones reported on by the MSM, by the blogosphere. Some may have not gotten in front of television cameras and denounced terrorism. They are ordinary people living ordinary lives. They are not your enemy. Islam is not your enemy, although you are welcome to disagree with its tenets. You are welcome to argue that Islam was a religion built on war. You are welcome to argue that a careful reading of Islam may espouse jihad. Those are controversial topics, and by no means is it certain that you are wrong. In it's pure form...well, you may be right.  However, Muslims are not Muslims because they believe in war, or jihad, or dhimmitude, or fighting infidels. They believe in one God, like many on this site. They believe that they should love and respect their neighbors. Many don't care about the full theology behind their religion, or if some do, they too are uncomfortable with its implications. But, Islam is one of the three great monotheisms, and this happens to be the one they follow, because they were born into it.

Thanks for your thoughts.  You and Martin do take a beating around here from time to time regarding your faith and that of your families.

I'm glad you feel the freedom to let your voice be heard here.

Since 9-11, it is hard to remember sometimes that American Muslims and most Muslims abroad, for that matter, simply want to go on with their lives much in the same way a Christian or a Jew would.  In addition to the lives lost, I sometimes think the terrorists are winning the battle for hearts and minds simply because they cause us to question each others motives.  

Hang tough and know that most of us know that Muslims are by and large just decent people trying to live out their dreams as well.

....from your POV when it comes to RS.  Two things I can sincerely state about every Muslims I've known (excepting those delightful Palestinian teens who tried to bean me with the rock):  1) nice folks, and 2) almost always better-educated than I.

How one arrives from this to what appears to be, for lack of a better term, the more regrettable emergent properties of Muslim communities in the West, is of course a matter of debate.  As you know, I am a pessimist on the subject.  As others know, I wasn't always; but events have their own logic.

Whatever the case, though, your protest about your character and your defense of your family is well-made and well-received.  More than that, it is just.

jadedmara,

Appreciate your contribution to the previous thread. Here is one of the best articles I have read on the relationship of radical islam to Islam itself.

The Religious Sources of Islamic Terrorism

by Shmuel Bar

It discusses why it has been (and probably will continue to be) difficult for moderate moslems to reform the religion.

We are not fighting Islam, and Muslim does not equal terrorist or terrorist supporter.  Bush has made this abundantly clear.  The bombing Mecca comments were amazingly wrong.  And many have responded in defense by arguing that all Muslims are the same, and all are extremists.  This is untrue and an unfortunate misconception.  I would also keep in mind that the blogs are usually where the most extreme opinions are found.

I would say this site does much better than Free Republic.  Hugh Hewitt did an exceptional job with this topic.  It is well worth the read.

http://hughhewitt.com/archives/2005/07/24-week/index.php#a000013

I do have to ask some tough questions.  Please understand that I do so as a member of a silent minority of a minority: conservative Asian-Americans.

I personally believe that the vast majority of Asian-Americans are conservatives, with values that are more represented by the Republican party than the Democratic party.  We are strongly pro-family, strongly suspicious of government authority (given the situation in our native countries), espouse education and hard work as the path of success, do not believe in entitlements, and the church is a major influence in some ethnic communities.

However, the Asian-American political voice has been hijacked by left wing radicals and liberals such as the OCA or the JACL or AALDEF.  Looking at our so-called "leadership", one finds Democrat after Democrat, liberal after liberal, painting an incorrect picture of our community as a whole.  Looking at the statements put out by Asian-American organizations, one might think, for example, that we support affirmative action.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Our image, our voice, our political identity have been hijacked by leftist activists -- and we conservative Asian-Americans have let that happen, because we're too busy living our lives, going to work, raising our families, and attending to what's important in our daily lives.

Is this perhaps the same issue you face as Muslims?  You may be right that the vast majority of American Muslims strongly denounce the radical ideologies of hatred.  But if so, is it not also your responsibility as a community to strive to correct the wrong impression?  Is it not incumbent on the American Muslim community to organize and put up an alternative mainstream voice that makes it clear that those who present themselves as spokespersons of your community are not in fact representative of the silent majority?

It may be unfair to put such burdens on you -- as it is unfair to put the burden of correcting the widespread public perceptions of Asian-Americans on me.  But that's life.  Organizations like freemuslims.org is a great start -- but your community does have to face up to the fact that the burden falls on you to marginalize the radicals in your own community and to put forth the true picture of Islam.

I believe that the people of good will everywhere, and particularly at a place like Redstate, would support every effort by the mainstream Muslim community to put forth that true picture, to denounce terrorists, to denounce and combat the radicals.  But again, just as I put the onus on my own community to correct the wrong impression created by the radicals who have hijacked our political voice, I have to say that the responsibility for educating the rest of us about Islam and about Muslims falls on you and your community.

-TS

That should be "silent majority of a minority" above.

-TS

Sophist,

Don't mean to be cute, but  think you need to define what is an Asian-American.  Asia is a big place.  

 

But if so, is it not also your responsibility as a community to strive to correct the wrong impression?

If I were to peg you as a liberal based on your ethnicity, would it be because you did not prove yourself otherwise, or because I am being ignorant?

The more I read about Islam, the less I am sure that this isn't a war against Islam.  At least, against establishment Islam as it's been practiced for most of its history.  That's not to say it's a war against Muslims, or all variants of Islam (I've never heard of Sufi terrorists, but I could be mistaken) but rather it's simply a war against Islam as an establishment.

From the time of its founder it has been used as a violent, expansionist ideology.  During the life of the prophet, Muslims made war against Jews in Medina, his and his successor's armies rode across the deserts, and behind then was set up a despotic Islamist regime.  That tradition appears to live on today in regimes such as that was run in Afghanistan, or is run in Iran and Saudi Arabia, or is desired by Usama bin Laden.  All these kinds of people  who are carrying out that tradition is who we are at war with.

So the question is, is that tradition embraced by a majority of Muslims worldwide?  How about of the Muslims in the Middle-east?  The Free Muslims site you link to suggests the answer is that the answer may be yes, at least to the latter question.

I'm not sure if it is or is not the responsibility of Muslims as a community. As you pointed out, it seems rather unfair; however, the silence of Muslims is deafening.

I would guess that if I talked to some Muslims in America about terrorism, such as the 7/7 bombing, they would say something akin to "What a horrible tragedy. Innocent people dead ... what has the world come to? Of course, this is all because of Bush and that war in Iraq."* However, if they were to say that, I would also posit that it's not because they are Muslim; it's because they are freakin' liberals* How many Kossites do you see denouncing (Muslim) terrorism at rallies?*

* I, ironically, may be using a strawman against  American Muslims. I have never actually heard any such words uttered by an American Muslim I consider to be moderate or mainstream (no comment on the crazies I may happen to know). Of course, it's probably because they know better to say anything like that to me

**I wish I could have recorded the despair in my mother's voice when she realized I was actually, truly, no-fooling, a Republican..and a rather conservative (self-identified) one at that.

** Of course, the Kossites have no such burden of proof with which you tag Muslims...well, then again, with charges of being "anti-American" or "wussies", I guess they kinda do. And they, like many Muslims, feel it unfair that they need to prove themselves.  They might need to, though.

P.S. For more of Muslims denouncing terrorism, check out Leon's front page story.  I have to wonder how much of our perception of Muslims' silence is reality or just media bias. I would say somewhere in between...media bias alone can't account for what we're seeing. It frustrates me that seemingly the most popular clerics are the anti-American firebrands. Of course, again, how much is that reality and how much of that is perception based on media?

who knew that asteriks made things bolded? Sorry!

There are plenty of Muslims who disagree with the policies of the United States in the Middle East who are not willing to take up arms against the U.S. or stap a bomb to themselves.

Are we at war against people who disagree with us politically, or just those who intend on harming us?

Neil,

We can debate all day whether this is just a war against radical islam or whether it is indeed a clash of civilizations.  It occurs to to me that at some point your average American, or Briton, who does not want to bother to become an expert in Islamic History and religion, will conclude: Who needs this problem?

It's not like we are hurting for immigrants who want to get into the country. If the terrorism keeps up, the conclusion will be to limit immigration from moslem counties--students, workers, visitors, family reunification--the works.  This is why I am surprised the moderate muslims are not leading the parade to deport the radical islamists.  The radicals are tarring the entire moslem community.

whose responsibility is it to correct that ignorance?

You could say it's yours -- and the idealist in me would agree.

The realist would know better.

-TS

That's another topic unto itself, but for the time being, let's just say the triumvirate of Chinese, Korean and Japanese.

-TS

jadedmara -

Many thanks for this timely and heartfelt post.  I agree with trevino's assessment of your thoughts as being, not merely heartfelt, but just.

I will go the long way around to my point, please bear with me.

In a recent exchange here, cyrus pointed me to Alasdair MacIntyre's work on virtue-based ethical philosophy.  Many thanks, cyrus.  In following the MacIntyre trail, I came across this Islamic analysis of MacIntyre's thought.  The Al-Islam article includes this insightful nugget:

MacIntyre's solution is that common standards are to be sought, even where none exist, by dialectical interchange between the rival viewpoints. One tradition of inquiry will be in a position to uphold the truth of its claims against rivals in which those claims are not recognized when it develops the intellectual apparatus to explain the rival viewpoint, and why the disagreement has arisen, and why the rival is incorrect. In other words, through intellectual conflict between traditions, a tradition can vindicate itself only when it can enrich its own conceptual resources sufficiently to explain the errors of its rivals. This kind of conflict and progress is only possible when there is a commitment to finding the truth



I will add to this the observation that an honest inquiry along the lines described above frequently yields critical insights into one's own position as well.

To these thoughts I will add an observation heard on the radio this evening while driving around the historically poignant town of Manassas in search of an ABC store.  Various pundits were commenting on current events on the terrorism front.  One gentlemen noted that, somewhat uniquely among current major faiths, in Islam it is difficult, or at least less a part of the tradition, to separate faith and polity.  Karen Armstrong makes the same point in her work on Islam.  The Islamic idea of the Ummah, unless I am mistaken, innately incorporates both the ideas of a community of faith, and a polity.

On to my various points, and thank you for your patience.

First and foremost, before saying anything else, I'll make the obvious statement that terror -- acts of political violence against civilians -- should not and cannot be tolerated, and can be given no quarter.  It is morally indefensible, and I think the mainstream of Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jain, Sikh, Ba'hai, pagan, animist, and atheist thought all pretty much agree on this point.  Terrorists should be found, and captured or killed.

With that said, I have a number of questions and observations.  These all fall in the category of "half-baked", however with humility I think they are important.

Should we be trying to reform the political culture of Islamic nations on a Western democratic model?  Islam has it's own traditions of justice and political polity, born of its own history.  We have our own as well, many of them notably born of our inability to tolerate differences of faith without murdering each other.

What we are seeing in England and elsewhere now is the willingness of young men from successful families, with promising futures ahead of them, to blow themselves up for no purpose other than to kill a lot of Westerners.  This is a serious thing.

I agree with jadedmara that by far the majority of Muslims reject terror.  I also think many, many Muslims identify with the anger that lies behind the terrorists' actions.

In my extremely humble opinion:

We are, in fact, facing a clash of cultures.  The West and Islam are different, and we will not make them the same.  We should not try to make them the same.

Unlike, perhaps, some here, however, I do not see a cultural fight to the death between Islam and the west to be either necessary or good.

What I see is this:

The West and Islam need to find a way to understand each other, mutually, each on our own terms.  This will be extremely difficult, and will take a lot of patient, deliberate effort.

The project of "reforming" the politics of Islamic nations, especially middle eastern ones, along the lines of Western secular democracies will, I think, meet with limited success.  Iraq was, already, a fairly secular and "westernized" country.  It had a ruler with little popular support outside of his own ethnic group.  Iraq is, frankly, the low hanging fruit, and yet a "free and democratic Iraq" is far from a done deal.  Other countries, with much more traditionally Islamic cultures -- Iran, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia -- will, IMO, never become anything like western democracies.  This is not because Muslims are "incapable of democracy".  It is because Islam, and the African, Middle Eastern, and Asian nations and cultures where it has been predominant for over 1,000 years, have their own history and traditions, and they require and deserve a polity that draws on those.

Western nations need to deal with Islamic nations in good faith.  Among other things, that means not supporting corrupt, kleptocratic tyrants.  It means supporting and encouraging the development of native, indigenous political traditions that are responsive and just, even if they are Islamic.  It means, among other things, not overthrowing governments that take positions on the ownership of mineral rights that are, perhaps, less favorable to free market development than we might like.

None of this is a defense of terrorism.  It may be that Muslim anger toward the west is, to some degree, related to western foreign policy.  It's also related, at least equally, to problems internal to Islamic nations and culture.  Terror must be met with an absolute and decisive response, not with apologies.

Islam, however, does not need to be an enemy.  It is true that the history of Islam includes a lot of military expansionism.  The same is true of nearly every other culture and tradition in human history, including our own.

Both the west and Islam have giant steps to take to reach the kind of mutual understanding that will let us live in peace on the same planet.  It's doable, although frankly I put the chances at somewhere in the neighborhood of slim.  The alternative, however, is, IMO, another 20 or 30 years, minimum, of what we see now.

This was long, many thanks for your patience.  I look forward to the comments.

Cheers -

During the life of the prophet, Muslims made war against Jews in Medina, his and his successor's armies rode across the deserts, and behind then was set up a despotic Islamist regime.

Which for the most part replaced a despotic Byzantine regime.  But at least they were Christians.  Thank goodness ol' "Rule of the People" Karl stopped 'em.

If you want to find reasons for violence in Islam, you'll find it.  If you want to find reasons for violence in the Bible, you'll find what you're looking for.  People know what they want.  Then they figure out how to justify it.  There's much more than religion to all this.

...we're not at war with Islam, but with the cancer within the Islamic community.  Keep speaking up, jm.  Conservatives and Republicans need to hear from you.

First, let me say that I agree with what seems to be the conventional opinion that Tancredo's comments were ill considered and offensive at best, and potentially dangerous to Americans and American troops at worst.  My understanding is that in the Muslim world threatening to nuke a city is one thing, but threatening to nuke Mecca itself is something totally beyond the pale: a sin, a blasphemy, and a probably an incitement to future terrorist violence.

Still, there is another issue that Tancredo obliquely addressed, which I would like to frame into a question specifically for Jademara.  I gather from your post that you are an American citizen.  As a citizen (and a Republican at that!), you have surely developed certain feelings of loyalty to your home country which, I surmise, would make you at least as distressed over the possibility of a nuclear attack against an American city as you are about a possible nuclear retaliation against an Islamic city in the Middle East. Dare I even say that the former potentiality distresses you more? After all, your own family might live in the city that is attacked, or suffer from the fallout afterwards, correct?

Given these presuppositions, might I also infer that on some level you would be willing to use the threat of nuclear retaliation (not necessarily against any particular city, and certainly not against Mecca), as a deterrent to a nuclear attack by a terrorist group against America?  Moreover, if such attacks occurred, and let's say we lost New York or Chicago, would you approve of nuclear retaliation against a Middle Eastern state known to sponsor terrorism (e.g., Syria or Iran)?

I'm not trying to put you in a difficult position here.  The real question I'm trying to answer is, what measures are patriotic American Muslims willing to take to protect their homeland?

Assuming that a nuclear terror threat to the US comes from Al Qaeda or a similar group, what is the deterrent value of a threat to nuke Tehran, Damascus, Mecca, or any other city?

Cheers -

Leaving aside the girly-squishiness I feel at the thought of using nukes, if some *-hole bombed our country with the full support of Iran or Syria, I'd say nuke 'em.

Why would you ever doubt otherwise? I'm a born and bred American, and a Southerner at that.

(this is really hard without profanity. Curses to you, Redstate editors!)

Alas, that's a very clear cut state sponsor issue that I'm afraid we wouldn't find if AQ ever hit us with nukes.  Nuking Mecca, for example, is a hit against Saudi Arabia, a (unfortunately despotic) key ally of ours that's kicking all sorts of butt against terrorists. (And, hypothetically, I'd vote for getting Jeddah or Riyadh if Saudi ever sponsors terrorists).  Nuking Egypt, nuking Uzbekistan (alas, again, unfortunately decidedly not democracies) runs into the same problems. I hope that if we ever get attacked again, there's an obvious state sponsor..so we know who to kill.

Never thought I'd long for the days of Hizballah and Iran/Syria/Libya.

The deterrence value of obliterating Mecca and/or Medina is in the psychological value, not the actual ordinary warfare value.

  1. Whoever provided the nuke.
  2. Any and all "state sponsors" of terrorism. Just because a given state sponsor wasn't involved in THIS particular atrocity is no reason to give 'em a free ride. We should've done this on 9/11/01--the surviving governments would quickly come to Jesus (metaphorically, of course). And if we announce this policy in advance, we give those who know the most about terrorism--its sponsors--the biggest incentive to stop it.

"Assuming that a nuclear terror threat to the US comes from Al Qaeda or a similar group, what is the deterrent value of a threat to nuke Tehran, Damascus, Mecca, or any other city?"

You're not trying to deter al-Qaeda, you're trying to convince everyone else that hunting the terrorists they've sponsored over the years is in their best interests.

I explicitly said I was ruling Mecca out.

Second, unlike Thomas and Poobah, I do think there is a deterrent value to nuclear retaliation.  These people (Al-Qaeda, et al.) come from the Middle East.  Their families and/or friends are there. They may be monsters, but I believe even the worst of human monsters usually have some kind of human feeling for home and hearth.  I recall that during WWII there were Nazis willing to oppose Hitler when it became clear to them that continuing the war meant the destruction of the "fatherland."

BTW, good to see you back Amos.

for doubting you.  Since we don't actually know each other I have to judge from the tenor of your posts, but I believe you are in earnest.  It's just that I don't know any other Muslims who would say the same thing you have said.  And yes, I know some of them.

Let me make two other points:  1) I explicitly ruled out nuking Mecca; 2) Obviously, I am against nuking our allies, but if AQ were to pull off a nuclear attack, it would be fair to retaliate in kind against any state that has supported / cooperated with them.  I'm thinking mainly Syria here, but perhaps others as well.

"come from the Middle East." They come from all over the world, from Indonesia to Australia to the United States to Western Europe. They have ties to the Middle East, yes. But threatening the Middle East in general or specific places in the Middle East with nuclear retaliation is not going to scare them off. This argument needs to be put to rest once and for all.

you'll kill them for crimes they haven't committed? I fear that won't be very convincing.

(Unless, of course, we actually carry out an attack. Then their calculations may change. But I think that was the point of the Iraq war--send the message without talking nuclear. And surely, if you're faithful to this site, you think that message was sent loud and clear.)

We'll punish them for the crimes they have committed: aiding or even just harboring terrorists.

"If you're not with us, you're against us" wasn't a meaningless bit of rhetoric.



Someone should tell that to the dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Remind me again are they with us or against us it's hard to tell most days.

..I wasn't offended in the least. I like getting a "Team America"-like patriotic boost now and then.

Here's another way of explaining why the concept of "nuking mecca" is wrong wrong wrong -- and this should help some to relate. Whenever possible I like to simplify situations into a formula where equal variables can be substituted. Non-irish Catholic typing here...In this case, I'm thinking of Catholic terrorists in Ireland...what if the British government decided to threaten to nuke the vatican in the hopes of making catholic protestors/terrorists stand down.  Suddenly MY ears would be perked, as would millions and millions around the world...and who would I and others be angered towards? The unreasonable British government....and if the British government were as unreasonable and aggressive as that...then perhaps the terrorists had just cause to be terrorists.

Now let's take it back to Islam...

There are so many peaceful muslims -- like hundreds of millions in India alone -- who are just living their lives and suddenly a comment or stance like "nuking mecca" is attacking their religious symbol when they had very little concern about what was going on outside of their country and lives beforehand. It's making enemies out of nonenemies.

The psychological value of threatening Mecca IS to declare war against the religion.  It's ignorant, imflammatory and highly unjust.

It's important to keep to the high road, and make sure to accuse who is at fault and avoid generalities.  I think President Bush has been an excellent example and leader -- he is a great president -- and he is actually a hero to many muslims who have been freed from tyranny, but they don't get air time and we have beaten the dead horse on why not.  Let us remember that the first and continued victims of islamic extremism -- are muslims! Now the disease has spread to the west -- but just because there is a idealogical group that claims islam, does not mean they are anything more than a group of murderous dangerous pawns, manipulated by powerhungry devils who seek to take us back to the dark ages so that they can more easily control. That is why we can't leave Iraq, and that is why we must help sow a love of liberty throughout this world instead of just building giant walls to isolate us.  Muslims have been oppressed and murdered for sometime -- now that it's reached our doorstep we are ready to fight. History repeats itself again....

"you'll kill them for crimes they haven't committed? I fear that won't be very convincing."

No, it's called "we'll kill them for those past crimes we saw fit to ignore when terrorism was a 'nuisance,' and for encouraging the present round of terrorists to start up operations."

They made the mess.

They can clean it up if they have any idea of what's good for them.

He wasn't saying to hit Mecca out of the blue.  That was a proposal to answer the specific question about what to do about nuclear-armed terrorists.

When the IRA tries to nuke London, then you can make that analogy.

that they come from all over, but let's be honest here, most of them come from the Middle East.

Moreover, how the heck would you know what "is not going to scare them off"?  Unless you've been chatting with Osama, you can't possibly know that.

Finally, I would be against threatening specific places. I would, however, have the president make it known that a nuclear attack on American soil could very well invite a nuclear response.  No names.  No places.  Leave it very general so as to keep them guessing.

I posted four examples of "homegrown" al-Qaeda cells outside the Middle East and can post many more. If you'd like to ignore that evidence, I'm not going to waste any time discussing this with you.

And it's a good thing you're opting for a "general" threat, since al-Qaeda is a very "general" idea--not a centralized movement with precise lines of leadership. Attacking, even annihilating, a single city in the Middle East would do zero, absolutely nothing to weaken them. Why? Because they are virtually non-geographical. They are not a state, and you can't deal with them as one.

The majority of al-Qaida members still come from the Middle East. However, I would venture that that's not a plurality at this point (did I get that right, math people?)

And, al-Qaida is a movement now, not a central organization. asf6 is right on that point. Annihlating the "old" al-Qaida (i.e. Bin Ladin and his ilk) may have a morale effect on the rest of al-Qaida and its associated terror groups, but it won't affect them logistically in any way. (and, of course, it'll eventually give them a morale boost to fight in UBL's name..although that shouldn't stop us from trying to kill the bastard). These guys are al-Qaida inspired at this point. Many do not act on bin Ladin's orders or get money from him.

Al-Qaida is like a replicating volvox. The main cell with one network emanating from it has split into many cells with many networks emanating from them, all operating in the same ideological plane but not necessarily connected to each other logistically (or to the main cell). (Did I get that right, biologists?)

Leverkuhn -

Thanks for the welcome.

I guess my thought on this is that the threat of a nuclear response to an act of nuclear terror here would as likely be an incentive as a deterrent to Al Qaeda or similar groups.  This is more of a hunch than a position with a strong documentary basis, but it's one I'd put money on.

Cheers -

... on CNN's Late Edition Sunday, with Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Pat RObers (R-Kansas.  She declared that the West could not win the war against terror unless our until prominent imams and mosques issued "fatwa after fatwa" against jihad and suicide bombings.

I wrote elsewhere that I do not foresee this happening, as jihad was central to Islam as I understood it.  (Although jihad does not necessarily mean what we non-Moslems currently see it as.)  (And, yes, I know I could be wrong.)

I want to ask you about the fatawa of condemnation, and why they haven't already been issued.  Is there something in Islam which tends to prevent one Moslem from condemning another in the prsence of a non-Moslem?  Such a dynamic would be at least understandable as to its existence.

Ossama bin-Laden is Saudi.  Al-Zarqawi is Jordanian (wink, Palestinian).  Most of the foreign fighters infiltrating Iraq come from either Syria or Jordan.  Fifteen of nineteen 9/11 hijackers came from one country. (It's name starts with an "S."  You have three guesses to get the prize.)  Shall I go on?  The bottom line is MOST of them come from the Middle East.

Moreover, Muslims have a very strong sense of solidarity, which is why a young Saudi male will go thousands of miles away to Afghanistan to fight Soviets or Americans.  You can't tell me the threat of nuclear retaliation on their fellow Muslims means nothing to them.

And don't give me any of that "wasting my time" crap.  If you didn't want to stir things up you wouldn't be blogging here.

Perhaps you weren't aware, but Islamist terrorism actually occurs outside Iraq and the United States. For example, you may have heard something about a bombing in London. Three years ago, you may have heard something about a bombing in Bali. Those were both carried out by al-Qaeda-affiliated cells that were born and bred outside the Middle East. There are more examples.

Do they care about what happens in the Middle East? Yes, of course. That's not the point. You're talking about deterrence, and they're not going to be deterred by the thought of the death of Muslims. These are people who believe that it is every Muslim's duty to die for the cause. For that and a number of other reasons, they will not simply drop their plans at the threat of nuclear attacks on Muslim cities. It's a silly idea.

And finally, you're wrong about why I'm on this site. People here are normally very well-informed and actually read what is posted instead of flaming, ignoring or blindly storming ahead with whatever it is they think. It's the closest I've seen to rational debate anywhere on a blog. You didn't seem to listen, and there are plenty of other places I can go and not be listened to. Hence, waste of time.

Sorry by asf6

I don't like that tone in others, and I don't like it in myself. But please, consider again what I wrote.

a lot of aggressive assertions here, which you seem to expect that I will and others should take for gospel truth, but you haven't backed up any of them with real evidence.  In contrast, I can back up what I say with real evidence drawn from historical precedent and contemporary reports. Three points:

1) "Islamist terrorism actually occurs outside Iraq and the United States ... you may have heard something about a bombing in London. Three years ago, you may have heard something about a bombing in Bali."

Sure, I've read about all that.  If you read any of my stuff here you'll find I read pretty extensively.  But I also hear of bombings in Iraq about every other day, and of similar incidents in Israel, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, etc., every few months. Remember, I never said ALL Islamic terrorism occurs in the Middle East, I said MOST does. Both in terms of frequency and severity, there is simply a whole lot more Islamic terrorist activity in the Middle East than anywhere else.  For example, while the London bombings were better reported, the recent attacks in Egypt were actually more deadly. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Egypt is still in the Middle East, no?

2) "These are people who believe that it is every Muslim's duty to die for the cause ... they will not simply drop their plans at the threat of nuclear attacks on Muslim cities."

I'm not suggesting they will drop all of their plans.  I am suggesting that they will think twice about a nuclear attack if they know retaliation in kind is a possibility.  You seem to become very emotional on this point.  If you read my posts here I'm certainly not suggesting that we should launch a pre-emptive nuclear attack on anybody.  I remain firm in my commitment to the "no first use" principle.   But historical precedent tells us MAD is a real deterrent to the use of nuclear weapons.  The Soviets were certainly not queasy about killing their own people. They killed more of their own people than Hitler did, but even they hesitated at the thought of a nuclear reaction.

3) "And finally, you're wrong about why I'm on this site."

I sure hope so. But you accused me of "wasting" your time.  Well excuse me, but it was you who sought me out for this little "dialogue" we've been having.  To turn around and accuse me of "wasting" your time is bunkum, and not the sort of nonsense I take from anybody.

We're not at war against Islam, but against the Islamist cancer within the Muslim community.  Thanks for writing this.  Conservatives and Republicans need to hear you.

This Wikipedia article gives information about fatwas.

Note this paragraph:

Because Islam has no centralized priestly hierarchy, there is no uniform method to determine who can issue a valid fatwa and who cannot. Some Islamic scholars complain that too many people feel qualified to issue fatwas.

Different Islamic clerics can issue contradictory fatwas. The effect depends upon whether or not this takes place in a nation where Islamic law (sharia) is the basis of civil law.

Because Islam (especially Sunni Islam) has no centralized hierarchy, there can be no universal fatwa of condemnation against bin Ladin or terrorism. However, there have been many issued.

The British Sunni Council did after 7/7.  The Islamic Commission of Spain has also issued an anti-bin Ladin fatwa. Google results indicate one in Vienna too (although the site requires login so I haven't personally seen it. Here's some more Islamic statements against terror, including a fatwa or two.

Now, I'm not sure if that was your original point; apologies if you knew all that already.  It is to be said that it seems these fatwas are too little, too late...often after a terror attack in the country of origin.  Sen. Feinstein is right...despite the existence of fatwas against terrorism, easily found by a simple Google search, I haven't seen an outpouring of "fatwa after fatwa" issued by the most prominent mosques and clerics. Of course, as I state a lot in these threads, I have no idea how much media bias accounts for the perception of a dearth of anti-terror Muslims and how much of it is reality.

...is that the term "militant moderate" is inherently oxymoronic.

Radicals are ready and willing to use all available force--because once someone thinks they've found the One True Mandate of Heaven, any dissension is from the Devil Himself. Moderates are far more willing to live and let live.

So, sadly, "moderate Muslims" will need to become radicalized. That's usually pretty hard...but getting kith and kin killed by the extremists can radicalize anybody.

... or even if they can be shocked into acting now, might be worth discussing.

We know that things could rapidly descend into the Ugly (specifically, after one attack involving weapons of mass destruction).  Maybe we need to spell out what happens after the mushroom cloud over one of our cities (or the chemical or biological weapons attack).

I don't pretend to have all the answers.  But it might be time to lay out the ugly for all to see, in hopes that it can be averted.



a majority is automatically a plurality, but a plurality is not neccessarily a majority..

Jadedmara, thank you for the post-it is educating me a great deal.  I have a question about the fatwa part of this discussion and I promise my intentions here are sincere.

I get the points about lack of centralization and hierarchical structure being made throughout this thread.  I also get the notion that our war is a war against a group of people defending their actions in the name of a religion regardless of the fact that most of its followers do not ascribe to their behavior.  And, I get the issue of fear in many corners of the world amongst the "faithful" that should they stand up and denounce this behavior they may find themselves or their families beheaded or bombed or chased into a refugee camp somewhere.  I can't even fathom living this way, so I'm trying to understand, NOT villify.  Our culture is so completely different than this.

What I don't get though is how fatwas are only legitimate if called by certain people under certain circumstances, yet Imams can call for Jihad, random   websites can,  and even Sheikhs and Scholars can .   If I understand this right, Jihad has two historical meanings.  First, it meant a spiritual struggle against unbelief, and only later, did it come to mean war.  Further, farther down in your Wikipedia link it seems that a "call" to Jihad is itself technically a fatwa.  My point here is that, while I mostly agree with the thought processes here about how little the "typical" Muslim can do individually to capture and kill the extremists from within, I do not agree that the hierarchy that DOES exist within Islam is doing all it can collectively.

The media is not your friend right now.  They are showing us plenty of Imams calling for Jihad, and few issuing fatwas denouncing it.  If Imams, however few there may be, can get terrorists moving, they can certainly (in the numbers you assert are really out there on OUR side against these horrible acts) get it to stop.

The nature of this fight is that, because we don't understand how things work within Islam, we can only go by what we see, and hear, and right now we hear "death to the Infidels".  When we hear ALL of the Imams telling ALL of the followers to stand down, then we can more easily separate out the extremists from the non-extremists.  Only from within Islam can they be isolated.  ANYTHING done from non-Muslims is in and of itself an act of agression to Muslims.  Until Muslims stop extremist Muslims themselves, this is going to continue in a self-perpetuating cycle.

anyone to take me at my word. I'm trying to convince you of something, which I'll spend as much time on as seems worthwhile to me.

Let's drop the "most/all" debate...I'm aware, as are you, that a lot of Islamist bombings are carried out in the Middle East by Middle Easterners. I'm also aware, as are you, that lots of other Islamist attacks are carried out outside the Middle East by non-Middle Easterners. That's not my point, so I'm not going to harp on it.

There are essential differences between a disparate, non-coherent, non-state actor like the assemblage of loosely tied Islamist movements that call themselves "al-Qaeda", and a sovereign, integrated, governmental actor with established borders, laws, and everything else that goes with a state like the USSR. Your point about al-Qaeda operatives in Indonesia, the U.S., Western Europe, Africa, and all over the world caring about what happens to Muslims in the Middle East is not lost on me. But I don't think threatening Middle Easterners with nuclear annihilation would have the same effect as threatening the USSR, and here's why:

  1. You use the term MAD in this instance without actually establishing mutually assured destruction. In fact, neither side's destruction is assured: one or even several nukes would really hurt the U.S. but not destroy us (unlike the USSR's arsenal), and we could use dozens of nukes and kill millions before destroying al-Qaeda. The network is so globally spread that even if you raze the Middle East from Cairo to Tehran, their destruction is far from assured. The term MAD is not applicable, so the strict, Cold War-style nuclear deterrence is not applicable.
  2. Your second point is that even if we don't destroy al-Qaeda, they'd be so sad about their friends and families and fellow Muslims being gone that they'd think twice before striking with a nuclear weapon. From what I've read about al-Qaeda, this doesn't seem likely. Why?

a) They believe every Muslim should die for the cause of jihad. From his 1998 "fatwa":

Almighty God also says "O ye who believe, what is the matter with you, that when ye are asked to go forth in the cause of God, ye cling so heavily to the earth! Do ye prefer the life of this world to the hereafter?



Does that sound like someone who would change his plans because Muslims might die?

b) They actually want the U.S. to respond to attacks in such a way. Bin Laden and his ideological cohorts believe that Arab states are heathen--in a state of "jahiliyyah" or ignorance to God--and should be destroyed. This would free the Muslims living beneath those regimes to live according to the sharia. This "near enemy" was actually the original target of al-Qaeda's predecessors, the folks who shot Sadat and tried to topple the secular regime in Egypt. And there is evidence (see Doran at Princeton, Age of Sacred Terror by Simon & Benjamin) to believe that secular Arab regimes are actually the real target of al-Qaeda when it attacks the West, hoping for just the kind of thing you're suggesting (nuclear reprisal attack on one or several Muslim cities). This will inspire Muslims to overthrow their secular regimes and install Islamist regimes in their place. Whether or not that would actually happen is irrelevant--the point is, they want the U.S. to attack, so why would they cringe at the thought of it?

Now, is there a place for attempts at deterrence and reprisal? Of course. If New York were bombed with hundreds of thousands dead, I wouldn't sit on my hands and say, well, there's nothing we can do. But vague threats of nuclear attack on the Middle East will not accomplish much either.

I'm not trying to pick a fight with you, I do like discussing this stuff. It's just when I see somebody approaching what I see as a very dangerous threat to my country with what I see as a very wrongheaded plan, I can get passionate or...dare I say..."emotional".

I am posting this as a comment rather than a reply.

This comment is really a reply to countless comments about whether nuking Mecca and Medina has any strategic or morale value.  First of all, let me strongly emphasize that I do not believe nuking Mecca and Medina is necessarily the best option or the right one (though, I must admit to having a desire to do so countless times).

Medina is important, but only as the Prophet's birthplace, thus the real focus is on Mecca.  First, I think we need all to understand what Mecca is to Islam.  If Muslims believe in Allah to be the one true God, then they will hold Mecca to be the most revered holy city in the world.  They will worship toward Mecca five times a day as required in Islam and making an annual trip to Mecca as one of good works necessary to obtain Allah's good grace in anything.

It is true that Muslims come from not just Middle East, but everywhere.  In fact, Indoensia boasts one of the largest Muslim population in the world, nearly 180 million people!  Even India's Muslim population is larger than most Middle East countries, the closest ones are Pakistan and Turkey.  Nevertheless, Mecca IS the birthplace and center of Islam.  In other words, Islam does have a physical presence in Mecca, it's undeniable to say otherwise.

Now, if Muslims truly believed in Islam as their guide in their daily lives, can you imagine the untold shaking of their faith when they see Mecca burning in ashes?  It would show that Allah was unable to protect Muslims and Mecca from being destroyed by infidels.  Mecca would be totally uninhabitable and no devout Muslim could make an annual pilgrimage to Mecca without being contimated by radiaction.  Never again would Islam recover its vigor and ability to act as a religious guide in many people's lives.

Don't you all think it would leave Muslims questioning deeply about their faith and just how much it would really help in their daily life?

Of course, I would welcome any constructive criticism and a lot of sharp attacks on my comment...

that I doubt we can predict with any kind of accuracy what the worldwide Muslim reaction would be. I don't think they'd simply fold up and convert to Christianity, and I don't know enough about how they see Mecca to know if they'd be shaken in their faith at all. It's just such an extreme scenario that nobody can really say what would happen.

is not Arab governments. It's non-terrorist Muslims living in Arab countries--the theoretical victims of  a nuclear attack.

...but countless religions have endured persecution and destruction, albeit with some shaking of their faith. I know that this is somewhat different...an action isn't being taken against the faithful as much as it's being taken against the religions holy sites themselves, but not every Muslim believes Mecca is guarded by angels or by God. Therefore, not every Muslim believes that a destruction of that holy place means that God has failed to protect it - they just see it as a great affront to their religion and to God.

 
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