Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Islam's Role in Terror

According to non-Muslim politicians these Taliban members have nothing to do with Islam.
[original caption by D. Pipes]

Why Politicians Deny Islam's Role - Daniel Pipes, PhD

Prominent non-Muslim political figures have embarrassed themselves by denying the self-evident connection of Islam to the Islamic State (ISIS) and to Islamist violence in Paris and Copenhagen, even claiming these are contrary to Islam. What do they hope to achieve through these falsehoods and what is their significance?

Summarizing these statements, which come straight out of the Islamist playbook: Islam is purely a religion of peace, so violence and barbarism categorically have nothing to do with it; indeed, these "masquerade" and "pervert" Islam. By implication, more Islam is needed to solve these "monstrous" and "barbaric" problems.

But, of course, this interpretation neglects the scriptures of Islam and the history of Muslims, seeped in the assumption of superiority toward non-Muslims and the righteous violence of jihad. Ironically, ignoring the Islamic impulse means foregoing the best tool to defeat jihadism: for, if the problem results not from an interpretation of Islam, but from random evil and irrational impulses, how can one possibly counter it? Only acknowledging the legacy of Islamic imperialism opens ways to re-interpret the faith's scriptures in modern, moderate, and good-neighborly ways.

Why, then, do powerful politicians make ignorant and counterproductive arguments, ones they surely know to be false, especially as violent Islamism spreads (think of Boko Haram, Al-Shabaab, and the Taliban)? Cowardice and multiculturalism play a role, to be sure, but two other reasons have more importance:

First, they want not to offend Muslims, who they fear are more prone to violence if they perceive non-Muslims pursuing a "war on Islam." Second, they worry that focusing on Muslims means fundamental changes to the secular order, while denying an Islamic element permits avoid troubling issues. For example, it permits airplane security to look for passengers' weapons rather than engage in Israeli-style interrogations.

My prediction: Denial will continue unless violence increases. In retrospect, the 3,000 victims of 9/11 did not shake non-Muslim complacency. The nearly 30,000 fatalities from Islamist terrorism since then also have not altered the official line. Perhaps 300,000 dead will cast aside worries about Islamist sensibilities and a reluctance to make profound social changes, replacing these with a determination to fight a radical utopian ideology; three million dead will surely suffice.

Without such casualties, however, politicians will likely continue with denial because it's easier that way.
[Washington Times]


How the Middle East Differs from the West - Asher Susser

British Middle East historian Malcolm Yapp notes that Middle Eastern societies are not societies of individuals - they are societies of groups. In Western societies, people organize politically as individuals. In the Middle East, you belong to a group - your extended family, your tribe, and your religious denomination. So you are, first and foremost, a Muslim, or a Jew, or some kind of Christian - Maronite, Greek Orthodox, or Greek Catholic. If you're Muslim, it makes a huge difference if you are Sunni or Shiite or something else like the Alawites or the Druze.

The Americans invaded Iraq with the belief that it was a society of individuals and so would coalesce into democratic political parties which would vie for power. But the groups went to war with each other, which was only to be expected. Westerners saw Facebook and Twitter in Egypt but didn't see the Muslim Brotherhood.

The story in the West was that the secular liberal intelligentsia were taking over Egypt. Then the commentators were shocked when the Muslim Brotherhood walked all over everybody. And the only people who are going to prevent the Muslim Brotherhood from walking all over everybody are the military, not the secular liberals
The writer is a senior fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern Studies at Tel Aviv University. 


John Vagabond said...

Both Barack Obama and David Cameron have explicitly pronounced that ISIL terrorism has 'nothing to do with Islam'. The point is, of course, that this represents the purest, most radical (to the root) form of a religion drenched in conquered blood since its inception. Are they so very deluded? And, do they imagine that such asinine platitudes will deceive the electorate? Yes. I am deeply afraid that they are and they do.

Bruce said...

Indeed, such asinine platitudes seem quite acceptable...for now. Pipes' prediction that increased casualties will undue the damage is, of course, of little comfort. The point of our work is to avoid such tragedy.

LHwrites said...

This is nonsense. In a world of 1.6 billion Muslims, these extremists make up a small percentage. Are they driven by religious fervor? Sure. But that doesn't mean Islamic religion is a driver of the violence. Is the religion's scriptures steeped in violence. Yes, like most others. Perhaps they seem more likely to violence because they perceive that their internal politics are toyed with by the West---which they were and still are. The update article was more to the point except it says how the U.S. invaded Iraq under misconceptions---except of course, it leaves out that academicians were saying all this before we invaded Iraq. These weren't misunderstandings---they were willful misleading and ignoring by our presidential administration at the time. We invaded and deposed and destabilized a region and many pundits like Pipes sit in arrogance and explain how violent Muslims are without the full context. How many Iraqis died by the hand of their ‘liberators’? How many died subsequently under the sectarian violence our military actions unleashed? Now, ISIS isn't just about this of course. They're pretty radicalized and have off the wall ideas, but they wouldn't have come about, or certainly been able to prosper, without the utter destabilization of the entire region brought about by the poor choices of the U.S. supported by Israel.

Bruce said...

Dr. Pipes is a scholar, not a pundit.

But to your main point: "...that doesn't mean Islamic religion is a driver of the violence."

I believe you are quite incorrect. An aspect [I choose that word carefully] of the Muslim faith is indeed the driver of the violence: jihadism. That ideology is the central driver.

You'll no doubt disagree...so I'd ask you: what do you think is the primary driver of the violence???

Bruce :}

LHwrites said...

Pipes has a scholarly background but his articles are pure senseless punditry. I explained where the violence stems from. They perceive their entire region has been toyed with since colonial times and their internal politics is manhandled by the West. I'll repeat and expand: The Shah of Iran was brutal to his people and a friend and ally of the West. Saddam Hussein was our supported ally against Iran. (When we weren't illegally selling arms to Iran to fund the Contras.) We supported the Taliban in its war with Russia. I know it is easier to decide that Islam is to blame and to believe that there are 1 and a half billion Muslims just itching to join in and destroy the free world rather than to accept that all the things I mentioned created a bad situation. Then, when W. Bush and Cheney grew tired of our old troublesome ally, we invade a sovereign nation based on lies we fabricated, kill tens of thousands of Iraqis and then create a situation where sectarian violence wipes out thousands more and leaves the majority of Iraqis far worse off than they were before we invaded. But of course, none of that matters. It makes a lot more sense to think that because their holy book is filled with the same guts and gore that everyone else's is, that is the reason for discord rather then all the Arab and Muslim blood spilled for decades in the name of the interests of the West.

Bruce said...

On the surface, your ideas have some appeal. It would be nice if the west were the cause of this evil rather than factors intrinsic to itself.

However your analysis severely undermines moderate Muslims and makes their job of moderating Islam impossible.

LHwrites said...

On the contrary. My thesis leaves the door open for the moderates, who I point out, make up the overwhelming majority of Muslims. It's the other opinions expressed here in these articles that demonizes all Muslims. It was this idea that their lives are somehow worth less than others, that we can do what we want in their region of the world, that helps foment the violence against us. Admittedly, I don't think they would fare well as evidenced by all the sectarian violence, but that is not of consequence to us. We are addressing the violence against the West and Israel. The reality is, if there were no oil, or oil was now worthless, we would leave the Mideast alone to its own devices. When oil becomes irrelevant, as I have pointed out many times: that is when Israel will really need to worry. Because the current attitudes in Israel helps push many in the West away when we need them and the Mideast. You can imagine what the majority of Westerners will feel once no one has a reason to care what happens in the Mideast. Netanyahu has accelerated the process away from Israel greatly with his declaration that there would be no peaceful resolution while he is in charge.