Moving beyond "They hate our freedom" - Crisis of Islam

Much of the conversation you will hear about America's troubles in the world center around two poles -- that of the President, who routinely says we are attacked because "They hate our freedom" and that of the far left, which has "America is finally getting payback." This last message is branded by conservatives as "blaming America first."

Today I'm recommending the book - "The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror" by Bernard Lewis, copyright 2003, ISBN 0-679-64281-1 because it points out the errors of both sides. This very readable book has an overview of the basic tenets of Islam in relation to government and relationships outside the faithful. As someone who has had a few mideast history classes, it seems fair to mainstream Islamic beliefs. If there's a Muslim out there who has read this book, please comment for us.

Mr. Lewis goes on to trace Islamic - Western relations from the time of the crusades to the present. He notes both Western and Islamic failures.

One of Mr. Lewis' points that may give some comfort to the "They hate our freedom" crowd is by pointing out that other countries such as Syria committed heinous crimes against fellow Muslims (See pages 107-108 for Syrian massacre at Hama, which killed at least 10,000) and yet are not censured by other Muslim nations or groups. As America is the strongest military power in the West, Mr. Lewis suggests we'd be in for some hate no matter what we do.

HOWEVER, Mr. Lewis also rightly acknowledges a vicious double standard held by both the United States and Europe that has led to much suffering and gathering anger in the Mideast:

"As many Middle Easterners see it, the European and American governments' basic position is: "We don't care what you do to your own people at home, so long as you are cooperative in meeting our needs and protecting our interests." - Page 107.

This American attitude in the Mideast exists today. Listen to the President whenever he speaks of greater democracy and freedom. He'll never mention our despotic friends by name. Think back to his November 2003 speech calling for democracy "from Damascus to Tehran." Why not Cairo to Riyadh? Or Cairo to whatever is the capital of despotic ally Turkmenistan? Until the President starts holding our undemocratic allies to real accountability, his rhetoric will ring false for me.

Sorry for the digression, but I didn't know where else to put it. Please read "Crisis of Islam." Especially if you are not familiar with Islamic government and jurisprudence. It is very interesting and relatively balanced.

If you're in the "They hate our freedom crowd," then know that this book is at the top of the Air Force Chief of Staff Professional Reading List. Aren't you curious why the military finds this book worthwhile reading?

Comments

Bernard Lewis

The Wall Street Journal had an extensive article this past week about Mr. Lewis and his influence on the current administration since about 2002. The "Lewis Doctrine" is to seed democracy. Other policies of the past discussed in the same article and put in perspective were open door, isolationism, protectionism, good neighbor, 4 freedoms, containment, Truman doctrine, Marshal plan, Eisenhower doctrine, domino theory, realpolitik (detente), Reagan doctrine, new world order, and the current Lewis doctrine.

Lewis became the mentor of a group of Democrats who later became the neocons who are advising Bush. "What went wrong" published when Lewis was 85, was a huge influence on Bush (according to the article). Atlantic article by same title

Catch Twenty 2

Daniel, interesting stuff. Certainly more to chew than my chops can handle here. (too tired to proof so please give a pass on spelling)

I'll just run with a couple of themes.

>>"As many Middle Easterners see it, the European and American governments' basic position is: "We don't care what you do to your own people at home, so long as you are cooperative in meeting our needs and protecting our interests."

There are two central tenets from which foreign policy is developed, economics and security. The ratio left to any given administration to measure. Sad to say, international benevolence is just a means to the former or happy consequence. When kindness is given without strings, it usually serves only to perpetuate the static misery of those afflicted and line the pockets of their dictators. The UN makes a living doing this work. Not having read this book, I wonder if Mr. Lewis acknowledges the "blue helmets" chief benefactor? Do "we" really not care?

Now we have war in Iraq. Half of our citizens, perhaps jaded with western freedom and high definition televisions, tell us this war is wrong. Pax Americana. Oil, Halliburton, Israel, and the availability of cheap Persian rugs smuggled across the border. Audacity to suggest liberty as a motive for invading is met with the same incredulity given the war stories of your crazy Uncle Moe that wears Hi-Karate cologne and a shark tooth necklace. Perhaps a bit more pity for the uncle.

Daniel, this scenario, as hoped for by Lewis I assume, is folly. More today than ever. The currency of human rights is war. Today, many Americans can't or refuse to make this connection. Clinton understood this with China. We made "pretend" peace and bestowed MFN status. War avoided! (unfortunately for the peasants, freedom was too) How else could we afford those high definition televisions? While on book reviews, I suggest Christopher Hitchens "Long Short War: The Postponed Liberation of Iraq". As you may know, Hitchens, who wrote for the Nation, was hardly a conservative, but now realizes the need for war with human rights.

As the adage goes, "tits on a boar". Sanctions only deprive the "folk" and fatten the powerful. Again the UN. "Oil for food" or "Oil for Palace of the Week"? I am sure another 100 years and Fidel will give up to.

Where am I? Well, suppose I wrap this up. Helping folks requires force. We, Americans, don't like this sort of thing anymore. War is bad, regardless the motive. Hence we have Bush's conundrum, international injustice and Americans with high definition boob tubes.

I pray for peace every night. I also pray for justice.

Re:Catch Twenty 2

I'm not looking to dish out kindness without strings. I just want to stop propping up "allies" like Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan who either give us nothing for our military and economic aid or actively sabotage our interests. Egypt through its anti-semitic state run media (recently ran Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a DOCUMENTARY), Saudi Arabia through it's active subsidies of "marytr" families and Pakistan by pardoning confessed nuclear proliferaters. We don't need to impose sanctions on them -- we just need to stop writing them aid checks and training their armies and secret policies.Using Liberty as a rationale for invading a country would stick with me if we would demand the same things of our allies as we do of our enemies.With respect to China, you're preaching to the choir. Other than being a giant market that never quite materializes, I don't understand what they did to earn MFN. Especially since we wouldn't give MFN to a democratizing Russia back in the early 90s.I might read Christopher Hitchens, but as far as I'm concerned, he had a breakdown on September 11th and never quite recovered. Still, I suppose following one of your recommendations is worthwhile, since I'm having fun reading "The Language Police" and hope to have a review or comments out next weekend.Finally, we're in agreement that America is a consumerist society gone made for sensation and many people have lost their sense of priorities.

Re:Bernard Lewis

I'm not surprised that the President finds this an influential book since folks in the Air Force have it as assigned reading.In some ways, I wish the President was more influenced by Lewis and would take Lewis' advice to withdraw our support from Saudi Arabia and other despotic regimes who claim friendship with us. In any event, I'd MUCH rather have the administration taking their cue from Lewis than from Perle and Frum in their book "The End of Evil."Thanks for reading my journal!

Re:Catch Twenty 2

I don't think we are in disagreement at all. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, perhaps Syria if Sheila Jackson has her way? Not exactly in the same class as the Brits re allies.

Back to foreign policy. All three of these countries represent a security threat to us (U.S). Saudia Arabia is also an economic crutch. (Quick aside. As an Alaskan, how do you feel about domestic drilling in Anwar? Just curious.)
Musharef is a military general, but I think deserves a degree of credit with helping us. Well, at least a bit. We pay Egypt just to keep them from becoming another Syria. Admittedly they aren't far from this.

I would love if we "cut-off" all of these countries. Here's the rub. The United States would then have to assume a more "aggressive" posture. I doubt if we would allow the cauldrons of anti-semetic hate, though hot now, boil over without some type of action. Particularly if oil is involved.

Like we have discussed before, much of this "hate" of the U.S. is directly related to Israel. The only democracy in the mideast. Aside from Iraq. The answer may be "taking the reigns" from Israel. Pretty scary stuff, no doubt.

Glad to hear your enjoying the Language Police. I will pick up the Lewis book soon. I just started "Over the Edge of World".

War isn't always bad

Hi Tomeboy,I'm deliberately putting down this thought before I read your reply to my reply.Don't confuse me for a complete pacifist. There are times where I think military action is justified, perhaps compelled, even without reference to the United Nations. Let me give you two scenarios:1) Invasion of Israel by neighboring countries. I am no friend of the Sharon gov't and don't believe that the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza / Judah and Samaria is sustainable in its current form.HOWEVER, because the entire Western world, including the United States, turned its back on the Jews while they were being thrown into the ovens; we have a special duty to prevent a second holocaust. So, if Israel were invaded by outside armies, we would have a duty to swiftly intervene. I'm positive that the United Nations would not approve such an action, but we would need to go anyway. (Though ironically, the invaders could cite non-compliance with UN resolutions as their reason for invading.) I would not be in favor of trying sanctions first because the war could be over in a week or so, perhaps ending in the use of nuclear weapons by Israel and/or Pakistan (the only Islamic member of the nuclear club.)2) Invasion of Taiwan after a declaration of independence from China. Taiwan has been effectively independent for over 50 years and has evolved into a functioning democracy. Many, perhaps a majority favor legal independence, but fear that such a declaration would bring either a mainland missile attack or outright invasion.As a friend (of varying strength) of Taiwan for years and as the supposed defender of democracy and freedom, we should be supporting self-determination for the island and be prepared to stand shoulder to shoulder with them in the event that China attempts to reconquer them. Again, the United Nations certainly would not condone action in favor of Taiwan, but I would hope we would go anyway out of the bonds of shared values.Sadly, our most recent statements on the matter appear to be to the effect that if Taiwan presses its status, it can expect no help from us. I hope that isn't official policy.Thanks for listening. I've got to run for the bus pretty soon, so I'll have to look at your reply later.Take care and God Bless,Daniel

Re:Catch Twenty 2

"Back to foreign policy. All three of these countries represent a security threat to us (U.S). Saudia Arabia is also an economic crutch. (Quick aside. As an Alaskan, how do you feel about domestic drilling in Anwar? Just curious.) Musharef is a military general, but I think deserves a degree of credit with helping us. Well, at least a bit. We pay Egypt just to keep them from becoming another Syria. Admittedly they aren't far from this."Alaska first. I would support drilling in ANWR if we raised fuel efficiency standards from their current 27mpg up to 50mpg, AND hold SUVs to the same fuel efficiency standards as cars. I wish one side or the other would make this proposal. I don't buy the "increased fuel mileage increases driving." It does, up to a point. But at some MPG of "X", you'll be able to drive 24 hours a day at 70 miles an hour. It will be physically impossible at that point to say "fuel standards just increase driving."Back to foreign policy. In some important ways Mushareff has become worse than useless to America:
    1) He rewarded nuclear prolieferaters with pardons and has promised there will be no further investigations of who assisted in this transfer of nuclear weapons technology. He continues to oppose Int'l inspections of his nuclear facilities. Heck, if a scientist under Saddam Hussein had publically confessed to sharing nuclear weapons tech and had been pardoned, I would have supported the war!2) He won't allow US Military to operate on Pakistani soil, hindering the hunt for Osama bin Laden and other high al-Qaeda leaders.3) As far as I know, his government is still supporting cross-border terrorism in Kashmir.If he were replaced by an openly unfriendly regime, we'd be able to mount the large "recon in force" missions needed to find bin Laden. Depending on the seriousness of the nuclear threat, we could work with India on mapping, then destroying suspected missile sites. Though I worry that might lead to much of South Asia smoking.With or without our help Egypt and Saudi Arabia are going to implode and be taken over by radical extremists probably some time in the next decade. We can either withdraw our support on our own terms, or wind up with an Iran style crisis. The sooner these regimes try radical Islam, the sooner they'll realize it for an ineffective form of government, as the Iranians are finding out.One last thing. It's too early to Iraq a democracy. As I understand it, even the mayors and city councils are coalition appointees. They haven't been able to try democracy yet. Hopefully it will work out.

Re:Catch Twenty 2

Again, I don't see much disagreement here Daniel. In fact, I am a bit surprised by your willingness to support "recon in force" action in Pakistan. This sounds like something I would say ; )

I just noticed my ANWR reference spelled as Anwar. Must have had Egypt on my mind.

Again, points well taken. And mostly agreed upon.

"Recon in Force"

The difference is that Osama, unlike Saddam, was directly implicated in the 9/11 attacks. He and his top lieutenants seem to be hiding in Pakistan, though we both know intel can be a slippery thing. The region he is reputed to be hiding in is filled with people sympathetic to him and I believe it's been established that large elements of the Pakistan military and intelligence services are sympathetic to al-Qaeda and the former Taliban.Thus, we can't depend on Pakistani cooperation to bag him. I certainly can't guarantee we'd find him either, even given a free hand, but we'd be more motivated.

Re:"Recon in Force"

My hunch is that Bin Laden is holed up in Kashmir. Dangerous place though beautiful according to my reference librarian who is Pakistani.

Compounding this issue is the Indian angle. Any Pakistani recon units mucking around in Kashmir will be viewed with suspicion by India. These nations look for reasons to rattle their nukes at each other anyway. Hence, I am not sure if Pakistan is completely at fault, though I would give them a generous 75% if we're assigning blame here.

Bin Laden knows he's in "no mans land" and will most likely die there.

Pakistan is cash strapped. Our payola of $275 million should buy a bit of cooperation with Musharef though he is in for a rough road with his Islamists.
Any real effort for capture would most likely require the cooperation of Pakistan and India to sniff out Osama from Kashmir. IMHO anyway.

Is the Mossad for hire??

Syndicate content