Let me say that I am firstly very glad to see that we are so much on the same page on the prescriptive side of what needs to be done. However, I do not believe it is evenly remotely possible to pursue this line on the premises advanced by AA. In point form, then, my objections
1. In a nutshell, the difference between us is that AA believes that atrocities like the Kenya mall attack should lead us to accede to the killers demands and betray our friends, while I say that they should lead us to redouble our support for our friends and shoot the killers like rats.
Now I know what will be said: “Who said anything about betraying our friends?” Unfortunately, that is what the practical flip side of pandering to the jihadists is. That is most obvious in the case of Israel, but it is a case that remains real across the board. I have spoke with no end of secular Hindus from India who are filled with baffled rage at the US’s continued indulgence of Pakistan. A similar point regards AA’s comments on this atrocity, where he emphasizes the West’s support for Kenya’s smashing of the Islamic Courts Movements. Now, he infers that “the US should change its policy”, by laying off the Al Shabab, and presumably cutting support for Kenya’s fight against them.
That will be seen by Kenya and Christian Africa as betrayal, pure and simple. President Obama’s brother, Shabik Obama, has come on record saying that he is appealing to his brother to keep the faith. Those are simple and powerful words – and if Obama fails to come through on them, I will think even less of him than I do already.
The belief that the only choice is to “win hearts and minds” in the Muslim lands leads to suicidal acts of stupidity, the attempts to build democracy in this part of the world, the relentless flattering of thuggish “community leaders”, the ongoing flow of aid, the refusal to switch our oil dependency, continued flow of unchecked Islamic immigration etc.
Minor example: the US did not bother to listen to Kenya and Russia’s warning about the Tsarnevs, and John Kerry sticking his nose into Nigeria’s affairs to urge ‘restraint’ on dealing with Boko Haram. See the fruits of ‘restraint’.
Let me further note that part of the Al Qaeda declaration of Jihad is that the West reversed course and saved East Timor from genocide. So, if you want to appease these people, you will have to let them commit genocide when they want. Incidentally, bin Laden issued a similar defending the Darfur genocide and in this case, his foul words seem to have been heeded. I wonder who dares defend that policy?
No, there is no restraint, no quarter, no peace, no mercy for such people. The US should be sending some of its drones to support the Nigerian Christians in shooting this lot like rats. And if the argument is “we can’t just keep on doing this, it’ll inspire more terrorists”, let me assure you that they will be shot like rats too. Let me further remind you that a tiny, beleaguered outpost of the West has defied the Jihad for nearly seventy years. Imagine how much easier a united, confident West, allied with its civilizational brothers, could do. Let me finally note that the Al Qaeda mobs in Benghazi don’t dare touch the Russian embassy, despite the fact that the Russians did far worse in their time in Afghanistan. They don’t dare because they know what would happen.
The key question of much of geopolitics is: “Who are our friends and who are our enemies?”
Now this brings me to the next point:
2. This is not about the US. Please look at any of my weekly Jihad round ups and explain to me how these are all down to US policy.
Is it US policy why the Islamic fanatics just killed twenty six students? Is it US policy why they murdered in East Timor? Is it US policy why they cut Theo van Gogh’s throat? Is it US policy why they killed two million Christians and Animists in the Sudan? Is it US policy why they try to destroy India?
This is about more than you. Get with it.
AA says that he is sorry that I’m irritated about this, but there is a parochial tone that works on my nerves. Given my quotation of the violent anti-Semitism of the New York imam, AA comments:
He was clearly referring to his anti-Jewish views and attacking Jews specifically (likely due to the rivalry that has existed between the two groups for decades because of the Jewish state’s treatment of the Palestinians). He was also discussing the anti-Muslim violence and discrimination that occurred after the 9/11 attacks. He was in no way referring to grievances done to him by the US as The Prussian makes it appear.
Leaving aside the gratuitous dig whereby anti-Semitism is justified because of Israel (as though Islamic anti-Semitism hasn’t existed for over a millennium), AA misses that that was exactly the point I was making. The tides of Jihad wash against many shores more bloodily than they do against the United States’. Now, if you wanted to argue that this isn’t any of the US’s business, it has to look to its own affairs – okay, I’d say that was contemptible, and ignores that the US has always been a beneficiary of the other Western nations, as well as that of the globe, but it would still be, just about, defensible. However, in point of fact – vide the support for Pakistan, vide the ongoing Saudi relationship, vide Kerry running his ignorant yap… Neutralism just isn’t an option here. It’s a matter of whose side you’re on.
I think this is something of an American thing. The US is the home of those who sought to escape the nightmare of history, of the constant struggle between civilizations. Noble aim, perhaps, but it was only ever possible because the smallpox virus annihilated the native peoples of the continent and the British Empire’s aegis kept it safe. Kipling phrased it sardonically:
Twas not while England's sword unsheathed Put half a world to flight, Nor while their new-built cities breathed Secure behind her might; Not while she poured from Pole to Line Treasure and ships and men-- These worshippers at Freedoms shrine They did not quit her then! Not till their foes were driven forth By England o'er the main-- Not till the Frenchman from the North Had gone with shattered Spain; Not till the clean-swept oceans showed No hostile flag unrolled, Did they remember that they owed To Freedom--and were bold!
That time is gone and it isn’t coming back. The neutralism that was possible when another’s shield protected the US is not an option. You are going to have to choose sides. Now: do you want to choose a policy of trying to appease those who want to kill you while making your friends despise you – or do you want a policy of making your enemies fear you, and standing alongside those who are, if not your brothers, at the very least your cousins?
The United States does have a unique position: it is the lynchpin of the West. It has the power to do enormous good in this struggle. It should get on the right side here.
All of this cannot be understood without
3. The fact that this begins and ends with religion.
AA makes a projection that doesn’t hold water: the distinction between religion and politics. However, in Islam, religion and politics have always been one and the same – year one of Islam is the hijrah, which marks the dawn of Islam as a political project. AA focuses on what he thinks of as political points – but, to the believing Muslim, matters such as the West’s permission of homosexuality and usury are every bit as much political. AA dismisses my point that the Al Qaeda declaration of war against the West included a section on Bill Clinton’s promiscuity:
After this he also claims that former president Bill Clinton’s sexual escapades was a reason bin Laden decided to attack the US. Unfortunately, he cites no sources, and I’ve never heard of such a thing. I think I can safely dismiss this argument because resorting to speculation isn’t convincing.
I am tempted to respond that someone who hasn’t done his reading isn’t very convincing… There is a very small book, easily obtainable and cheap at the price: The Al Qaeda reader. If you go and read it, you will find exactly that quotation, along with a whole number of other lines. You will also find Zawahiri declaring that “democratic Muslim” means about as much as “Christian Muslim” – such a person is an “apostate infidel”. You will also find out that Zawahiri explicitly says that deposing an impious regime is justified – mandated – rebellion against an Islamic tyrant is not.
I confess that I am really surprised that, all these years later, someone can sound off on the subject without having done the basic reading (okay, that was cheap but I am vexed by this tone). Here is a documentary on Islamic jihad, here is what goes down in British Mosques, and here is the sequel. Here is a huge library of the stuff that’s on mainstream TV in the Middle East, and here is one that specializes in the Palestinian media. Still not convinced? Well, I invite you to read Dinesh D’Souza’s appalling book – it is appalling because it advocates going along with the demands of the Islamic fanatics, but it is very good in explaining what those demands are.
That really is how far you’re going to have to go if you want, if you really want to appease this lot. You are not just going to have to apologise and grovel and throw India, Israel, Nigeria, East Timor and Kenya under the bus. You’re going to have to toss women out of positions of power, criminalize homosexuality and all the rest of it.
Or you can decide that you don’t care to be talked to in that tone of voice. You can decide that you’re going to turn kafir into a badge of honor and decide to fight back.
Now, there is one point that needs dealing with:
4. Islam’s fundamentally anti-liberal nature. AA catches me up on the subject of democratic, giving two definitions: ““a form of government in which people choose leaders by voting;” “an organization or situation in which everyone is treated equally and has equal rights.”
To say that these two definitions are at odds with each other doesn’t even begin to say it. I will never forget the debate on African treatment of gays, where an Islamic sheikh insisted “Democracy is the rule of the people, and 95% of Ghanans want to see homosexuality punished by death.” So. Are we in favour of that?
The claim that the majority of the Muslim world wants liberty in the sense we understand it has some way to go before its proved. By all means, read his study carefully, look at the opinions on HAMAS, Hezbollah, and so on, and ask yourself whether this is the stuff from which freedom is born? What I wrote in my original post is:
I have no doubt that a lot of Muslims like the idea of personal autonomy and all the prosperity that comes with that. However, how many are willing to pay the price for it – to stand up for freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, separation of Mosque and State?
Again, this is like people who want fitness without exercise, or wealth without work. Just not going to happen.
AA dismisses my citation of the cartoon riots:
His second argument, that this is a “clash of civilizations,” and this is a reason many Arabs hate the US. I suppose I can ask The Prussian to take a look at my posts on the issue and he can view all of the reasons Muslims have given about why they attacked the US or US citizens. And none of them said because of any cartoons. It appears that he is simply ignoring facts.
I am getting increasingly tired of these snide little asides. This is that parochialism once again. The 9/11 attacks were horrible, but the cartoon riots enabled Islam to have a de facto veto over freedom of expression throughout the Western world. Which of these is the more dangerous, civilizational speaking? This is also the basis for my pessimism about Muslim desires for freedom – if Muslim minorities in already democratic societies can effectively assault the most important freedom we have, what are the chances that the Islamic heartland desires liberty?
Since we’re trading studies, please let me point you to the following compilation. Happy reading. There is also the following about British Muslim opinions on the cartoons. The study I mentioned is referenced in the following speech by Sam Harris, a source I trust. Note that his numbers are not out of synch for all the other studies we have.
What is more dangerous here: the occasional terror attack, or the destruction of freedom of speech, the establishing of areas throughout France where french writ no longer runs and gang-rape is okay, and the driving into exile of the few politicians capable of taking this on?
In conclusion, we should indeed read the words that the Islamic fanatics provide and that should do no more than confirm us in hate for them and solidarity with all those who face this menace. There is this idea that appeasement of the Jihadists grievances leads to conciliation and peace – in fact it leads to cowardice and treason. And yes, I say treason because the failure of the West to deal with this menace does not just impact us. Britain has routinely failed to deal with the jihadist growth in its own borders, and due to that pusillanimity, British Jihadists go off and murder our Kenyan brothers and sisters. The US lectures the Nigerians on the frontline of this and they suffer the consequences. And so on.