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JD
04-27-2007, 02:10 AM
There now appears to be growing acceptance that to characterise the world's ongoing conflict as a 'war on terror' is counter-productive. There also appears to be acceptance of the assertion that it is more useful to use the concept of a global counter-insurgency. Is it not reasonable to take this a step further and apply the concept of a civil war within Islam?

The reasoning is as follows: The presumed gaol of many radical organisations is the imposition of fundamentalist Islam as a cornerstone of a sovereign state covering a broad Islamic nation. Geographically, this is unlikely to include western nations so the ultimate goal appears to be domination of one element current Islamic civilisations by another element of the same civilisation or a civil war. Characterising the conflict as such would change the manner of prosecution and, perhaps more importantly, the dialog surrounding the conflict. Instead of the west being seen to demonise Islam, it becomes the supporter of moderate Islam in its conflict with radical Islam. Within Islam, it requires the dialog not be about East and West but about the ideas and goals of moderate and radical Islam.

Comments from the council?

goesh
04-27-2007, 12:35 PM
Personally, I have never had a problem with the notion of waging war on terrorism. It hasn't been too long ago that we killed a terrorist named Timothy McVeigh and locked up his accomplice for life. Another guy by the name of David Koresh, whom I personally regarded as a terrorist, was burned up along with all of his followers. I regard spousal abuse as terrorism and street gangs that roam the streets and cause citizens to be fearful and stay in their homes at night are in my opinion terrorists. We deal with it in the name of the State, not the in the name of God. We wage war on people who burn crosses on Black people's lawns by incarcerating them. When Officials directly insert religious values into the discharge of their duties, they get removed from office rather quickly. War per se is not about just killing. We in the West already support any and all manner of religions that defer their power to the power of the State and are willing to keep themselves separate from the State in matters of commerce, war, governance and Law and remain subservient. Any religion that will act accordingly is moderate and not a threat to the collective will of the people (the State) and may function freely in its distinct and unique interpretation of the Divine.

Most in the West do not demonize any religion. We pretty much tend to ignore them, unless we are direct participants of a given religion. I resent the pacifism of the Amish and Quakers as much as I resent the idea that Quranic law should be applied in Muslim divorce cases in America. The Judaic and Islamic ban on eating pork is absurd in my opinion because canine teeth evolved for the purpose of eating anything we can kill. One could say that when I eat bacon, I am demonizing Jews and Muslims. That is hardly the case.

I think for the West to be seen as not demonizing Islam would require us to capitulate to a certain extent to Divine Will, as understood by Islam. That in turn would require us to catapult basic tenets of the Constitution out of our lives.

marct
04-27-2007, 07:50 PM
Hi Goesh,


I think for the West to be seen as not demonizing Islam would require us to capitulate to a certain extent to Divine Will, as understood by Islam. That in turn would require us to catapult basic tenets of the Constitution out of our lives.

I think you are certainly correct in your belief about he necessity of adoption of some Islamic tenets in order for the West to not be seen as "demonizing Islam". Still and all, this is not an issue of separation of Church and State, since the modern Western state is based, regardless of its form, on an underlying set of Christian principles. As for it requiring "us to catapult basic tenets of the Constitution out of our lives" let me just point out that the US is not the same as "the West". Indeed, I believe our two countries split honours on that issue.:cool:

Back to JW's question:

There now appears to be growing acceptance that to characterise the world's ongoing conflict as a 'war on terror' is counter-productive. There also appears to be acceptance of the assertion that it is more useful to use the concept of a global counter-insurgency. Is it not reasonable to take this a step further and apply the concept of a civil war within Islam?

While I can understand the concept, I think it is fundamentally flawed. I think that Goesh hit the nail on the head at a philosophical level (despite my Canadian nationalist rejoinder :D).

Goesh also, in my opinion, got it exactly right about what we are fighting - terrorist ideologies. As he noted, these are not restricted to Islam and, from some of the indications we have seen about AQ, drug cartels, et alii playing footsie, the networks cross religious and political boundaries. And, while I disagree with Goesh about religions "defer[ing] their power to the State" and being subservient to it, I do agree with the implied limits on religious and State power - "render unto Caesar....".

Shifting the rhetoric to one of an Islamic civil war will, in my opinion, hamstring us in our options while, at the same time, raising hysteria against all Muslims.

Marc

JD
04-28-2007, 12:42 AM
Marc,

One last question while I think of it. Why does the concept of a civil war in Islam raise hysteria against all Muslims? I would have thought it would allow the general population to better differentiate the potential enemy from potential freinds and develop empahty for those opposed to radical Islam?

JD

JD
04-28-2007, 01:08 AM
Marc,
Thanks for your reply.

You state theat characterising current conflicts limits options. I was hoping you could expand on this.

My personal beleif is that to characterise something as a war brings with it the connotation of how it is to be fought - there is 'us' and there is 'them' and kinetic effects are used until 'they' don't want to fight anymore. Alternatively, we call everthing a war which is confusing for the lay person who makes up a democratic society and devalues the word for the time we need it to mobilise the entire population.

The 'war on drugs' is a case in point that backs both your and goesh's point about adressing broader societal ills. The 'war on drugs' is a coordinated campaign utilising education, community support, infrastructure, intelligence, direct action, border security, international cooperation and a transparent and accountable justice system. If it is a war, it is war going on within a society amoung those that enjoy the benefits of the drag trade against those that bear the cost - if it is a war, it is a civil war. But how quickly would the war on drugs be over if our children had the support and self beleif to simply rejuect drugs? How quickly would the war on terror be over if potential Jihadist footsoldiers simply rejected radical idealogies?

Why not characterise global conflict as a struggle within Islam? The vast majority of violnce in the middle east would appear to back this assertion? Such a definition would allow potential protagonists to define themselves not in terms of East and West but instead as moderate or radical and having done so, they are likely to act accordingly. It presents the target audience with a palatable and culturrally accepatable choice that is also in the interests of the west. It also allows the west to diferentiate between Muslims as a group and identify potential freinds and potetial enemies. Having done so, the strategy then changes to supporting Muslim allies to the hilt in a culturally sensitive manner that builds trust and works toward an enduring peace. In a civil war, you tend to pci a side and help it win.

Your thoughts?

goesh
04-28-2007, 03:27 AM
"Supporting Muslims to the hilt in a culturally sensitive manner" would require reciprocity on the part of our new partners, the moderate Islamic entities, namely in expecting the new partners to treat our allies as we ourselves would be treated in the new partnership. That would involve acknowledging Israel's right to exist for starters, to boldly go where few Islamic entities have gone before. Are you sure you want to turn that kind of a new page in human history? Rather, I should ask, are you capable of this? Prepare your camp then to shake hands with little Israel so that we may all proceed to trample the graves of the Salafists togather as one.

JD
04-28-2007, 06:10 AM
What I said was supporting Muslim allies to the hilt as we should support any allies to the hilt. Should Islamic cultures be sesitive to the west - certainly but the west must also be sensitive to Islamic cultures and in doing so foster understaning and engender cultural exchange to soften the appeal of fundamentalisim in any form from any religion. There are many aspects of any culture that are praisworthy just as there are usually many aspects that are repugnant.

We are better to win over support with acts of kindness than acts of violence. This is not to rule out kinetics where it is going t have a strategically advantageous effect but to quote Roman's from the Bible.

12:20. But if the enemy be hungry, give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head.

12:21. Be not overcome by evil: but overcome evil by good.

marct
04-28-2007, 06:51 PM
Hi JD,


One last question while I think of it. Why does the concept of a civil war in Islam raise hysteria against all Muslims? I would have thought it would allow the general population to better differentiate the potential enemy from potential freinds and develop empahty for those opposed to radical Islam?

Sorry about the delay - I started to answer this morning, but had to run out for a choir practice.

I think the reason why using the concept of a "civil war" is so dangerous is that, as with any civil war, it is hard to tell who the players are. It is even more difficult when we are speaking about a civil war inside a religion rather than amongst an ethnic group. Differentiation amongst populations is hard unless there are some prhotypical or linguistic characteristics that can be used to differentiate, and they just aren't in existence here.

This war inside Islam, and, yes, it is a civil war, is not really along hard and fast lines which have had time to differentiate as, for example, the Sunni Shia split. So, while we can name and identify the broad schools of thought, Wahabi, Safali, etc., there aren't recognizable orthopraxic differences that would allow us to say "a Safali would do X and will not do Y", where Y is part of any fundamentalist (in the non-pejorative sense) Muslim's belief.

My fear with labeling it a civil war is that 99.9% of the non-Muslim population will not be able to identify an allies from an opponent and will, as a result, say "a pox on all their houses".

Marc

JD
04-28-2007, 10:54 PM
Marc,
I appreciate the response and I am going to keep asking you questions because I am looking to have any of my ideas challnged.

My follow up question is this: Isn't it very often the case that for internal conflict there is often few overt distinguisig characteristics between freinds and enemies and the dnager comes not when this is recognised but when this is ignored and people are treated as a homogenous group. I use the war in Vietnam as an example. I am concerned that the 'war on terror' is morphing in peoplels minds into the 'war on Islam', in both the west and east. This has a historical precendent in the cold war where 'communism' became byword not for all persons giving equally in a society but instead for totalitarianism and repression. By using the phrase civil war in Islam, it immediately recognises that there are at least two sides and Islam is not a homogenous enemy.

Your thoughts?

marct
04-30-2007, 03:05 PM
Hi JD,


My follow up question is this: Isn't it very often the case that for internal conflict there is often few overt distinguisig characteristics between freinds and enemies and the dnager comes not when this is recognised but when this is ignored and people are treated as a homogenous group. I use the war in Vietnam as an example. I am concerned that the 'war on terror' is morphing in peoplels minds into the 'war on Islam', in both the west and east. This has a historical precendent in the cold war where 'communism' became byword not for all persons giving equally in a society but instead for totalitarianism and repression. By using the phrase civil war in Islam, it immediately recognises that there are at least two sides and Islam is not a homogenous enemy.

I suspect that the GWOT is, indeed, morphing into a War on Islam in many people's minds. Calling it a civil war may change some perceptions, and I think that it might be advantageous, but one of the problems I see with calling it that is identifying the players (back to my last post) and the basic propositions. Let me go off on what might seem a tangent.

WARNING: The following post contains many broad generalizations

Most Westerners tend to be "orthopraxic" (orthodoxy is determined by what you do, not what you believe, i.e. going to church is "good") if they are religious at all. With some notable exceptions, mainly in North America, we don't have much of an integrated "practice" with a tradition of study and experience (the major exceptions are the various evangelical and charismatic movements, plus the Eastern Orthodox churches in Christianity). Even worse, there is very little mysticism integrated into our practices. What this means is, that for most people, "religion" is a matter of choice not "reality". The same is not true for most Muslims: religion is "reality" and not "choice".

How this situation came about is worth a couple of dissertations in and of itself, but I would put the key to it in the shattering of the ecclesiam in the wars of religion which ended with the Peace of Westphalia and the rise of the modern nation state. The core theological position s one that goes something like this: no one can "know" the mind of God, therefore any interpretation of God's will will be inherently flawed and biased. As a result, "Good" may be found in any religious tradition. BTW, this position is actually held within Islam but in a radically different form - it's why it is quite possible to have competing and contradictory schools of sharia which recognize each other as valid. What is missing from most of them, however, is the devolution of responsibility for this position to the individual.

The second thing that is different is that Islam has not gone through the equivalent of the West's Wars of Religion. The Sunni - Shiite split is closer, in institutional terms, to Christianity's split between the Orthodox and Catholic branches of Christianity. What we are seeing now is, to my mind, closer to the opening shots of the reformation (for example, I tend to view AQ as an analog of the fraticelli - their positions, actions and tactics are quite similar). In effect, this is not so much a "civil war" with clearly defined sides as it is a religious fracturing and an attempt to reconstruct the ulama along variant lines. In Christianity, this was fought out using black powder weapons and cold steel in a limited geographic area. In Islam, it is being fought out using modern weapons globally.

So, here are the problems with labeling it a civil war as I see them:

For some people, it will help but I suspect that the world view of most non-Muslims in the West is so radically different from most Muslims, that the issues involved will be incomprehensible.
Calling it a civil war detracts isolates the "problem" as being solely within Islam. As I mentioned earlier, the mind set (actually, I should be using the term weltanscuung from phenomenology - think of it as a basic perceptual stance towards "reality) is actually shared by a number of non-Islamic groups. Calling it a civil war in Islam may well lead to an "Us good, Them bad" mentality in popular culture.
Most of "our" religious practice / belief is radically different from "theirs". This means that our "experiential knowledge" of "reality" is radically different. By way of example, try explaining "red to someone who is colour blind.At the same time, for the past 40+ years in the West, we have seen the rise of new religious movements and revitalization movements in Christianity, Judaism, etc. Indeed, before 9/11, Islam was the fastest growing religion in North America. Why? Because all of the movements fill a perceived need in giving people "meaning" in a life increasingly dominated by spiritual nihilism, shopping malls and consumerism. This sets up a situation where there are a lot of potential problems.

What I believe we have to do at the symbolic level is to reinforce groups and belief systems that will support the position of "religious doubt" and oppose groups that do not support this position.

Marc

ps. Sorry it's a bit rambling, but I'm trying to do three things at once :wry:

tequila
04-30-2007, 03:25 PM
A few quibbles.

Generally Christianity is identified as "orthodoxic" while Judaism and Islam are "orthopraxic" --- what one "believes" identifies one as a Catholic, or a Lutheran, or a Methodist, etc. Contrast with Judaic and Islamic focus on a set of religious "laws" or "rules" prescribing proper social behavior --- the focus is on how one practices the faith in daily life, not so much on whether or not one buys into the totality of what is preached at the masjid. Obviously there are a ton of shadings into one another --- every religion has basic proscriptions which must be followed in order to be regarded as a proper follower, while every religion also has certain core beliefs.

I also have difficulties finding much mysticism in Islam outside of Sufism. Indeed, mysticism has been a far greater part of the Christian tradition (especially Catholic and Orthodox varieties, and with certain "ecstatic" Protestant traditions) than ever in Islam.

marct
04-30-2007, 04:00 PM
Hi Tequila,


A few quibbles.

Always welcome :).


Generally Christianity is identified as "orthodoxic" while Judaism and Islam are "orthopraxic" --- what one "believes" identifies one as a Catholic, or a Lutheran, or a Methodist, etc.

I agree that Christianity is usually classified as orthodoxic. When I said that it was generally orthopraxic, I was referring to the social reality rather than the idealized form. Generally speaking, the number of people who truly examine the beliefs is about 10% of he total attendance - at least that's he rough figures from Canada (I believe it's about twice that in the US). This even shows up in certain absolutely core areas such as, for example, the difference between consubstantiation and transubstantiaton. As a case in point, one of my students considers himself to be a devout Roman Catholic, but has almost no concept f what that means other than basic practices.

You're absolutely right about the shadings, ad they happen in every religion.


Contrast with Judaic and Islamic focus on a set of religious "laws" or "rules" prescribing proper social behavior --- the focus is on how one practices the faith in daily life, not so much on whether or not one buys into the totality of what is preached at the masjid. Obviously there are a ton of shadings into one another --- every religion has basic proscriptions which must be followed in order to be regarded as a proper follower, while every religion also has certain core beliefs.

This is where it gets interesting in a lot of ways. Yes, both Judaism and Islam concentrate on the practice, but they also both have a very strong tradition of study and knowledge (and debate) built in - hence the lessened need to be blind followers. I do agree tha Islam is primarily orthopraxic as is Judaism - in both the idealized and the social sense. Where it gets interesting, for me, is in the goal of the practice, and that was why I brought up mysticism.


I also have difficulties finding much mysticism in Islam outside of Sufism. Indeed, mysticism has been a far greater part of the Christian tradition (especially Catholic and Orthodox varieties, and with certain "ecstatic" Protestant traditions) than ever in Islam.

In general, I would argue that the English term "mysticism" is somewhat inadequate, but it's the one we have :wry:. Within the Western Churches, "mystics" have tended to be isolated and controlled by the dominant institutions - the exceptions being the ecstatic protestant sects (praxic descendants of the 2nd century Marcionites). In the Orthodox Churches, however, "mysticism", in the sense of a stylized and routinized "path" for achieving a personal experience with the Divine, was integrated into the exoteric form of the religion. The same is true in both Judaism and Islam.

You mentioned Sufism, but have you looked at the works of Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (12th century ce)? I would argue that his Ihya 'Ulum ad-Din served to integrate Sufism and orthopraxic Islam into a unified whole in part by providing the logic that links exoteric practice with mystical experience. At the minimum, it set up the legitimacy of such a linkage, something that is, in general lacking in the Western Churches.

The reason I said the term "mysticism" is inadequate is that, to many Westerners, it brings to mind people like Teresa of Avila or Meister Eckhardt. However, i would argue n(and this is just fairly accepted belief in comparative religion) that "mysticism" covers a whole variety of pathways to the Divine; some ecstatic, some trance / visioning, some "just ordinary".

Marc

Sarajevo071
04-30-2007, 05:11 PM
Marct,

Kudos to you for all the knowledge and trying to explain that problem from scientific side, but don’t you find just a little paradox in bunch of westerners (Christians I dare to say) talking about Islam and “civil war” in it when none of Islamic scholars mention such a thing!?

Reading this posts, and some others (sometimes riddle with small incorrect terms and assumptions), I am left with one (I think very important) question: When one talking about dividing Muslims on “friends” and “enemies”, how that one see “Muslim friends” in today’s surroundings?!

Meaning, when West talking about Muslims friends and allies-while they killing they innocent brothers and sisters on the streets and villages, raping, invading countries and imprisoning them-who are those friends!? And how honest and loyal they can be toward someone who is doing such acts against them?

How one can support those who are hating and killing his family and neighbors!? That’s questions that bothering me these days…

marct
04-30-2007, 06:16 PM
Hi Sarajevo,

Sorry, it's tax day in Canada, so my reply issomewhat limited :wry:.


Kudos to you for all the knowledge and trying to explain that problem from scientific side, but don’t you find just a little paradox in bunch of westerners (Christians I dare to say) talking about Islam and “civil war” in it when none of Islamic scholars mention such a thing!?

Hmmm, on he whole, yes, I do find it "piquant" (probably a better word than paradoxical) that this is happening. I would point out, however, that Sheik Hamed Al-Ali in his April 4 fatwah came very close to saying the same thing. While I don't read Arabic (yet - I'm just starting to learn it), memri has English translations available here (http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD156307). While he doesn't describe ISI as engaging in a civil war, he does state that they are perilously close to "doing the Devil's work".

On Westerners talking abot Islam, what do you expect :D? Muslim's talk about the West, often when they have no idea about its background. This is a human universal - the creation of an "other".


Reading this posts, and some others (sometimes riddle with small incorrect terms and assumptions), I am left with one (I think very important) question: When one talking about dividing Muslims on “friends” and “enemies”, how that one see “Muslim friends” in today’s surroundings?!

Meaning, when West talking about Muslims friends and allies-while they killing they innocent brothers and sisters on the streets and villages, raping, invading countries and imprisoning them-who are those friends!? And how honest and loyal they can be toward someone who is doing such acts against them?

Okay, a quick comment here. Analytically it is imperative that we distinguish between types of warfare. In the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, we saw one of the worst types of warfare being practiced - you know this better than I do :wry:. Afghanistan was a different type of operation and, while far from a "clean" war, it was and is a lot "cleaner" than that being practiced by the Taliban. Iraq is, in many ways, a much less "clean" war, and that IMHO probably has to do with idiocy at the top (i.e. the belief that everything would be great once Saddam was gone) than it does with the actions of coalition troops.

Too few troops, stupid policies like de-Baathification and disbanding the Iraqi army were just a recipe for disaster. We have maybe 2 -3 reports of coalition troops going juramenado, and how many reports of supposedly "good Muslim" groups doing the same? 100? 1000? 10,000?

Were the Americans naive to assume that everything would be perfect with Saddam out of power? Of course, and no one believes that any more; I suspect most people never believed it to begin with. This is not the capture of Jerusalem, this is a series of bloody minded people evening old scores and outside extremists coming in to sir up the pot, and everyone blames the Americans (sorry, that really makes me mad).


How one can support those who are hating and killing his family and neighbors!? That’s questions that bothering me these days…

I agree, it's a hard thing to do - but look at who is doing the indiscriminate killing.

Marc

Sarajevo071
04-30-2007, 07:28 PM
Hi Sarajevo,

Sorry, it's tax day in Canada, so my reply issomewhat limited :wry:.

Hi Marct,

No problem here. You answers are valued in any length.


Hmmm, on he whole, yes, I do find it "piquant" (probably a better word than paradoxical) that this is happening. I would point out, however, that Sheik Hamed Al-Ali in his April 4 fatwah came very close to saying the same thing. While I don't read Arabic (yet - I'm just starting to learn it), memri has English translations available here (http://memri.org/bin/latestnews.cgi?ID=SD156307). While he doesn't describe ISI as engaging in a civil war, he does state that they are perilously close to "doing the Devil's work".

On Westerners talking abot Islam, what do you expect :D? Muslim's talk about the West, often when they have no idea about its background. This is a human universal - the creation of an "other".

HAhahaha ! Point taken. You are right again.

To be honest, I never heard of that Sheik and don’t know how influential he is, but I do know that number other groups and individuals are taking similar line and talking against what’s going on.

But one needs to know fabric of those groups and have deep knowledge of what’s going on (and why) to judge everything and came with right conclusions of what’s going on. Here is one example:

Recently, it was one attack on Kurds (bus was stopped and people was killed), and looking on that criminal act by self we get picture of senseless killing going on and on…

In truth, that was revenge of absolutely brutal killing of Kurd teen girl who fail in love, convert to Islam and got married. Her own family betrays her, turn her to villagers who strip her naked, beat her up, stomp her and then stone her to death! Make a note- that was some Kurd sect, not a Muslims.

All that crime was recorder and posted like a message to other Kurds, and between all those morons you can even see some police officers standing on the side and watching. My point here, having all that in mind reasons violence can be different and then so they “justification” and opposition.


Okay, a quick comment here. Analytically it is imperative that we distinguish between types of warfare. In the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, we saw one of the worst types of warfare being practiced - you know this better than I do :wry:. Afghanistan was a different type of operation and, while far from a "clean" war, it was and is a lot "cleaner" than that being practiced by the Taliban. Iraq is, in many ways, a much less "clean" war, and that IMHO probably has to do with idiocy at the top (i.e. the belief that everything would be great once Saddam was gone) than it does with the actions of coalition troops.

Too few troops, stupid policies like de-Baathification and disbanding the Iraqi army were just a recipe for disaster. We have maybe 2 -3 reports of coalition troops going juramenado, and how many reports of supposedly "good Muslim" groups doing the same? 100? 1000? 10,000?

Were the Americans naive to assume that everything would be perfect with Saddam out of power? Of course, and no one believes that any more; I suspect most people never believed it to begin with. This is not the capture of Jerusalem, this is a series of bloody minded people evening old scores and outside extremists coming in to sir up the pot, and everyone blames the Americans (sorry, that really makes me mad).

I dare to say that none is questioning of taking out Saddam but WAYS to do that and REASONS why and why now?

Iraqi generals approach CIA with plan to take out Saddam and all they needed is guaranties that USA will take down sanctions and recognize them/new government. But Washington shut them down.

Why do you think that is? Why they refuse military coup without American blood spilled but they decide to invade under FAKE reasons and during that killed and still killing scores of Iraqis (after sanctions which killed 500,00 Iraqi kids)?! Reason is simple… If Iraqis take out Saddam them self there would be no reason for USA Military to occupied Iraq and take over oil fields.

And, when you talking outsiders and spreading the blame for killings, where are you putting Western outsiders who start all this and gave those extremists chance to rise up and do all this!? Something that was imposible under Saddam. That’s reason why many people now saying it was better under Saddam (like they use to say in Yugoslavia that it was better under Tito)… Like it or not, US invasion bring terror and death in Iraq in this scale.

Saddam needed to be killed by Iraqis (not this revenge killing by Shiites) or some “unexplained” sniper bullet or rocket. Not to tear yet another country in pieces and then blame victims for it and leave them out to dry.

If that thing was done right, you will be surprised with public Muslim reaction and support. And lack support to AQ.


I agree, it's a hard thing to do - but look at who is doing the indiscriminate killing.

Marc

I am looking and I know who stared, why, how and I know those killings was UNKNOWN before US invasion. But, that’s not point here.

Question was - if U.S. and NATO troops killing so many Muslims (and Marct, there is more cases then just a few) how they can support or allied with them!? Don’t you making alliances with someone who is NOT killing you?

marct
04-30-2007, 08:35 PM
Hi Sarajevo,


I dare to say that none is questioning of taking out Saddam but WAYS to do that and REASONS why and why now?

I have my own dark and less than flattering suspicions as to the why and when of that war - and they are not complimentary to certain members f the US administration.


Iraqi generals approach CIA with plan to take out Saddam and all they needed is guaranties that USA will take down sanctions and recognize them/new government. But Washington shut them down.

Really? This is the first I've heard of any serious coup attempt. Do you have any sources for this?


Why do you think that is? Why they refuse military coup without American blood spilled but they decide to invade under FAKE reasons and during that killed and still killing scores of Iraqis (after sanctions which killed 500,00 Iraqi kids)?! Reason is simple… If Iraqis take out Saddam them self there would be no reason for USA Military to occupied Iraq and take over oil fields.

Even if we take the extremist, left-wing paranoic interpretation taken by some friends of mine, it is cheaper to let the Iraqi's get rid of Saddam and then take over the oil fields through bribery. As for the claims of the sanctions killing 500k children, this is a typical rhetorical claim that never looks at the actual causes of sanctions related deaths, i.e. how the actual resources were being distributed during the sanctions period.


And, when you talking outsiders and spreading the blame for killings, where are you putting Western outsiders who start all this and gave those extremists chance to rise up and do all this!?

Well, first of all, going back to root historical causes I could argue hat the creation of Islam in the first place was a direct attack on the West. Within 20 years, Islam had attacked and conquered the provinces of Syria, Egypt, etc. of he Byzantine Empire, plus destroyed the Persian Empire. How far back do you want to go in this type of a blame game? Who is the "outsider" here?

Honestly, I'm not being facetious here - human groups "select" a part of history and focus in on that as heir pattern or ideal. Right now, a lot of the rhetoric coming out is talking about "crusaders". Has anyone bothered to look at the Muslim response to the first crusade? I doubt it. This type of rhetoric destroys current attempts to achieve a balance.

You know, I had a long chat with a friend of mine as I was going off to the Mosque on Friday (no, I'm not Muslim :D - I'm trying to learn Arabic and more about Islam). He was telling me about the Muslim invasion of Andalusia - I was telling him about the Visigoth Kingdom that they invaded (my family is descended from there). We managed to have a very civilized discussion about the entire "invasion thing", despite the probability that our ancestors slaughtered each other. We could both look back at historical events that, for each of us, had great meaning - they "lived" in us. At the same time, we were not controlled by those events, and that is what I see this rhetoric of "blame" and "insider / outsider" creating - a situation where people are controlled by history and not people who create history.


Question was - if U.S. and NATO troops killing so many Muslims (and Marct, there is more cases then just a few) how they can support or allied with them!? Don’t you making alliances with someone who is NOT killing you?

Usually :wry:. The problem here, as you pointed out with your Kurdish example, is that Iraq is a multi-sided conflict. But I could ask he same of the Shia and Sunni - how could they ever be allies with some much mutual killing? Has the coalition killed non-combatants? Yes. Have other groups killed on-combatants? Yes. Al-Ali addresses this when he says


But to monopolize jihad and [spread] abhorrent division, extremism and [mutual] hatred [among the jihad fighters] - albeit under a pretense of piety - is to do the work of the Devil and to follow [base] instincts, and everyone must avoid such acts and keep away from this dangerous path. (source (http://www.al-hesbah.org/v/showthread.php?t=119552))

Howe can a Muslim ally with someone, such as the ISI, who is killing them? And in what numbers and with what tactics? I don't see the US or coalition forces planting IEDs, suicide bombers, chlorine gas attacks in marketplaces and death squads; and I do see radical Muslim groups using all of these tactics. To my mind, the issue is not one of "why would you ally with someone who as killed you" but, rather, "why would you ally with someone who not only kills you but terrorizes you"?

Marc

Sarajevo071
05-01-2007, 04:54 AM
Really? This is the first I've heard of any serious coup attempt. Do you have any sources for this?

Hello Marct,

Yes I do. I saw interview with Robert Baer, former CIA field agent, on “60 minutes” where he said that story and how Washington shut him down, order him home where he was put under arrest… I try to find original, full story to post for others (I heaved all that but lost with my HD crash some time ago) and all I find tonight are this references:

BAER: This general was proposing to kill Saddam Hussein.

BLITZER (voice-over): Bob Baer, retired from the CIA after serving as a field agent in some of the world's hottest spots for more than 20 years. One of them was Northern Iraq in the mid 90's. A defecting Iraqi general close to Saddam's inner circle pitched him a plan.

BAER: His plan was to wait for Saddam's convoy to come from Baghdad going to Tikrit. Saddam has a couple of houses around Tikrit. And when the convoy got the bridge, it goes into Samarra. They were going to block up both ends of the bridge -- Saddam's car in the middle -- and proceed to shoot it up until nobody moved in his convoy.


http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0211/17/cp.00.html

================================================== ======
One person who wasn't surprised by the latest flap was former top CIA Middle East field officer Bob Baer, who worked with Chalabi when the latter was in northern Iraq in 1995.

Soon after a meeting with Chalabi, Baer was recalled to Washington to face an FBI criminal investigation into the charge that he had violated Executive Order 12333, issued by President Reagan in 1981, forbidding the assassination of foreign leaders by U.S. intelligence personnel.

Baer was accused, he said, of hatching a plot to kill Saddam Hussein, except the plot was a "total and complete fabrication of Chalabi's," Baer said.
He then referred to the account in his book, "See No Evil," in which Chalabi met with two Iranian intelligence officers, telling them that the National Security Council under senior Clinton adviser Anthony Lake, had dispatched an "NSC team" to northern Iraq to get rid of Saddam.

According to the account, which Baer confirmed for UPI, Chalabi staged a fake phone call in the middle of the meeting with the Iranians, but left a forged letter, written on NSC stationary out on the table for the Iranians to read.
….
http://www.warandpiece.com/blogdirs/000743.html

================================================== =======
Robert Baer had a surefire attention-getter for the 150 or so Culver Academies students he spoke to Thursday night.

He just told them about the time he tried to kill Saddam Hussein.

Not him, personally, but the handpicked team of Iraqi Army officers, Kurdish rebels, and assorted Saddam opponents he handpicked for the job in 1995 as part of his work as a CIA operative; a job in which he spent 21 years traveling to some of the nastiest places on the globe and doing things that could have come right out of a spy novel.
….
http://www.culver.org/news/News_Articles/Articles_0506/CIA_official_Baer.htm
I know this is not exactly what I wanted to show you but you will get idea what I heaved in mind. I will not stop looking for more info…


As for the claims of the sanctions killing 500k children, this is a typical rhetorical claim that never looks at the actual causes of sanctions related deaths, i.e. how the actual resources were being distributed during the sanctions period.


Madeline Albright was asked whether the over half a million children killed by the [Iraqi] sanctions were "worth it." Her response was:
"It’s a hard choice, but I think, we, think, it’s worth it." [60 Minutes, May 11, 1996]

Of course, you will see something else in it but to me (and many others) this is admission that U.S. sanctions kill 500,000 Iraqi kids under age of 5 and that U.S. Administration didn’t care for the kids or any other innocent Iraqis.

Marct, I agree with you about guilt of Saddam and his cronies and no one defending that moron. But you can not blame victims for something that did not exist before U.S. led sanctions.

Do you know that under sanctions Iraq could not even get to import simple pencils since it was graphite in pencils!? Or simple medications!? Or parts for machines to fix water and sewage… Illness and malnutrition and radiological poisoning and illnesses that was NEVER in Iraq under Saddam!

“Fire This Time: U.S. War Crimes in Gulf” is interesting book for you to read and find all those fine and simple details that will explain you sanctions and consequences much better then me today. In war between Bush and Saddam innocent kids and civilians pay the price. It was much better way to deal with Iraq and Saddam but U.S. choose this way on purpose! 2 nights ago even Tenent said that U.S. was gunning after Iraq and Saddam right on September 12!?

That says allot.


How far back do you want to go in this type of a blame game? Who is the "outsider" here?
...
You know, I had a long chat with a friend of mine as I was going off to the Mosque on Friday (no, I'm not Muslim :D - I'm trying to learn Arabic and more about Islam). He was telling me about the Muslim invasion of Andalusia - I was telling him about the Visigoth Kingdom that they invaded (my family is descended from there). We managed to have a very civilized discussion about the entire "invasion thing", despite the probability that our ancestors slaughtered each other. We could both look back at historical events that, for each of us, had great meaning - they "lived" in us. At the same time, we were not controlled by those events, and that is what I see this rhetoric of "blame" and "insider / outsider" creating - a situation where people are controlled by history and not people who create history.
Ah, c’mon… We don’t have a civil conversation here!? Give the credit where credit is due. ;)

Marct, you mention “outsiders” in Iraq, obviously using Western propaganda about “foreign fighters” in Iraq (even that CIA and other services saying that they number is minor and that Iraqi Resistance is almost all domestic, and trying to put blame on them like they start this war and trouble in Iraq!?), and I humble remind you that FIRST “outsider” soldiers in Iraq was U.S. lead invasion troops… Islamic volunteers came after.


Usually :wry:. The problem here, as you pointed out with your Kurdish example, is that Iraq is a multi-sided conflict. But I could ask he same of the Shia and Sunni - how could they ever be allies with some much mutual killing?
But Sunni groups that killing Shias and Shias that killing Sunni are not allies. Only those groups that didn’t bought into sectarian conflict can and they do working together.


Howe can a Muslim ally with someone, such as the ISI, who is killing them? And in what numbers and with what tactics? I don't see the US or coalition forces planting IEDs, suicide bombers, chlorine gas attacks in marketplaces and death squads; and I do see radical Muslim groups using all of these tactics.
There are some reports (Robert frisk being one of them) that even picture about that is not so clear… And, who ever when thru war knows how war looks like what is all possible in it, that that simple truth is – no one is 100% “clean”. Plus, I spend enough time in talks with former member of CIA team (he is Canadian, BTW) and I know work he did in Lebanon pretending to be Hezbollah group, doing things to damage they reputations… until almost whole his team got wipe out and he barely survived thanks to Shia Muslim who shelter him and save him and his buddy.

BTW, do we need to mention Falluja and use of chemical agents by U.S. forces there!? Or to go back and remember all those aerial bombings of market places, houses, weddings, columns...!? So, yeah, even coalition troops (if not with same "tools") getting same "scores" in war against Iraqi civilians.


To my mind, the issue is not one of "why would you ally with someone who as killed you" but, rather, "why would you ally with someone who not only kills you but terrorizes you"?
Are we not witnessing splits and fights and bad rhetoric between different groups in Resistance?! That surely coming from that dispute… I would say (since I don’t know for sure and since I have no contact with Resistance) that no one liked AQI’s idea of attacking Shiites (even leaders of AQ rebuffed them about it) but they was confused who is really placing all those bombs on markets and bound by ruling that no Muslims should be accused of something if there is no evidence for that deed.

And, if you let yourself remember, all those open attacks on civilians came much later. In mean time U.S. forces (either regular troops either mercenary) killed people on streets, in they homes, bomb them, they weddings, kill them on check points, in protest marches… That turns people away from U.S. toward Resistance. When AQI came around (also like respond on Shia death squads) it was all ready late to choose sides. Battle lines were drawn.

BTW, in ISI there is bunch of other groups who are not doing what AQI doing so seams Iraqi people are not against ISI or Resistance but they getting fed up with AQ.

But, again, what I know!? I am not there not do I have contact with them... :wry:

Sarajevo071
05-01-2007, 04:59 AM
Marct,

I was only using this info to bring you another reason why so many Muslims can be distrustful in U.S. way of working with Muslim countries and how U.S. policy somehow seams not to care about Muslim lives. All that with intention in putting weight behind my original question of trust and cooperation between Muslims and U.S. against extremists.

You guys talking all the time about finding “allies” and “friends” in Muslim world to fight with you against Islamic radicals, in same time wondering why you don’t have any major honest help and friends… I am just trying to help you understand that and point out some other things…

Hope you can understand me better now.

---------------------
To others,

My apologies for looong answers… I was only trying to explain myself right and to avoid being (again) misunderstood here.


thank you

120mm
05-01-2007, 06:24 AM
While I do not know of a coup attempt, I DO know that we were actively speaking to several Iraqi Division Commanders, (The number 10 comes to mind) prior to the invasion and there was a plan in place to keep the Iraqi Army intact. It was only after the Iraqi Army deserted en masse that Bremer made the decision to disband it. (Except for the MEK, etc.) Perhaps if we'd made a serious effort to recall the soldiers and had not pursued de-Baathification, but that's a Wudda Cudda Shudda....

JD
05-01-2007, 11:52 AM
Marc,
As usual, excellent and much appreciated response.

I do have a couple of questions for the general forum.

1. If we are not fighting a 'war on terror' or an Islamic civil war, what are we fighting? The biggest problem in finding a solution is often defining the problem and no-body seems to have done that sucessfully.

2. Do you see parallels between the draconian reaction of the Christian chuch to the Enlightenment and the rise of fundamentalism in East and West as a response to globalisation, the internet and the attendant wave of secualrism and diverse cultural influences. Is the search for 'traditional values' and 'meaning' a response to the bewildering amount of information, infuences and choice or is it a form of tribalism that feeds of the growing fundamentalism of 'others'. If there is a historical precedent it may imply a useful way forward.

Look forward to your response.

JD

JD
05-01-2007, 12:01 PM
Sarajevo,
Glad to get your responses.

A question for you and other readers:

What do you see as a path toward a sustainable peace? Would you advocate the division of Iraq into three separate states or the amalgamation of the Sunni and Shiite areas into neighboring states? Should the coalition simply pull out and wait to see who wins? Is Israel inexorably linked to this and other conflict?

Comments from the forum? Any idea is valid and I think the time has come to think as laterally and inventively as possible.

JD

Sarajevo071
05-01-2007, 01:39 PM
Sarajevo,
Glad to get your responses.

A question for you and other readers:

What do you see as a path toward a sustainable peace? Would you advocate the division of Iraq into three separate states or the amalgamation of the Sunni and Shiite areas into neighboring states? Should the coalition simply pull out and wait to see who wins? Is Israel inexorably linked to this and other conflict?

Definitely. This is American war for oil and dominance over the Middle East (falling back on words of Ret. U.S. Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf) and over securing the Israel. Iraq was never and will never be treat to U.S.A. but it was to Israel. Now, why would American sons and daughters fight and die for Israel while they sitting home, I can’t tell you.

IMHO, division of Iraq would be disastrous… For almost everyone. Not to mention that idea have no support in Iraqi people. It will create new, small Iran, small extremists Sunni state and even smaller, rich but so vulnerable Kurd state.

About pulling out… Coalition certainly can do that (and somehow I see them doing it) but that would be so low and cynical. First going in, start all the mess, killings and then pulling out!? What is message there?

Obviously, no peace will be possible if people are not ready for it and if they don’t came by some idea what they wish and how to go there… Major problems are big, opposite currents and wishes by U.S.A., Iran, Shiite and Sunnis in Iraq and in other states.

“Balkan solution” is not solution at all… Nothing is finish there and hate will came out in next war. Now and from here, I cannot see any fair and tangible solutions in Iraq.

I think, real question is, would U.S. accept and respect they fishes and solution!? U.S. seams to have poor record with that.

Many said this and I can only repeat… U.S. is stuck in something they started and no one sees any solutions. May God help us all ! :wry:

marct
05-01-2007, 04:33 PM
Hi JD,


Marc,
As usual, excellent and much appreciated response.

Thanks, but without Sarajevo and Tequila (and others :D), it wouldn't have happened - it's a collective response as always.


I do have a couple of questions for the general forum.

JD, you woldn't by any chance be looking for an academic position where you get to assign dissertation topics, would you :eek:?


1. If we are not fighting a 'war on terror' or an Islamic civil war, what are we fighting? The biggest problem in finding a solution is often defining the problem and no-body seems to have done that sucessfully.

2. Do you see parallels between the draconian reaction of the Christian chuch to the Enlightenment and the rise of fundamentalism in East and West as a response to globalisation, the internet and the attendant wave of secualrism and diverse cultural influences. Is the search for 'traditional values' and 'meaning' a response to the bewildering amount of information, infuences and choice or is it a form of tribalism that feeds of the growing fundamentalism of 'others'. If there is a historical precedent it may imply a useful way forward.

These two questions are, in my mind, inextricably linked together. I honestly believe that the "greater war" we are fighting is philosophical (not "religious") - a result of the macro-social "phase change" that is being called "globalization" or the shift to the network society. Personally, I don't like the term "globalization" since we have been globalized, in the sense of globally inter-connected for over 200 years. I have a tendency to use the term "phase shift" to the Information Age (which has its own conceptual baggage). BTW, I apologize in advance for a very long post - I wrote about this in my dissertation where it took over 25 pages.

I said that I thought the root cause was philosophical, and I should expand on that, but it needs some background first. Ever since we started forming sedentary communities and getting involved in horticulture, we have based our social organizations around the concept of finite resources which are scarce, and this holds true today for most of our current forms of social organization. "Power", in many ways, has been socially defined as he ability to control the supply and distribution of specific resources (land, labour, raw materials, geographic placement, etc. - it varies with the culture and technology).

Over the past, say, 400 years, the key "resource" has not been a finite resource in the sense of grain or wood or coal but, rather, has been "knowledge". For most of these 400 years, the "finiteness" of knowledge has been bound up with the communicative media that spread the knowledge (books, newspapers, magazines, telegraph, etc.), the availability of access to these media (e.g. going to school, having the time to read, cheap radios and/or TVs, etc.), and the speed of transmission of this knowledge (years -> "real time").

At he same time as we are seeing all of these changes in communicative media, we have also seen a similar trend in "transformational technologies" (i.e. technologies that allow for the transformation of material goods including both agricultural technologies and manufacturing technologies). This trend (it's actually a vector) intensifies in the late 18th century with the introduction of cheap, stand alone power sources (e.g. the Watts engine), gets another boost in the late 19th-early 20th with the Fordist revolution, and a final one in the past 50 years with NPC and robotics. The effect of this trend has been to create material abundance rather than scarcity while, at the same time, becoming much more efficient in the transformation processes.

The effects of these two trends started to become apparent in the broader social context around 1968 or so in North America where the produced, amongst other things, a complete shift in employment patterns, career paths and the entire cultural concept of "employment". At the cultural level, again in North America, this shift took the form of a basic change in social organization from a hierarchical system to a networked system (I have some papers on this at http://marctyrrell.com/research/papers/ if anyone is fealing masochistic :D), and we have been seeing similar shifts in other parts of the globe.

I said this was a philosophical "war", so let's get back to that. I would argue that each broad form of social organization produces a set of philosophies that are loosely connected. For example, fascism, communism and social democracy all place a particular value and role on the State as a major agent in social life, where the emphasis is not on whether or not the State should intervene in private lives but, rather, on the degree of such intervention - intervention itself is seem as "right and proper". In part, the justification for such intervention is that the State will act as an arbitrator in the distribution of scarce, finite resources.

But what happens when the "important" resources are neither scarce or finite? Over the past 50 years or so, we have increasingly seen states of all political stripes ensuring that certain resources remain "scarce" - consider, by way of example, agricultural policies in the US and Canada which artificially control the supply of food that reaches the market. In Canada, for example, we have seen farmers dumping thousands of tons of meat, milk, and eggs (often in front of Parliament Hill) because they are not allowed to sell it (it meets the standards for sale but exceeds the quotas). On a personal note, I used to buy eggs from one farmer who was harassed by the government into bankruptcy because he didn't follow al of the approved forms (great eggs, too!).

This isn't (quite) incoherent rambling :cool:. As the older social contract started to disappear, many people started to develop a new one based around network loyalties to self-selected "communities" (SWC is an example of that as is, although I hate to mention it in the same phrase, AQ). The ideologies that come out of network based cultures and societies (technically, societies based on reciprocity), are radically different from those based a hierarchical form (technically, a "redistributive" system). "Tribalism" (loosely construed) can be seen as arising from a network society, but it may take totally different forms than what we normally think of as "tribalism" such as para-kinship networks (e.g. the Masons, self-defined "communities", situational communities, etc.).

So then, back to the philosophical root of the argument...

Network societies and cultures have a number of problem areas they have to deal with, and he most pressing one, historically at least, is the question of how you deal with "outsiders". Do you define an outsider as someone who you can never interact with? Someone you can only interact with if they become "you" (i.e. part of your network)? Or do you define them as potential allies in some settings and competitors in other? How a network defines the "other" becomes crucial and, I would argue, that that definition is at the root of this war.

Sorry about the long diatribe / lecture...

Marc

jcustis
05-02-2007, 02:43 AM
Marc,
As usual, excellent and much appreciated response.

I do have a couple of questions for the general forum.

1. If we are not fighting a 'war on terror' or an Islamic civil war, what are we fighting? The biggest problem in finding a solution is often defining the problem and no-body seems to have done that sucessfully.

2. Do you see parallels between the draconian reaction of the Christian chuch to the Enlightenment and the rise of fundamentalism in East and West as a response to globalisation, the internet and the attendant wave of secualrism and diverse cultural influences. Is the search for 'traditional values' and 'meaning' a response to the bewildering amount of information, infuences and choice or is it a form of tribalism that feeds of the growing fundamentalism of 'others'. If there is a historical precedent it may imply a useful way forward.

Look forward to your response.

JD

I'll offer that we are fighting to set the conditions for democracy to take root and grow throughout a traditonally turbulent region. The other side, be they fundamentalists, insurgents, jihadists, or whatever moniker you like, see us as trying to impose democracy, not merely set the conditions.

I honestly think it is that black and white. In Saddam we had a madman, but he was smart enough (for a time - say pre 1991) to selectively choose allies and financial/development interests that suited him. His goal was the acendence of Iraq as the regional power, thus making him wealthier and more powerful. It took a despot to contain that cauldron of tensions between the various forces within Iraq, and he did it well (albeit ruthlessly).

In our endeavours to set conditions, I think we will routinely be viewed as the pair of clownshoes that doesn't know how to tread lightly enough, or leave well enough alone. Unfortunately, it will always be the little things that take away a hundred attaboys. Your taxi cab and only source of livelihood was run over by a tank? Evil Americans. Your sister and brother-in-law were shot to death as they drove up to a checkpoint, trying to rush to a famly gathering? Evil Americans. The canal that sustans your crops was destroyed by the Bradley Fighting Vehicle that crushed a critical culvert? Evil Americans. See the trend? It's not at all about how we view ourselves, no matter how noble the cause or how much of a sacrifice we make for that cause.

I think it would be dangerous to characterize the current events as a civil war within Islam. We are Americans after all, so who are we to lay blame and attempt to judge? I think we need to avoid using all catch phrases that make sound bites more palatable to Joe and Mary Six-Pack, because it is absolutely kicking our ass in the Arab media...yes, kicking our ass. I wish we had a PSYOP TPT leader in here, because I'd lay a month's salary down that he has probably cringed more times than he can remember when he saw the alternate message that the man on the street saw.

I'll end this with a subtle observation that I think is salient. Sure, Sunnis may think that the Shi'a are a little off their rocker and maybe not be correct Muslims. I would offer that the sectarian violence isn't about that, so there cannot be a civil war within the Islamic elements. We're trying to define a problem by cultural constructs, when in fact it may be more economic, akin to the Protestant-Catholic "Troubles" of Northern Ireland. Once the blood is let, it morphs into something tribal and honor-based.

Even the late King Hussein of Jordan probably sucked his teeth on numerous occasions and sighed, "stupid Americans," to himself.

JD
05-02-2007, 09:35 AM
I guess the fundamental question is - why are we fighting? A dictator is overthrown, the people are handed the chance of building a great democracy and there is a chance to be prosperous and free. And yet there is daily incidents of sadistic barbarism and the liberators are portrayed as evil doers.

Why? Do the violent men reject democracy because they know the people, given the choice, would never support them? Is this all just a political power grab and religion is simply used to motivate the cannon fodder. And if so, would simply including the radicals in the political process - requiring them to act responsibly - could that ease tension? Idealistically, this appears repugnant but it may be time for pragmatism.

jcustis makes a good point about the over-simplification of messages for consumption by domestic audiences. In a democracy, what the population thinks is important. Unfortunately, through no fault of their own, they are generally only capable of absorbing a simplified version of events and labels become very important. That is why I am trying to define the conflict with the help of the SWC. Most agree that 'war on terror' is not a particularly useful term and may in fact, be nonsensical as you can't make war on a technique. Insurgency is close but may fail to recognize the ingrained sectarian divide within communities. Is this something new that defies current definitions?

A critical question, related to the nature of the conflict, is why radical Islamic groups attack the west. Is it because they are the mortal enemy or is it simply to remove western influence so they can get on with their own agenda? Or is it an advertising campaign to get their brand better known and draw more support for their political agenda. Is it an effort to be seen as the defender of Islam against the great Satan, in turn marginalizing the influence of the moderates? The answer to these questions is important because it influences the nature of the prosecution and I'm keen to get a broad range of opinions.

A question to the American readers. Sarajevo raises the issue of the relationship between Israel and the US. How strong is the relationship and is it unduly influenced by lobby groups?

Sarajevo defines the conflict as a war for oil, mid-eastern domination and the defence of Israel and I can see why he does so but I personally don’t believe this is the case for two reasons. Firstly, having dealt with many Americans, they appear usually to have good intentions although their apparent preference for idealism over pragmatism seems to get them in trouble. Secondly, to invade a nation to secure their resource is almost unbelievably stupid and ignores the lessons of Germany in Russia, and Japan in SE Asia (WWII). JCUSTIS I think is pretty right when he talks about establishing the conditions for a democracy. I personally believe America wanted a strong and prosperous democracy to act as an example in the region and become a firm ally as other alliances waned. Most would believe this dream is dead but I am not so sure although the path may be unpalatable as it involves discussing the possibility of partition.

Partitioning?

My understanding is the borders of Iraq are largely the arbitrary construct of the colonial powers therefore division of Iraq is not in contravention of any ancient concept of nationhood. Indeed, I (tentatively) believe that most Iraqi’s probably define themselves more in terms of their Islamic nation and possibly tribal alliances rather than the post-Westphalian concept of a nation state.

Partition has advantages for the west. Presumably, the newly formed nations would either remain independent or amalgamate with larger nations of similar outlook. Either way, responsibility for stabilization of the region passes from coalition forces to the forces of the region. Nations currently accused of destabilizing the situation would have to become actively involved in stabilization if they did not want to inherit displaced persons and insurgents. Such operations would incur inevitable financial cost and that cost must either be offset through the provision of fewer services – a destabilizing influence – or the acquisition of more income, presumably through trade with industrialized nations. This trade may create an economic relationship that eases tensions. There may be some antagonism between the nations of the regions but this surely has to be better than the continuation of the simplistic west vs. Islam rhetoric - the Iran/Iraq war didn't seem to harm the west too much but hopefully it would never come to open warfare. Regardless, tensions between nation states in the region may leave them looking for allies in the industrialized world and that can't be too bad although China may be seen as a new best friend. Whatever the final arrangement, the nations of the regions will need to become involved in a more responsible manner if they do not want a disaster in their midst.

Presumably the Kurdish regions would become a sovereign state. This may be welcomed by Turkey as it provides a Kurdish homeland outside Turkey’s borders and may ease issues with displaced persons and Kurdish political agitations. A Kurdish state may feel threatened by its neighbors and may welcome western influence and forces on its territory. So while the goal of a united, democratic, western leaning Iraq may be out of reach, it may be possible though reduced expectations to achieve many of the same goals with a partitioned Kurdistan.

It is sad to think people of different sects cannot live together but there are several nations divided on this basis – Pakistan being one of them. There are many small nations that are affluent and independent, quite a number in the Gulf alone, so the economic viability of the partitioned elements should not preclude such a course of action.

I know there are a lot of holes in the argument and I include the suggestion mainly to generate comment but I still think it needs to be discussed and I think it is an idea gaining traction as every other effort appears to fail. The thought of partition may be unpalatable but so is the current situation. Pride and idealism alone should not determine policy.

Look forward to your comments.

JD

tequila
05-02-2007, 09:51 AM
Partition is, I think, a severely overrated "solution" that will probably not solve anything and will lead instead of a continued civil war rather than a lessening of violence.

Reider Visser is a scholar who specializes in southern Iraqi Shia history, and he writes about why a divided Iraq is ahistorical here (http://www.opendemocracy.net/conflict-iraq/partition_3565.jsp).

First, we have a supposedly sovereign Iraqi national government now. Partition will require the destruction of this government. I'm not sure how this can be accomplished peacefully.

Secondly, despite some brutal ethnic cleansing around Baghdad, in Baghdad, and ongoing in Diyala, Iraq still has ethnically mixed areas. Who sets the borders for these partitioned states, and who will cleanse the mixed areas and move the sects to their different, new nations?

Third, the Sunnis are invested both economically and politically in the idea of Iraq as a unified nation. Breaking up the nation will see only greater violence from them.

Fourth, several currents among the Shia militate against separatism. Visser covers them well, but I'll add that the national government and army are currently dominated by Shia - why would they surrender this power? Sadr has always been Iraqi nationalist. Indeed, the only real political support for Shia separatism has always been the Iranian-influenced SCIRI. I would say that many Shia are loyal to the nation of Iraq, but not the state. Now that they own the state, this has changed, but not towards separatism.

Also I think your theory about an independent Kurdistan being welcomed by the Turks is upside down. The Turks' entire focus since the invasion has been the prevention of such a state coming into being. An independent Kurdistan would, IMO, be met by the Turks with immediate invasion if there were not U.S. units garrisoned there, and violent subversion if there were.

jcustis
05-02-2007, 01:08 PM
A critical question, related to the nature of the conflict, is why radical Islamic groups attack the west. Is it because they are the mortal enemy or is it simply to remove western influence so they can get on with their own agenda? Or is it an advertising campaign to get their brand better known and draw more support for their political agenda. Is it an effort to be seen as the defender of Islam against the great Satan, in turn marginalizing the influence of the moderates? The answer to these questions is important because it influences the nature of the prosecution and I'm keen to get a broad range of opinions.

I think the answer has elements of all of these issues mentioned.

I also think a mutually agreed partition scheme would be the only sustainable answer, but the blood-letting has been too great to avoid a full-blown civil war in order to get to a point where partitioning could be viewed as being in the best interest of all parties. Sadly, we are past the point of no return in these areas, but the way ahead is equally dark and dangerous.

goesh
05-04-2007, 03:23 AM
Dress it anyway you want, it remains a mixed bag of rhetoric and mixed justifications to maintain a strategic foothold in that neck of the woods. A card up the sleeve, a contingency plan for a weakened Israel should that ever happen. Islam as it manifests its power in the political and economic arenas is the antithesis of Democracy and always will be. It is about impossible for Islam to exist separated from the power of the State as is the case in most of the the West with its religions. You can't side-step the rigid paternalism that in turn spawns rigid tribalism, both of which sustain and reinforce gender inequality sanctioned by Al Qu'ran. You can have the club but never the clubhouse and alot of blood and money is being spent on vision of the clubhouse, but it really is more akin to the fable of the king without any clothes on. I don't think the debate on wether or not Islam and Democracy are compatible has even really begun yet.

The question of why not support to the hilt moderate Muslim allies begs some definition of the word "support" conisdering the traditoinal type of support that has gone the way of traditional allies already, including cash to the palestinian authority, of all people. What shared values would their be for instance, other than the killing of radicals? How would economic ties be in anyway strengthened? How could they even be strengthened under the most ideal of circumstances? What would the dynamics of cultural and social exchange be to solidify such a partnership? Much of the West is dependent of Gulf oil, so we are to call the likes of Saudi Arabia moderate?What would moderate muslims bring to the table, other than assitance in overpowering mutual enemies? What have moderate muslims brought to the world table prior to the need of mutually overcoming common enemies? What equtiable basis for partnership is there to even begin with?How does this paradigm of joining forces to enable a civil war in Islam juxtapose itself with the recent developments of the the US State Dept. having talks with Syria and US Politicians meeting privately with Syrians, whom the US under Bush considers to be anything but moderate?

I don't agree with the concept that there is no longer a war on terrorism. I would suggest mixing and mingling with mainstream America first before adhering to the pontification of some high ranking politician or Pentagon person who gleans some limelight by putting himself on a pedestal and proclaiming there is no need or justificaiton or reason for a war on terrorism.

Lastly, the Israel and US relatioship has been circumvented. Would this mutuality of supporting moderate muslim allies in an Islamic civil war include said moderates working with Mossad for instance? Wouldn't that be fun, huh?

JD
05-04-2007, 04:50 AM
Goesh, thanks for your response.

As far as points of commonality with moderate Islam, I beleive there are at least 3. Firstly, most of us consider ourselves the sons of Abraham. In the time of Marco Polo, all pilgrims were welcome in Jerusalem provided they obeyed certain rules so exclusivity and antogonism do not go back forever.

As a second point of commonality, 'the enemy of my enemy is my friend'. You can go back to Lawrence of Arabia fighting wth his preferred Muslims against other Muslims for an example of how it may work with empathetic leadership and support. In a more recent example, the west stands steadfastly against military dictators that overthrow elected governments - unless that happens to be Pakistan where the enemy of my enemy becomes my freind.

Lastly, we have humanity in common.

The question of Israel is an interesting one in regard to its influence on the region and the world. To be honest, most of my opinions on Israel are influenced by a group of freinds and one in particular who spent a great deal of time as a UN observer in Israel / Lebanaon. Some of these people consider it hypocrical to critisise Islamic republics for their form of government when Judaism is so much a part of the structure of the state of Israel. One person proposed amalgamating Palestine and Israel into a single secular state where all people enjoyed the same rights. Israel already spends much of its time itervening in palestinian areas - why not legitimise the process, impose better internal security and at the same time, give all the people a part in their political processes. Radical I know but is it more difficult or dangerous than dismantling Apartheit?

Would Muslims cooperate with Mossad? That depends whats in it for them. If it helped create a better security environment and build a state in which they had a real voice then maybe. It depends on where their loyalty lies and loyalty is generally created by good deeds rather than exclusion and intimidation. The rebuilding efforts in Southern Afghanistan appear to be taking this approach and it appears to be paying dividends.

goesh
05-04-2007, 05:12 PM
I would suggest, JD, that if the Israelis were not Jews and all the dynamics and politics were the same in that land, the palestinians would make the news about once a year at most. I for one grow tired of the immense stretch and reach of imagination required to continually insert Israel as the proverbial monkey wrench in the affairs and problems and quality of life issues the world's 1.3 billion Muslims have. In short, for every 100 expressions of anger and outrage expressed against the Jews, there may be at most 1 expression of outrage coming from the Muslim world against the killing of muslim by Muslims in Iraq. What are there, all of 24 million Jews on the planet occupying about .001% of the land mass occupied by 1.3 billion muslims? It seems to me in this equation of partnership and mutuality of the West and America in particular, supporting an Islamic civil war, that the Israel problem has to be corrected on the terms defined by moderate Muslims before they can be acceptable partners in the process.