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Thread: Turkey's Steps?

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default Turkey's Steps?

    Thought this might be interest here. It will be interesting to see how far it goes or how long the attempt lasts.
    The country's powerful Department of Religious Affairs has commissioned a team of theologians at Ankara University to carry out a fundamental revision of the Hadith, the second most sacred text in Islam after the Koran.
    And just as interesting...
    Significantly, the "Ankara School" of theologians working on the new Hadith have been using Western critical techniques and philosophy.

    They have also taken an even bolder step - rejecting a long-established rule of Muslim scholars that later (and often more conservative) texts override earlier ones.

    "You have to see them as a whole," says Fadi Hakura.

    "You can't say, for example, that the verses of violence override the verses of peace. This is used a lot in the Middle East, this kind of ideology.

    "I cannot impress enough how fundamental [this change] is."
    Quotes taken from the BBC story.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    This is very interesting and only the Turks have the intestinal fortitude to even consider doing this. Kemalism can be a wonderously liberating thing

    Tom

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default It's The Rings Man

    SWJED put this up on another thread yesterday or the day before. This came up at the SMART Wars workshop I went to a couple of months ago. I posted a radio interview of Warden himself discussing this idea of how to influence Islam in this way. we suggested this and some other forms of publications to be distibuted to the population. Not bad for an Air Force guy It's in the Rings man it's all in the rings. ( Bill Moore you feeling me man ). Incindetally they were following our plan pretty close until they invaded Iraq...bad move....should have stopped at the border.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Actually it's been discussed well before that (I think Marc might have mentioned something similar, and it's also been kicked around in other areas). It's important enough I thought it should have its own space.

    The catch with "influencing Islam" is that it has to come from within. WE can't really do anything other than sit back and (very) quietly cheer from the sidelines. Anything else is subject to spin and manipulation (and I'm sure somewhere there's a group claiming that this is a CIA plot).
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Agree 100% Steve it has to come from them and we can not be directly involved but we can suggest it. Yes marct has brought up many ideas like this before. What I think is key is that this is truly aimed at acheiving a systems level effect not just a target level effect. Here is the link from SWJED post 2 days ago.

    http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...0907#post40907

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Last sentence:

    "I cannot impress enough how fundamental [this change] is."
    This is one of those things that makes you hope we will see beyond what a government can do specifically for us, and consider how the efforts of the people who live there will effect the strategic landscape. Such efforts as these should be quietly and discreetly reinforced (and it may not be the U.S. who might be in the best position to do so), and where pratical lauded (practical in terms of remembering who we are and what we might represent by being too enthusiastic) - as Steve and Slap mentioned above.

    Also from a strategic history perspective, we might do well to remember the course of the Reformation in Christianity - it was not instantaneous, it was not entirely passive, and it created social ripples which were not well understod for hundreds of years. While the article uses the the qualifier "reformation" like, the end quote still shows the understanding of the fundamental changes in perspectives this could lead to.

    Change of this nature is often accompanied by violence once it gains enough momentum to threaten identity or authority. In today's inter-connected world, what begins in Turkey can have an effect in many other locations. While Turkey may be progressive and secure enough to moderate the potential for violence to levels that don't result in a slide toward instability, other states may not. An idea that is acceptable in Ankara, my cause an upheaval elsewhere. It may not be a visible flash fire, but like many challenges to central identity values, - it may evolve for awhile before we really know what it means.

    Turkey has significant historical meaning to Islam - I'll be surprised if groups such as AQ do not contest it. I'll be surprised if its challenging of certain accepted passages in the Hadith, and the meanings which some derive authority from do not put it at odds with states such as Iran.

    For our own part, perahps we should acknowledge the Turks desire to better understand its Faith, and their intellectual and spiritual courage to do so. Hopefully we can do it with seeming to be opportunistic, or exploiting in nature - to do so could set up a backlash that might put any such movement in jeapordy.

    Best, Rob

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Hi Rob, yes and part of the article states that they chose the Hadith as opposed to the Koran to avoid certain obstacles like the ones you mention. And a reformation is not really the right word IMHO...more how Islam can better interface with the modern world as opposed to some earth shattering reformation. It may not even get off the ground either.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    To a certain extent, that's what the Christian Reformation did...allow the religion to interface better with the (for the time) modern world. I suspect it will get off the ground (and most likely has, given the tone of the article), but it's important that the "instant gratification" folks put on the strongest muzzle they can find and sit in the corner until it's done.

    Something like this is going to take time, especially in a culture and framework where time has a different context and meaning than we typically use. And as Rob hints, there will be violence associated with it. I honestly don't think that can be debated. It might not happen in Turkey (where there is a working identity framework that can to an extent support such changes), but it will happen elsewhere. It's going to be hard for the West to keep focused on the context of these changes, IMO. We can only hinder them, not help them, if we get involved (or if it LOOKS LIKE we're getting involved).
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    This without doubt the most impprtant step that Turkey has taken since Attaturk pulled the country off Sharia and put it on the path to modernization. For the greater Muslim world it offers a way to offset the stranglehold of fundamentalism while staying within accepted limits. Not only do we need to allow this to go forward without interference (including obvious cheerleading), we must be able to accept less than perfect results.

    best
    Tom

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    I often thought that the single most effective thing we could have done in the struggle against Islamic radical fundamentalism was to teach every Muslim in the CENTCOM AO to read Arabic. I was stunned when I realized that many of the poor souls who emerge from so-called madrassas can't even read the Koran, having been taught by equally ignorant mullahs. All they know is what they have been told is in their own holy book - and often that is at odds with what a reasonable person might draw from the text.
    As others have pointed out, there are obvious historical parallels: Christianity in the Middle Ages, when illiterate priests parroted a Latin they did not understand from Bibles that were themselves corrupted versions of the original texts. At least they had the discipline of a 'mother' church that obviated the worst deviations.
    But, happy as I am to see something like this being done, I hope we don't touch it with a ten-foot thumb drive. Fiddling with the text is likely to cause a huge amount of unrest in both the long and short-runs. Associating with it in any way will not help our cause.

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Hi All, The other concern I have is that analysts will try to measure it how well are we doing type situation. They should be locked up and take their pencils and computers away and tell them them they want see any results in their lifetime, but it is the right path to be on.

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Not only do we need to allow this to go forward without interference (including obvious cheerleading), we must be able to accept less than perfect results.
    Tom, good point. I am reminded of an author who quoted a Congresswoman about how long we should give China to create conditions acceptable to our views of "freedom of the press" - it seems her vision was measured in months, it was certainly a drop in one of the deepest of cultural wells.

    The recent U.S. political debate about the Turkish role (as the successor to the Ottoman Empire govt. of Imail Enver) the death of many Armenians around 1915, shows our exploitive nature, when it comes to pursuit of domestic hay over the long term foreign policy goals it risks.

    This is going to take time. Its going to be awkward. Its potentially going to be at odds with our immediate goals at times. Which ever party gets into the White House, the leadership required to look beyond their tenure and creae a vision for what things might be for our children and children's children should be balanced against the desire to act, or speak. Do we have a role to play? Probably, we're so interconnected in so many ways (NATO, Iraq, the ME, the Trans Caucuses) - but the rule of "just because you can do something, does not mean you always should" needs to be observed.

    Overall I'd classify the role as "supporting", but at times in related efforts - such as ensuring AQ and like organizations (or other regional players) do not have the strategic freedom of movement to disrupt this effort to further qualify itself over time - a more engaged role may be required.

    I think this is where the term "Grand Strategy" comes into play - that gets us beyond the sole use of military strategy to help us and our friends, partners and allies acheive their goals (in this case the freedom to conduct its own affairs). This won't be easy for us, we don't have a form of government that lends itself to unified purposes - we are purposefully at odds with ourselves in many ways. Minimizing the potential internal disruptions we might represent will be tough I think - we're not culturally attuned to letting things develop if they seems be in our interest to intervene - demonstrating strategic patience will be tough.

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 02-29-2008 at 05:53 PM.

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Default Roger That

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Actually it's been discussed well before that (I think Marc might have mentioned something similar, and it's also been kicked around in other areas). It's important enough I thought it should have its own space.

    The catch with "influencing Islam" is that it has to come from within. WE can't really do anything other than sit back and (very) quietly cheer from the sidelines. Anything else is subject to spin and manipulation (and I'm sure somewhere there's a group claiming that this is a CIA plot).

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Rob,

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Also from a strategic history perspective, we might do well to remember the course of the Reformation in Christianity - it was not instantaneous, it was not entirely passive, and it created social ripples which were not well understod for hundreds of years. While the article uses the the qualifier "reformation" like, the end quote still shows the understanding of the fundamental changes in perspectives this could lead to.
    Oh, my... been practicing "understatement" as a discursive genre ? Yeah, given that the history of reformation moves inside the Catholic Church parallels most of the military history of the same time period, "not entirely passive" is a phrase that is just so.... "British" !

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    Overall I'd classify the role as "supporting", but at times in related efforts - such as ensuring AQ and like organizations (or other regional players) do not have the strategic freedom of movement to disrupt this effort to further qualify itself over time - a more engaged role may be required.
    Agreed - my guess is about 100-200 years. Turkey is an excellent start point, but there are also other areas we should be looking at in this situation: Dubai and Brunei come to mind.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    I think this is where the term "Grand Strategy" comes into play - that gets us beyond the sole use of military strategy to help us and our friends, partners and allies acheive their goals (in this case the freedom to conduct its own affairs). This won't be easy for us, we don't have a form of government that lends itself to unified purposes - we are purposefully at odds with ourselves in many ways. Minimizing the potential internal disruptions we might represent will be tough I think - we're not culturally attuned to letting things develop if they seems be in our interest to intervene - demonstrating strategic patience will be tough.
    Again, agreed. It is unfortunate that democracies and republics are notoriously poor at Grand Strategy on the whole - at least when they are in a "major player" spot (it works better when you are a minor player).
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
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    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Agreed - my guess is about 100-200 years. Turkey is an excellent start point, but there are also other areas we should be looking at in this situation: Dubai and Brunei come to mind.
    Maybe, Marc, but Dubai still is tied to Arabic in a way that is self-limiting. Brunei I just don't have a feel for. I will say this, however, that if he Turks go foward with this, they are very likely to much faster than we might expect. I also believe that a "reformed" hadith would be well recieved in some areas of Africa.

    Best

    Tom

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    Council Member Rob Thornton's Avatar
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    Oh, my... been practicing "understatement" as a discursive genre ?
    I'm exploring new techniques (well new to me anyway)

    I was thinking about several things over lunch:

    1) the role of patience and "inaction" - sometimes doing nothing can be seen as doing something - particularly if you have the means to choose otherwise. Strategic restraint might be an "action" to match a chosen narrative. However, its also worth noting that great efforts might be required to restrain the impulse to act.

    2) the second thing was the inter-connectedness. The BBC as the source - and the many Muslims who reside in the EU and other than the ME. The media will certainly play a role.

    3) the broader socio-politico changes that accompany movements that call for change in fundamental understandings of how we view the world. This week we were all talking about the declaration of Kosovo, and what that might mean in a broader sense - is there a broader theme we're overlooking because we're participants?

    Best, Rob
    Last edited by Rob Thornton; 02-29-2008 at 07:12 PM.

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Tom,

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    Maybe, Marc, but Dubai still is tied to Arabic in a way that is self-limiting. Brunei I just don't have a feel for. I will say this, however, that if he Turks go foward with this, they are very likely to much faster than we might expect. I also believe that a "reformed" hadith would be well recieved in some areas of Africa.
    I think for me, looking at it as an Anthropologist, the key is in a) the desire to reconsider / reinterpret religious doctrine and b) the process set in place to do so. Turkey is doing it in a fairly systematic, centralized manner. Dubai is doing it via "lived reality" and at the insistence of it's monarch, and Brunei did several decades ago in response to too much wealth. The key, for me, is that they are all engaged with "current reality" in some stance of negotiation. This parallels a lot of reformation history with different groups dealing with the rise of modern nation states, new technologies and new patterns of social interaction.

    That 150-200 years was based on the acceptance within Islam as a whole of these "new" forms of Islam (i.e. that they actually are part of Islam, even if viewed as "wrong").
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
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    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
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    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member marct's Avatar
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    Hi Rob,

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    1) the role of patience and "inaction" - sometimes doing nothing can be seen as doing something - particularly if you have the means to choose otherwise. Strategic restraint might be an "action" to match a chosen narrative. However, its also worth noting that great efforts might be required to restrain the impulse to act.
    I'm with the Buddhists on this one - non-action is a choice and form of action. Rather than structuring the political question as "What can we do to help", I think it should be structured as "Is there any way in which you would like us to help?".

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    2) the second thing was the inter-connectedness. The BBC as the source - and the many Muslims who reside in the EU and other than the ME. The media will certainly play a role.
    Too true!

    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    3) the broader socio-politico changes that accompany movements that call for change in fundamental understandings of how we view the world. This week we were all talking about the declaration of Kosovo, and what that might mean in a broader sense.
    One of my favorite sayings is "I am the wisest man I know, for I know that I know nothing." (I love Socrates despite his [mis-]appropriation by that fascist Plato ). It takes no courage to say "This is the truth!!!" and try to force others to accept it, but it takes an immense amount of courage to say "I don't know" and then try to find out. Personally, I am hoping that Al-Ghazali is currently reincarnated and working on an updated version of the Iḥyaʾ ʿulum al-dīn.
    Sic Bisquitus Disintegrat...
    Marc W.D. Tyrrell, Ph.D.
    Institute of Interdisciplinary Studies,
    Senior Research Fellow,
    The Canadian Centre for Intelligence and Security Studies, NPSIA
    Carleton University
    http://marctyrrell.com/

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Thornton View Post
    1) the role of patience and "inaction" - sometimes doing nothing can be seen as doing something - particularly if you have the means to choose otherwise. Strategic restraint might be an "action" to match a chosen narrative. However, its also worth noting that great efforts might be required to restrain the impulse to act.
    Best, Rob
    That is exactly right. As long as you are alive and an open(living) system doing nothing is actually doing something as opposed to a closed(dead) system which by defenition can not adapt or choose.


    I just re-read that...it's all Zen like and stuff....part of SBW.

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    Although it represents Turkey's future hopes for continued sane interaction with the West, Kemalism, and its stridency, is dying as a character ethic in Turkey. One only has to be informed of the increased ascendancy of Islamism in the Parliament and governmental institutions to know the direction of the country. After decades of trying to satisfy both camps, East and West, it is slowly being pulled back to its pre-revolutionary mindset. I have many Turkish friends who agree the writing is on the wall.

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