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Old 01-05-2006   #1
Jedburgh
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Default Islam, Islamism, Conflict & Terrorism (a collection)

Fromt the Jan issue of Army magazine: Islam, Islamism and Terrorism
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The tragedy of September 11, 2001, and the subsequent conceptualizing of the war on terrorism have presented a very difficult problem to those responsible for framing the strategy. The basic problem has been one of defining the enemy. After four years, this problem still eludes a clear definition although the national leadership has been carefully moving toward a more definitive description.

The basic obstacle has been one of clearly describing the enemy without seeming to single out the world’s second largest religion, Islam, as the cause or facilitator of this terrorism. To differentiate the radical forms of Islam from the mainstream Islamic community, the word “Islamism” was coined to describe an ideological movement using Islam as the vehicle to power. Others term it political Islam, while some journalists and media types still refer to it as Muslim fundamentalism. In actuality there is a wide gap between the fundamentalists and Islamists...
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Old 02-10-2006   #2
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Default Forty Shades of Green

Islam's main political arms differ greatly in both tactics and aims. But that should not reassure America
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Ever since the terrorist attacks of September 2001, George Bush has been telling Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda terrorist network they will fail in one of their main aims: to trigger a broad global conflict between America and its allies, and Islam. The president has called Islam a peaceful religion, bringing “hope and comfort” to over a billion people.

To judge by opinion polls, many Muslims around the world are unimpressed. To them, America's actions in the Middle East tell a different story about Mr Bush's attitude to their faith. And the president may not be right when he says that a broad clash of civilisations can be avoided. To anyone skimming the headlines in recent weeks, it seems as though believers in an imminent clash between Islam and the West have plenty of new evidence to support their case.

Iran—the country whose 1979 revolution put political Islam on the modern map—is cocking a snook at its western critics. Its president vows to destroy Israel and its nuclear researchers have defied the world by going back to work. In its present mood, Iran shows little interest in seeking “rehabilitation” by addressing the long list of western complaints, which include sponsoring terror.

Meanwhile, the leaders of al-Qaeda appear on videotapes to tell their supporters that the war against “crusaders” and Jews is very much alive. Mr bin Laden warns that deadly attacks on America are still being planned. His deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, appeared on the screen this week to declare that he has survived an American attempt on his life and that Allah, not Uncle Sam, would set the hour of his death.

At the same time, an Islamist movement that many western governments regard as terrorist and untouchable is savouring its stunning victory in the Palestinian elections. The Hamas triumph has brought delight to all its fellow members of the international fraternity known as the Muslim Brotherhood—from the refugee camps of Amman in Jordan, where sweets were eagerly handed out by local Brotherhood leaders, to their well-organised counterparts in the Islamic diaspora in Europe. Whatever Hamas now does, its success may be remembered as the biggest victory for political Islam since Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini brought to the modern world the idea that Islam might be a formula for governance, law and spreading revolution.

For all these reasons, outside observers might be forgiven for thinking that political Islam, in various violent forms, was on the march against the West. In fact, the Islamist movement, though it may look monolithic from afar, is highly quarrelsome and diverse, and in many ways its internal divisions are deepening...
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Old 02-10-2006   #3
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Why is it, do you think, we have not done very well at exploiting their internal divisions and squabbles? Is it that we have not acknowledged they exist like the article implies or is it something else?
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Old 02-10-2006   #4
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Originally Posted by Stratiotes
Why is it, do you think, we have not done very well at exploiting their internal divisions and squabbles? Is it that we have not acknowledged they exist like the article implies or is it something else?
I don't believe the article implies that we "don't acknowledge they exist", rather it attempts to describe how little policy-makers and pundits tend to really understand the internal divisions within and among the various elements of Islam.

But as far as exploiting such divisions goes, if you read to the end of the article you saw:

...woe betide any western strategist who thinks the problems of the Muslim world can be addressed by a policy of “divide and rule”. The most likely result of that is that western countries will be blamed for divisions that have already existed, in one form or another, since the founding of Islam.

We don't do very well at leveraging the particular characteristics of any one group of Muslims in the direction of our policy goals because it requires too great a subtlety in action. Can you imagine a national level policy based upon in-depth understanding of the specific fusion of religious belief, cultural upbringing and socio-economic factors that drives the manner in which a multitude of factions participates in politics and or violence? A policy geared, not towards setting one faction against another, but towards developing real cooperation between and among factions and isolation of extremist factions with the ultimate goal of creating democratic self-sustaining states.

In a manner of speaking, that last sentence describes what we are trying to do now. But at this time we're more like the two year old with his set of blocks than we are like the master watch-maker.
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Old 09-07-2007   #5
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Default Islam, The Solution...!?

Iraq the Model - Islam, The Solution...!? By Mohammed.

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...The problem with Maliki who's the leader of the Islamic Dawa Party is that he's just like all other Islamists who insist that Islam is the solution and that clerics are the ones who can deliver that solution.

But reality proved that political Islam is in fact the problem, not the solution. And this is true not only in Iraq but in many other countries in the region that are full of political Islamist movements. They build their rhetoric on what they like to call the golden age of Islam and promise that a new golden age could come if people returned to the roots of Islam…but what happened when Islamists ruled? Definitely not a golden age of any sort.

The first problem with their theory is that they can't say which version of Islam represents the solution. With all the sectarian differences we can see, saying that Islam is the solution is an empty slogan that requires a lot of clarification.

But the truth is, every rival party believes that their faith is the only true faith and when this dispute infected the political scene in the most violent way Islam became the most prominent problem. And that's how we ended up in the middle of a Sunni-Shia conflict as well as Sunni-Sunni and Shia-Shia conflicts.

The recent incidents in Karbala are striking evidence on how mixing politics with religion made brothers slaughter one another in a bloody war for power. Even the holy shrines were not spared in the fighting.

It's ironic that when a Muslim kills another Muslim or destroys the sites revered by his own people no one speaks of it here as a major problem but if a non-Muslim does that the uproar would be legendary!

In spite of all that Islamists still insist on their slogan and after all what happened Ahmedinejad wants Shia Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia to "fill the vacuum" when America leaves Iraq…I can only imagine the way in which the vacuum would be filled and levels of violence that would accompany that!...
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Old 09-10-2007   #6
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Default AQ Minions V The Green Bay Packers

The other night I heard Nagl on tv being interviewed by an Army Times reporter and a comment he made sticks out in my mind. Nagl said in effect that most likely the conflict with islamic fundamentalists will continue for another 100 years. My first thought was to scoff at that statement but then it dawned on me that the price of a bag of dog food at Wal-Mart is more significant to most Americans than the death toll of muslim-against-muslim violence. The 100+ kill rate of an AQ/terrorist insurgent truck bomb at a muslim religious shrine simply doesn't sink it with the Public and Brett Favre's TDs passes are counted and the number of Iraqi kids by the likes of AQ-minded minions are not. I've been spending most of my time in the islamic sites and chat rooms and there just isn't much condemnation of muslim deaths at the hands of muslims. It's got to be connected to the strategic premise by AQ and fundamentalists in general that the West is on a spiral of devolution away from God(Allah). This apparenctly enables them as well to blame the US in particular for the death toll that continues to rise. They also have mostly ignored our collective history because they are convinced that God is on their side.

That's bad tactical and strategic judgment IMO on their part because it leaves them in a dilemma of either facing total war or to continue with the vitriol from 3rd world hovels and flea infested caves along with the occasional bombs that seem to be killing mostly their fellow muslims. I know alot people think total war against islamic radicals is for all practical purposes impossible nor even practical and morally reprehensible, but from the time perspective of evolution, we are not even an eye-blink away from Dresden and Hiroshima and on the continum of evolution, brief episodes of retrogression are more the norm than not.
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Old 09-10-2007   #7
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USIP, Sep 07: Engaging Islamists and Promoting Democracy: A Preliminary Assessment
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Summary

• Parliamentary elections across the Middle East have led to a wave of Islamist victories. Islamist parties typically boast leaders who are young and dynamic, with strong ties to the community; their party organizations brim with energy and ideas, attracting those who seek change.

• The U.S. government has quietly engaged moderate Islamist parties for several years. U.S. engagement has been most successful where democratic reform is already underway and where the government is genuinely committed to political opening. Other factors include the Islamist parties’ political sophistication, popular credibility, and openness to working with U.S. organizations.

• A successful Islamist engagement strategy both empowers individuals and strengthens institutions to yield greater transparency, more accountability, and shifts toward greater moderation.

• Of the three cases addressed in this paper—Morocco, Jordan, and Yemen—Morocco appears to hold the greatest promise for U.S. engagement with moderate Islamists. Meanwhile, Jordan and Yemen offer important though limited instances of success.

• U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East affects the ability of U.S. organizations to promote democracy there. At times, Islamist parties have cut off contact with U.S. democracy promoters to protest specific aspects of U.S. foreign policy, such as the war in Iraq.

• Ultimately, U.S. engagement of moderate Islamists must be understood within the broader political context of the ideological battle in the Muslim world over the place of Islam in public life. Moderate Islamist parties that reject violence and practice democratic ideals are an important counterweight to Islamist extremism, and their work should be encouraged.
Full 16 page brief at the link.
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Old 09-10-2007   #8
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AQ minions truly expected a rash of retaliation on the American streets after 9/11 and elements of the Liberal establishment started up with the hand-wringing and false cries of alarm, when in truth, muslims were not attacked and mosques not burned. The actual incidents were rare and CAIR and others had considerable digging to do to come up with 'incidents'. This is what enables our Government to engage moderates, that is our "base and center", We The People, in stark opposition to the tenets of AQ and their base and center. The dilemma AQ minions face which I alluded to in my previous post is the only thing that is keeping AQ from directly hitting us again here at home IMO. They haven't resolved it yet and I believe serious debate rages in their camp over it but not surprisingly, significant numbers of average Americans expect another direct hit.

Last edited by goesh; 09-10-2007 at 06:40 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 09-10-2007   #9
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The USIP report that Ted posted is interesting as far as it goes, but it doesn't really address the core issue of whether it is better for US policy to 1) support democratization even when it benefits critics/opponents (such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, or the MB/Islamic Action Front in Jordan), in the hopes that it contributes to greater stability (and Islamist moderation) in the long term, or 2) it is better to support authoritarian regimes instead, since they are known allies.

In the early part of the Bush Administration "Freedom Agenda" the former seemed to be the case. Now, the latter seems to be the case (as most dramatically evidenced by Washington's acquiesence in Mubarak's crackdowns against both secular and Islamist political opponents in Egypt).

One can make foreign policy arguments for both approaches. However, oscillating between the two is really the worst of all possible worlds: it first raises local democratic expectations, then dashes them in what is widely seen as a confirmation of US perfidy and ulterior motives.

As I've argued elsewhere:

Quote:
Combined with other severe irritants in American relations with the MENA and its peoples—intervention in Iraq, the unresolved Palestinian issue, the excesses of the “global war on terror”—the effect has been to delegitimate the Washington as a credible bearer of democratic values. Indeed, in a 2006 Zogby poll of political attitudes in six Arab countries, 87% of Moroccans reported an “unfavourable” or “very unfavourable,” attitude towards the US, and none reported a “very favourable” attitude. As elsewhere in the region, Moroccans—and, one can safely assume, most others in North Africa— attribute this to differences with US policies, rather than US values. Strikingly, some 84% of Moroccans (along with 74% of Jordanians, 68% of Saudis, 61% of Lebanese, 55% of Egyptians, and 35% of Emiratis) believed that democracy is not a real American objective in the region.
Full (short) piece here.
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Old 09-10-2007   #10
Tom Odom
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One can make foreign policy arguments for both approaches. However, oscillating between the two is really the worst of all possible worlds: it first raises local democratic expectations, then dashes them in what is widely seen as a confirmation of US perfidy and ulterior motives.
Agreed. It also makes us look at once naive, arrogant, and stupid, greatly complicating any effort intended to broaden support.

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Old 10-23-2008   #11
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Default Who Speaks For Islam?

Just finished reading Who Speaks for Islam: What a Billion Muslims Really Think by John L. Esposito & Dalia Mogahed.

The book is based on Gallup's World Poll, and evaluates the attitudes and opinions of Muslims toward the West, and the West's attitudes and opinions toward Islam.

Very, very good read and there are some shockers (to me, at least) in there.

First, they pretty much destroy the correlation between religious fundamentalism and extremist violence that is so chic in the west. Basically, in the Islamic world, violent extremists aren't particularly demonstrably religious.

Second, they pretty much prove that the great majority of the Islamic world admires American freedom and technology. Which appears to weaken the position that "Islamic extremists attack us for our freedom and success" (shockingly, to me, the majority of self-described supporters of terrorism admire American freedoms and success; it's the perceived unfairness of action that they detest).

Third, they question effectively the presumption that Muslim women want western-styled women's liberation (they use the terms "libertine" versus "liberation" to make their point.)

I cannot remember reading a book so hungrily as the way I read this. I was prepared to tolerate this book, but ended up eager to get to the next point. I recommend reading this book, and welcome others' views on it. I picked out only two definite "weasel-passages" in it, where the authors very craftily side-stepped an issue that wasn't addressed in their research, but for a book that tries to achieve as much as this did, that's not bad....
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Old 10-23-2008   #12
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Well Drew I for one want you to write a review for the blog to capture your thoughts.

I would agree with the key points you say the book makes. What has eluded much of our IO efforts to date are those key points.

Best

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Old 10-23-2008   #13
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Default John L. Esposito

Professor Esposito appeared at the Islam Expo conference in London, earlier this year and spoke very well - to a mainly Muslim / Arab audience. Noticeable that he was listened to, rarely do Americans appear at such meetings. Will look at the book closer.

davidbfpo

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Old 10-24-2008   #14
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Drew,

I second Tom's recommendation for a blog review.

Dave
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Old 10-24-2008   #15
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Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
they pretty much destroy the correlation between religious fundamentalism and extremist violence that is so chic in the west. Basically, in the Islamic world, violent extremists aren't particularly demonstrably religious.
In my opinion, that perceived correlation is a view crafted for consumption by the lowest common denominator. It seems to be the counterpoint to an equally invalid view that extremists hate us because America's foreign policy is dominated by neo-conservatives, even though the fervent disdain for America began at least as early as the 1970s, which was hardly the heydey of neo-con foreign policy. Jihadists have been chanting, and attempting to cause, death to America through the administrations of Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush - four administrations whose foreign policies differed significantly.

My understanding, and what I percieve to be a fair consensus opinion, is that jihadists are motivated more by politics than by religion and more by broad anti-western fervor than with any opposition toward a particular brand of US foreign policy. "Political Islam" is a pretty good description, since the fervent opposition to the US is political and wrapped in a veil of pseudo-Islam for the purpose of perceived legitimacy. If the entire US converted to Islam, they would still hate us. But, if our government seized all of our multi-national corporations, liquidated their assets, taxed all of its citizens into oblivion, and then distributed the proceeds from that wealth confiscation to the rest of the world, and we apologized for being successful, then we might make some progress. (I'm not suggesting we do that.) We are, and will be, hated because of the degree of influence that we have upon the world, regardless of how we exert that influence. It has nothing to do with freedom and little to do with religion. But being hated often comes with the territory when in a leadership position. How many leaders have gone into combat with the attitude of, "I don't care if you hate me - I just care that we accomplish the mission and you go home alive"? I think the most important question is not, "how do we become less hated?" It is "how do we make the world less hospitable to terrorist networks?"

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Originally Posted by 120mm View Post
they question effectively the presumption that Muslim women want western-styled women's liberation (they use the terms "libertine" versus "liberation" to make their point.)
Check out the latest GPS podcast with Fareed Zakaria. He interviews the queen of Jordan and talks about this. Aside from being very easy on the eyes, it is also an interesting discussion on this topic.

Last edited by Schmedlap; 10-24-2008 at 10:54 AM. Reason: spelling eror
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Old 10-24-2008   #16
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Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
Well Drew I for one want you to write a review for the blog to capture your thoughts.

I would agree with the key points you say the book makes. What has eluded much of our IO efforts to date are those key points.

Best

Tom
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Drew,

I second Tom's recommendation for a blog review.

Dave

That means I need to go find the book and check it out again... Why don't we have a "Smilie" for "lazy..."

I'll get right on it...
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Old 10-24-2008   #17
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Default links for the interview with Queen Rania of Jordan

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Schmedlap said: Check out the latest GPS podcast with Fareed Zakaria. He interviews the queen of Jordan and talks about this. Aside from being very easy on the eyes, it is also an interesting discussion on this topic.
http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bes...ef=videosearch

http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bes...ania.part2.cnn

Very interesting videos, Schmedlap. Thanks.

I look forward to the possibillity of a book review of Who Speaks for Islam.
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Old 10-24-2008   #18
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Default Good comment. I'll testify that

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...even though the fervent disdain for America began at least as early as the 1970s, which was hardly the heydey of neo-con foreign policy.
said disdain was prevalent pretty much world wide in the 1950s and was more virulent than today in the late 1960s. It did hit the ME in the 70s but it is absolutely NOT a new phenomenon.
Quote:
...Jihadists have been chanting, and attempting to cause, death to America through the administrations of Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush - four administrations whose foreign policies differed significantly.
That got started with the 'success' of the Munich Olympics hostage operation and several subsequent airline hijackings as the ME developed a worldwide focus. However, there is no doubt that the flawed policies and tepid response to provocations from the ME of all the Presidents you named put us where we are today.
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...
I think the most important question is not, "how do we become less hated?" It is "how do we make the world less hospitable to terrorist networks?"
Yep...
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Old 10-24-2008   #19
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Default Alternative link to Queen's interview

The links above did not work and found this one did: http://edition.cnn.com/video/#/video...ef=videosearch

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Old 10-25-2008   #20
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Default Book Review...

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... I look forward to the possibillity of a book review of Who Speaks for Islam.
... now posted at SWJ Blog. Nice review by LTC Drew Schumann.
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