From Palestine to Iraq

Democracy Now recently interviewed Nir Rosen (hat-tip to Democratic Underground and This Modern World). Mr. Rosen is reflexively sympathetic toward America’s enemies, but otherwise his analysis is accurate.

This lept out at me:

Well, when we think of the Iraqi refugee crisis, we have to think of the crisis that people in the region think of in relation to that one, and that’s the Palestinian refugee crisis. In 1948, up to 800,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes in Palestine [sic] to make way for what became Israel. They went to Lebanon, Syria, Jordan. There were put in refugee camps. Eventually, after a few years, they were militarized, mobilized. They had their own militias. They were engaged in attacks, trying to liberate their homes. And they eventually were instrumentalized by the various governments, whether Lebanon, Syria, Jordan. Different groups used them. And they were massacred, as well, by the Lebanese, by the Jordanians. They contributed to destabilization of Jordan, of Lebanon, as well.

And I think you will see something similar happening with the Iraqis, because we have much larger numbers, approaching three million, and many of them already have links with militias back home, of course, because to survive in Iraq you need some militia to protect you. And there are long-established smuggling routes for weapons, for fighters, etc.

And add to that the very sensitive sectarian issue in Syria, in Jordan. The Syrian regime is a minority regime perceived by radical Sunnis to be a heretical. Syria is a majority Sunni country. The majority of the refugees are Sunni. Syria has a good relationship with a Shia-dominated Iraqi government. There have been various Islamist opposition groups who have sought to overthrow their government in Syria. Jordan, as well, has its own Islamist opposition. We’re likely eventually to see, as Sunnis are pushed more and more out of Baghdad and as the militias are pushed into the Anbar Province, that they might link up with Islamist groups in Syria, in Jordan, in Lebanon.

Two themes, both of which I’ve described before.

First, the Sunni Arabs have now lost a second country. The first time, they lost Palestine to survivors of the Holocaust. Now, they are losing it to heathens living in the rear-end of the Arab world, the Shia. The Iraq War was about feedback, about demonstrating the consequences of running an entire civilization into the ground. There is no reason to think that the effects of losing Iraq will be any less than the consequences of losing Palestine.

Second, Islam is the answer. Since decolonization, the Sunni Arab states that have gone most off the rails have adopted some form of socialist secular nationalism, such as the Baath Party, Naserism, etc. Surprisingly, banishing God and the market doesn’t do much for national health. Because Sharia incorporates market mechanisms, Islamist parties such as the Muslim Brotherhood appear to be in the best position to lead their countries forward.

14 thoughts on “From Palestine to Iraq”

  1. I don't buy that Islam is the answer.

    Islam and the culture that goes with it is a destructive force. It is not a modernizing stabilizing force.

    The golden age of Islam was because there were still Christians and and Jews in the societies keeping things dynamic.

    When Islam crowds out everything, the society stagnates.

    Are the areas of Europe that are going islam becoming more stable, more market driven, more peaceful, etc. No.

    They are bastions of intolerance, violence, and brutality.

    Pushing Islam on the world is sentencing people to misery, servitude and wasted potential.

    Islam is not the Answer.

    Islam is the Problem.

  2. PurpleSlog –

    “Islam and the culture that goes with it”

    This opening statement highlights your lack of knowledge of Islam – there are many many cultures that “go with” Islam, not just one. I think a key is figuring out how to encourage the ascendancy of the more Western-favorable cultures and interpretations of Islam rather than the Wahhabist etc. versions.

    Secondly, if Islam is the problem as you assert, what's the policy prescription? Convert them all to some other religion? Isolate all Muslim countries from the rest of the global economy? Ha.

  3. Purpleslog,

    The goal isn't to get Islam to a golden age. The goal is to reverse the steady destruction of Sunni Arab civilization that began in 1945 and only gets worse.

    The question is, “Would the Muslim Brothers do better than the Mubaraks and the Asads?” The answer, I think, is “probably.”

    Adrian,

    Certainly any sort of culture might consider itself Islamic, but in the context of this question, “Islam” as a culture refers to a societal ruleset centered on the Koran, the hadiths, and (most importantly) the sharia.

  4. “Certainly any sort of culture might consider itself Islamic, but in the context of this question, “Islam” as a culture refers to a societal ruleset centered on the Koran, the hadiths, and (most importantly) the sharia.”

    Right – and there are many different rulesets based on the Koran, hadiths and sharia. Wahhabism is only one of many possible interpretations. Why declare war on all possible interpretations when you are really only worried about a few of them?

  5. Adrian:

    “This opening statement highlights your lack of knowledge of Islam…”

    You're right. I certainly could not write up the differences in the the Sunni sub-sect, the Shia sub-sects and the various hybrids without checking references. Also, when I was reading the Koran I wanted to smash my head against my desk just to improve the moment.

    So what?

    I may be reading to much into your comments (and please correct me if I am), but you seem to be equating Islam as just a religion.

    Islam is more then that.

    Islam is three things: It is a practicing cultural religion; it is a legal system (sharia); It is a trans-national political movement.

    “I think a key is figuring out how to encourage the ascendancy of the more Western-favorable cultures and interpretations of Islam rather than the Wahhabist etc. versions.”

    I would assert that there are not western (or modern) friendly interpretations of Islam that are anything more then on the fringes of Arab/Islamic civilization. Mostly what you would call pro-western, I would call a combination of propaganda and wishful thinking.

    Also, what TDAXP calls Arab Secular states, were not Islam free…they were Islam lite. I don't think it was a lack of more Islam that causes them to be bad and sometimes fail. This is one of the places TDAXP and I disagree on things.

    “Secondly, if Islam is the problem as you assert, what's the policy prescription? “

    First, my comment is made toward TDAXP post that Islam is the prescription for the failure of states/society in the Arab/Islamic Civilization (because Islam has legalistic and mercantile attributes, etc.). The what-is-needed-is-more-Islam is the same idea of the Islamic fundamentalist.

    You suggest that counters to Islam such as conversion/isolation and while not stated explicitly, presumably extinction/destruction) are not options.

    Let me ask these questions of you:

    Why is conversion (to another religion/legal-system/political-philosophy, or away from religion) not an option? Honestly, Isn't turning Islam to a western-and-modern-friendly-brand-of-Islam conversion too since would be in effect a different religion.

    Why is Isolation not an option?Is it that is should not be done, or that it can't be done?

    It seems to me if you won't or can't convert Islam and if you won't or can't contain/isolate Islam, then the west and the modern world are left with three options:

    1) Hoping that the marginal fringe parts of Islam that may (or may not really be) pro-western become ascendant.

    2) Eventually submitting to Islamic rule, or converting to Islam.

    3) Destroying Arab/Islamic civilization (or going down trying)

    I don't like the above three options very much.

    Option 1 seems of low probability. Why would the more traditional strains of Islam become descendant if the west does nothing to contain or convert it?

    As for option 2, there are plenty of useful idiots in the west who would convert or submit or at least signal their willingness to.

    Many would not, which leads us to option 3. The USA can destroy Arab/Islamic civilization is we are forced to. It won't be pretty. Our Allies won't help us. The international community will be outraged (and secretly relieved). The US will be torn apart about that kind of genocide. Globalization will end for awhile. Lots of bad things.

    I like to think of option 3 as “Plan B”.

    Plan “A” is containment, conversion, and rollback.

    Signaling weakness (appeasement) is not part of this plan. Ruling out options ahead of time is not.

    Pressing Arab/Islamic civilization's actors (and supporting actors) across the domains of power (e.g. military, diplomatic, cultural, economic) is part of the plan. Having a long time frame is part of the plan. Pushing for modernization is. Playing off A/I actors against one another is. Rewarding friends and punishing opponents is.

    Plan A is what we want to have work. If doesn't though, we are left with plan B.

  6. Purpleslog:

    I never said Islam is “just a religion.” The assertion would be meaningless. Even in the “secular” West, some religions dictate your entire life, others dictate 90 minutes on Sunday, some dictate politics, some dictate personal relationships, etc. The key is that there are many Islams, there are many different interpretations of sharia (some “good” some “bad” from our point of view). Sharia is not a big book of legal decisions based on Islam that guide policy in Muslim nations – it is more like a mindset you are supposed to be in when you devise laws and constitutions. In Iraq all of the imams called for the new Iraqi constitution to be based on sharia, even though they were arguing for different constitutions.

    “I would assert that there are not western (or modern) friendly interpretations of Islam that are anything more then on the fringes of Arab/Islamic civilization. Mostly what you would call pro-western, I would call a combination of propaganda and wishful thinking.”

    If, as you acknowledge, you are largely ignorant of Islam, on what basis are you making this judgment? And by “friendly”, I don't mean the type of interpretation that you would want to live under – I mean the type that would make for acceptable neighbors.

    Of your three options, 1 is reasonable, 2 is, IMO, a complete fantasy concocted by Michelle Malkin-types who see a terrorist around every corner, and 3, the “clash of civilizations”, is totally unnecessary but may be a self-fulfilling prophecy if the wrong people get in power.

    Isolation is not an option because the West needs the resources of the Muslim world to function. Mass conversion to Christianity or any other religion is an Ann Coulter-type pipe dream and would result in the active hostility of one billion people.

  7. Adrian:

    I admit my ignorance of the lower level details of Islam. How did you become an expert – you are an expert on all of the low-level details, right?

    “If, as you acknowledge, you are largely ignorant of Islam, on what basis are you making this judgment? And by “friendly”, I don't mean the type of interpretation that you would want to live under – I mean the type that would make for acceptable neighbors”

    What type of Islam are you suggesting then?

    I will need something beyond the now slowly failing Turkish model, or that of tiny little gulf states sitting on uber-piles of oil supplied dollars.

    Everywhere I see Islam in the world I see conflict internally and at the borders. Perhaps if I had a better understanding of Islam I could explain such things away.

    “Isolation is not an option because the West needs the resources of the Muslim world to function. “

    I think you mean “resource” not “resources”.

    The only resource the west needs from the Arab/Islamic world is petro. Nothing else. The Arab/Islamic world offers nothing else. Petro they only offer as a coincidental consequence of living on top of it. A way for the west (well the entire non Arab/Islamic world) to isolate the Arab/Islamic world is to remove dependency on petro. Networks of small nuclear reactors and (in the future) solar power satellites can be used to power electrical grids and create hydrogen for mobile vehicles and backup/peak power generation. The rest of the world can then handle the remaining petro needs. So isolation to some large extent can occur. Why is this not an option?

    Perhaps I am wrong here. Is there another resource from the Arab/Islamic world that the west needs?

    “2 is, IMO, a complete fantasy concocted by Michelle Malkin-types who see a terrorist around every corner, and 3”

    “Mass conversion to Christianity or any other religion is an Ann Coulter-type pipe dream and would result in the active hostility of one billion people.”

    Presumably, if they converted of their own free will only the imams on others who powers flows from Islam existing will be hostile. Though I suppose there are at least 1 billion totalitarian-loving leftists that would go ballistic.

    What are “Michelle Malkin-types”? Also are you sayoing is Islam not dangerous for the world because there is not an Islamic “terrorist around every corner”? Is that the standard you are going by?

    Adrian, I know you are afraid of the wrong people getting into power (I assume that you mean people who will actively defend the west and go for a Plan-A happy ending, but implement a Plan B if need be), but if you really think that “hoping that the marginal fringe parts of Islam that may (or may not really be) pro-western become ascendant” is reasonable, while I appreciate your honesty, there really isn't much if any common ground between us to discuss on policy options.

    Is that the only related public policy option you are suggesting? There must be more.

  8. There are many non-exclusive policy options. There's nothing really wrong with your Plan A if you interpret “conversion” as within Islam rather than from Islam to other religions. If, hypothetically, non-threatening interpretations of Islam could dominate, would you agree this would be preferable (easier, more achievable and less blowback) than attempting to delete Islam?

    I'm not sure what you mean by rollback – if I interpret it as the SysAdmin function to rollback state failure, rather than a rollback of Islam in general, I would agree with it (but not make it the centerpiece of any strategy).

    Other strategies include resilience, trying to resolve the things that piss Muslims off like the Israel/Palestine dispute – common sense stuff.

    By “Michelle Malkin types” I am referring to people who yell about “dhimmitude” and think that somehow America will become an Islamic state. I find that totally ridiculous.

    You're right about us needing connection to the Arab world primarily for their oil. An oil-independent economy would be a great thing, but that's a long-term strategy. By the time its achieved I would hope this “war on terror” thing is done with.

  9. Read the Qu'ran, guys. You'll find:

    (1) Jesus is revered by Muslims, and acknowledged as having a seat at God/Allah's right hand (though they do disagree with the notion of corporeal divinity);

    (2) Mother Mary is mentioned more than twice as many times in the Qu'ran as in the New Testament (and our Muslim neighbors on 9/11 — a US Navy physician and his lawyer wife — had a daughter named Maryam after the Virgin Mary);

    (3) “Jihad” means personal struggle with internal demons (like addiction or apostasy).

    IMHO (ok, not so “humble” — IMO), you can find snippets in the Torah, New Testament and Qu'ran to justify any policies and actions you want. Check out Revelation Chapter 18 and compare the “Woe” of Babylon to what NYC suffered on 9/11. Then ask yourself who is the “righteous” one.

    Ironically, the Sunni sect has historically been more tolerant of diversity and peaceful coexistence than Shi'a…

  10. Shane:

    I am not a revelations kind of guy.

    When thinking about policy stuff, I don't judge religious movements by their sacred books, but by their actions, capabilities and intention.

    Adrian: The War is going to take along time – decades. Long-term solutions are appropriate. Especially if a tech solutions doesn't require the goodwill and cooperation of the Arab/Islamic world.

    “If, hypothetically, non-threatening interpretations of Islam could dominate, would you agree this would be preferable (easier, more achievable and less blowback) than attempting to delete Islam?'

    Yes. But I assign a low probability to thatas a possibility.

    “I'm not sure what you mean by rollback – if I interpret it as the SysAdmin function to rollback state failure, rather than a rollback of Islam in general, I would agree with it (but not make it the centerpiece of any strategy).”

    I mean both.

    “trying to resolve the things that piss Muslims off like the Israel/Palestine dispute”
    Unless the US is going to be okay with the destruction of Israel, we are going to resolve that issue in a manner agreeable to the A/I.

    “…think that somehow America will become an Islamic state. I find that totally ridiculous.”

    It won't get that far. Even though a non-trivial percentage of the US population might submit, Plan B will be invoked before it comes to that.

  11. Shane,

    You're right on the literary questions of the Koran.

    I've written about Islam in the context of Christianity before [1]. I would appreciate your thoughts.

    PurpleSlog,

    When Gamal Naser took over Egypt, he literally liquidated Islamic civil society — the trusts and charities that had been established over the generations were seized and put to use in building a socialist paradise. I imagine that similar secular overturning of Islamic culture happened in every Arab state that succumbed to the nationalist-secularists (Libya, Syria, Iraq, etc.).

    PS: Thanks for the link to this series! [2]

    Adrian,

    The core would be able to engage in natural resource extraction with minimal impact on the lives of the common citizens — that is already what China is doing in Africa. [3]

    Islam, especially as common among the Sunni Arabs, needs to be “reformed” in the Jewish (take it away from its roots) and not the Christian (kill thou enemy [4]) sense.

    [1] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2006/09/23/jesusism-paulism-part-v-the-people-of-the-book.html
    [2] http://purpleslog.wordpress.com/2007/08/26/the-us-need-a-plan-a-that-works-so-dont-need-to-rn-plan-b/
    [3] http://www.tdaxp.com/archive/2007/08/23/not-rogue-just-not-enough.html
    [4] http://www.thomaspmbarnett.com/weblog/2007/08/the_renovation_not_liberalizat.html#comment-62911

  12. arab sunni nationalists are resisting to american
    judeo colonization and they will free irak from
    this barbarian criminal americans.

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