Thursday, February 22, 2007
The Islamic mindset is varied, complex and sometimes contradictory like everyone else. What sets them a part are their aspirations. Muslims want the whole world to be Muslim. The difference in methods to achieve these aspirations are what defines the western labeling of different Muslim groups, Radicals or extremists, moderates, reformists and suicide bombers. What is new is the success of groups such as Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and many others against the West. When the Ottoman Empire was crushed in WW I, the Infidels of the world surpassed the Islamists in technology, education, wealth, and military power. This put a damper on Islamic aspirations. The success of tiny Israel against the combined armies of Islam was devastating. But the Islamist view of the world today is very different. High priced oil has brought wealth and education to Islam. A constant string of military success by extremists against the West and it’s super power, America has rekindled resolve among all Islamists that Islam can compete with the Infidels. The 9-11 attack was viewed as an atrocity by the West. However, Islamists all over the world but especially in the Middle East were dancing in the streets by the millions. Europe is in denial, Russia was beat in Afghanistan and cannot defeat Chechnya, and the Great Satan continuously retreats from determined confrontation. When the US is “thrown out of Iraq” the confidence of the Islamists will soar.
How did I get here? This is what’s new.
1. While surfing the web I came across this interesting article. What makes it a must read is the insight the very experienced documentary journalist provides into the psychology of suicide bombers. His conclusion is the same as mine the only thing you can do to stop them is kill them.
He is also the first writer to provide a coherent description of the difference between moderate and extremist Muslims:
“The main difference between moderate Muslims and extremists is that moderate Muslims don't think they will see the absolute victory of Islam during their lifetime, therefore they respect other beliefs. The extremists believe that the fulfillment of the Prophecy of Islam and ruling the entire world as described in the Koran, is for today.”
2. This collaborates the poll taken in the large Muslim community in Deerborne Michigan where 90% stated that Muslim nations should be ruled by Sharia law.
What is so frightening is similarities of moderate and extremist Muslims. That explains why moderate Muslims do not speak out against extremists, they share the same goals but not the same methods. The real threat to Americans and the west is Sharia law. In this, there is no difference between moderates and extremists. It also dovetails with goals of certain Muslims who do not support either the moderates or extremists. They call themselves reformists. As seen on Glenn beck over the last 2 months, reformists want an Islam of peace and equality and tolerance for others. They are a small minority just getting organized. They are the only ones that speak out against violence.
3. Let me throw in the results of a Gallop poll taken across the Middle East and reported in Times Online. Here are some highlights:
Percentage with unfavourable view of US in 2005 (all increased since 9/11 except where indicated:
79% Saudi Arabia
52% Iran (down from 63 in 2001)
65% Pakistan (down from 69 in 2001)
Gallup’s Centre for Muslim Studies in New York carried out surveys of 10,000 Muslims in ten predominantly Muslim countries. One finding was that the wealthier and better-educated the Muslim was, the more likely he was to be radicalised.
The surveys were carried out in 2005 and 2006. Along with an earlier Gallup survey in nine other countries in 2001, they represent the views of more than 90 per cent of the world’s Muslims.
A large number of Muslims supported the Western ideal of democratic government. Fifty per cent of radicals supported democracy, compared with 35 per cent of moderates.
Religion was found to have little to do with radicalisation or antipathy towards Western culture. Muslims were condemnatory of promiscuity and a sense of moral decay. What they admired most was liberty, its democratic system, technology and freedom of speech.
While there was widespread support for Sharia, or Islamic law, only a minority wanted religious leaders to be making laws. Most women in the predominantly Muslim countries believed that Sharia should be the source of a nation’s laws, but they strongly believed in equal rights for women.
This finding indicates the complexity of the struggle ahead for Western understanding. Few Western commentators can see how women could embrace the veil, Sharia and equal rights at the same time.
“We find that Muslim radicals have more in common with their moderate brethren than is often assumed. If the West wants to reach the extremists, and empower the moderate majority, it must first recognise who it’s up against.”
“ There is no significant difference in religiosity between moderates and radicals. In fact, radicals are no more likely to attend religious services regularly than are moderates.”
But it is the radicals who earn more and stay in school longer.”In fact, the surveys found that the radicals were more satisfied with their finances and quality of life than moderates.
Genieve Abdo, a senior Gallup analyst and author of Mecca and Main Street: Muslim Life in America After 9/11, said “We have to assume that these Islamic parties and movements that are coming to power are popular and have a large constituency. People are not just voting for a party, they are voting for a religion, a way of life.”
“a vote for Hamas was a vote against the former Palestinian government of Arafat rather than a vote for the extreme religious position of the new government.”
Liberty or Death
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
An interesting idea for an alternative party, one that has realistic goals and a novel process to allow every member to be engaged electronically. Their website is http://www.unity08.com/. Check them out, I think you will be impressed. I have included two sections of their main page for a quick look.
What is intriguing is the opportunity to participate, and everything will be done on-line so everyone goes to the convention and votes. Besides the disaffected in both parties, and we know they are legion, there is a great opportunity to pick up a portion of those who never vote, because many are internet surfers who would participate online but not physically. The college crowd will go nuts. 20M voters is not unrealistic. Depending on the platform there is an opportunity to attract a lot of independents.
Also good news is that you don't have to give up your current part membership to participate.
Any alternative to this sorry pack that is running in both parties is welome news.
We have set three specific goals, and are exploring how best to achieve them.
1. Goal One is the election of a Unity Ticket for President and Vice-President of the United States in 2008 – headed by a woman and/or man from each major party or by an independent who presents a Unity Team from both parties.
2. Goal Two is for the people themselves to pick that Unity Ticket in the first half of 2008 – via a virtual and secure online convention in which all American voters will be qualified to vote.
3. Goal Three, our minimum goal, is to effect major change and reform in the 2008 national elections by influencing the major parties to adopt the core features of our national agenda. With a group of voters who comprise at least 20% of the national electorate, we feel confident that our voters will decide the 2008 election.
Why Unity08 Will Succeed
Here are four reasons we believe the Unity08 movement will succeed:
1. The American people know that the current political system is broken and that the time is short to fix it.
2. A solidly-funded movement of up to 20,000,000 Americans can be built online in order to nominate a Unity Ticket of their choice for 2008.
3. Seeing the numbers, leaders in both parties will see that a Unity Ticket in 2008 represents the jolt the political system needs to get back on track.
4. The tens of millions of Americans who have not been voting out of cynicism toward the current system are likely to rally to new leadership with a new approach.
Liberty or Death
Monday, February 05, 2007
Lou Dobbs had a panel of experts, 1 Feb. 2007 that provided the most insightful analysis on Iran’s involvement in Iraq to date. I have provided excerpts below in blue and the the full transcript at:
This is the first time that anyone has solved the riddle of how Iranian weapons get to the Sunnis. I would like to highlight some of the facts in my words.
1. The Sunnis, insurgents and Al-Qaeda acting in loose coordination are creating 99% of the US casualties.
2. 70%, down from a high of 90% last year of US casualties are from sophisticated IEDs made in Iran. Snipers do 20% and fire fights 10%.
3. The Sunnis are as opposed to Iran as they are opposed to the Iraqi Shia.
4. ABRAHAMIAN: “Yes, I think actually, so far, ironically that Iran and the United States have been on parallel paths. Both have been supporting -- SCIRI and Dawa, who have formed the main Baghdad government.”
5. A critical observation, WOW! GERGES: “I just come from the Middle East. I cannot tell you the transformation that has taken place in the Sunni-dominated Arab world, anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian sentiment is becoming deeply hardened in the region. I mean, there is a major internal, intensive struggle in the Middle East...The anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian sentiments in the Sunni Arab-dominated world. And to put -- it's amazing. In the Arab world, the thing is Iran... And, in fact, most -- I mean, a majority of Sunnis believe that the United States and Iran are basically allied together against the Sunni, the Sunni minority in Iraq. And this is the irony, the paradox of the situation in Iraq.” Obviously we are not in concert with Iran, just the opposite, but we are supporting the same people in Iraq in the eyes of the Sunnis.
6. Suicide bombers, the major killer of the Shia, are all Sunnis. Shia culture does not glorify suicide like the Sunnis.
The Iranians are supporting the Sunnis/insurgents/Al-Qaeda with weapons and IEDs. And last week we saw the introduction of the SA-7 downing American helicopters. Obvious Russian weapons involvement. Wealthy Baathists are responsible for the insurgents who are mostly Sunni Iraqis and some foreigners. But the Iranians are not supporting them directly. Then how? Black market, maybe, but all roads lead to Syria. I don’t see anyone trucking weapons to the Sunnis through hundreds of miles of Shia Iraq when the Shia are targets of those weapons. If Syria, then it is Hezbollah. Syria is not going to have their fingerprints on the weapons directly, but certainly they are allowing it to happen. Connect the dots…. Iran – Hezbollah/Syria – Wealthy Iraqi Sunnis – cheap fighters of all types including Kurds but not Shia.
The Bush plan as stated can’t succeed. We can kill all the fighters we want, they are easily replaced. What about the wealthy Baathists? They are supported by all of our so-called regional allies who are Sunni. If we eliminate the wealthy Baathists our allies will freak. We can’t attack Iran. Why? Bush does not have the political capital and his speeches so far have been incredible weak. He has made no case against Iran except nukes. We can’t attack Syria for the same reason as Iran, no political capital and no case made to the American people. Who does that leave? Hezbollah. The good news is they are Shia. They are also going to bring down the democracy in Lebanon and will be the launch site for Iran to nuke Israel, which I wrote about before. The president needs to connect the dots for the American people; Hezbollah is complicit in the 99% American casualties and all of the Shia casualties. They are not our best target; Iran and the wealthy Baathists are, but they are a politically correct target. Our allies would strongly support us; it would re-stabilize Lebanon and take away Iran’s best proxy. Bush could claim hot pursuit when the Hezbollah flee to Syria and follow them there, wiping out them and any Syrians stupid enough to get in the way.
Joining me now, three leading authorities on Iran, Iraq and Iran's military ambitions. Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East and international studies at Sarah Lawrence College. And Ervand Abrahamian is a history professor at Baruch College, and we thank you for being here. General David Grange, one of the country's most distinguished military commanders, and it's always good to have you with us, Dave.
GERGES: Lou, one point must be made very clear. The Sunni-led insurgency is responsible for the death of almost 99 percent of American and coalition forces in Iraq. And the Sunni-led insurgency is as opposed to Iran and the Shias as it is opposed to basically the American military presence.
ABRAHAMIAN: Yes, I think actually, so far, ironically that Iran and the United States have been on parallel paths. Both have been supporting -- SCIRI and Dawa, who have formed the main Baghdad government. So their support has gone basically to them. So I think the idea that somehow Iranians are supporting insurgents, Sunnis against -- killing Americans, it could be possible. But it's very unlikely. I would say it's in the realm of absurdity.
GERGES: I just come from the Middle East. I cannot tell you the transformation that has taken place in the Sunni-dominated Arab world, anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian sentiment is becoming deeply hardened in the region. I mean, there is a major internal, intensive struggle in the Middle East...The anti-Shiite and anti-Iranian sentiments in the Sunni Arab-dominated world. And to put -- it's amazing. In the Arab world, the thing is Iran... And, in fact, most -- I mean, a majority of Sunnis believe that the United States and Iran are basically allied together against the Sunni, the Sunni minority in Iraq. And this is the irony, the paradox of the situation in Iraq.
GRANGE: Lou, you know, first of all, the Iranian influence in Iraq does not only support Shia death squads or militia or whatever, it also supports Sunni insurgents. In other words, their common enemy is the Americans. They still fight each other. If two out of three Americans die from IEDs, most of the IEDs are triggered or initiated by devices made in Iran, then their influencing the death of the American soldiers regardless of who pulls the trigger.
ABRAHAMIAN: It just is not possible in the Middle East context to think that Iranian officials would be providing lethal materials to Sunni, Baathist fanatics who kill other Shias. It's just not possible.
GERGES: But it doesn't make sense. It's against common sense. I can understand, for example, if Iranian arms are sold on the black market. I can understand if Syria supports some of these Sunni resistant groups. But truly Iran, it's against its interests to do so.
Liberty or Death