Sunday, March 30, 2008

Dealing with militant Islam

If you are liberal, you may have opinions on how to deal with militant Islam. I want to urge you to take a step back, and examine the evidence. If your opinion is simply the result of your dislike for Bush, you are not examining the evidence. Here are some questions to ask:

What does militant Islam want?
How does it plan to achieve those goals?
Can it be satisfied by concessions?
How does Iraq fit into the thinking of militant Muslims?

And the answers to these questions need to come from the statements of militant Muslims. It is not enough to think what answers they might give. You need to go find out what they are actually saying. Furthermore, you need to think about which statements are more helpful:

1) What they say, in English, to Westerners, or
2) What they say, in Arabic, to their own people.

I believe that the second group of statements is far more valuable. The first group of statements is intended to get Westerners to do what they want. Therefore, it is not particularly helpful in trying to understand their ultimate motivations. The statements that will explain what they want is what they say that is not intended for Western consumption.

Most readers of this probably don't speak Arabic. So you have to go to translations. That's why a book like the Al Qaeda Reader is so valuable. Raymond Ibrahim has gone to the trouble of finding what top al Qaeda leaders wrote, in Arabic, to the Muslim world. That is where you can get the best evidence of Al Qaeda's motivations, and its short-term and long-term goals.

If you research these questions, and you are honest with yourself when you look at the evidence, you will come to answers something like this:

1) Top militant Muslims, such as Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, want to convert the entire world to Islam. They have openly said so many times. (Here is another example) Furthermore, al Qaeda has won many supporters throughout the Muslim world. Therefore, it is fair to say that militant Islam, as a whole, is working towards this goal.

2) They plan to use force and violence to achieve these goals. They constantly say so, and they constantly glorify their violent deeds.

3) Short of the entire world converting to Islam and agreeing to adopt
Sharia law, no.

4) Top militant Muslims view the defeat of the U.S. in Iraq as a stepping stone to other, intermediate-term goals. Commonly-expressed goals include the overthrow of secular Muslim regimes such as those in Pakistan, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and the destruction of Israel. Examples are here and here.

If you are honest with yourself, and if you listen to what these people are saying, these are the conclusions you are likely to reach. And if you reach those conclusions, you will realize that in this fight, there can be no end save victory. And you also realize that like it or not, the Iraq war is part of this fight.

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