Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Unapologetic insolence from an aging subversive

Monday, 17 September 2012

Anger and Islam



Demonstration against "The Innocence of Muslims" in Baghdad



























Back in the 70s, to finish off one of my degrees, I studied Islam and its context and relationship to other monotheistic religions. Back then, it was regarded by those Australians who had heard of it (and there weren’t too many) as a quaint and harmless set of beliefs whose adherents prayed a lot but were generally pretty much like everyone else.

Since that time, I’ve had a fair bit to do with Muslims, including people who operated a chain of grocery stores and an obstetrician whom I got to know well when I lived up north. For a while I employed a Muslim woman at my special school. She was a compassionate individual for whom no task was impossible even with the most difficult and demanding children.

 My current GP is Muslim, although he’s lapsed a bit, much as I have with my Catholic faith.

My contact with these people has been generally very positive.

Recently I’ve noticed people in full chadri on the streets of Toowoomba, which I find simply incongruous. Something has changed in the last 20 years.

Rather than write it off as the rise of radical Islam, and to suggest that the solution is simply to take military action – essentially retaliation – I think a quick and dirty historical analysis might go some way towards understanding what is really happening.

On 11th September 2001, radicals who used the name of Allah as justification, killed over 3000 people in New York, Washington and Pennsylvania. Prior to this, there had been deadly attacks in Yemen (USS Cole) and the US embassies in Africa.

The USA attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan, and by dint of the use of technology and setting up proxies amongst the tribal groups there, cleaned them up quickly and comprehensively. So far so good, although the leader (Bin Laden) escaped.

Then it went pear-shaped. The Coalition of the Willing invaded Iraq on the pretext that the regime possessed weapons of mass destruction that were a threat to the west, and specifically to the state of Israel. The level of anger against the west escalated rapidly in Islamic communities across the world. There was a terrorist attack in Bali which killed many Australians.

A protracted struggle commenced in Iraq which killed (conservatively) over 110000 civilians. Literally millions fled the country, many of them Christians and members of minority groups. The coalition eventually extracted themselves but left a country destabilised and at risk of greater chaos in an already unstable region. Refugees from this conflict are a continual issue for many countries, including this one. Reports of bombing atrocities from Iraq continue to be routine.

As in other parts of the Middle East, there were demonstrations on the streets of Baghdad as a response to “The Innocence of Muslims”.

The question is – have we learned anything from this history?

To react with blanket condemnation of Muslims and to claim that they define themselves by their religion and won’t “assimilate” denies the course of history prior to 9/11 and the rise of radical Islam. As pointed out above there are generations of Australian born Muslims who weren’t really noticed as a minority group in years gone by. Let’s not conflate the thugs who kill and maim in the name of Islam with the vast majority who have contributed to our community and continue to do so.

History has shown that radical Islam feeds on violence. Military intervention resembles throwing petrol on a fire.

Remember the IRA? They too were violent thugs. They were also generally Catholics. Imagine the outrage if Catholics in Australia had been marginalised by association because of the bombing campaign in Belfast and elsewhere not that long ago. Nor did military intervention ultimately create peace in Northern Ireland.

That required patience, a political process and working towards reconciliation.

Whilst there is still tension in and around the six counties, the killing has effectively stopped. Maybe we should look at how peace was engineered in Northern Ireland before we advocate violence in the form of military action as a legitimate way of destroying radical Islam.

At the risk of sounding flippant, perhaps the fact that there were no reserves of sweet crude in Northern Ireland made peace-making there slightly more straightforward.

The first statement in the Downing Street Declaration which underpinned the peace process was –
The British government has no "selfish strategic or economic" interest in Northern Ireland.
 
I wonder if such a statement could ever be made by the USA in reference to the Middle East?

16 comments:

Richard Sharpe said...

Amazing! Time travelling extremists set off a bomb in Bali in retaliation for a war that didn't start until the next year.

1735099 said...

Amazing! Logic shifting Richard Sharpe assumes specific cause and effect.

Richard Sharpe said...

Then it went pear-shaped. The Coalition of the Willing invaded Iraq on the pretext that the regime possessed weapons of mass destruction that were a threat to the west, and specifically to the state of Israel. The level of anger against the west escalated rapidly in Islamic communities across the world. There was a terrorist attack in Bali which killed many Australians.


Iraq was invaded in March 2003. The Bali bombing was Oct 2002. The chronology in your little "historical analysis" is incorrect. But hey, why let pesky little things like facts get in the way?

1735099 said...

Iraq was invaded in March 2003. The Bali bombing was Oct 2002. The chronology in your little "historical analysis" is incorrect. But hey, why let pesky little things like facts get in the way?

The Chronology in no way makes any difference to my analysis, which you have completely ignored. The Bush Doctrine (promulgated 20th September 2002) made no secret of the fact that invasion of countries in the Middle East was a favoured option. The first Bali bombing occurred on 12th October 2002. Islamic terrorist networks believed (correctly as it turned out) that the US would act unilaterally in Iraq. Rumsfeld was quoted as early as 2000 advocating the removal of Saddam Hussein, and it was part of the Republican platform the same year.

We support the full implementation of the Iraq Liberation Act, which should be regarded as a starting point in a comprehensive plan for the removal of Saddam Hussein and the restoration of international inspections in collaboration with his successor. Republicans recognize that peace and stability in the Persian Gulf is impossible as long as Saddam Hussein rules Iraq.

You have a strange and persistent tendency to be distracted by trivia, whilst the big picture sails right over your head. I’m glad you weren’t my platoon commander in 1970. I could image you leading us into a minefield whilst getting stuck into your sig over a breach of radio protocol.

Anonymous said...

Come on numerical wonder, even us civvies know that platoon commanders do not "lead" any where except to the shitter. Generally the scouts lead and are followed by everyone else. There are probably no fewer than ten well ahead of the "leader".

1735099 said...

You have both an Aspergic approach to the written word, and a strange notion of "leadership".
I doubt that your contention that platoon commanders do not lead any where except to the shitter would be acceptabe to anyone who has served or is serving.

Richard Sharpe said...

Firstly, before conducting any analysis it always pays to do your research. Analysis on incorrect data is flawed before you start. Quoting the Bush Doctrine as a feeble attempt to distract from the fact that you were just pain wrong does not validate your already flawed analysis, it makes it worse. Do you have anything at all to back up your clairvoyant understanding that policy wonks in JI were so incensed at the release of a US policy of preemptive strike that they decided to bomb a nightclub in Bali?  

I find it more than a little disturbing that a teacher would think that getting the historical chronology right is mere trivia. I do hope that you never taught history. I also hope that your platoon commander in Vietnam knee the difference between the TFAO and his own TAOR. That little piece of "trivia" is a control measure to prevent blue on blue contacts. As for leading my platoon into a minefield, anonymous is partly right. There would be a lead section in front of the boss. The lead scout of that section would have the unenviable job of looking for mine markings or sign. That's a job for someone with a keen eye and a good reputation for attention to detail, which is probably why you were arse end Arnold in charge of the jelly beans.  

As for your "analysis", you lightly skip over the lead up to the 9/11 attacks, and the attacks themselves, as though they are somehow unrelated to subsequent events. You posit that what really got the Islamic world all riled up was the invasion of Iraq. That ignores the chronology (there's that word again) of terrorist attacks that occurred before the US had committed troops anywhere. How does the World Trade Centre Bombing in 1993 fit into your theory? What was the motivation for the embassy bombings in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998? Which US military expedition into dar al Islam provoked the second attack on the World Trade Centre in 2001? The celebrations in the streets of the Islamic world on hearing the news of the 9/11 attacks indicates a visceral hated of America that well and truly pre-dates the 2003 Iraq War.  

Your IRA comparison is also a false one. The motivations of the two groups were very different. The IRA was looking for a political outcome, although framed within a sectarian construct. It was also a localised dispute over the northern portion of a small island. Al Qaeda, and their supporters and subsidiary franchises, are motivated by religious supremacy and their aims are global. The Pattani Muslim insurgency in Thailand and the Moro Liberation Front in the Philippines have nought to do with American foreign policy or military actions, but are actively supported by al Qaeda in furtherance of their aim of achieving a global caliphate under Islamic jurisprudence. Jemaah Islamiyah, the Indonesian group found to haave been responsible for the Bali bombings, are an offshoot of al Qaeda, and use the same tactics to achieve the same aims.

I'm not sure how much time you've spent living in Muslim countries (as opposed to meeting some Muslims living in Australia), but the religion itself is in dire need of a reformation. Individual Muslims can indeed be lovely people, but once you've witnessed first hand a woman publicly flogged for indecency when her veil came loose trying to control an unruly child, tolerance for the "Religion of Peace" wears thin. The response to a YouTube video over the last week has hardly been surprising, given that 19 odd people died after a Danish guy drew some cartoons, and a Dutch filmmaker was murdered for making a film. The writing has been on the wall for decades. Remember what happened to Salman Rushdie? Tell me that had anything to do with the US invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Anonymous said...

"leading us into a minefield"
I guess that means the platoon commander wouldn't be up front while he's giving the sig a serve. I guess if he was giving the sig what for he wouldn't be on the move at all because on the move there would have been complete silence and comms by hand signals.
"I’m glad you weren’t my platoon commander in 1970"
You'd be glad I wasn't your commander either....I'd have rearmed you with an M16,turned you into a scout, given you a
grid reference to find and taken the rest of the platoon somewhere else.
It is good to see that someone like you can create insults using the discription of a disabled person, but then you have a lot of experience in that area according to your self indulgent scribblings.
I wonder if you have learned anything from you postings....anything that makes sense, even partially, goes without drawing comment and everything else draws mockery and derision.
Anyone reading my comment about platoon commanders, who could possibly find the comment unacceptable, would understand that although it is in fact tongue in cheek, would also know that platoon commanders are not physically found at the front of a patrol.

1735099 said...

discription (sic) of a disabled person
Aspergers Syndrome is not necessarily a disability. One characteristic of the condition is the inability of the reader to place more than one meaning on a written (or for that matter a spoken)word at a time. In the sense that I used it, "lead" meant to be in charge of or responsible for. You're fixated on the literal sense i.e. someone physically in front. It's surprising that any explanation is necessary.

1735099 said...

Quoting the Bush Doctrine as a feeble attempt to distract from the fact that you were just pain (sic) wrong does not validate your already flawed analysis, it makes it worse.

The only detail that was “wrong” was the sequence. I’d contend that the sequence had very little to do with it. The fundamentalists abhorred the US position on the Middle East which saw military adventure and occupation as legitimate, and retaliated using very effective asymmetric warfare. In a sense, this meant the locus of control of the situation moved to Al Qaida, in that their acts of terrorism set up a conventional military response. This military reaction led to further bloodshed and tragedy which destroyed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people, and continues to do so.

policy wonks in JI

To use the term “policy” in reference to the mindset of fundamentalists is bizarre. There is nothing rational about their behaviour, but that behaviour is nevertheless fairly predictable. It seems that the military mind coverts the notion that loosely affiliated groups whose only connecting factor is their belief in jihad, plan and execute in the same way as an organised nation state.

anonymous is partly right

No, he (and you apparently) have a very narrow understanding of the word “lead”.

That ignores the chronology (there's that word again) of terrorist attacks ………………………………..visceral hated of America that well and truly pre-dates the 2003 Iraq War.

Apparently the last sixty plus years of Western adventurism and Zionist conquest in the Middle East simply hasn’t happened. Much has been forgotten or glossed over, including (for example) the Dalet (Plan D) which displaced 750,000 to 800,000 people – men, women and children. Hundreds or thousands of others were killed. 531 Arab villages and 11 urban neighbourhoods in Tel-Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem and other cities were simply obliterated. Resentment over this and literally hundreds of examples since 1948 of what can only be described as genocide has smouldered. Massacres such as Sabra and Shalita are generally unknown in the west, but they are facts of history.

1735099 said...

sectarian construct.

If you read my reference to the IRA a little more carefully, you might understand that I was referring to two separate issues. The first was the demonization of a whole group by association with their lunatic fringe.

Imagine the outrage if Catholics in Australia had been marginalised by association.

The second was to point out that the solution was not military adventurism.

use the same tactics

The use of military terms is symptomatic of the fact that many westerners, especially those who see the world in black and white, have no grasp of Islamic thought. There is deep tragedy embedded in this fundamental misunderstanding, but it will continue whilst the media uses the clash of civilisations as a metaphor. We may end up with a classic self-fulfilling prophecy if ham fisted responses (exemplified by the use of terms such as “War on Terror”) are perpetuated.

the religion itself is in dire need of a reformation

The arrogance of this statement beggars belief. Islam is a spectrum of beliefs and practices, which vary at least as widely as the vast range of Christian sects. The notion that modern Islam is a wholly fundamentalist set of medieval tenets is an artefact of the twenty-first century inspired by ignorance and stereotype.

a woman publicly flogged for indecency when her veil came loose trying to control an unruly child

Hardly confined to Islam. My father was savagely horsewhipped and called a “dirty little Tyke” on the streets of Warwick, Queensland in the twenties, when out of curiosity; he wandered on to the property of a Protestant neighbour. That man’s religion (Church of Ireland) was allegedly a religion of peace.

19 odd people died after a Danish guy drew some cartoons

And 110000 died when an American guy decided to invade Iraq. Perhaps the sense of outrage is not disproportional.

Richard Sharpe said...

So, maybe not so far so good after Afghanistan with things only going pear shaped after the invasion of Iraq in 2003? It goes back a while, doesn't it? See what happens when you tease it out a bit more than your puddle deep first try?

It goes back further than 60 years though. Go and look up Muhammad al-Husseini to get an idea of how long militant Islam has been a modern problem.

I'm a bit confused as to the relevance of the anecdote about your father though. Was he punished in the name of God for his sins, or did he just happen to have been beaten by an irate Irishman of another denomination for trespass? I do hope you can tell the difference. Mind you, if you can't appreciate the difference between a war and a guy drawing some cartoons, I don't hold much hope.

1735099 said...

Muhammad al-Husseini

He’s notable because he cosied up to the Nazis. There is a vast difference between the degree and level of influence he had, and what has occurred worldwide since the Second World War. The occupation of Palestine is at the root of Muslim anger. This fact is largely ignored or denied in the west.

The advent of the internet has also been a powerful factor in the solidification of the movement across the globe. The bottom line is that many adherents of this faith have a legitimate beef against the west in general and the USA in particular.

Military intervention has made this worse. It’s time we looked at the seat of the fire (occupied Palestine). Patient dogged diplomacy will however have to overcome the right wing fundamentalist minority in Israel which wields influence way beyond its importance at home and abroad. If the USA put the resources and energy behind this cause with the enthusiasm they demonstrated when they invaded Iraq, success would be inevitable.

Peace can be made without threatening the security of the Jewish state. A two-state solution which initially focuses on the poverty and overcrowding in Gaza would be a good start.

I'm a bit confused

Never mind – I was pointing out that violence in the name of God is not confined to Islam.

Mind you, if you can't appreciate the difference between a war and a guy drawing some cartoons

Mind you, if you can't appreciate the difference in scale between 17 people killed in riots and 110000 killed in a war of invasion, I don’t hold out much hope.

Anonymous said...

"violence in the name of God is not confined to Islam"
Do you mean "violence in the name of a God"?

1735099 said...

No I meant exactly what I wrote. The Latin is - in nomen Dei

Anonymous said...

Great Latin translation. So you you really are a Roman Catholic.
With the belief in so many other gods rife on this planet, and no way to disuade the believers from their own beliefs it makes more sense to say "violence in the name of a God". Whether or not there is a deity is another question entirely.

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