Monday, October 26, 2009

Pakistan: A State of Denial

Ignoring the practically obligatory anti-Israel stuff at the end, this has, pretty much, been my line of thinking for the past several years - except that I now know that "recalling some historical facts" will do nothing to reduce anti-Americanism (or anti-Zionism or anti-Semitism) unless a populace is ready emotionally to accept them.
...Similarly, some conspiracy theorists believe that Al Qaeda does not exist and the Sept 11, 2001 attacks were the handiwork of Israeli agents. The fact that Osama bin Laden has taken responsibility for 9/11 and all those involved in it were Arab nationals has not deterred the ardent believers of conspiracies.

How should one explain such a state of denial? It is not a case of not knowing the facts. Actually, the conspiracy theorists do not want to believe anything that comes in the way of their firmly held views: firstly, that the US, Israel and India are the arch enemies of Muslims; secondly, that the militants involved in the struggle against anti-Islam forces must be absolved of any charge of brutal excesses...

What kind of mentality is helping create sympathy for violent extremism? How is it that extremists are attracting so many adherents? No doubt, the majority are drawn from madressahs where young boys are subjected to relentless brainwashing. But some supporters are well-educated people. It is important, therefore, to understand the phenomenon of ‘Talibanisation’ since military measures alone cannot destroy Al Qaeda and the Taliban. In the final process, ideas must be fought with ideas...To counter Talibanisation and the religious fanatics, it needs to be emphasised, firstly, that they have done a grave disservice to Islam’s image by their senseless violence and brutality. Secondly, the rampant anti-Americanism that is providing so many recruits for Al Qaeda can be countered by recalling some historical facts...

Monday, October 05, 2009

Diseased Thinking

"with what is now known about the costs in blood and treasure that the U.S.-Israeli relationship has imposed on the U.S., its key ally, Israel could fall within five years...Absent external pressure, Israeli behavior will not change."

There's a lot of misinformation in this article, but especially misleading is the thinking that U.S. military and economic support keeps Israel alive. This probably has its roots in the lie circulated by Arab leaders in the aftermath of the Six-Day War that it was the U.S. and Britain that defeated them, not Israel.

Consider that until the 1967 war the Soviet Union and France were Israel's biggest arms suppliers, and that U.S. support for Israel didn't really take off until the 1973 war. How did that happen?

In October 1973, after initial retreats from the sudden attacks of the Egyptian and Syrian armies on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year, the Israel Defense Forces defeated the Egyptian 2nd Army and totally surrounded and cut off the Egyptian 3rd Army. The U.S., trying to pry Egypt from the Soviet orbit as part of the Cold War, didn't want to see the Egyptian Army destroyed.

Thus the U.S. issued Israel an ultimatum, and Israel faced a choice: either destroy the Egyptian 3rd Army and forgo substantial U.S. military and economic aid, or let the Egyptian Army remain trapped, but unmolested and re-supplied with food and water.

Israel chose to let the trapped Egyptians remain alive, new cease-fire lines were drawn, and eventually Israel permitted the evacuation of all but a fraction of the Egyptians. After a few years, Egypt and Israel signed a peace treaty.

So U.S. aid isn't what keeps Israel strong enough to destroy Arabs. U.S. aid is a massive bribe to Israel NOT to destroy or uproot Arabs and crush their armies. After all, everyone says Israel is the strongest military power in the region, and that it's the policy of the U.S. to keep it that way.

Now suppose Israel is faced with the prospect of decreased U.S. support, or increased U.S. support for its enemies who wish to destroy Israel and slaughter at least its Jewish population. What do you think Israel's response will be?

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Another Saudi-sponsored "Inter-religious dialogue" conference

This time, it's in Geneva. I am not particularly impressed with the Inter-religious dialogue efforts to date. I suppose some conference invitees are thrilled with it because they get to press hands with heads-of-state, eat sumptuous food, and enjoy royal gifts. However, last year's conference ended on a sour note when the organizers tried to issue a final statement without approval of the attendees.

The authorized guidelines for the entire effort were settled at the June, 2008 Islamic Preparatory Conference on Religious Dialogue - the "Makkah initiative" referred to in the article. Among other things, these can be read as directing Muslim delegates to proselytize and not listen to others, and if they do listen to protect against "demoralization". link

Were these guidelines meant for real, or are they just pieces of paper necessary to pursue a genuine effort? In my opinion, this is the point where the Dialogue stalls.

Will taking the Dialogue to the grassroots by help it break through this barrier? Or will deeper roots will add to the intellectual inertia that prevents Dialogue from going forward. I think the latter is the case - and Abdullah Al-Turki, chief organizer of these conferences as head of the Muslim World League, knows this.