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Would a summit help in the war on Islamists?
Posted by: McQ on Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Janet Daley has an interesting article in The Guardian in which she discusses a wide range of issues pertaining to Islam, Europe and Islam's radical factions. Noting the impending visit to Turkey by the Pope she uses the opportunity to touch on the emerging "foreign policy" changes she sees in the offing which, for want of a better description, she finds lacking:
The first assumption that will have to go is the premise that Islamist terrorism can be understood in pragmatic, politically rational terms: in other words, that it can be addressed with the usual mechanisms of negotiation, concession and amended policy.

The most readily accepted version of this is that a change to our policy in the Middle East will remove the grievances that "fuel" Muslim terrorism. The Cabinet has apparently been advised that all foreign policy decisions over the next decade should have the goal of thwarting terrorism in Britain and that this should involve "a significant reduction in the number and intensity of the regional conflicts that fuel terror activity". So Britain is contemplating constructing a foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East, that is designed to give in to terrorist blackmail.
When we in the US use the term "appeasement" it is this sort of thinking to which it is applied. It seems terminally naive to believe that there is a solution to be found for fundamentalist religious terrorists within "pragmatic, politically rational terms". These terrorists have made it abundantly clear any number of times they aren't going to negotiate, they aren't open to concession and they aren't interested in concessions or "amended policy". While the terrorist may consider his goals completely rational, there isn't any inclination, desire or ability to compromise them. And even if there was, to what entity do you appeal and what entity has the power to treat for the rest of the terrorist groups involved?

Our real enemies are a loose confederation of extra-national organizations whose goals may involve an end-state which would have defined borders (the "Caliphate") but who operate without regard to national borders or governments. So, as noted, believing that some sort of traditional political and diplomatic process can be applied and be successful in satisfying groups such as that seems foolish.

However, the persistence of that belief brings us to a well-established and I think incorrect conclusion on the part of many in the west - the belief that if we change our foreign policy to accommodate and address what we think are the "root causes" of this Islamist movement, that we can somehow stop it.
Never mind that the hereditary grievance of almost all British-born Muslim terrorists is the Kashmir question, to which the almost entirely irrelevant Palestine issue has been tacked on by political manipulators with larger ambitions. (The easiest way to make a connection between the Palestine-Israel conflict and the problem of Kashmir is to construct a global theory of persecution in which British-born Muslims may see themselves as born into a victimhood perpetrated by all non-Muslim nations upon Islam.

That, as it happens, chimes perfectly with the true goal of Islamism, which is global supremacy.) So this ignominious posture – what you might call the "save our own skin; who cares what happens in the rest of the world?" view – is based on a false premise. It is not adjustments to our stance on Israel-Palestine that the international Islamist terror movement wants.
The last sentence is key. If your goal (no matter how unrealistic it may be in the eyes of others) is the global supremacy of your version of your religion, Israel-Palestine is an excuse, not a reason for what you're doing. And if Israel-Palestine, by some miracle, were to be solved, another excuse would quickly be found.

So what it comes down too, in order to address the threat properly, is a couple of acts of separation if we want to win this struggle. First we have to separate fact from fiction diplomatically if we want to put together a realistic policy to address the problem. Foremost in that must be the understanding that the nature of the enemy doesn't lend itself to diplomatic engagement, compromise or success. We also need to understand that while our foreign policy isn't the reason for the Islamist war against the west, it is an excuse (and a great recruiting tool). And regardless of how we tailor it or what compromises we unilaterally make, it will remain an excuse. Our foreign policy isn't the problem, their goals are.

That brings us to these conclusions:
The Pope characterised it as a battle between reason and unreason. Scholars may debate the theological and historical soundness of his analysis. But what is indisputable is that this is not an argument that is within the bounds of diplomatic give and take, the traditional stuff of international policy argy-bargy. What we could plausibly offer to the enemy, even at our most craven, would never be sufficient.

What is being demanded is the surrender of everything that Western democracy regards as sacred: even, ironically, the freedom to practise one's own religion, which, at the moment, is so useful to Muslim activists. We are forced to accept the Islamist movement's own estimation of the conflict: this is a war to the death, or until Islamism decides to call a halt.
That is the dark truth which we in the west must understand in order to begin to address the problem realistically. There is nothing, in reality, we can do that will satisfy the Islamists except total capitulation. Nothing.

Pretending that we can find a solution by amending our approach or withdrawing from certain areas or solving particular problems is simply that - pretending. We have to realize, as Daley points out, that like it or not, this is indeed a "war to the death" and finally address it as such.

How? By finally recognizing that reality and making the second and probably most important separation necessary:
How are we to deal with this? There is only one way: we must, with the co-operation of the Muslim majority, separate the faith from its violent exponents.

Liberal democracy reached an understanding with religion a long time ago: your right, as a citizen, to observe your faith without persecution will be explicitly protected by the state. In return, you will agree to make your peace with the civil law and respect the rights of others to pursue their beliefs. That's the deal. We cannot make exceptions either by removing Muslims who accept their side of the bargain from that protection, or by permitting those who refuse to accept it to flout our law (on, say, sexual equality or the overt slavery of forced marriages).

As Caroline Cox and John Marks argue in their book The West, Islam and Islamism, republished in a new edition by Civitas this week, it is imperative that we distinguish between the Islamic faith and Islamist ideology. If we accept – or even countenance – the view that the two are indistinguishable, we will either be paralysed by our own democratic commitment to religious freedom or forced to engage in all-out religious war.

If a majority of the Muslim community is prepared to separate itself, clearly and explicitly, from the terrorist faction, then we have a chance. If it is not, if it is swept up in the glamour of international victim status and the dark victory of glorious death, then we face generations of bloodshed.
The Muslim majority, who decries the hijacking of their religion is, for the most part, an entity with whom we can work with in some form and with whom we can negotiate and establish forms of policy, because they too want an end to what these factions have done in the name of their religion. And while, again, we're talking about an entity which is extra-national for the most part (although it would make sense to include leaders from Islamic states as well), in terms of the Islamists, those who make up the Muslim majority have similar goals and desires to those of the west.

So it is to our advantage, and theirs, to properly ally ourselves with them in order to address and defeat the Islamists. The West should make identifying and working with the Muslim majority (however we define that) a major focus of their political and diplomatic efforts. And it should be a united effort. Perhaps the result of a summit or multiple summits where the identified and accepted leaders of the Muslim majority (including leaders from moderate Islamic countries) meet with leaders of the West. The result of these sorts of efforts is where victory over Islamists can be formulated and executed. They are also where diplomacy, compromise, pragmatism and foreign policy would have a place.

While the Islamist sects make up a significant minority within the Muslim world, they remain a minority. In my opinion, enlisting the appropriate members of the Muslim majority, as acknowledged partners in the effort to defeat the Islamists, would be a huge step in the right direction.
 
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Biting my tongue to keep the sarcasm back, I’ll keep this as a straight question.

Quote:
The most readily accepted version of this is that a change to our policy in the Middle East will remove the grievances that "fuel" Muslim terrorism. The Cabinet has apparently been advised that all foreign policy decisions over the next decade should have the goal of thwarting terrorism in Britain and that this should involve "a significant reduction in the number and intensity of the regional conflicts that fuel terror activity". So Britain is contemplating constructing a foreign policy, specifically in the Middle East, that is designed to give in to terrorist blackmail.
When we in the US use the term "appeasement" it is this sort of thinking to which it is applied.
I see. So, therefore:
Foremost in that must be the understanding that the nature of the enemy doesn’t lend itself to diplomatic engagement, compromise or success.
Oh, I see. So then, while we consider this:
The Muslim majority, who decries the hijacking of their religion is, for the most part, an entity with whom we can work with in some form and with whom we can negotiate and establish forms of policy, because they too want an end to what these factions have done in the name of their religion. And while, again, we’re talking about an entity which is extra-national for the most part (although it would make sense to include leaders from Islamic states as well), in terms of the Islamists, those who make up the Muslim majority have similar goals and desires to those of the west.
So, the question.
Hey, when we hold our summit with the moderate Muslim majority, you know what they’re going to want from us in exchange for whatever form of cooperation they might provide?

Changes in our foriegn policy that look a lot like what you’re describing two paragraphs up as "appeasement".

Think I’m wrong? Hands?

Why? Because they are living in the environment and witnessing every day how geopolitical events - including those we create and whom our policies shape - either provoke violence and hatred, or do not.

In other words, because they live in the environment to witness first hand how bogus these cute lines of black and white are. The terrorists and the non-terrorists are kin. The
the nature of the enemy
is dynamic, not static, as are the goals. Fundamentalists become moderates and moderates become fundamentalists, and having your head in the sand about how US and global policies affect that dynamic is stupid. The ironic part is that on some level, the ideas of the Muslim summits reflect an understanding of that, even while the bombast of the entire first section of your post and your source’s post seem to deny it.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
"The Muslim majority, who decries the hijacking of their religion is..."

...actually a Yeti.

Or a UFO.

Or the Loch Ness Monster.

Or the Perpetual Motion Machine.

Or the same as a moderate Communist or National Socialist or Thugee.
 
Written By: J
URL: http://
Hey, when we hold our summit with the moderate Muslim majority, you know what they’re going to want from us in exchange for whatever form of cooperation they might provide?
Who knows? That’s the point of the summit(s).

They might actually have some constructive ideas. But with your attitude, and apparently your desire to lump all of Islam into one big unhappy family, we’d never find out.

Having a summit and exploring how to address this problem doesn’t at all mean one must give the store away, does it?
Changes in our foriegn policy that look a lot like what you’re describing two paragraphs up as "appeasement".
Not at all, unless you’re having difficulty understanding the point. We’re talking about foreign policy initiatives aimed at the majority, not appeasing the Islamist minority. That’s quite a difference.
Why? Because they are living in the environment and witnessing every day how geopolitical events - including those we create and whom our policies shape - either provoke violence and hatred, or do not.

In other words, because they live in the environment to witness first hand how bogus these cute lines of black and white are. The terrorists and the non-terrorists are kin. The nature of the enemy is is dynamic, not static, as are the goals. Fundamentalists become moderates and moderates become fundamentalists, and having your head in the sand about how US and global policies affect that dynamic is stupid.
No one claims it is static, but the "cute lines of black and white" aren’t drawn by our foreign policy nor the Muslim majority. And it is ridiculous to believe that radicalized and dedicated Islamists slip back and forth between "fundamentalists and moderates". There is absolutely no indication of that dynamic at all.

One of our biggest problems is we don’t know how to address the problem, and despite your acerbic comments, I notice, as usual, nothing but criticism without a single attempt at addressing a solution. You know all about what won’t work, but you seem to have no idea about what might work.
The ironic part is that on some level, the ideas of the Muslim summits reflect an understanding of that, even while the bombast of the entire first section of your post and your source’s post seem to deny it.
Again, that’s only true to someone who wants to lump all Muslims together and deny the separation I discuss and which I believe is key to addressing a solution. Given that, of course you arrive at your conclusion. It’s a result of very shallow, and dare I say it, "black and white" thinking.

It’s easy to blame it all on our foreign policy, deny that any excuse is excuse enough for our enemies and further deny that working within and with the Muslim majority might find a solution to the problem that is acceptable to both sides and defeats the radicals.

Of course that yields what? The status quo. And that’s working out real well, isn’t it?
 
Written By: McQ
URL: http://www.qando.net/blog
I think a Conference is an EXCELLENT idea...I say let’s bring a Ouija Board and see we can get Daladier, Chamberlain, and Benes to participate.
 
Written By: Joe
URL: http://
I’m in agreement with McQ on this one. Our current foreign policy is not working. I don’t believe that many on the Left or Right would defend it the idea of "staying the course" on foreign policy, so to speak. What has not happened is engagement. And I don’t mean talking to each Muslim majority nation individually. That hasn’t worked.

A large scale conference staged either unilaterally (US only) or under the auspices of NATO, SEATO, etc. with all of the world’s Muslim majority nations might actually accomplish something. If nothing else, it has the merit of never having been tried. Perhaps we can all gain some greater understanding of the other side’s positions and grievances.

Does Libya want the same things as Indonesia? Does Turkey want the same things as Pakistan? All these are answers that we don’t currently have. We’ve been stumbling in the dark using Cold War era assumptions in our foreign policy meanderings and it’s gotten us Iraq, Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, etc. That’s not progress; that’s regress. Time for a new gameplan guys.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: www.asecondhandconjecture.com
Fundamentalists become moderates and moderates become fundamentalists, and having your head in the sand about how US and global policies affect that dynamic is stupid.
The issue isn’t flux between moderates and fundamentalists, it is missidentifying moderates.

 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
The Muslim majority, who decries the hijacking of their religion is, for the most part, an entity with whom we can work with in some form and with whom we can negotiate and establish forms of policy, because they too want an end to what these factions have done in the name of their religion.
Muslim majority? A large minority supports terrorism, a small minority engages in terrorism, and a smaller minority decries the hijacking of their religion. The Muslim majority remains silent.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
They might actually have some constructive ideas. But with your attitude, and apparently your desire to lump all of Islam into one big unhappy family, we’d never find out.

Well, I think they might, as well. Actually, I think this summit would be a good idea. I suppose I could have mentioned that. My point was instead based on irritation at a perceived facile dualism between America-friendly, peace-loving Muslim masses and undeterrable, suicidal, caliphate-or-nothing terrorists. Both of these groups probably represent around 5 percent of the actual population.

So, it wasn’t the summit that set me off, but the uneccesary bashing of this:
So, as noted, believing that some sort of traditional political and diplomatic process can be applied and be successful in satisfying groups such as that seems foolish.
And yet, your genuinely constructive suggestion is in fact a traditional political-diplomatic process. You’re just pretending that it’s nothing at all like the appeasement you villify here:
- the belief that if we change our foreign policy to accommodate and address what we think are the "root causes" of this Islamist movement, that we can somehow stop it.
Your summit with Muslim moderates, leaders and ordinary citizens alike, are undoubtedly, as I said, result in a variety of demands to change our foriegn policy accomodate the root causes of the Islamic movement. That would be a good thing. And it doesn’t mean we have to stop killing or arresting people we are certain are specifically engaged in plotting to kill Americans, either.

The problem is, you’re setting your own strategy up for defeat. You want a summit with moderates, but right before that you demonize "accomodationist" foreign policy. Neither of us know what specific policy changes that would imply, but in the same way that accomodationist political compromises are an absolutely neccesary component to winning the Iraq insurgency, they are also an absolutely neccesary component to reducing terrorism in the long and short run.

Please pardon my acerbic tone. I’m not bashing your constructive suggestion. I’m bashing the terminal contradictions between the reasonable and the, to me, unreasonable sides of your post.
And it is ridiculous to believe that radicalized and dedicated Islamists slip back and forth between "fundamentalists and moderates". There is absolutely no indication of that dynamic at all.
scratch "radicalized and dedicated Islamists" with "Muslims". Or, leave it as it is. The first one is what I said and easier to document. Your phrasing still, however does not invalidate the point.

There’s no evidence of something called "recruitment?"

As for the reverse, perhaps you should read about the recent end of the Algerian war, the history of the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt over the past several decades. Or, if those are too hard, stop and consider the example of Mahmoud Abbas.

I’m sure my comments could work harder to accentuate the positive, but if my urge control was perfect, I wouldn’t be here at all.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
And while, again, we’re talking about an entity which is extra-national for the most part (although it would make sense to include leaders from Islamic states as well), in terms of the Islamists, those who make up the Muslim majority have similar goals and desires to those of the west.
Make lots of money, a good set of assets, live well, get recreation, win promotions, provide the best for our kids and have security - these are the motivations we share with the majority of Muslims, but many of them operate in political enviroments where the best way towards the goals is to follow the religion Islam to its letter. They are taught in religious schools because it is the only school; they are not allowed a political voice because there is a President/King/Ayatollah; they are unable to suceed in business because the bribes are too high. Religion offers a path towards respectability in this world and promises an ultimate success in the next that is not negatable by any earthly power. If we want to encourage moderation we need the same open avenues to success we have in the western world to be unblocked in the Muslim world. This will not occur in any summit with the Presidents for Life/Kings/Ayatollahs of the Muslim world, because they are the blockage.

The dictators of the Muslim world are enemies to Islamists as the Islamists are the strongest rebellion to their despotism, but these enemies of our enemies are not our friends.
 
Written By: unaha-closp
URL: http://warisforwinning.blogspot.com/
On dividing the moderates from the terrorists,
how could this be done?
Remember, that not even all terrorists are alike.
Some, the Al Qaeda types, have a global vision.
Others become terrorists only to promote a local cause.
Where foreign policy can work is in minimizing the number of local terrorists who become the global professionals.
When Olmert holds out one carrot to the Palestinians, we could add another carrot, for example.
Stopping this idiotic name calling and dividing the world into boxes of ’good’ and ’evil’ would be a good start (hate the sin, not the sinner). I sometimes think that Bush’s speeched have done more damage to our credibility than his policies.

While recognizing the risks in ’appeasement’,
there are equal risks in inflexibility. We can always rename ’appeasement’ and call it ’adjustment’ or something equally bland.

All policy is based on pure hope. But it’s time to experiment a bit to see what works, instead of holding on to hard and fast rules to be applied to every situation, leaving us stuck when it turns out they don’t work in a particular case.
 
Written By: Laime
URL: http://
As Caroline Cox and John Marks argue in their book The West, Islam and Islamism, republished in a new edition by Civitas this week, it is imperative that we distinguish between the Islamic faith and Islamist ideology. If we accept - or even countenance - the view that the two are indistinguishable, we will either be paralysed by our own democratic commitment to religious freedom or forced to engage in all-out religious war.
Exactly, and who does that sound like?...Oh yeah, me! I have noticed everyone seems smarter when they sound like me;^)

Which of course brings me to glasnost. Okay buddy, glad you are on board with talking to moderate regimes and movements around the world, but in doing so I think rereading McQ and really thinking it over would do some good. First, things I just deny are true:

So, as noted, believing that some sort of traditional political and diplomatic process can be applied and be successful in satisfying groups such as that seems foolish.
And yet, your genuinely constructive suggestion is in fact a traditional political-diplomatic process. You’re just pretending that it’s nothing at all like the appeasement you villify here:

- the belief that if we change our foreign policy to accommodate and address what we think are the "root causes" of this Islamist movement, that we can somehow stop it.
First of all McQ was specifically talking about the Islamists, not the moderates, whatever that means. So traditional diplomacy will not work with those movements or their leaders. We have nothing to give them that would appease them, no matter how often some claim we do, that we would be likely to give. Say the destruction of Israel. Even if we did allow such a thing I doubt it would appease Hezbollah or most of Hamas and the various off shoots of the Muslim brotherhood fighting in Palestine. That opinion may be wrong, but it doesn’t matter because we will not give into the things which they really want, such as the destruction of Israel.

As for the PLO, the Al Aqsa Martyr Brigades and Fatah, it wouldn’t appease those likely to terrorize us in those organizations either. I don’t know what your knowledge of those organizations history is, but the PLO was not a mere nationalist organization. It was a fetid swamp of bizarre Marxist cults who made no bones about their totalitarian aims, and they were not limited to Israel. Those have now morphed into an even more bizarre collection which has become more and more Islamicized and less and less secular. Nothing in that history lends itself to accommodation after victory or shutting down their ambitions once they have their way.

Is it possible that a real settlement could make a war weary bunch put down their arms? Some of them, but those left would undoubtedly continue on. If a settlement was likely to bring them to the table and work out some compromise, why hasn’t that worked in Iraq? We offered our enemies democracy and self rule, they didn’t want it. What is it that these people we are to negotiate with would want that we should be willing to give?

I also deny that it would hurt recruitment to negotiate with such elements or give them anything they might want, I suspect it would increase recruitment.

As for Indonesia, Turkey and others, we have things to negotiate with them. The problem of course is that I am not sure how much help above what they already do they can give. The best we might hope for is pressure on Syria and Iran to hold back in Iraq and Lebanon.

Nevertheless, the long hard work of separating those who are not our ferocious enemies and even our friends from the Islamists is important. More for the long run than the short run. We have to show a willingness not to lump them all together. I suggest the act does have some purpose symbolically and could sow long term seeds. In the meantime I feel much as I did before Iraq and Afghanistan. No matter what we do it will be very ugly for a long time. We will suffer and see repeated setbacks, lack of progress, immense suffering (mostly over there) while we stay in the game waiting for opportunities which we will not be able to predict nor fully control to present themselves. Staying in the game with those who are most likely to help will be a key.

Slowly putting out the ideological message and building its support will be most important of all. Resisting and refusing to concede points that we shouldn’t is a key as well. Being the mythical "honest broker" with regard to the Palestinians cedes ground which encourages our enemies. They don’t want an honest broker. They want the destruction of Israel, and no compromise will be accepted unless those of a different ideology rise up. At the point where peace is supposed to be the next step they will recoil using any pretext.

You mention Mahmoud Abbas, a good point, but not for your argument, but McQ’s. Abbas may be able to be worked with, but until he has support, significant support, then he is almost useless. We can talk with him, but we cannot give him much because nothing we give him helps him, rather it lowers him in the eyes of our real enemies. We can support him rhetorically and build his international reputation over time. Any concession we or Israel gives in the short term however will not make him more popular because without the power to follow through on his end he just looks pathetic at this point. He becomes a figure of contempt before his own people. His and ours is an ideological battle to fight. One where we need to change their minds, not appease. When they are ready for what we can offer we can negotiate with them. Before that it is counterproductive as Arafat demonstrated time and again and as we are learning in Iraq.

The goal of a summit would be to just keep things going until a better opportunity arises and to begin the process of separating friends from enemies. Hopefully we can enlist more in the ideological fight against those who we cannot and should not compromise with.
 
Written By: Lance
URL: http://www.asecondhandconjecture.com
The problem with trying a summit or some other such talking shop is that the results will be as follows:

1. USA has to give up concrete concessions in return for vague promises from the other side. (or we all offer up some platitudes instead.) Then the international press will promptly hold us accountable, but not the other side. People even blame the US for North Korean intransigence saying we halted shipments of fuel oil or what not.

2. The agreements are made, but since the actual violent factions did not sign off, they continue on their merry way. Who is going to force Hamas to recognize Israel or stop attacks?

3. Even if you manage to get Hamas to do so, it will be remarkable that suddenly there is a new Islamic Jihad Brigade popping up and claiming attacks.

4. What specific change in US foreign policy is really going to make the Islamic world happy and do we actually have the power to offer it to them? Hint: Israel is a sovereign state and will not go without a fight, and neither will Hamas.




 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Or, if those are too hard, stop and consider the example of Mahmoud Abbas.
Abbas was PLO, not an Islamic fundamentalist. He did his graduate work in the USSR. He is part of the older, Arab nationalist/socialist generation. He also has a long history of somewhat pragmatic interaction with the West.

He isn’t representative of the Islamic fundamentalist movement.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
You are right that we can’t negotiate with violent extremists, we certainly must not appease them, and nothing we can do will make them any less rabid. They are extremists driven by the idea of radical, extremist Islam. We can not negotiate a peace with them or convince them to change; they are committed.

They want war with us because they know that most Muslims do not want their puritanical extremist kind of politics. If they can somehow portray themselves as heroic champions of the faith fighting against outside aggressors, however, they can have a kind of romantic appeal to youth, especially youth in cities with little hope. The emotions caused by hearing of (real or fabricated) American atrocities and the existence of foreign forces in their lands is the extremists only chance for broad support.

We cannot be afraid to admit we made a mistake going to Iraq. Sure, our enemies will have a moment of gleeful struting, but only a weak insecure country is afraid to admit an error and change course when necessary. Once that military aspect of the policy has ceased, we can begin intensive efforts at working with moderate and liberal Muslims throughout the world to undercut, marginalize and eventually eliminate violent extremism. We should focus mostly on covert operations and intelligence sharing; overt military action must be rare and multilateral. The result will be that the extremists will lose their romantic appeal because they are no longer defenders of the faith against "infidels." Moderate Muslims who from emotion of the war/headlines have anti-American views, will find it easier to embrace ideas from the West and reject extremism. Both the Islamic world and the West will be better off.

But we can’t get there if we don’t find a way to disengage from Iraq. We can’t get there if we continue to view this as a "war" on violent Islamic extremists. War plays into their hands.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Nevertheless, the long hard work of separating those who are not our ferocious enemies and even our friends from the Islamists is important.

I am all for the idea of sorting people willing to come to terms with us and killing people who are determined to attack us.

The bottom line is, though, that you never know who fits where in those two categories. That’s the bottom line.

You’ve wandered from McQ’s original point and my original criticism of it, but that’s my response to your meme. Is Hizballah currently engaged in attacking the United States? No. Clearly not category two. Does Hizballah clearly want to help us out? No. Not category one, either. *That’s* my point. I have no desire to lump all the Muslims together. You and McQ are doing the lumping, only into "friends" and "fantatical enemies to the death", and *that’s* what I personally object to. Most groups in the Mideast don’t fit in *either* box.
You mention Mahmoud Abbas, a good point, but not for your argument, but McQ’
Abbas is a great example of my argument, thank you very much. For two decades he was Yasser Arafat’s right hand man, and right now it’s very clear that he has no interest or desire to wage war against the West. He was a "terrorist", and now he’s not.

The question is not whether foreign policy concessions will make Al-Quieda or Hizballah "happy" or "our friends". The question is what effect US concessions will have on the larger environment they work within. No one is even talking about any specific concessions, and neither am I, but when you convene this summit, all of your Muslim friends are going to ask you for gestures of reconciliation - concessions - goodwill gestures - "appeasement". Call it what you like, but to ask for a summit but then claim that all policy moderations are doomed to fail and constitute appeasement, forms an illogical and internally conficted whole.

 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
4. What specific change in US foreign policy is really going to make the Islamic world happy and do we actually have the power to offer it to them?

Harun, it all depends. To an extent, I agree with you. But the threshold is not making them happy. The threshold is not blowing up Americans. I think that most of the Mideast is willing to acquiesece in that. Most of them already do.
 
Written By: glasnost
URL: http://
Harun, it all depends. To an extent, I agree with you. But the threshold is not making them happy. The threshold is not blowing up Americans. I think that most of the Mideast is willing to acquiesece in that. Most of them already do.
Yes, the fallacy made by those who charge "appeasement" is that somehow doing things that generate support for moderate Muslims is appeasement of the extremists. The extremists hate the moderates. Things the moderates want us to do will make it easier for them to defeat the extremists.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Abbas is a great example of my argument, thank you very much. For two decades he was Yasser Arafat’s right hand man, and right now it’s very clear that he has no interest or desire to wage war against the West. He was a "terrorist", and now he’s not.
He was a terrorist in the secular, socialist PLO. He was never an Islamic fundamentalist. Arab nationalism and secular socialism are dying ideologies. Previous secularists have to find something else. Abbas’ "something else" is to try to work with the West. For an Arab who had studied in the USSR, reaching out to the West is hardly out of character.

You need another example.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
Yes, the fallacy made by those who charge "appeasement" is that somehow doing things that generate support for moderate Muslims is appeasement of the extremists. The extremists hate the moderates. Things the moderates want us to do will make it easier for them to defeat the extremists.
The invasion of Iraq was a Bush administration attempt to aid moderate Muslims. Scott, sometimes you sound like a neocon.
 
Written By: Don
URL: http://
What is missed here is the phenomenal conversion of post-1918 Turkey from decadent, Islamic Empire into modern, secular, western democracy. Mustafa Kemal (Attaturk) dragged a thousand year old empire, kicking and screaming into the 20th century and he did it in the span of 5-10 years. Attaturk’s platform embraced 6 key points (putting things in very simple terms, obviously his strategy was a bit more involved than this) : Republicanism, Secularism, Nationalism, Statism (which actually refers more to the American concept of federalism than what we here at QandO normally think of when the term statism is used), Westernization, and Modernization. Had the Arabs adopted this sort of policy, it is highly likely that at least a few of their countries would be as successful as Turkey is today. Instead, they opted for variants of anti-Westernism, radical religious fundamentalism, and socialism-communism. Look where they are today : ruled by corrupt dictators and religious fanatics. Sad.

IF, and that is a big if, we could get at least some of the Arab nations to adopt Turkey’s reforms, it would go a long way toward repairing Western-Islamic relations. A summit would be an ideal place to propose such a plan and offer Western backing. Idealistic and optimistic, perhaps, but what we are doing currently is just not working.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: www.asecondhandconjecture.com
What is missed here is the phenomenal conversion of post-1918 Turkey from decadent, Islamic Empire into modern, secular, western democracy. Mustafa Kemal (Attaturk) dragged a thousand year old empire, kicking and screaming into the 20th century and he did it in the span of 5-10 years. Attaturk’s platform embraced 6 key points (putting things in very simple terms, obviously his strategy was a bit more involved than this) : Republicanism, Secularism, Nationalism, Statism (which actually refers more to the American concept of federalism than what we here at QandO normally think of when the term statism is used), Westernization, and Modernization. Had the Arabs adopted this sort of policy, it is highly likely that at least a few of their countries would be as successful as Turkey is today. Instead, they opted for variants of anti-Westernism, radical religious fundamentalism, and socialism-communism. Look where they are today : ruled by corrupt dictators and religious fanatics. Sad.

IF, and that is a big if, we could get at least some of the Arab nations to adopt Turkey’s reforms, it would go a long way toward repairing Western-Islamic relations. A summit would be an ideal place to propose such a plan and offer Western backing. Idealistic and optimistic, perhaps, but what we are doing currently is just not working.
That’s an intriguing idea, though we need to keep in mind that Turkey had numerous military coups and is still in the process of developing a stable modern democracy. Kemal’s efforts to create one Turkish identity also created huge problems with the Kurds. Moreover they have a strong Islamist movement, albeit one that appears to have, for the most part, made peace with the secular nature of the state.

Yet Turkey was the center of the Ottoman Empire, and thus had a contact with European and modern ways than much of the Arab world. I think the cultural differences which led Turkey to embrace that path and the Arab states not to are real; it wasn’t just that they were lucky to have Kemal and the Arabs were unlucky not to — they were at different places in terms of political culture.

The Shah tried something similar (Iran was outside the Ottoman Empire so it also has different cultural attributes), and it appeared to be working well until 1979 (though I think there is a core of modernism that remains in Iranian culture that will show itself again).
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
Yet Turkey was the center of the Ottoman Empire, and thus had a contact with European and modern ways than much of the Arab world. I think the cultural differences which led Turkey to embrace that path and the Arab states not to are real; it wasn’t just that they were lucky to have Kemal and the Arabs were unlucky not to — they were at different places in terms of political culture.
I disagree. The Arab world had visionary leaders (both indigenous [Faisal and his brother Abd’allah] and Western [T.E. Lawrence]) who would have favored a similar plan to Attaturk’s. Faisal was betrayed and deposed by Britain and France, however and continued imperialism ruined any chance at reform that Syria, Lebanon, and Palestine had. Abd’allah, however, was bold and lucky enough to have held onto Jordan and it is probably the most modern, Western, successful Arab nation today. Saudi Arabia was already DOA [under Ibn Saud] and Iraq was a British puppet state.

Iran, OTOH, as you rightly point out is not an Arab state and was not a victim of colonialism. They were caught between the competing imperial interests of Russia and Britain, but successfully played off the two against each other in Iran’s favor for years. The problem with Iran’s recent (20th century) history is that reformers from within tended to oppose either Britain, Soviet Russia, or both. Reza Shah is a perfect example. A successful and reasonably popular monarch who modernized Iran in the 1920’s-30’s, but failed to side with the Allies in WW2 (he chose to remain neutral) and was forced to abdicate by the Brits and Soviets. His son is the well remembered last Shah of Iran, an unpopular autocrat. The last Shah did attempt a modernization program, but he also created the brutal secret police, not to mention the fact that he was seen as a Western puppet. Iran never had a chance after Reza Shah’s abdication. It isn’t the cultural differences between Arabs and Turks, but rather the way they have responded to the West that differentiates them. Attaturk faced similar challenges, but instead of negotiating and appearing wishy-washy, mobilized the army and basically told the Western powers to get stuffed. What Arab leader ever had the audacity to do such a thing? Faisal might have done, but the British and French knives were already far too deep in his back by the time it was necessary to act. Mohammed Mossadegh might have done in Iran, but the Shah willie-nillied and caved to Western demands and withdrew his support. Sad.
 
Written By: The Poet Omar
URL: www.asecondhandconjecture.com
You really think that a Kemalist plan could have worked for most of the Arab states? I don’t know...sometimes I think culture drives the individuals more than vice-versa. And could such an effort work now? Probably not in the way Attaturk did it, but in looking at the alternatives I end up agreeing that is probably our best hope.
 
Written By: Scott Erb
URL: http://faculty.umf.maine.edu/~erb/blog.htm
My question is, what are these moderate Muslim leaders doing now? Are they just sitting around waiting for us to motivate them? How is some meeting with a US diplomat going to convince them to act on what is obvious even to them, matters of life and death, when they are not acting now? Color me skeptical on the utility of a summit.
 
Written By: timactual
URL: http://

 
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