Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, defense spending, democracy, Fundamentalism, Iraq, islam, Middle East, Muslims, nuclear weapon, Obama, Osama, Pakistan, Radical, revolution, September 11, South Asia, Taleban, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, tagged 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, America, Americans, defense spending, Iraq, islam, Middle East, Muslims, nuclear, Pakistan, South Asia, Taliban, U.S. Foreign Policy on May 5, 2011 |
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“We can’t lose focus” after Bin Laden’s death, said the former Secretary of State, the woman who helped author the most costly loss of focus in the history of America’s fight against terrorism. Of course, Condi Rice had no earthly idea when she spouted her “mushroom cloud” warning years ago that Saddam Hussein had long given up his nuclear program, that his supposed link with Al Qaeda was a fabrication. But facts didn’t matter as much back in 2002, when fear-mongering was a powerful tool against a fearful America. Afghanistan was “pacified” but Bin Laden had slipped away at Tora Bora. America needed a new target. Preferably a nation-state that would showcase America’s superior conventional military strength. Something that had borders and didn’t move, like those pesky, shadowy jihadists who were the ones we were really after. And so, Iraq became the Bush administration’s Weapon of Mass Distraction from the real objectives of the “War on Terror”: killing and capturing terrorists. A trillion dollars and 5,000 American lives later, Condi Rice goes on ABC News to warn that we can’t lose focus.
Too late. Al Qaeda hasn’t been in Afghanistan in sufficient numbers in years. It’s common knowledge that the organization metastasized long ago into more potent franchises in Iraq, Yemen and North Africa. Even the top leadership of the Taliban are not in Afghanistan. The Quetta Shura and Mullah Omar- much like Osama Bin Laden until he was taken out unilaterally- operate under the protection of their government patrons, in Pakistan. Well then, you ask, why does the West still have 140,000 troops in Afghanistan propping up a Karzai government that is reviled by its own people at a time when corrupt strong men across the Muslim world are being toppled by popular revolutions? Hmmmm. Because we’ve already thrown so much blood and treasure at our Afghan investment already? Because if we withdraw now, the world will think we are weak and unable to finish the job? Because we don’t want Afghanistan to become a staging ground for terrorist attacks on our country again?
These questions and their very structure are more illuminating than the answers could ever be. The subject is always “us”, the object, “Afghanistan”, when it should be the other way around if we are looking for viable solutions for, namely, Afghanistan. Long ago, Afghanistan ceased being about Afghanistan and became more about America and our selfish insecurities as a nation. The longest war in our nation’s history remains unfocused, unsustainable, and detrimental to our nation’s standing and security in ways that are only now becoming visible. Only recently, American soldiers have admitted to forming kill teams that have murdered Afghan civilians, claiming body parts as take-home trophies. It’s tough to reconcile a COIN strategy which emphasizes winning local hearts and minds with testosterone-laden kids who just wanna “get some”, taking matters into their own hands when they can’t do what they were trained to do. Military and civilian agencies continue to coordinate poorly in an increasingly violent Afghan reconstruction environment and have entirely different plans and priorities for resources. Mass prison breaks and friendly fire attacks on NATO personnel occur with growing frequency. The annual cost of the Afghan security forces we are training and equipping dwarfs the entire Afghan national budget. What part of this is about building a nation that can sustain itself?
All this at a time when the arc of fundamental change in the Muslim world is shifting decisively West, towards the Arab heartland where Al Qaeda’s extremist ideology was born. This is where the fight against Islamic fundamentalism will be won, in the rejuvenated streets of Cairo, Tunis and Damascus. Unfortunately, that struggle for the most part is not kinetic warfare but the hard slog of compromise and negotiation between civil societies and political parties. Therefore, America isn’t interested. What’s profitable about civic development? What congressional district will it create jobs for? What Pentagon weapon system will it support? Mercy Corps doesn’t make campaign contributions.
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Posted in 9/11, Al Qaeda, democracy, Egypt, Europe, Fundamentalism, Iran, Iraq, islam, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, Osama, Radical, revolution, September 11, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, youth, tagged 9/11, Al Qaeda, America, democracy, Egypt, elections, Europe, Iraq, Libya, Middle East, mullah, Muslims, Radical, Syria, Tunisia, U.S. Foreign Policy, Yemen, youth on April 24, 2011 |
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“La Ikhwan, La Salafia. A Sha’ab Bidu Huriyya.”
“No Muslim Brotherhood. No Salafists. The Youth want Freedom.”
The language above on the sign held up by a Syrian protester this week encapsulates all the promise, and anxiety, of this moment for Western policy makers watching the Arab revolutions unfold. What kind of freedom? Who will step into the vacuum? What will be their world view?
Stepping into this dangerous information void is a familiar narrative for those of us who have been watching the region for some time, finding its voice once again in the global media echo chamber. In the 80′s and 90′s it was a barely reported whisper in the secure, secular anterooms of power, yet it resonated with the right audience. Strongmen in immaculate Armani suits in Cairo and Damascus and Sana’a pulled aside envoys from Rome to Paris to Washington for a measured, and entirely calculated pronouncement: We have a problem. The mullahs have toppled the Shah. The fundamentalist wave is now sweeping thru our own countries. Look the other way while we deal with it…
And we did. The secular, benevolent dictator was much preferable to the bearded fundamentalist. Benevolent to our own interests, of course, not so much those of their own people. In Iraq, Saddam invaded Iran and brutally crushed Kurdish and Shi’ite dissent, all with Western weapons and financing. In Syria, the late Hafez Al-Assad reduced the city of Hama- the center of the Syrian Islamist movement- to rubble. In Egypt, pitched battles took place between Mubarak’s security forces and Islamic groups. And perhaps most damning, in hindsight, a moderate Islamic party won a free and fair election in Algeria, only to be brutally removed by a cabal of generals who tipped the country towards civil war, without so much as a peep from Western leaders.
All of this, years before Al Qaeda or Osama Bin Laden were even a coherent operational entity. All of this, and our leaders still scratch their heads and wonder out loud why political Islam has turned dangerously radical.
What has changed today? In Libya, the Qaddafi family mafia screams of Al Qaeda rebels and Islamist conspiracies. In Syria, the younger Assad talks of armed gangs with sinister Islamic credentials. In Egypt, military rulers continue to play the heart-strings of Western Islamophobia, hinting of a Muslim Brotherhood takeover in upcoming elections. Yemen’s President Saleh long ago mastered the art of the American shake down: extracting millions in U.S. aid by playing up the threat of exploding underwear bombers and then using those resources to crush any dissent to his rule. Let’s not limit ourselves to the Arab world. The corrupt autocrats of Pakistan and Afghanistan have extracted billions in American treasure while doing little to combat (and much to proliferate) the fundamentalist forces in their own countries. Why would they when extremist Islam is a source of so much badly needed foreign exchange? The Islamophobia con game has not been limited even to sitting rulers. In the runup to the 2003 Iraq invasion, Iraqi exile groups were persistent in their arguments that Saddam was conspiring with Al Qaeda, and their persistence paid off by pushing America to war, despite a shred of real evidence to substantiate their claims.
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Posted in 9/11, Al Qaeda, democracy, Egypt, Europe, Fundamentalism, Hamas, Hizbullah, Iran, islam, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, Osama, Radical, revolution, September 11, South Asia, Taleban, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, youth, tagged 9/11, Al Qaeda, America, Americans, Arab, democracy, Egypt, Europe, Hamas, islam, Libya, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, Radical, Saudi Arabia, Taliban, terrorism, Tunisia, U.S. Foreign Policy, youth on March 27, 2011 |
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“Barack Obama has now fired more cruise missiles than all other Nobel Peace Prize winners combined.”
It’s good for a laugh. A cheap laugh. The blogger who wrote this clearly doesn’t have any appreciation for the reality that confronts American presidents on a daily basis. No doubt he or she also did not have any family in Benghazi last week, when a desert breeze stood between Qaddafi’s tank columns and the certain massacre of the city’s population. Can anyone- Arab, European, American- honestly compare our intervention in Libya in 2011 to Iraq in 2003 or Afghanistan in 2001? Really? Have we become that morally unhinged? Iraq and Afghanistan were all about an insecure, fearful United States lashing out at nations because it didn’t have the means to locate and punish the trans-national movement responsible for 9/11. Libya is about a coalition of mainly Western powers reluctantly resorting to force to protect ordinary people from their own self-appointed leader. Do NATO countries have their own, selfish reasons for bombing Libya? Of course. No nation in the history of nations acts out of pure altruism. France and Italy are concerned about North African refugees overwhelming their shores. Britain and America worry about Al Qaeda stepping into a vacuum. Everyone worries about the free flow of oil and upward pressure on its price. Interestingly, all these risks have the potential to grow exponentially if you go down the path of using force. So, are we really being selfish and sinister by bombing Libya, protecting only our own interests, or are we, instead, ignoring them for a greater cause? Hmmm. It’s infinitely more complex and larger than this question alone.
There is something bigger here. Say whatever you want about mission creep in Libya, international spinelessness in Bahrain, or heavy-handed government brutality in Syria, the paradigm has forever changed, and unambiguously for the better. Since the 9/11 attacks, conflict between the “West” and the “Muslim world” had been framed, indeed defined, by two primary actors- one state and one non-state. On one side, Western governments and their partner regimes (Israel and our Muslim allies) declared their war on terror. They faced off largely against trans-national groups- Al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hizbullah, Hamas- entities who by their very nature and ideology challenged the notion of the modern nation-state itself. Conspicuously absent on either side of the battle lines was the most important actor of all: Muslim civil society, the entity who alone has the power to reinvigorate stagnating communities and provide a viable long-term solution to violent extremism.
No longer. The Arab Street has emerged. Unruly, leaderless, fickle- and yet, it has forced both sides to contend with it and can no longer be discounted derisively as “not ready for democracy” or “too chaotic and unknowable to be trusted”. Both primary actors in the conflict have had to reconfigure their strategies to account for this new and potentially pivotal player, and the upshot so far is encouraging. Western governments have for the most part aligned their policies more with the aspirations of the Street while trans-national actors seem too dumbfounded even to react.
Indeed, the hidden story in all of this, the elephant in the room that no one has talked about seriously: where is Al Qaeda? Why the strange silence during the region’s most volatile hour in decades? Numerous self-styled experts have claimed that instability and chaos were this organization’s preferred milieu, creating the space for its operatives to challenge the legitimacy of national governments. What better opportunity than the upheavals in places like Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, where secular strongmen tied to American patronage have come under immense pressure. Is it perhaps because Al Qaeda has nothing to say to the largely young, secular groups and moderate Islamists who have tipped the scales of the system? What would they offer them? Brutal caliphates like those that are going swimmingly well in Saudi Arabia and Iran? Perhaps more important, these popular awakenings have relegated a key plank in the Al Qaeda public relations machine to history’s dustbin: the string of corrupt secular regimes controled by Western puppetmasters and dismissive of their own people. The edifice of this once potent recruiting tool is now crumbling, and Al Qaeda does not know what to do.
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Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Europe, Fundamentalism, islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslims, Pakistan, Radical, September 11, South Asia, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, Women, tagged 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, America, Americans, Europe, islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslims, Pakistan, Radical, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy on November 1, 2010 |
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Muslim communities across America can only cringe once again at the latest spate of news: package bombs from Yemen bound for Chicago area synagogues; a plot to simultaneously bomb multiple subway stations in the DC metro area. In both cases, the main culprits are American citizens of Muslim faith and heritage: in Yemen, Anwar Al Awlaki, a wily American born cleric, has become the spiritual and operational leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and one of the most wanted terrorist operatives on the planet; and Farooque Ahmad, a 34 year-old naturalized American of Pakistani birth caught in an FBI sting operation in Virginia. Since last year over 60 Americans have been charged or convicted of terrorism, many of them born or converted Muslims with jihadist sympathies. What is going on?
The Ground Zero mosque episode, the Koran book burning, an embattled president in an election year who spent time as a boy in Indonesia and whose father happened to be Muslim. As if America Muslims needed another home-spun sound-byte to reduce their profile from bad to worse in the eyes of fellow Americans. As they have understandably done over the past decade, many American Muslims continue to keep their heads down, practice a quiet faith, pay their taxes, and avoid any overtly political act or public forum.
Is that the answer, though? Complacency and quietism? Should American Muslims remain silent for fear of retaliation or humiliation? Is it better just to not attract attention and quietly disavow the extremists who have perverted Islam for their own ends on the one side, avoiding the ignorant, xenophobic Americans (and Europeans) who blame Islam for all society’s ills on the other? Is that the extent of the Muslim responsibility when it comes to the future of their own faith and civilization? Keep your head down, grin and bear it?
Granted, there are other forces that have been at work here for decades that have little to do with religion and that most Americans are completely ignorant of when passing judgement on Islam and Muslims. A string of secular tyrants in the Middle East, supported with American treasure and arms, torturing and radicalizing their own countrymen and limiting space for moderate forms of political Islam in their own societies. An American funded jihad against the Soviets in Afghanistan that, along with Saudi money and Pakistani organization, fueled the rise of Al Qaeda and the Taliban. Unconditional American financing and support for an Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands that has gone beyond its 40th year, an occupation that plays into the hands of extremists bent on killing innocents at any cost.
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Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Fundamentalism, Iran, Iraq, islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslims, nuclear weapon, Obama, Pakistan, Radical, September 11, Shia, South Asia, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, tagged 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, America, Americans, Iran, Iraq, islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, Pakistan, Palestine, Palestinians, Radical, Saudi Arabia, South Asia, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy on October 24, 2010 |
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Hussein was not a dirty word for most American Muslims who watched the first black man inaugurated president two years ago. The president’s middle name represented a certain hope, not that our new head of state was a closet Muslim, for we all knew better, and, given many of our experiences, we were not advocates for that anyway. Most of us had to admit that the worst leaders in the Muslim world, both past and present, were and are themselves Muslims. No, the quiet hope was that this president would understand the complexity and nuance of our particular civilization and history better because he had spent time there, not as an ambassador or a dignitary in a bubble, but as an ordinary young man interacting with the common people.
The beginning was auspicious. A moving speech in Cairo that lauded Muslim civilization’s past accomplishments but was firm about its deficiencies in the modern era. A pledge to close a Guatanamo facility that filled the recruiting rolls of Al Qaeda. Careful deliberations on Iraq and Afghanistan that solidified the long-term goal of ending inconclusive conventional operations in favor of a more nuanced strategy of counter-terror, capacity building and engagement. The Iranian people were reminded of their great history and that a place was still available for them within the international community, despite the naked duplicity of their leadership. Israel was forcefully prodded to stop building homes on land the whole world had considered illegally occupied now for over 40 years, an occupation that America’s own military leadership had admitted was a severe liability in the fight against extremism. Renewed financial support was extended to regimes in Afghanistan and Pakistan, but not without conditions, not if they were to continue their corrupt, opaque ways.
Sadly, all of these good beginnings appear to be unraveling today, and Obama I is starting to look more and more like Bush I & II, as powerful, vested interests reassert themselves. An extended hand across civilizations- in Cairo, towards Tehran- has given way to embarrassing bigotry over mosques and flaming Korans at home. Meanwhile, Israeli home building begins in ernest once again in occupied Palestine, along with an added snub- an obligatory loyalty oath to Israel as a Jewish state for Israeli’s Arab citizens, courtesy of the racist wing of the Netanyahu government. The underlying message to the Muslim masses- whipped up by state sponsored and extremist propaganda machines from Cairo to Qatar: we will lecture you about modernity and secularism at our leisure, but at home and with our allies, anything goes. This hurts us.
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Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Egypt, Fundamentalism, Iran, Iraq, islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, Osama, Pakistan, Radical, September 11, Somalia, Sunni, Taleban, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, tagged 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, America, Americans, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, Radical, Saudi Arabia, Sunni, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy on August 25, 2010 |
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I won’t attempt to decipher the swirling debate surrounding the manufactured controversy of Park 51, the “mosque” (actually, cultural center modeled on the Jewish YMCA at 92nd Street) “at Ground Zero” (actually, several blocks away, like the other mosques already in the area.). All heat and very little light, it’s clear the only thing this debate has energized is our own xenophobia, mob rule, and perhaps a political base or two. The defenders of common sense have been spirited, particularly Michael Bloomberg, Jeffrey Goldberg, Fareed Zakaria, Michael Gerson and President Obama. The political opportunists have been shameful, particularly Newt Gingrich, Sarah Palin, Charles Krauthammer, and Rick Lazio.
But for most of the world’s 1.2 billion Muslims, the circus in America is a side show of self-important, ignorant Americans. Many are fighting a bloody battle to redefine their faith in their own communities around the world. Zoning rights in lower Manhattan seems trivial in comparison. Despite all the hype and fanfare about the tectonic rift between the West and the Islamic world, the clash of rival faiths and cultures, the most virulent religious war is being fought between and among Muslims themselves.
America is involved in this fight only peripherally, and then not because we are defending ourselves from an Islamic monolith that seeks to infiltrate and conquer free societies. On the contrary, for the past 60 years, it is America that has been the aggressor, exploiting and protecting its strategic interests in Muslim lands- namely, our addiction to Middle Eastern oil and our support of client-states like Israel and Pakistan that can project our superpower influence. More often than not, our meddling has been to the detriment of the cause of freedom in the Muslim world as our policy makers continually opt for the stability of dictators and strong men.
How reality becomes twisted, inverted in fact, in home town America, in the name of fear and victimhood. Does any sane person believe the Twin Towers would have come down if the Western financed oil boom, and intense American patronage, had not enabled the rise of Saudi Arabia, allowing it to export its homicidal brand of Islam across the Muslim world, spawning the Bin Ladens of the global age? If men like Ayman Zawahiri are not tortured and radicalized in Egyptian prisons under a staunchly American-backed Mubarak regime, who builds Al Qaeda into an organization capable of striking across oceans? If America does not pump billions of dollars into an Afghan jihad against the Soviets in the 80s, who has the capability and air of righteous invincibility to declare war on the sole remaining superpower in the 90s? If American evangelical and Jewish groups do not fund illegal settlements built a stone’s throw from ethnically cleansed Palestinian villages, is there any sympathy or support among ordinary Muslims for the mass murder of innocents on this scale?
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Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Fundamentalism, Iraq, islam, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, Osama, Pakistan, Radical, September 11, Taleban, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, tagged 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Americans, Iraq, islam, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, Radical, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy on July 29, 2010 |
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The dust has yet to settle surrounding the twin revelations of the last several weeks: the Washington Post’s revealing expose on America’s mammoth national security apparatus with its ties to big business and the Wikileaks data dump of classified reporting from the front lines of the spiraling Afghan war. Taken together, the two episodes cannot but make ordinary Americans wonder what their government is doing behind the scenes, if anyone is in complete control, and how many special interests and adversaries have taken advantage of what seems to be a bureaucracy run amuck.
The facts are incontrovertible: despite the exponential growth of a budget estimated at $75 billion annually since the 9/11 attacks, a comprehensive re-org under a new national security chief executive (with no real authority), and a legion of “more efficient” contractor foot soldiers with top secret clearances, amateurs like Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab continue to get into our country with exploding underwear and massive leaks of classified information gush into the public domain. Is this supposed to make us feel safe?
I’m sorry to say our leaders, from President Obama on down, have their heads in the sand on this one. The Wikileaks information is portrayed as “nothing new”. That’s true. Everyone suspected that the war was going badly, that we couldn’t rely on or trust our Afghan and Pakistani partners, that our under-resourced soldiers were facing a determined enemy. But to have this message broadcast all over the Internet, to friends and enemies alike, in the words of our own intelligence community? There is such a thing as the war of ideas, although it does not receive as much attention in Congress or in our budgeting as a shiny new fighter or battleship. And in the war of ideas, the Wikileaks data dump is a clear victory for our enemies. Jihadist sympathizers from Yemen to Somalia to Iraq will point to these classified dispatches as proof that the holy war is slowly sapping the strength and resolve of the Americans, just as it was with the Soviets three decades ago.
Meanwhile, the new Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, claims there is nothing wrong with our intelligence community. It’s not bloated or unwieldy. Yes, there are redundancies, but those redundancies are somehow necessary. They give us a strange sort of competitive advantage. I’m not sure how. When the ticking bomb is ticking, the last thing we need is a bunch of territorial and secretive bureaucracies, hoarding information, fighting with each other and failing time and time again to connect the dots. Unfortunately, now that the big boys like Lockheed and General Dynamics are moving more and more into the “business” of national security, a “less is more” posture is less and less possible. Who needs to be nimble and lean when billable hours and profits are at stake.
Much has been written and debated in our media about these twin issues, with many of the hard questions posed. One thing I haven’t seen is any speculation on how the Al Qaeda leadership, hiding in their caves or safe houses, may have reacted to the news. They must be chuckling to themselves. Not only because of the short-term media war gains mentioned above. Perhaps even more important from their perspective is how the “War on Terror” has changed American society, how our strengths and weaknesses as a civilization have been turned on their heads. Once upon a time, our openness, diversity, and tolerance were hailed as the reason for our success. Now, we erect border walls, we create vast government shadow worlds, we justify torture, and we “refudiate” mosques in our neighborhoods. How much more similar have we become to the societies that gave birth to people like Osama Bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri, insecure nations prone to smothering their peoples, discouraging transparency, rejecting diversity. This, unfortunately, is Al Qaeda’s greatest victory. They have changed us, and while that may have not been one of their overt strategic objectives, it honestly does not matter.
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Posted in 9/11, Al Qaeda, Egypt, Fundamentalism, India, Iran, Iraq, islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslims, Obama, Pakistan, Radical, September 11, South Asia, Taleban, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, tagged 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, America, Americans, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, islam, Israel, Middle East, Muslims, Pakistan, Palestine, Palestinians, Radical, South Asia, Taliban, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy on July 6, 2010 |
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A pair of instances recently reminded me how both sides- the “West” (more specifically, the United States) and the Muslim World- have engaged in so little self-reflection since the events of 9/11. It is much easier to project outward than to take a hard look at your own society. Problems are no longer yours when you can successfully argue that they come from some outside force. For politicians and pundits, the temptation is too great.
This kind of gamesmanship has approached the truly absurd in the Muslim world. On Friday a Sufi shrine in Lahore, Pakistan was ripped apart by a triple suicide bombing. As I have written before, Sufism is the lighter side of Islam- a moderate force whose greater tolerance for things like other faiths and female emancipation has angered Muslim extremists. It’s long standing traditions and practices across the Muslim world are the most direct, organic challenge to those who would spread the lie- that early Islam’s core strength was its angry, unforgiving unity and purity. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Islam’s original spread in the 7th and 8th centuries was indeed aided by the sword, but more important in its ascendancy was its acceptance of other cultures, faiths and its rational discourse on everything from trade to science. The Christian world, caught in an orgy of religious violence, greed and superstition, could not compete.
How far has Muslim civilization fallen? How completely have the two sides exchanged places, like a pair of reflections in the same mirror? After the Lahore attack, demonstrations blaming the United States for the carnage raged across Pakistan. Normally sane people reasoned that extremists wouldn’t have attacked the shrine if the Pakistani government wasn’t in bed with America. In the rush to anger, the sick individuals who actually planned and executed the operation seemed to have been all but forgotten.
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Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, democracy, elections, Fundamentalism, Iran, Iraq, islam, Middle East, Muslims, Radical, September 11, Sunni, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, tagged 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, America, Americans, democracy, elections, Iran, Iraq, islam, Jordan, Middle East, Muslims, Radical, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy on February 22, 2010 |
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In the latest news from Iraq, that forgotten battlefield where over 100,000 uniformed American men and women (and thousands of others without uniforms) are still stationed, the main Sunni political party has just withdrawn from next month’s national elections. Their reason: A vetting panel headed by two Shi’ite politicians with close ties to Iran has disqualified over 500 candidates for dubious ties to Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath party. The culprits: Ali al Lami, a guy who sends death squads to kill Sunnis and plants bombs targeting US GIs, and, surprise, surprise, our old friend, Ahmad Chalabi.
If you remember, once upon a time, Chalabi was the American darling, the guy who fed us the detailed (and doctored) intelligence on Saddam’s “imminent” threat to America that justified the 2003 invasion. The guy who promised to spear-head a renewed, democratic Iraq that would stabilize a stagnating region and project freedom and democracy towards, among other countries, extremist Iran. Now, it seems he is playing for the team he was originally recruited to fight against. A country that cannot tolerate any dissent within its own borders and has steadily expanded its influence throughout the region since the American war machine removed the mullah’s two most virulent enemies: The Taliban and Saddam.
It wouldn’t have been too difficult to pinpoint the character flaws in a guy like Chalabi long ago- the incessant greed, the consummately feudal outlook to political power as merely a means to enrich oneself and grow more powerful; in essence, everything about Middle East leaders that needs changing. Born into a family of carpet bagging courtiers to the old Iraqi monarchy (itself an artificial British transplant), Chalabi fled Iraq after the Ba’athist revolution and was the darling of the Jordanians before he was the darling of the Americans. Then, the Jordanians found out he had defrauded thousands of their citizens through his Petra Bank pyramid scheme. If it weren’t for the Jordanian royal family’s involvement (you guessed it, again, an artificial British transplant), Chalabi might have been lynched by a mob. Instead, he went free.
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Posted in 9/11, Afghanistan, Al Qaeda, Fundamentalism, Iran, Iraq, islam, Middle East, Muslims, Osama, Radical, September 11, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy, tagged 9/11, Al Qaeda, America, Americans, Iran, Iraq, islam, Middle East, Muslims, Radical, terrorism, U.S. Foreign Policy on February 16, 2010 |
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In a nondescript compound somewhere in the mountainous Tribal Areas of Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden sits cross-legged with his top lieutenant, Ayman Zawahiri, and watches Dick Cheney on ABC’s This Week this past Sunday. Osama sits in silence listening to the Mother Hen of America’s Chicken Hawks- the cabal of ideologues with names like Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Perle, Feith, Rice; the ones who, like Osama, are good at sending other people’s sons and daughters, mothers and fathers, off to war. And as Cheney begins to chirp his muscular sing-song and flex his wing span, a devilish grin rivaling the former Veep’s own signature smirk spreads across Osama’s face…
Zawahiri: ”He says our attacks are an act of war, not for criminal prosecution.”
Osama: ”Good. We are at war. Much of the world, even many of our own brothers, had forgotten that now that America has a president named Hussein who makes speeches to Muslims about peace. Mr. Cheney reminds the Crusader-Jews of their anger, of their duty to fight. Anger is what we want. Rage begets rage. It fuels the jihad that swells our ranks.”
Zawahiri: “He says Iraq was the right thing to do. That Saddam had a relationship with terror.”
Osama: [chuckling] “Remember when Saddam invaded Kuwait and we went to my Saudi friend Prince Turki and offered to defend the Holy Land against this Godless Arab pretender instead of letting the Americans handle him? Now, history has been rewritten and he was our patron! No matter. Let Mr. Cheney rewrite history. We ourselves have done so on occasion to bring our traditions more in line with our own brand of Islam. This man Cheney understands you must control the past at all costs to rule the future.
What a favor the Americans did for us, and for the Iranians as well for that matter, by getting rid of that secular Ba’athist fool, Saddam. Before Iraq the wounds of 9/11 were still fresh, and the world was with America. Iraq gave us the window we needed to show the world the ugly side- to convince the faithful that this was not justified retribution but a sustained campaign for Muslim blood. Let Mr. Cheney talk about Iraq. In fact, make sure a tape of this discussion gets to Al Jazira, Al Arabia, and all the other local Arab stations with appropriate subtitles. Let the world see how self-righteous Americans still boast about crusade in Iraq even as their British allies confess shame at the thousands of innocents murdered and maimed, the millions of refugees. When the world listens to an unrepentant America, when American made bullets continue to kill Palestinian children, no one really cares about the atrocities committed by Al Qaeda in the name of God.”
Zawahiri: “He says the biggest strategic threat to America is Al Qaeda!”
[Shouts of joy and tongue ulullations reverberate within the compound until Osama signals for calm.]
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