Is Islam Intrinsically Radical?

Some useful thoughts from Barry Rubin:

4.There are no moderate Muslims — is it a myth created by liberals?

Funny, I know a lot of them and they don’t seem a myth to me. But they are about 1 percent, have little power, and Western governments show no sympathy for them. Again, the problem is NOT that no moderate Muslims exist. The problem is: A.) Radicals are portrayed as moderates repeatedly in the West or pretend to be such; and B.) the number of moderates is very limited, they have little influence, and they are constantly intimidated.

But there are millions of anti-Islamist Muslims all over the world. They may be traditionalists, they may be nationalists, and they may be moderates. Yet their interpretation of Islam is different from that of the Islamists. We should remember that it wasn’t long ago when revolutionary Islamists were viewed as virtual heretics. The fact that Islamists draw on normative Islam doesn’t prove that they have the only or the correct interpretation of Islam.

It is ridiculous to claim that radical Islamists aren’t “real” or “proper” Muslims. But it is equally ridiculous to claim that all Muslims must be Islamists or they aren’t following their religion.

There are three camps in the West in understanding this issue:

* Islamists represent the “right” interpretation of Islam and thus there cannot be moderate Muslims. This is the view taken by many on the “anti-jihad” side. It isn’t wrong because such a view is “bigoted” or isn’t helpful tactically. It is wrong because it doesn’t correspond to the facts and realities.

* Islamists have hijacked the real Islam which is a religion of peace. That is the position of “politically correct” people, the idea that dominates Western governments, the mass media, and academia. This view is equally ridiculous. Islamists can cite the Koran, the hadith, and many other sacred writings to justify their positions. They didn’t make this stuff up. Violent jihad, treating non-Muslims as dhimmis, and antisemitism are not new ideas which emerged from the minds of a tiny minority.

* There is in Islam, as in other religions, a struggle over interpretations. Different sides can cite texts and precedents. Were the Spanish Inquisition, the Crusades, and the worst excesses of the past the “real” Christianity? Of course not. And Christianity changed over time. Many debates and battles took place. The problem with Islam is not its “essence” but its place on the timeline. In Western terms, the debate in Islam is in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, with powerful forces wanting to return to the seventh century.

My view, the third one, can be summed up as seeing two people fighting over control of the steering wheel in an automobile speeding down the road. Both can claim ownership of the car. As an anti-Islamist Iranian intellectual once put it, the minute someone says that Islam must be interpreted in any one way they are wrong.

There’s a lot more to read there, and no just on Islam.

Rick Perry

versus Rousseau. This is why I refuse to dignify leftists with the word “liberal.”

[Afternoon update]

I liked this comment on the debate with a Perry/Obama race:

Candidate Perry: My state gained a million jobs with no state income tax and a part-time legislature that meets every other year.

Candidate Obama: But Bush was my predecessor. I inherited what he left.

Candidate Perry: Ditto.


On The New Republican “Isolationism”

Thoughts from Stanley Kurtz:

For President Obama to choose this moment of overstretch and crisis to commit us to a supposedly humanitarian intervention in a land with no vital American interests at stake is little short of madness. Obama’s obliviousness to our pressing military and financial burdens as he pursues utopian dreams of international governance is the perfect counterpart to his domestic policy of pulling us toward European socialism just as the welfare state itself is collapsing across the West. We can only conclude that Obama is far less interested in either American strategic advantage or economic prosperity, traditionally defined, than in his dreams of an equality-of-result society and a multilaterally governed world.

With the Middle East slowly turning into a series of tin-cup-rattling failed states, and with Obama blithely embarking on a postmodern adventure in supposed humanitarianism when real military dangers threaten at every turn, why shouldn’t conservatives question where all this is leading? Hawkish democratizing optimists have chosen to overlook both Obama’s internationalist justifications for war in Libya and his refusal to quickly go for the kill. In doing so, they are hoping to forge a hawkish, bipartisan consensus in the country as a whole. This is a mistake, and is leading instead to the very opposite result. What Americans urgently need right now is a foreign policy that makes distinctions between our greater and lesser interests, and above all, a policy based on a realistic assessment of what is happening in the Middle East.

Foreign policy is often viewed through a partisan lens, which is why many Democrats are quite sanguine about the same policies unde Barack Obama that outraged them when perpetrated by George Bush. But I think that we will see a pretty major change in foreign policy from the next president, regardless of who it is.

Fanny And Freddy

I’m not a big David Brooks fan, but he takes the political class to task much more than he’s usually willing to in today’s column.

Morgenson and Rosner write with barely suppressed rage, as if great crimes are being committed. But there are no crimes. This is how Washington works. Only two of the characters in this tale come off as egregiously immoral. Johnson made $100 million while supposedly helping the poor. Representative Barney Frank, whose partner at the time worked for Fannie, was arrogantly dismissive when anybody raised doubts about the stability of the whole arrangement.

Most of the people were simply doing what reputable figures do in service to a supposedly good cause. Johnson roped in some of the most respected establishment names: Bill Daley, Tom Donilan, Joseph Stiglitz, Dianne Feinstein, Kit Bond, Franklin Raines, Larry Summers, Robert Zoellick, Ken Starr and so on.

Of course, it all came undone. Underneath, Fannie was a cancer that helped spread risky behavior and low standards across the housing industry. We all know what happened next.

The scandal has sent the message that the leadership class is fundamentally self-dealing. Leaders on the center-right and center-left are always trying to create public-private partnerships to spark socially productive activity. But the biggest public-private partnership to date led to shameless self-enrichment and disastrous results.

It has sent the message that we have hit the moment of demosclerosis. Washington is home to a vertiginous tangle of industry associations, activist groups, think tanks and communications shops. These forces have overwhelmed the government that was originally conceived by the founders.

The reckoning started last November, but the real one is yet to come.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!