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Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to talk to Muslims

Reuel Marc Gerecht, a former Central Intelligence Agency officer, has an important article in Thursday's Wall Street Journal about how the West ought to be talking to Muslims. Hint: Gerecht does not advocate the fawning attitude of the Obama administration. In fact, he doesn't believe that George W. Bush went far enough either (certainly not during the last two years of his administration).
Al Qaeda is certainly not a mainstream Muslim group -- if it were, we would have had far more terrorist attacks since 9/11. But the ideology that produced al Qaeda isn't a rivulet in contemporary Muslim thought. It is a wide and deep river. The Obama administration does both Muslims and non-Muslims an enormous disservice by pretending otherwise.

Theologically, Muslims are neither fragile nor frivolous. They have not become suicide bombers because non-Muslims have said something unkind; they have not refrained from becoming holy warriors because Westerners avoided the word "Islamic" in describing Osama bin Laden and his allies. Having an American president who had a Muslim father, carries the name of the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, and wants to engage the Muslim world in a spirit of "mutual respect" isn't a "game changer." This hypothesis trivializes Islamic history and the continuing appeal of religious militancy.

Above all else, we need to understand clearly our enemies -- to try to understand them as they see themselves, and to see them as devout nonviolent Muslims do. To not talk about Islam when analyzing al Qaeda is like talking about the Crusades without mentioning Christianity. To devise a hearts-and-minds counterterrorist policy for the Islamic world without openly talking about faith is counterproductive. We -- the West -- are the unrivalled agent of change in the Middle East. Modern Islamic history -- including the Bush years -- ought to tell us that questions non-Muslims pose can provoke healthy discussions.
Gerecht is correct of course. It's a pity that the Obama administration is so dead set on appeasement that there is little chance that they will listen to him.

We've been down the appeasement road before. Jimmy Carter tried it in Iran in the late '70's with disastrous results. There is no reason Barack Hussein Obama should fare any better this time. But you all know that America is in good hands and I'm sure the Obama administration is doing the right thing. What could go wrong?

Read the whole thing.


At 7:12 PM, Blogger R-MEW Editors said...

Robert Spencer has been making the point for years that Jihad and Islamic terrorism will not vanish as a result of wishful thinking in the West or the censoring of words deemed politically incorrect.

The strategy of attempting to discredit and defeat Islamic terrorism by ignoring the bad behavior of Muslims and flattering the faith with perverse and puerile slogans like "religion of peace" (Bush) or risibly suggesting that Islam has shaped America for the better over the centuries (Obama) will be viewed by historians as a failed strategy.

As it stands, unreformed and unrepentant, Islam is a totalitarian system governing every aspect of life for Muslims. Enlightened western thought cannot overcome Islam's grip on its adherents which is coercive and unrelenting by nature.

Totalitarian systems ultimately yield only to coercive force.

At 5:52 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

FinanceDoc, agreed. Dictatorships do not yield to sweet persuasion. Its too bad the world hasn't taken to heart that lesson after the last World War ended over six decades ago.


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