Robert Pape speaks on Suicide Terrorism and how to stop it - New America Foundation

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  1. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Must watch video to understand the dynamics of suicide terrorism from one of the experts in the field and also someone who has influence into American policy. He speaks only for the first 30-35minutes, so you dont have to watch the whole video




    Robert Pape's presentation addressed a fundamental failure of the War on Terror -- we are producing more terrorists than we are killing. The argument he lays out in Cutting the Fuse: The Explosion of Global Suicide Terrorism and How to Stop It centers on occupations as the primary driver of suicide terrorism. By thoroughly examining all suicide attacks carried out from 1980-present day, through the Chicago Project on Suicide Terrorism, Pape concludes that military occupations engender many motives for terrorism -- atrocities that produce desire for revenge, environments in which ordinary people can become heros and increased religious participation to deal with the psychological effects of oppression.

    In the 1,300-plus attacks studied by CPOST, Pape found that almost 100% were driven by occupation, either as a personal experience or a feeling of duty to their community. Pape bolstered the quantitative evidence with video clips of 9/11 and 7/7 suicide bombers, which drove the point home even more. In order to combat the threats we face from suicide terrorism, Pape concludes that the U.S. should return to off-shore balancing: to remove troops from conflict zones in order to reduce our risk of attack, while maintaining a sense of order and stability in regions that are key for U.S. national security agenda.
     
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  3. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    The website link for Robert Pape's research data. Data is from 1980 to 2008. Also interesting info based on this research is availble on the website. Worth a look

    Chicago Project on Security and Terrorism
    Search the Suicide Attack Database
    http://cpost.uchicago.edu/search.php
     
  4. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    Interestingly the biggest and most devastating suicide attack against USA in USA did not precede any US occupation of foreign soil.The primary motive of those who carried out the 9/11 attacks transcended the scope of occupying force and liberators seeking vengeance.Islamist forces seek a reversal of status quo in middle east which impinge on the long term strategic interests of united states in the region and i doubt US is willing to address the concerns of the anti establishment forces by leaning upon the ruling elites of Islamic world to accommodate them through a political dialogue.USA has learn't the lessons from post Shah Iran that any such accommodation would lead to situation where America will be denied strategic space in the respective regions.

    The period of military occupations might cease very soon,but its unlikely to result in America reversing her decades old polices regarding Middle east and in the peripheral Islamic countries.Which mean the Islamist forces will still have a bone to pick up with USA.
     
  5. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    ^^^Did you see the entire video, To understand his explanation for 9/11 watch from 10:10 onwards. It is well worth the 30 minutes.

    He discusses that the largest deployment of armed forces from the US since WWII in the arabian peninsula starting 1990 referring to US forces based in Saudi Arabia post Saddam Hussain's war. These forces never left the Arabian peninsula and were percevied as an occupation by the locals. There is actually a section where a montage of videos is shown from various suicide bombers including the 7/7 london as well as those in Iraq and their reasons. Its an interesting analysis nonetheless and something that has powerful correlation and evidence on Pape's theory and it applies to 9/11 attackers as well.
    The other interesting point not mentioned here is that these suicide attacks where many Saudis also took part is something that the Salafi /Wahabbi scholars and head clerics in Saudi Arabia had declared Haram or prohibited back in the 1980s when Hizbullah first started it against Israeli occupation of southern lebanon. Infact the fatwa at that time state that under no circumstances is suicide bombing allowed including by Palestinians against Israelis and for much of the 80s it was a tactic used by shite groups like Hizbulla or secular leftist Palestinian groups. And once the Israelis withdrew from southern lebanon, the suicide attacks stopped.

    The three main steps according to Pape that should be taken revolved around a three year strategy for Iraq as follows

    1. Partner with local forces and build local capacity---army and police forces
    2. Re-deploy forces to reduce visibility
    3. Withdraw forces

    And the same advice has been given on Afghanistan so it is likely we will see the same Iraq methodolgy of empowering local Afghan forces, withdrawing to the North and West and then completely withdrawing forces except for a token amount in year 3 i.e. around 2010.

    Ofcourse there is an important issue of politicised religion among muslims and its more militant versions as shown by OBL and Zawahiri, but this is specifically related on the question of suicide terrorism and the data collated since 1980 on this issue specifically.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2010
  6. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    It would be exceedingly disingenuous to suggest US military deployment in the Persian Gulf(including Saudi Arabia)tantamount to an occupation,neither is there is evidence to suggest that the American leadership or the leadership of the gulf states buy this argument.That the Islamic opposition group perceive this as an occupation force is a moot point,their perception is mostly influenced by their staunch opposition to the ruling establishment in their respective constituencies and their firm belief(not entirely misplaced)that America(and west in general)has vested interest in propping up these regimes.

    The Islamic groups represents the only organized opposition to autocratic regimes in the greater Middle east and generally can claim popular approval,this more than anything else encourages USA(given her past experience with Islamist opposition)to remain committed to the status quo in the region and her military deployment in the region is effectively a bulwark against the Islamist opposition.

    Post Iranian revolution,American strategic policy making has been preoccupied with denying space to the Islamist groups,unless there is a genuine rethink on this crucial point on behalf of the US,there will be no slackening of effort from the Islamist groups to target US interest in the region and beyond.America and the Islamist groups will continue to make strikes against each other, they are merely tactical maneuvers forming part of a larger battleground.
     
  7. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Its true that perception is a problem here but its a widespread perception and this is the reason that the attackers mentioned in their videos. Hence because of this, post Iraq war in 2003, the US made a deal with the Saudi govt. to withdraw all combat troops as well as equipment except trainers from Saudi land. The CENTCOM HQ was shifted from KKMC near Riyadh to Qatar as well. Ofcourse the turnaround of the regime on tackling the political ISlamic ideology as well as the takfeeri groups head on played a crucial role in disrupting suhc groups.

    Eventually in the longterm, ME govt.s will have to democratise in some shape or form. This is happening in some smaller states like Bahrain and Kuwait. Much slower in Saudi Arabia, but this is the only way opposition can be streamlined and brought into politcal mainstream instead of being pushed to fringes and radicalised


    Actually its only post 9/11 that America has realised this. Before that America(as in the politcal/security establishment) used an alliance with politcal Islamic groups as well as takfeeri groups as policy of influence around the world. From Afghanistan to Yugoslavia. The idea was to create a great "Christian Islamic alliance of the faithful" against godless Communism. And the extent to which this was promoted is documented in NSA archives as well as journalists. This is the reason why Pakistan and the Saudis were also one of their biggest partners in the fight against Communism as well.

    Infact, even after the Islamic revolution of Iran, the national security assesment was that this would be favourable to US as the new regime would probably be more hostile to the USSR than the previous regime.

    IF you read up on the Iran Contra affair, you will find that Israel and the US under Reagan were selling weapons to Iran AFTER the Islamic revolution for 6 years. The main reason was that Iran was fighting a left leaning secular regime in Iraq.

    Some other stuff that you should read about this are
    1. US funding the takfeeri and violent textbooks for madrassas in Afghanistan and Pakistan for Propaganda against the Soviets
    From U.S., the ABC's of Jihad
    Violent Soviet-Era Textbooks Complicate Afghan Education Efforts


    2.Read up from the official government archives from the US on U.S. Propaganda in the Middle East were politcal Islamic groups were supported and funded by the US. If you have little time, this is one single Archive paper you MUST read.
    U.S. Propaganda in the Middle East - The Early Cold War Version George Washington University National Security Archives


    It was only when blowback started from 1998 onwars with Bin Laden coming up with his intention to target the US that things started getting tricky. Otherwise, the US was indifferent to the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and actually brought them to the US to give an image makeover in the mid 1990s.

    This is one of the reasons why India, alongwith Syria, Iraq, Algeria and other left leaning countries always complained to the US about these groups without any major response.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2010
  8. neo29

    neo29 Senior Member Senior Member

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    The awareness that in any religion a proper burial and funeral to the dead, rests their soul for eternity and makes them eligible for heaven must be spread. Pieces of your body scattered everywhere doesnt give you heaven, just hell to your family who watch you in pieces.
     
  9. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    America's focus towards the 'Islamic threat' began in earnest even as the cold war ceased and USSR dissolved.Remember It was Washington strong backing that resulted in the 1991 military coup in Algeria, which overtured the popular electoral verdict for the Islamist FIS party and heralded a decade of bloody clashes between the Islamist and the military junta.The threat of political Islam reaching the shores of Europe is what encouraged US and western Europe to back the 1997 military coup in Turkey against the Islamic welfare party led coalition govt.

    There is clear evidence that wherever Islamist posed a threat to upset the political equation, America has encouraged any measure,even plain authoritarian moves,to deny them political space(Egypt's Muslim brotherhood is another good example).America's support for the Afghan Mujaheddin was simply a case of America giving the struggle against USSR priority over its well established concern regarding Islamist movement.The Iran-contra affair is extremely muddled and has its origins in CIA's attempts to countervail US congress's increasing scrutiny of its covert anti communist operation in Latin America.President Reagan or atleast many of his colleagues in his administration held that they believed CIA was running the arms to a Moderate faction in Iran which was apposed to the 'Ayatollah Khomeini faction'.hence its clear even here the motivation was to undermine the Khomeini regime(It was even held that the arms were traded for the release of US hostages who where held by Iranian backed Hezbollah in Lebanon).Moreover these arms where actually shipped from Israel,it would be stupid to conclude that the state of Israel would actually ship arms to a Islamist regime that had already made its dislike for the Jewish state very abundant.

    The Islamist threat as perceived by west,esp America, is not a new phenomenon.It has been factored into the US Middle Easter policy formulation long before the cold war ended and Islamic threat became a exclusive focus of US national security strategy.
     
  10. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    ^^^

    You have to understand that biggest paramount threat to the US was Communism and in its effort to defeat Communism. If you look at the geo-politics of the last century in the Cold War pespective and camps, the events almost always makes sense.

    The takfeeri groups were used as an instrument of policy against the Communists and this is no secret. So CIA was quite comfortable with using such groups. Even down to the 2000s, many Pentagon officials kept complaining that the Cold War mindset is still the defining mindset. Listen to McCain speaking on Chechenya and Russia in 1999. He is firmly againt Russia on this account. The Taliban was tacitly support to get the pipelines through Afghanistan in the mid 1990s. Why do you think there is still a strong pro-Pakistan lobby within the Pentagon.

    Algeria had a socialist govt. for most its post independace years. I would say that there was tacit backing to coups, but more with regard to it being easier to deal with a regime as a client state than any sense of threat of takfeeri groups. I would urge you to read up on the NSA archives I quoted earlier of how deeply the CIA was involved in supporting and building capabilities of the takfeeri groups against Communists and Socialist regimes in Asia and Africa. The Safari Culb was athe name given to an informal alliance between France, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Iran (during the Shah) were political Islamist and takfeeri groups were supported around Africa or anti-communist guierellas to defeat communists there. A good book on this account is Unholy wars: Afghanistan, America and international terrorism.

    The overall aim of the Iran Contra affair if you look at the Cold war picture was simple. Although the cover was used to say that it was a hostage for weapons deal. There was an ulteriror motive. This is now shown by declassified documents of CIA of that time. CIA National Security Directive --US policy to Iran -1986


    Willliam Casey the head of the CIA at that wanted to use this to renew ties with the Khomenie regime because he felt that isolating it woudl allow Moscow to cultivate ties with Iran. William Casey if you didnt know was basically a fanatical Cold War warrior who pioneered the Afghan war startegy against the Soviets with the ISI.

    It is widely accpeted that the weapons were going directly to the Regime. The weapons were anti-tank weaponse mainly to fight against Iraq which was left leaning and pro-Soviet. Its simple as that. And Israel helping out in that is no surprise. The main reasons Israel was supported all these years was because Israel was in the Cold war camp and the Palestinians ended up being the Soviet camp along with Syria and Iraq. While Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan were on the US side. This is one of the reasons why there is documented evidence of AK-47 shipments that were being sent to Palestinians guierallas by the Soviet were captured by the Israelis were then shipped back to Pakistan to be used by the "mujahideen" there. This is documented in the memoirs by Charlie Wilson were there is the movie of the same name as well. Also one of the reasons why Israeli intially allowed Hamas to grow tacitly and even funded them covertly to act as a counterweight to Arafat's leftist Palestinian Liberation Organisation in the mid 80s as a short term tactic which came as a blow back again in the long run.

    You may have to be more specific when you talk about the "Islamist threat" as that is just a wide label. But if you are looking at the current thinking of looking at terrorist groups belonging to takfeeri ideologies, its a change after being alliesof sorts during the Cold War period. And if you go throught the NSA archives and particular books like Ghosts Wars and Unholy wars: Afghanistan, America and international terrorism you will be able to realise the interplay which is certainly more intereting and realistic and give you a better understanding overall. Al Qaeda and affliated groups have obviously become serious threats now but mainly to US and UK and other cold war allies like Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. You want hear threats to for example Poland or Greece or Norway for that matter. Its a classica case of blowback of using proxy groups.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2010
  11. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    In the years preceding the world WarII fascist forces like the Nazi's were America's,and west Europe,greats strategic challenged and it became incumbent upon them to ally with the Soviets with the common objective to defeat their primary threats,even though America was clearly aware that communism presented an equal if not greater challenge to us global interest.American support to Afghan mujaheddin was a similar attempt to enlist whatever credible ground support that could be sought against the Soviets(besides it was Pakistan which cobbled together the mujaheddin and US merely jumped into the bandwagon when their effectiveness as a anti soviet resistance gained credibility)

    In the 21st century Islamist resurgence presents America's greatest security challenged in the greater middle east,it has an entirely historical dimension to it.Its entirely misleading to suggest the Islamist threat draws political sustenance due a purported occupation.it has certain dynamic which is entirely internal to Islamic societies and by its very nature is anti democratic and anti western,hence one can understand why American opinion makers have insisted that any withdrawal from this strategic space and engage the Islamist, is counter productive to American and western interests.I don't see any change in this thinking.

    P.S:Algerian coup was effectively to thwart the FIS(Islamic Salvation Front) from assuming power following its victory in the national election in 1991,no other understanding of this development,except that the western backed military did want Islamist to come to power,can be reasonably sustained
     
  12. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Ah, interesting that you brought in other similar right-wing groups like Nazi Germany. In the 1930s, right after the Communist revolution in Russia. The UK still considered the leftist movement as a bigger threat than Nazi Germany. This was why the policy of appeasement was followed with Germany so as to act as counter to Communist Russia. Even German Americans like the Bushs' great grand father and other capitalists were involved in funding the Nazi Party as it was considered anti-leftist and pro-capitalist in its early years before mid 1930s. It was only afterwards they realized that the monster has grown too big.

    And the use of right wing groups to counter leftist movements is not unique in Europe or Arab countries. Even in India in the 1960s, Shiv Sena under Bal Thackerey was given a free hand by the ruling Congress that eventually broke the back of the strong leftist and unionist movement in Maharashtra. And as the declassified documents from the NSA Archives that I have quoted above show, whether it be about Iran or ME in general. Infact, it is well worth the read of how the CIA justified developing realtions with the Iranian regime in 1986 and recommended sale of weapons to counter Moscow's influence. There was a clear policy of supporting right wing groups among Muslims to counter leftists as well by Cold War allies be they US, Saudis, Israelis or Pakistanis. What else would explain the fact that books that taught extremist were developed in the US and printed by US money to be taught in madrassas in North-West Pakistan to indoctrinate the refugees there? The US jumped the bandwagon around the world not just in Pakistan and because of its enormous resources was instrumental in giving a lethal edge to these groups particularly related to bomb making and guerrilla warfare tactics. Otherwise these groups would be more of a nuisance value than a serious threat. Ofcourse it was an alliance of convenience against Communists by the US, but the blowback always happens in unexpected ways when proxy groups are used. Just like with Saudi Arabia and Pakistan also suffered from blowback. And just like even India suffered from the blowback of LTTE where we lost our PM as well to a suicide bombing. You can't really blame the US for looking after what it though would server its national interests at that point in time.

    What I would suggest is to check out this six part BBC documentary series on the origins of political Islamists and Neo-Con (political evangelical) movements and this basically applies to all extremist political religious movements. Obviously these two are the most prominent of such political religious movements today The Power of Nightmares - BBC Documentary


    Your second paragraph is more of just statements rather than facts. Especially Islamic societies being anti-democratic when given the fact that some of the most populous Muslim countries in the world are democracies Indonesia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Turkey, Mali, Senegal e.t.c that would constitute more than 50% of the muslim world. And how would you reconcile the fact that the dictatorships are more pro-US? Saudi Arabia, GCC countries, Egypt are more inclined towards the US and Western states which would from the western point of view be a good thing. Infact the people there WANT democratic governments but the US although loud on Myanmar democracy would keep quiet on Egyptian or Jordanian democracy because they are pro-US. Can you see the contradiction in your statements? Please read through this primer done by the Us based Council on Foreign Relations on this here Council on Foreign Relations - Middle East: Islam and democracy . You will see that even during the Iraq War period (2003) when the PEW survey was done, majorities in Arab countries supported democracies. In 2010 the figures for democracy would even higher.

    The fact is that this video that you have seen is not made by arm chair theorists but by those who are in positions of influence and are shaping American foreign policy. This was done on Capital Hill broadcast live by C-SPAN. Robert Pape himself is a retd. Air Force personnel who has been working closely with Robert Gates. I think you completely missed the point of the video when you missed that this was about "Suicide terrorism as a tool to force democracies to withdraw militaries regardless of ideological makeup" instead of "Islamist threat draws political sustenance due to purported occupation". That is a misconception. So just to clarify, the point being made, and with statistical data to back it, is that "Suicide terrorism as a tool to force democracies to withdraw militaries regardless of ideological makeup".

    "Islamist resurgence" and "Christian Crusaders" is a nice term to use in political debates to create fear and vote banks but when it comes to geo-politics and national security the reality has to be looked into rather than labels. This is the problem that neo-cons fell into by driving themselves into a rut, and the same crisis that faces the PA/ISI leadership. Thankfully the Indian leadership has by and large stayed away from such black and white portrayals. And this is what the US political/military establishment seems to be inclined towards as well.

    Anyways, the debate on what is the biggest threat to America is probably a big debate and deserves a separate thread in itself. I think the more prevalent view is now to get out of the tar pits of Iraq and Afghanistan and focus on China and managing its rise. Here I was just interested in highlighting the suicide terrorism aspect and some innovative research done on this aspect and that is making news on Capitol Hill and affecting American policy.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010
  13. S.A.T.A

    S.A.T.A Senior Member Senior Member

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    @Ejazr

    If i may dare say you are sometimes guilty of letting your prejudices get the better of you and make in correct conclusions.Not all Islamic societies are anti democratic,but are all Islamic societies islamist in their political expression.Is democratic Bangladesh's governing principles predicated on the same principles that govern Islamist Iran or Islamist Sudan.That is the crux of my argument, then why bring Bangladesh or other democratic Islamic countries in to this orbit.I still stand by claim that Islamist,as the variety goes,are profusely anti democratic.The nature of political discourse in the anti establishment opposition in the largely aristocratic or autocratic ruling dispensations greater middle east,dominated by anti democratic and west baiting Islamist,continues to encourage America to invest her political capital with archaic monarchies and military led bonapartist.

    Given this climate America is unlikely to reevaluate its middle eastern strategy,including its armed presence ad occasional military intervention,with an avowed intention to avoid suicide bombing.The threat of suicide bombing is too trivial threat to force an American reassessment of its core interests in the region(denying Islamist a shot at power being an integral part of this core)

    Since we are in the mood of suggesting readings,let me concluding here by dare suggest a reading for your consideration(a paper from the early post cold war years)...........This is just an excerpt,please continue the rest of the reading in the link blow

    When to Worry in the Middle East
    by Jonathan S. Paris
    In a recent speech, Manin Indyk, national security advisor for Near East and South Asia, stated that the United States should "help the people and governments of the Middle East to confront this emerging threat [of radical
    Islamic fundamentalism], in pan by pursuing peace with vigor, in pan by containing extremism throughout the region, and in pan by holding out an alternative vision of democratic political development and free market economic development."1 It is important to consider the Islamic fundamentalist threat, the arguments for accommodating and confronting radical Islam, and the potential conflict in U.S. policy that might occur by encouraging democracy in the Arab world on the one hand, and containing radical Islamic fundamentalism and promoting the Arab-Israeli peace process on the other. The Islamic world brings into question Washington's easy assumption that the promotion of democracy is inevitably in the national interests of the United States. In some countries,the risks of democratization may be worthwhile, but, in several Arab countries,where the United States has other vital interests, fast-track democratization may undermine those interests.

    The Islamist Appeal

    Islamic fundamentalism has emerged in several Middle East countries as a significant social and cultural force, and, most recently, as a political movement. The violent assault by radical Islamists against state authority can
    be distinguished from Islamic fundamentalism's benign form: the health, education, and welfare aspects of community-oriented activities, and heightened religiosity and observances of the strictures of the Koran. While some argue that the mosque-community service activities provide a legal cover for fundraising and planning of violent activities, resulting in a division of labor scheme for destroying the state, most observers agree that the degree of militancy emanating from the mosque is proportionate to the shortcomings of the existing government in meeting the expectations of its citizens.2 The emerging consensus, therefore,is that Islamic fundamentalist movements in the Arab world tend to be indigenous,homegrown responses to the socioeconomic and political circumstances in those countries.

    The ideology of the militant Islamists is well illustrated by the writings of Sayyid Qutb, an Egyptian intellectual who rediscovered Islam after being repulsed by America's materialistic culture while touring the United States in
    the early 1950s. Qutb led the Muslim Brotherhood's split in 1954 from Nasser's secular socialist revolution, and, consequently, spent most of his remaining life writing and proselytizing in prison, until he was executed in I960.Qutb attributes the failures of the Arabs in successive wars and the growing poverty, anomie, and disillusionment within Arab societies to the apostasy of Arab leaders who have abandoned Islam. Seduced by Western
    political intrigue and culture, Arab leaders have led the people backwards into the pre-Islamic age of ignorance.3 Qutb's prescription is takfir, or the elimination of pseudo-Muslim leaders who the Koran says are worse than non-believers and must be killed. Just about anyone who is in power and does not meet the Islamist test of a pure Muslim is seen as illegitimate in the eyes of Islamic fundamentalists. Cleanse society of these false Muslims, and God will be with the Muslims again. The Islamists take great pride in the Afghan war, where,with God on the side of the true Muslims, the Islamic mujahidin defeated that great infidel Russia. The current weakness of Arab states, by contrast, can be attributed to their being ruled by apostate Muslims. In formulating a strategy for meeting the Islamist challenge, remember that the priority of takfir is the replacement of existing nominally Muslim governments with authentic Islamic rule, and only then waging war against the forces of unbelief—Zionism, the Great Satan, the Christian 'crusaders,' communists, and so forth

    The Case for Accommodation

    Those who urge that the Islamists be accommodated offer several reasons. First, the Islamic revival is not a threat but a healthy grassroots response to the failure of sclerotic Arab governments to tackle growing socioeconomic problems. This view dismisses the militant Islamists as marginal and on the fringes of a predominantly cultural and religious movement.'A second school acknowledges that Islamists pose a political threat to
    Arab regimes, but allows that the regimes can keep the Islamists on the defensive not through repression, but by co-opting the more moderate Islamists into the political system. The legalization of the Muslim Brotherhood under Mubarak's Egypt has, at least until recently, splintered the fundamentalist movement. In Jordan, King Husayn has adroitly bowed to public disaffection by changing ministers and engaging the Muslim Brotherhood in parliamentary elections where their electoral success may not pose a threat to Hashemite legitimacy.The advantage of co-optation is that by empowering the Islamists, albeit within limits, they are made more accountable to the electorate and are not merely a magnet for the protest vote.

    Those who advocate fast-track democratization would go further by allowing all political factions, including the formerly suppressed leftists, to compete for legislative and executive power. The victor would then be able to
    claim true popular legitimacy, and the people's frustration at the corruption,injustice, and economic failures of the incumbent regime would at last be vented. If the Islamists win at the ballot box, as happened in Algeria in December 1991, this school of thought would have allowed the Islamists to rule Algeria in the sanguine view that popular constraints, such as the need to be re-elected,would inject a dose of pragmatism and moderation in the Islamist program.

    A non-interventionist school of accommodation, directed in particular at policy makers in the West, argues that even if Arab states ultimately succumb to the Islamists, the triumph of the Islamists does not pose a threat to Western interests. No amount of outside economic aid or political engineering can abate the tensions within Arab society between the intellectual inquisitiveness of Arab modernists, who creatively reinterpret the Koran, and the prevailing orthodoxy's resistance to tampering with the word of God since the decision of Sunni religious authorities in the tenth century to close the door to interpretation.According to the non-interventionist view, there are three reasons why this civil war within Arab society should not threaten the West. First, the Islamists,even if victorious, do not share the modem approach that fosters innovation and technological success, which is the major buttress of state power. Secondly,the fundamentalist groups, if triumphant, are likely to fragment at the top, as in Afghanistan today. And thirdly, as may be happening within Iran in the post-Khomeini era, the population will ultimately tire of Islamic rigidity and lose their zeal for militancy. Since Islamic unity is a mirage, the Islamists cannot unite into a pan-Islamic hegemony that might dominate the Persian Gulf or
    wage Jihad against Israel.

    Non-interventionists try to minimize Islamic fundamentalism as much as possible. An activist U.S. policy, they warn, will not defeat fundamentalism but will accelerate it by turning a simmering civil war between Muslim secularists and fundamentalists into a clash between the West and Islam. Beseiged by another Western crusade, the Islamists will gain support from those in the Arab world who are susceptible to the conspiratorial view that the West is the root cause of their problems, and who detest the West more than they fear the tyranny of an Islamist regime. It should be remembered, however, that the predicted ill-effects of a confrontationalist policy have failed to materialize in the past. In the autumn of 1990, non-interventionists warned that a strident U.S. confrontation with Saddam would turn an inter-Arab territorial dispute into an eruption of the Arab masses against the West. In fact, Saddam continues to remain isolated and bereft of meaningful Arab support as a result of unrelenting Western confrontation. The question underlying the current debate between accommodation and confrontation is whether Western confrontation is morelikely to accelerate or contain the Islamic surge.

    The Case for Confrontation

    Samuel Huntington implies the futility of Western accommodation of Islamic civilization when he writes that
    Western ideas of individualism, liberalism, constitutionalism, human rights, equality,libeny, the rule of law, democracy, free markets, the separation of church and state,often have little resonance in Islamic [and several other] . . . cultures. Western efforts to propagate such ideas produce instead a reaction against 'human rights imperialism'and a reaffirmation of indigenous values, as can be seen in the support for religious fundamentalism by the younger generation in non-Western cultures.

    The clash between Islam and the West is not over territory or economic domination, but over values. The West cannot mollify the Islamic world by
    promoting democratic ideals because there is no convergence of values between the two cultures. We are simply talking a different language. If the United States wishes to accommodate President Hafiz al-Asad of Syria, who does not appear to be a prisoner of the Islamic culture described above, it might offer credits and remove Syria from the terrorist list in return for Syrian peace with Israel.

    How does the United States reach out to the militant Islamists who reject the very carrots, such as economic development, that the United States might offer as an inducement to compromise on other issues? On a policy level, confrontationalists argue that as unstylish and undemocratic as Arab authoritarian governments are today, the Islamist alternative might be worse, as Khomeini's Islamic revolution was far more problematic than the shah of Iran. The United States has warned that Islamist success at the ballot box may result in non-democratic, ideological, authoritarian regimes.Islamist ideologues like Hasan Turabi, head of the National Islamic Front of
    Sudan, disdain the factionalism of party politics and refuse to accept the corollary of majority rule, that is, protecting the rights of the minority opposition.Behind the pithy phrase "one man, one vote, once,"9 real lives and issues are at stake.
    Do Arab regimes allow the Islamists to win at the ballot box when Islamist leaders have indicated they will not tolerate political opposition or cultural diversity, or that Coptic Christians may be persecuted, and women may forfeit the gains they have madThe confrontationalists do not believe the Arab world is ready for democracy and would guard against opening up the praetorian system too fast too soon without an institutionalized rule of law to safeguard minority rights.They point to Algeria, where the National Liberation Front (FLN)-Benjedid government, facing an unexpectedly severe food riot in 1988, panicked and abruptly legalized political parties. The result was the defeat of the FLN, the unpopular incumbent governing party, by the better organized Islamic National Front (FIS). Nearly every time there is an election, the fundamentalists win, in pan because the secular oppositions in Arab societies have failed to articulate the democratic pluralistic alternative. If the Islamists gain power through the ballot box, they will have succeeded in taking over the government without having to defeat that bastion of secularism, the army.

    Democracy has worked in countries that have achieved prior economic development, industrialization, and an urban middle class, whose private-sector behavior stimulates accommodation and compromise so that more can benefit from the expanding economic pie. Although a few poor countries, like India,Gambia, Mauritius, and Costa Rica have democratized, more economic development in Algeria, Egypt, and several other Arab countries would increase the under the benign authoritarian regimes currently in power?
     
  14. ejazr

    ejazr Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    Well Jonathan Paris is a great scholar of ME politics and someone who I admire. But if Im not mistaken this is a 1993 article and when Samuel Hutington came out with his "Clash of Civlisations" theory. However, his conclusions are quite accurate even today.

    Conclusions
    It is not axiomatic that every democratic election in the Arab MiddleEast will result in an Islamist victory, as the recent election in Yemen demonstrates. It is by no means clear that even if the Islamists win an election, U.S. interests in containing fundamentalism will fail in the long nan. Had the FIS fundamentalists taken over a very distressed Algerian economy in 1992, they might have failedby now and discredited Islamist movements elsewhere. By being repressed, the FIS remains an unaccountable protest movement.


    And about almost 20years on, we see that most countries that had politcal Islamist movement had to re-adapt their ideas, they had to discard old ideologies and those that didnt were relegated to the margins. The attacks of 9/11 was in part the furustration of the failures of these movements to grab hold of the wider muslim population.

    I think he presents a good overview of different positions on this matter of politcal Islamic ideology. Let me just state as well and say that politcal Islamic ideology and its assorted derivates is first and foremost and threat within Islam and to muslims themselves. The idea to establish an Islamic state and implement Islam top down is something that is anti-thetical to traditional Islamic discourse. And unlike Communism it has no appeal to largely non-muslim societies. I will infact create a seperate thread to discuss this ideology is particular when I get the time.

    I understand that the term Islamic/muslim is used interchangably as is by most people, so bangladesh, Indoensia e.t.c. being largely muslim fit into that category. If you look at politcal Islamic govt.s, then strictly speaking only Iran is the only country that could be said to have such a form of government. Others fall somwhere in between. I don't see how including these largely muslim democracies is not related. Besides, I did include a survey conducted in Arab countries as well were majorities were FOR democratic goverments.

    This is an interesting discussion but its off-topic for here. Like I said, this is simply about novel research done by a US based group on suicide terrorism aloneand their conclusions which are backed by statistical data rather than theoritical concepts and frameworks. I will create a seperate thread about politcal religious ideologies with a focus on Islam as extreme religious or ethinic nationlism more or less result in a similar consequence for their people.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2010

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