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A reply to Glenn Greenwald regarding rationalizations and excuses and moral equivalence.
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If it turns out that Bales is simply “mad,” it does not follow that the same is true of Merah. It is untrue to claim, as Nicolas Sarkozy recently did, that the “Islamic faith has nothing to do with the insane motivations of this man [Merah],” for the concept of takfir has a precedent in earlier Islamic thought, specifically in the works of Ibn Taymiyyah, while jihad against non-Muslims has much broader elements in traditional theology that justify it.
To round off, it is worth coming back to Greenwald, who regards the likes of Faisal Shahzad as driven solely by political grievances (in Shahzad’s case, U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan) rather than any Islamist ideology. Where Greenwald errs is to assume that these grievances and ideology are mutually exclusive. Of course Shahzad is angry about American drones, but what he himself said in a video released by al-Arabiya illustrates that his motivations go beyond an aim to end drone strikes.
In particular, Shahzad declared, “You’ll see that the Muslim war has just started… until Islam is spread throughout the whole world.” This fits in with traditional ideas about jihad as warfare to expand the realm of Dar al-Islam. It is also notable that Shahzad affirmed his desire to avenge the death of Baitullah Mehsud, who was the leader of the Tehreek-e-Taliban until he was killed by a drone strike in August 2009. Mehsud outlined his goals as follows: Drive out the non-Muslims from Muslim lands, and then attack them in the West until they pay jizya or convert to Islam.
Recognizing that the problem of Islamist terrorism is foremost an issue of ideology with roots in traditional theology does not amount to characterizing the actions of Islamist militants as manifestations of “inscrutable hatred and evil” (to use Greenwald’s words). Rather, it is simply based on examining what the militants themselves say they want to achieve.
I am no fan of Obama’s “surge” in Afghanistan (based on the erroneous assumption that the primary cause of the decline in violence in Iraq from 2007 onwards was the increase of U.S. troop numbers and COIN strategy) or the use of drones, but these policies should not be changed merely because Faisal Shahzad is angered by them. It is difficult to think of a counter-terrorism measure against his fellow Islamist militants that would not similarly anger him.
Instead, a policy of containment is needed, and on the understanding that Islamism is ultimately rooted in questions of identity and the role of Sharia in the modern world, it should be acknowledged that the burden of stopping Islamist terrorism lies in the hands of Muslims.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?