Sunday, July 30, 2006

Thoughts on Islamism

Watching Martin Amis on PBS explain the difference between Islam and Islamism, and the complete "Great Leap Backwards" that Islamism displays to the world at large. It's clear that clarity of thinking leads a mature mind to the conclusion that suicide bombers, most better-than-average educated, have completely contradicted the vapid humanistic platitudes of western liberals who believe that the kumbayeh ethos will inevitably triumph.

Amis, best man at Christopher Hitchens first wedding, has not been converted as CH has to grudging support of the Iraq War as some sort of frontline of trench warfare against Islamists and their terror cadres. But he walked the moderator through the fall of the Ottoman Empire after the First World War as the beginning of the Middle East's descent toward the present default mode of religious fanaticism. And his "Great Leap Backward" that the Islamists demonstrate reminded me of my Arabist background and the strange insights language study can provide.

Hearing Amis, I mused on the little-known fact that the Arabic language in its classical form has NO FUTURE VERBAL TENSE. Everything is in the past perfect. Of course, modern Arabic dialects have circumlocuted this grammatical oddity by inserting a future particle, such as sa- in the Levantine dialects. But the hold of the Quran on Islamists and the lack of any sense of progress, except toward a PAST idyllic time of the Prophet, here on earth seems to me to indicate a "wave" of species shame that Martin Amis feels is spreading. That is, the very strong and sustained opposition by Islamist regimes such as Iran, and their apparent morphing into terrorist franchises, might be the antithesis of the liberal bromide that "we can all get along if we just talk to one another."

In other words, one might infer from Amis's own thinking---though Amis may never get to approve of Iraq---that GWB might just be a Churchillian figure when seen from the future, providing of course that we have a future that can look back on a victorious opposition to a reign of terror from religious fanatics.

I personally think that the present debacle in Iraq might have been alleviated, if not avoided, by better management by the Pentagon and L. Paul Bremer's regimen. But an Arabic-speaking US general and his Arabist State Dept assistants were cashiered shortly after the fall of Baghdad to US forces. Given the disastrous consequences of the Bremer/Pentagon model, it is probable that the Arabists might have avoided some of the horrible misjudgments of the Bremer group.

Given the inane penchant of the MSM to support the enemies of western civilization in order to embarrass GWB, Israel may be in jeopardy over the long run. The constant drumbeat of their bias toward bad news transmitted by the media eventually takes hold, as someone admitted on a talk forum recently, when noting that the game plan of the Democrats was to keep media focus on the downside of US involvement in Iraq for the fall elections. Of course, the insurgents in Iraq are aware that the so-called Fourth Estate in the US, with few exceptions, serves as a Fifth Column for their own cause in the minds of American voters. The MSM hates Bush, and will seize any opportunity to make him look bad.

The whole Lebanon border situation, and the relentless MSM focus on Lebanese victims while being silent about Hezbollah's human shield strategy, reminds me of just how fragile Israel, and in a larger sense, fundamental western values of democracy and free public discourse are in the media's successful depiction of GWB's GWOT as some sort of a "Phony War," which the British and French peaceniks derided just before the Wehrmacht went through France like a hot knife through butter.

But I am reminded that the clear and present danger to our civilization is just as dangerous and insidious, because there is no symmetrical balance of terror.

When Kissinger shuttled to Damascus back in the seventies, he and Assad would always be photographed in front of a tapestry depicting the retaking of Jerusalem in 1187 by Saladin. The Arab opponents of Israel will say again and again, or at least they told me after a few drinks in the region, that the Crusaders' occupation of Jerusalem lasted only 88 years and that Israel's hold on the city might not last even that long.

To finalize this dreary post, I just watched John Bolton's interrogation by former DA John Kerry, on how the US should "talk to" North Korea in a bilateral fashion. I am sure the overlawyered Democrats, were they to come to power, would talk and talk just like Billy Jeff did in 1994 with N. Korea, with disastrous results. If you remember, N. Korea promised to cease development of a nuke if the US forked over several billion simoleons. The sucker bit.

And just how did those talks with Arafat go when Barak and Billy Jeff offered him a very large part of what Fatah was asking?

In AA, an addict is someone who keeps doing something and gets a bad result, but does it again and again, in the hopes that someday drinking that next glass will be the ticket.

I don't believe tha Islamists are going to be talked out of their interpretation of the last 13 centuries. And that leaves the Churchillian alternative.

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