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Author Topic: The American Jihad
Xaposert
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Our way of life and our values are best.
We must protect and spread our way of life.
Our way of life is under attack by those who hate it.
Those who attack us are evil, and will not listen to reason.
Our only option is to destroy them.
If we do not destroy them, they will destroy us.
The ends justify the means.

These are the tenets of the ideological viewpoint shared by the Bush administration, the leadership of Al Qaeda, the rebels in Iraq, the Palestinian terrorists, and the Israeli hardliners. Although they are on opposite sides, in entirely different cultures, these groups seem very similar in their fundamental method of solving the world's problems. In fighting eachother, they use the same approach. To borrow the use of the term from Benjamin Barber, I'd call this the ideology of jihad - the ideology of crusading against evildoers in the name of protecting one's own people and way of life, and converting the rest of the world to do so.

I don't believe majorities anywhere (even within conservative parties) support this way of thinking, but because of it's capacity to polarize the population, it dominates foreign affairs these days. Radical clerics in Iraq may be only a small minority, but their violent methods force the people to choose between one extreme side or another. By acting out violently and dominating public discussion, they hijack the conservative agenda from those who would use more peaceful or diplomatic means to achieve the same ends. They do so by marginalizing all other methods of dealing with problems in the eyes of the people. This way of thinking argues that anything but all-out war is "doing nothing," and all other methods are simply naive. It's terrorism or give in to the U.S., for Al Qaeda. It's preemptive strikes or surrender to terrorism, according to Bush. It's revolution or accept being an American colony for Iraqi revels. The middle ground is made to disappear, and people are left choosing one extreme or the other.

And the worst part is, the opposing sides only serve to reenforce one another. Al Qaeda's aggression only brings support to the Bush administration's views. Bush's violence only incites more to join Al Qaeda's view. Israeli attacks bring Palestinian extremism, and Palestinian attacks bring Israeli extremism. All sides claim they are "destroying" the other, but there is yet to be a case where any side got destroyed. All that really seems to happen is each side makes the other more extremist.

I think the more moderate peoples need to break free of this cycle - by recognizing that there is, in fact, middle ground. By rejecting the polarizing choice between "jihad" and "doing nothing," and seeing that there are a myriad of other options, we might be able to prevent the ideology of jihad from dominating our political politicies. The terrorists must consider that maybe nonviolent methodology could work better than terrorism, or perhaps reasoning with America. Iraqi rebels must realize that there may be a way of preventing American dominance without fighting us. And as for us, the only group we really have control over - we need to realize that "destroying the evildoers" is not the only possible option we have. We need to recognize that an American Jihad is only going to fan the flames of an Islamic Jihad, and vice versa.

If we don't, the truth is, I suspect there's going to be a lot of destruction over the next century.

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Boothby171
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But we have always been at war with Oceania! How could it be any different?
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Gottmorder
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The problem is that there have been attempts at peace without all out war such as implementing the no fly zones and sending weapons inspectors into Iraq. However,despite these attempts, there have still been low level offenses(bombing of USS Cole for instance), and the belief that the West is weak and won't do anything which continues these low level offenses. The problem is, you can't just just give them a slap on the wrists (Air-strikes and cruise missile strikes againt Iraq during the Clinton administration) and leave it at that. Attacking them head on is the only way to actually show that we mean business.

Perhaps I sound a bit biased, but this is how I've seen things. What's going on in the Middle East seems to be a historical trend. Back in the Middle Ages, the West had fallen due to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, whereas the East still held. Over time, the West gained power, whereas the East stagnated (indicating the start of the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire. Fast Foward to modern day where the West has risen, but the East fell into its own dark ages.

So are they on the verge of their own Renaissance?

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Bokonon
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quote:
But we have always been at war with Oceania! How could it be any different?
Hey, I used that joke about a month ago! I want royalties!

Actually, I think I used Eastasia, so I guess you are okay. My joke was better though. [Razz]

-Bok

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Xaposert
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quote:
The problem is that there have been attempts at peace without all out war such as implementing the no fly zones and sending weapons inspectors into Iraq. However,despite these attempts, there have still been low level offenses(bombing of USS Cole for instance), and the belief that the West is weak and won't do anything which continues these low level offenses. The problem is, you can't just just give them a slap on the wrists (Air-strikes and cruise missile strikes againt Iraq during the Clinton administration) and leave it at that. Attacking them head on is the only way to actually show that we mean business.
What evidence has there been for that claim? It's not been a year since we attack Iraq - does the response appear to be "Well, America must mean business so we should go along with them"? No, it's quite opposite this - more like "The radicals are right! America really IS a threat!"

It's the same way with Al Qaeda. They think attacking America is the only way to show us that they mean business too, but their attacks have actually only caused more trouble.

Maybe it's just impossible for Al Qaeda to get us to do what they want, and maybe it's impossible for us to get the Middle East to do what we want, and so on. Maybe not. But adopting an extreme strategy that will has been shown to only ratchet up the level of violence, on the grounds that everything lesser didn't work, just doesn't solve the problem.

[ April 09, 2004, 07:58 PM: Message edited by: Xaposert ]

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John L
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quote:
Perhaps I sound a bit biased, but this is how I've seen things. What's going on in the Middle East seems to be a historical trend. Back in the Middle Ages, the West had fallen due to the collapse of the Western Roman Empire, whereas the East still held. Over time, the West gained power, whereas the East stagnated (indicating the start of the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire. Fast Foward to modern day where the West has risen, but the East fell into its own dark ages.

So are they on the verge of their own Renaissance?

Dude, you have your history seriously screwed up. The Mid-East had their "Renaissance" centuries before it was even a glimmer in anyone's eye in Europe. They had desalinization techniques and universities and a higher level of general education when Europeans were marrying their brothers and sisters and humping sheep when they weren't killing each other over a few acres of land. The backwards Ottoman Empire and the subsequent shitty treatment the Mid-East got from European countries after WWI has created the environment over there today. The foundations of Western civilization originate from that region, and it's more than a little insulting to assume we're going to head in there and "save the world" from these poor, uneducated people.

I'm all about stopping the violence of terrorists, and putting regimes like Hussein's to an end, but this rah-rah mentality that we're going to save these people by bringing them ideals they had long before the "great thinkers" of the West did is incredibly asinine and ignorant. Cowboy politics don't work any more.

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Amanecer
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"They do so by marginalizing all other methods of dealing with problems in the eyes of the people. This way of thinking argues that anything but all-out war is "doing nothing," and all other methods are simply naive. It's terrorism or give in to the U.S., for Al Qaeda. It's preemptive strikes or surrender to terrorism, according to Bush. It's revolution or accept being an American colony for Iraqi revels. The middle ground is made to disappear, and people are left choosing one extreme or the other. "

It's not that anything but all out war is "doing nothing", it's that we've already tried the more moderate middle ground that you refer to and it didn't work. Under Clinton's administration and the first seven months of Bush's, America tried for the middle ground. Pleas to the gorvernments of the middle east to punish terrorists and their organizations, punishing terrorist members that we came across that were guilty of crimes, and an infinate list of other tactics that were short of the current standards.

9-11 showed that they didn't work. That if the terrorists were commited enough that they could harm us horribly. So, with lesser methods having failed now, "It's terrorism or give in to the U.S., for Al Qaeda". Al Qaeda's mission is to destroy the evil United States. There is no compromise there. If we want to eliminate the threat of Al Qaeda, we must destroy Al Qaeda.

So far as pre-emptive strikes go, I see no better options when it comes to terrorism. When facing a country that we fear, like Korea, we feel assured by the knowledge of mutual destruction. If Korea attacks us, we'll attack them, and it's bad for everyone. With terrorism, they do not fear mutual destructions to the same degree because they have no physical location to attack. They are merely a group of people united by belief. When they attacked the USS Cole, we did practically nothing, because Clinton knew that the only thing to do would be a drastic all out war against terrorism. He wasn't ready for this and neither was the American public. 9-11 was more personal and now people are starting to realize that terrorists are truly a new type of threat and that the only practical approach to dealing with them is try to destroy them before they destroy us. When a government openly supports and funds terrorists (for example giving money to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers), they have proven that they are our enemy and need to be destroyed before their indirect methods of harming America lead to our destruction. I see no other option than pre-emptive strikes.

While I see your point that America's pre-emptive strategy sounds similar to that of Islamic fundamentalists, I see no other option that does not result in further damage to the United States. If we try the appeasement of the Clinton and other previous administrations, the horrific results of 9-11 are inevitable. Clinton was not doing "nothing" against terrorism. The middle ground didn't work. I don't like that this is the solution, but I have not heard anyone suggest a better one. And honestly the lack of another terrorist attack in the United States, shows me that Bush's rather drastic policies are working and protecting us. Until a better solution is suggested, my support goes with Bush.

What would you consider a better solution Xaposert?

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Boothby171
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John,

quote:
but this rah-rah mentality that we're going to save these people by bringing them ideals they had long before the "great thinkers" of the West did is incredibly asinine and ignorant.
But where are their ideals now?
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Xaposert
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First of all, if it's between doing moderate things that have demonstratably fixed nothing, and doing extreme things that have demonstratably only made things worse, I think we might as well just do nothing. If those are ALL we can come up with as options, we might as well stop now.

But as for alternatives, how about creating an international coalition dedicated to fighting terrorism through legitimate means? Or how about establishing new international law regarding terrorism? Or reducing U.S. military forces and their presence in foreign nations that seems to be inciting these problems? Or how about just focusing on defending the homeland? Or countless other options that have not been tried. There's no shortage of things we could try - and almost any of them are probably better than what we are doing now, at least insofar as ultimately ending this fighting goes.

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John L
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Steve, when was the last time someone asked them instead of told them?
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Amanecer
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"doing extreme things that have demonstratably only made things worse"

I disagree that this has necessarily made things worse. Admittedly, the amount of fighting has increased. But the level of threat from terrorists is starting to be controlled now. There have been no more attacks on US soil for a reason. Various tapes and other messages from terrorists have made predictions and other statements that indicate that they have made (and are making) attempts to replicate the terror of 9-11. Yet these attempts are failing because of Bush's extremes. If we do nothing, the attacks succeed. To me, this is not an option.

"an international coalition dedicated to fighting terrorism through legitimate means?"

In my opinion, that is what Bush is doing, but I guess that depends on what you call legitimate means. According to Kerry and many other democrats, terrorism is a law enforcement problem. This means that the legitimate way to handle it is to try and catch the terrorists after they do something horrific, just like you do with criminals. If you consider this the only legitimate means, than that is precisely what the UN and all previous administrations have done. Again, the problem is that it doesn't work.

"Or how about establishing new international law regarding terrorism?"

What do you mean? It already is illegal everywhere to use the tactics that terrorists use. What more is there to legislate? (side note: when governments don't even obey the UN (Iraq), and then the UN refuses to enforce its laws, international law becomes a joke and utterly worthless.

"Or reducing U.S. military forces and their presence in foreign nations that seems to be inciting these problems? Or how about just focusing on defending the homeland?"

First of all, the US forces are not the cause of the problems. Admittedly, they may intensify them, but Iraqis hated us long before Kuwait. Pakistanis hate us when our only forces there are permitted (and requested) by their government. The list goes on, and the trend is that the hate is directed at the dominant nation in the world because of our power, prestige, and in their opinion lack of morality.

Second of all, I don't think that we can defend our homeland without doing something to uproot the problem. I believe that this is agreed upon, judging that there was little to no opposition to removing the Taliban. The question simply becomes how much do we need to do overseas. In my opinion, as much as necessesary to remove regimes that actively support terrorism against the United States and its allies.

"There's no shortage of things we could try - and almost any of them are probably better than what we are doing now, at least insofar as ultimately ending this fighting goes. "

I only wish that there were no shortage of options, but I still don't see any option that provides for more protection for the United States than Bush's current actions. I wish I did, but I believe that this is necessary.

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Xaposert
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quote:
But the level of threat from terrorists is starting to be controlled now. There have been no more attacks on US soil for a reason. Various tapes and other messages from terrorists have made predictions and other statements that indicate that they have made (and are making) attempts to replicate the terror of 9-11. Yet these attempts are failing because of Bush's extremes. If we do nothing, the attacks succeed. To me, this is not an option.
If not having 9/11's every 2 years but having multiple large-scale attacks abroad is considered improvement, I'd hate to have seen what you'd consider to be worse.

I'd argue the more likely explanation for no attacks, given we've heard nothing of any specific foiled plot, Al Qaeda's history of attempting things in America only ever few years, and reports suggesting the threat is as large as ever, is that Al Qaeda hasn't chosen to attack yet - at least not within America. But there have been many attacks abroad, and the support for Al Qaeda in Muslim nations is measurably higher now. This, I would say, is a sign of America losing the war on terror. It's certainly not "controlled".

quote:
I only wish that there were no shortage of options, but I still don't see any option that provides for more protection for the United States than Bush's current actions.
You've just written off all the options I've suggested. Of course there will be no other options if we come up with reasons why we "know" they will fail before even trying them - this is how the ideology I'm talking about creates the false choice between nothing and extremism.

When all the options you've tried aren't working, it's no time to be writing off everything else. Then we might find ourselves with quite a few more choices...

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