Monday, November 03, 2003

A WAR OF CIVILIZATIONS: Are we in a war of civilizations? It's a topic of recent discussion and here's my attempt to answer the question:

First of, what does Osama bin Laden think? "This is a matter of religion and creed... there is no way to forget the hostility between us and the infidels. It is ideological." Pretty clear-cut, right? His effective melding of religious fervor, Muslim piety and a profound sense of grievances into his ideological force is an undeniable accomplishment. So does bin Laden hate Western-style democracy? Yes. Does he hate equality for women? Does he hate Jews and Christians? Does he hate American secularism? The answer is yes. But he has never said these things. Instead he has used the most selective and unpopular policies which have affected the Arab and Islamic world. The troops in Saudi Arabia, support for Israel's harsh policies against the Palestinians, sanctions against Iraq, the bombing of Iraq, the trigger happiness in attacking Somalia, Afghanistan and Sudan, controlling the Islamic worlds resources, and support for the Muslims world's absolutist kings and dictators. These are the average Muslim's and Arab's grievances against the United States. But it's not bin Laden's reason to order the mass-murdering of 3,000 Americans. The speeches he gives, in which he cites these "justifications," are to garner support for his aims. These are also ways to recruit the angry Muslim, may they be in the living along the southwestern Highway 16 in the Asir province of Saudi Arabia, near the border with Yemen or the Islamophobia-plagued streets of Brussels, the melting pot that keeps getting colder and colder.

Here's the best way to put it: there are two types of people who want to see America go down. There's type A; the average lower-class Arab/Muslims who directly experiences the actions of his government and its American support. Then there's type B; the anti-modernist and the anti-Westerner, who simply hates us for what the West is, does, and acts. Type A is where bin Laden gets his support and type B are the actual terrorists. Type B are usually brainwashed and radicalized; and Mohammad Atta is the ultimate example. He was a middle-class Egyptian who became an extremist in a Berlin mosque, not a Cairo mosque.

One more thing: a "war of civilizations" implies that two civilizations are each trying to destroy the other, not one civilization under attack. Islamofascism is not a civilization. Neither is Wahhabism or al-Qaeda. Sidenote: Assuming the West is out to destroy Islam and its believers, it would, well, impossible. Try invading 57 countries with growing, if not exploding, birth-rates. We're everywhere and growing faster than any other religion.

UPDATE: Aziz agrees.

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