Culture and politics forum

Islam, Christendom and the origins of my nick

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6409
    Total reviews: 10

    Starting with the origins:

    "From your comments, now I know how you chose the first three letters in your name."

    Funny you should say this. I picked up that nick in Somalia in 93. I latter (98) had a Somali girlfriend and she LOVED that nickname. She never used my real name.

    OK, on the the conflict between Islam and the west and now Islam and the rest.

    The roots of the current conflict begin with the Mahdi in Sudan. During this era, Islam was faced with a major question it could not answer: How, if our religion (and in their case this also means their socio-political system) is divine and perfect, can we be subjugated by non-believers (Dar Al Haq)? There are really only two possible answers:

    a. Islam is not perfect.

    b. We are not Muslim enough.

    For cultures which orient their entire existences upon the faith (which is the case for Islamic cultures) a is not an acceptable answer. Therefore the answer must be B. This spawned the version of militant Islam that you see today. It does not come from Wolfowitz, Bush or Cheney... it predates their births by a considerable amount of time.

    After the defeat of the Mahdi, militant Islam brewed under the surface, angry over the ineptitude and corruption of the Ottoman Khalifate and angry over the colonial experience. It was during this time of little physical violence that Al Qutb appeared on the scene. Qutb was the primar instigator of todays "Muslim Brotherhood" in Egypt. That movement is one of the larger sources of manpower for Al Qaeda today - the number two man of Al Qaeda, Aiman Al Zawahiri, is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood (although I can not say if he's a member in good standing).

    Islamic doctrine requires global domination. Most modern Muslims believe this domination must come through persuasion - that non-Muslims should learn to accept Muslim rule as best for all. But a large number of Muslims (and remember, ten percent would translate into over 100 million people) believe that it is perfectly legitimate, even desirable, to further this objective through violence.

    The problem with Islamic violence is that it is not state controlled. It is operating outside of any conventional operating system. The result is that it is extremely difficult to negotiate with it, it does not subscribe to any rules of conventional wafare, and it is both defacto and dejure fragmented. So you might make agreements with one element, all the while other elements are not willing to negotiate. Such a hydra is not only difficult to kill, but also diffuclt to deal with at all.

    As with the global communist movement of years gone by, it has done a good job of tapping into anger in the Muslim world - both legitimate and illegitimate.

    The war in Iraq not-withstanding (I agree this was foolish and counter-productive), the neocons of the Bush adminstration did not create this conflict. It was around long before them.

    #1 Posted: 27/6/2009 - 23:40

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  • BruceMoon

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    MADMAC

    If you mix comments from various discussions to suit your argument, you will only satisfy yourself.

    Going back to what I actually said (in bold) and your comments (in italics):

    #2:

    ps. The UK 'advice' is like that from Australia's - intent on propping up the right wing fear mongerers. And, coercing people to keep voting Conservative (or Republican if they are US citizens, or Liberal if Australians, etc.)!!!

    #3

    I have to disagree on the political motives of travel warnings. Why would an Obama administration issue travel warnings to prop up the poitical right?{/i]

    #4

    Your second paragraph describes it all (though vague). The right are dominated by Christian fundamentalists. NOW do you get it?

    #7

    The political right is not controlled by Christian anything.

    #10

    Trying to explain Christian fundamentalism in terms of Islamic fundamentalism is absurd.

    For the impact of Christian Fundamentalism in US politics go look at the 'Bush Doctrine' and the influences such as Rumsfeld, Chaney, and especially Wolfowitz. To some, the neo-Austrian roots of Wolfowitz's rationale made it clear who was the architect of the pro-Christian fundamentalist and anti-Islamic agenda of the US.


    - - - -

    So, recounting the 'issue'.

    I made a reply to a post relating to conflict in Sthn Thailand. I noted the existence of Muslims in the conflict, and that these people want a separate state (in a Buddhist nation).

    I added as a postscript, an assertion about the efficacy of travel warnings. These warnings first appeared as a result of 9/11 (under the 2nd Bush administration). They were devised as a way of imposing economic hardship upon nations not overtly protecting the US (and its citizen) interests.

    You took umbrage, relating the travel warnings to the current administration. The fact that the travel warnings are NOW public policy means that Obama can't readily dismantle, and they aren't so big deal so change to flavour is all that will result (if anything).

    I recounted that the political right in the US is dominated by (INMO, the loony) Christian Fundamentalists. FACT: This is without dispute in public policy.

    You tried to change the focus to Islamic fundamentalism. And, attempted to contrast this with Christian fundamentalism.

    The only thing I would say is that Christian fundamentalists also want to 'save' the world to/for their ideology, and they similarly will use political (and other) means to effect their view. In the matter here, the Christian fundamentalists of the US dominated the foreign policy position uptake of the [axis of evil
    and skewed domestic policy to support this foreign policy principle through various means.

    I do not disagree with your assertions about Islamic fundamentalism. Though I'd possibly question some of the facts of your content above, I generally agree with the principle.

    - - - -

    The 'problem' I perceive is neither Islamic fundamentalism nor Christian fundamentalism per se. On their own, these two ideologies will only gain 'breath' if they have a semblance of legitimacy.

    In the US, Christian fundamentalism has become embedded in rightist politics. So, whenever the non-right dominate, their fires are quelled. Thus, we can conclude that US-based Christian fundamentalists use the state and its services as their vehicle to assert violence. And, as the state delivers the violence, the fundamentalists self righteously claim legitimacy. But, 'legitimacy' is lost when non-rightists dominate. Thus, it waxes and wanes.

    For Islamic fundamentalism, most of their compliant states are (relatively) weak. Their struggle has largely been played out at the grassroots levels. And, their funding has largely been the result of political brinksmanship (ie. states with large Islamic communities quietly funding guerilla movements) or as a result of illicit trade (eg. cocaine, etc.). Thus, we can conclude that Islamic fundamentalists used state funding or illicit trade as a source of income to fund guerilla activities. Here, Islamic fundamentalists had to resort to morality, not legitimacy, as their motive. As you point out, the Islamic movement itself has goals, but these are always dependant on the various Islamic states. In the global society of consumerism, Islamic states have to balance trade issues with Islamic morality - and I suggest with increasing education of the populace, trade will win.

    As an aside, Islamic guerilla movements tend to thrive where formal education is lacking.

    What has me worried is not the fundamentalist movements per se, though they are of concern. Rather, it is the role of China and the US in the geo-politics of the mid east region.

    It is my view that China has been gun running in the area between its far western border neighbours and north Africa for some time. And, this gun running is mostly to do with finding economic favour to support its demand for raw materials.

    On this, the US has been trying to extend the NATO girdle eastwards. The US would like to see Turkey as a member of both NATO and the EU (the EU states don't like the idea, but in principle as a defensive strategy, the EU needs Turkey more than Turkey needs the EU).

    The recent escalation by the US into Afghanistan is to extend the NATO girdle to both thwart the Chinese intervention into (what I call) the 'stan' states, and isolate the influence of Iran.

    If China succeeds, there will be a quasi Russian / China / 'stan states' bloc that though largely in place for economic reasons, will be able to be cranked up militarily if or when NATO seeks to assert influence.

    Of course, the most central underlying issue is oil (and access). But, on this, the US and the EU know that pipeline access across to Europe (and onto the US) will be blocked if Iran dominates the region. It is for that reason that China is funding the 'stan states'. And, for the same reason that the US wants Turkey into NATO (and EU) and wants to 'control' Afghanistan - thus sort of isolating Iran.

    Cheers

    #2 Posted: 28/6/2009 - 10:25

  • BruceMoon

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    MADMAC

    I should add that in relation to the 'stan states, whoever eventually gains the upper hand will probably also control the destiny of SE Asia.

    That in itself holds a minefield of future 'issues'.

    Cheers

    #3 Posted: 28/6/2009 - 19:45

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6409
    Total reviews: 10

    "I should add that in relation to the 'stan states, whoever eventually gains the upper hand will probably also control the destiny of SE Asia."

    Bruce
    I was a little tired today, I'll respond to your other points tomorrow. But ref this one, why would you think so? The Soviets controlled the Stan states until recently, but they did not control South East Asia.

    #4 Posted: 28/6/2009 - 20:08

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
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    MADMAC

    It's not a policy view at present, only MHO. But, I'm of the feeling that whoever gets to control the 'stan states will either be a NATO alliance or the China/Russia bloc. Thus, if the NATO, SE Asia will have to deal with China versus NATO. If China etc., then we both know the answer.

    Cheers

    #5 Posted: 28/6/2009 - 20:39

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
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    Posts: 6409
    Total reviews: 10

    OK Bruce, I got screwed as I wrote a lengthy response and when I posted it, I should have saved it because my password expired. When I went back, it was all gone...

    Here we go. I'll try to answer point by point and keep this coherent.

    "It's not a policy view at present, only MHO. But, I'm of the feeling that whoever gets to control the 'stan states will either be a NATO alliance or the China/Russia bloc. Thus, if the NATO, SE Asia will have to deal with China versus NATO. If China etc., then we both know the answer."

    I would just respond to this in two ways. First, China is not our enemy. That came to an end with the cold war. China is a competetor. The only thorn the US puts in the Chinese side is the criticism of internal issues like Tibet and personal freedoms. We don't jab too hard, they don't take it too hard... we shake hands and make up pretty quickly. I am optimistic that slowly the Chinese government will allow its citizenry more personal freedoms. But it won't change overnight.

    Two, while the Russians get annoyed with NATO expansion, it isn't a threat to Russia, just an insult to its pride. A reminder of glorious days gone by. NATO was constructed as a defensive alliance. It is very unwieldly, requires consent of all members to act... it is not an efficient tool for a military response to anything but being attacked. That's why NATO could not respond to Bosnia and that's why in Afghanistan the Germans are still sitting with their Brigade in Mazar-i-sharif. NATO was originally a tool to allow the member states to coordinate their C3I so that in the event of hostilities a coordinated response would be possible. It has really outlived its usefulness.

    "If China succeeds, there will be a quasi Russian / China / 'stan states' bloc that though largely in place for economic reasons, will be able to be cranked up militarily if or when NATO seeks to assert influence."

    NATO has no force projection capability. For it to take any military action requires the consent of all members. That's hard to get. Any one of the European members can veto any NATO mlitary adventure. At this point NATO is more a symbolic alliance than of any practical value. Arguements made to the contrary by some pundits simply don't understand the very real limitations of the NATO alliance. It is not, and can not be, a tool for US hegemony. the US doesn't need a tool anyway. It's power projection capability is unparralled.


    The Soviets controlled the Stans prior to 1990, and the Soviets did not (nor did the Sino-Soviet block prior to its disolution) control southeast Asia. There is no precedent for controlling the stans translating to controlling southeast Asia. If Ghengis Khan fell short on that one. I don't see this as a concern frankly.

    "I recounted that the political right in the US is dominated by (INMO, the loony) Christian Fundamentalists. FACT: This is without dispute in public policy."

    Can you substantiate this fact? See below for more. I get the feeling here Bruce that you consistently lean towards the left of center on most issues politically. Correct me if I am wrong. But when you charaterize the Republican party as "loony" it sounds to me like you are simply trying to delegitimatize those who disagree with your viewpoints. I have some ethical issues surrounding both Cheney and Rumsfeld, but they are not stupid or crazy men. And I have voted on both sides of the aisle - voted for McCaine in 2000 and voted for Obama in 2008. But while I wish the party would return to its libertarian roots, the opinions of the Christian voting block are every bit as legitimate as mine or yours, and deserve representation (I would just prefer it not represented by the Republican party).


    "In the US, Christian fundamentalism has become embedded in rightist politics."

    This is a partial truth. Most "Christian Fundamentalists" (and I'm not sure how you're defining this - people who go to church, or people who are actively planning for armegedon) vote Republican because they see eye to eye on moral issues. There are, however, noteable exceptions like John McCaine, who leans towards the libertarian view. Or Olympia Snow... the Party is not "Run" by Christian Fundamentalists.

    "Thus, we can conclude that US-based Christian fundamentalists use the state and its services as their vehicle to assert violence"

    Not a correct conclusion - and frankly, there is not a violent agenda in the Christian camp. Not a cohesive one. The closest thing you have to faith based violence in the US is the fringe element of the anti-abortion movement. The invasion of Iraq, whatever it's true motives, was not motivated by Christian interpretation. I've read arguements that try to make that case. They are poorly substantiated.

    The Islamic militant movement is a non-state movement. That's the problem. There is no accountability in such movements and they do not subscribe to international law. As it applies to tourists, there's the concern. A tourist in Pattani is an excellent target, as his or her death (preferably ugly and dramatic and captured on video) can be used to hurt Thailands tourism industry. That helps destabilize the country - which is part of the road to their objective. I am surprised they have not imitated the Bali attacks in places like Phuket, Pattaya or Bangkok. It demonstrates the limits of their ability to project power.

    "As an aside, Islamic guerilla movements tend to thrive where formal education is lacking."

    Generally speaking, Militant Islam exists, and often thrives, wherever there is Islam. From Mindanao all the way to the Sahel, you have Islamic motivated violence. The reasons for this are a little more involved than we need to go into here (although if you really want to, I'll entertain it) but in my discussions with Islamic militants, it became clear to me that their agenda can not be satisfied. The violence is going to continue for the forseeable future, because they want it to.

    "Rather, it is the role of China and the US in the geo-politics of the mid east region."

    I'm not too concerned about this. China does not have a force projection military or a history of it either. The US does, but Iraq has probably dampened the enthusiam of any US head of state for mlitary adventure. The only wild card here is Iran and its capacity to close the Persian Gulf, if only for a while. But while Ahmedinijad talks irrationally, up to this point he has not acted irrationally. He understands full well what our response to such an action would be.

    I really only have two major concerns for future global stability:

    1. Continuing population growth. We are moving to the point where the planet simply can not sustain the numbers of people that it is generating. As such, there is a possibility for a major implosion and destruction of governance. This could be ugly on a level without precedent if we collectively are unable to deal with the problem.

    2. Militant Islam. Right now it's a contained threat. But if militant Islam acquires a nuclear weapon there is no doubt in my mind it will use it. If they can also manage to deliver it, the consequences could be catastrophic not only to the target area, but to the world. Say a nuclear weapon detonates in downtown Manhattan. The financial impact will be serious and immediate, but our response will also not be measured. It will be ruthless, no matter who the sitting president is. The demand from the American people for a nuclear response will be irresistable. This is also true if the attack were directed against France or Russia or Israel.

    #6 Posted: 29/6/2009 - 18:32

  • BruceMoon

    Click here to learn more about BruceMoon
    Joined Travelfish
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    John

    Though I've an Environmental Science degree & taught in parts of that arena, I'm not overly worried about pop'n growth. In part, we've already stuffed the planet!

    Most of the literature that I've come across indicates that population growth should balance out at about 10 billion.

    Is 10 billion sustainable? Hell, no!

    It's my personal view that somewhere between 1 and 5 MILLION would be the maximum number for human sustainability. I say that because THE basic 'problem' is that humans have an incredibly advanced feedback loop (the mind). And, there needs to be a critical mass of humans to edge them onto the 'growth' formula. Thus, its my view that a sustainable number would be below that critical mass number.

    In the end, anything after 5 million is plague proportions, and plagues ALWAYS END IN ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE.

    - - - -

    You talk of militant Islam. This is just another slant on the 'stan states' debate above.

    If the China 'bloc' continue to provide armaments (whether directly or indirectly) to the 'militants', 'rebels', 'terrorists', 'freedom fighters' or what ever they are to be called, in the 'name' of gaining access to energy and other resources, then the 'stan states' will continue to be a hotbed of instability.

    My argument above is that this 'instability' will have serious implications for global stability - especially for the region between the Indian sub-continent and towards the lower Pacific region.

    I don't particularly care if one attributes the cause for the instability by demonising Islam, or some other attributes. As I wrote above, the motivational aspect of the destabilising politics is merely via the 'legitimacy' of Islamic fundamentalism. Another ideology can be supplanted with a similar outcome (eg. fiefdom power)

    The sad fact is that there is a considerable instability in the brinksmanship between NATO nations (being led by the US) and the Russian / Chinese 'bloc'. And, I think it's not going to either be easily remedied or relatively quickly.

    Cheers

    #7 Posted: 1/7/2009 - 14:40

  • MADMAC

    Joined Travelfish
    6th June, 2009
    Posts: 6409
    Total reviews: 10

    "In the end, anything after 5 million is plague proportions, and plagues ALWAYS END IN ENVIRONMENTAL CATASTROPHE."

    Since we obviously can't get to 5 million from here (although I think this number is excessive - it says the planet can't sustain one large city, when obviously it is now sustaining a massive amount more), or even one billion from here, you understand why I think this is a major security concern.

    "If the China 'bloc' continue to provide armaments (whether directly or indirectly) to the 'militants', 'rebels', 'terrorists', 'freedom fighters' or what ever they are to be called, in the 'name' of gaining access to energy and other resources, then the 'stan states' will continue to be a hotbed of instability."

    So will Sudan, Burma, The Congo, Somalia, etc. etc. NORINCO will sell to whoever will buy. For China it ain't about "gaining access", that's just a by-product. They'll sell to anyone who can pay. This is just buisiness for them.

    "My argument above is that this 'instability' will have serious implications for global stability - especially for the region between the Indian sub-continent and towards the lower Pacific region."

    Probably worse in Africa, but the stakes are higher in India and Pakistan - nuclear armed states.

    "I don't particularly care if one attributes the cause for the instability by demonising Islam, or some other attributes. As I wrote above, the motivational aspect of the destabilising politics is merely via the 'legitimacy' of Islamic fundamentalism. Another ideology can be supplanted with a similar outcome (eg. fiefdom power)"

    Religious absolutism is far more dangerous than, say communist or democratic or even fasicst ideologies because it's rooted in the notion that God is going to decide a favorable outcome. Thus irrational behavior with a predictable outcome can be undertaken in the mistaken belief that God is going to alter that prediction.

    "The sad fact is that there is a considerable instability in the brinksmanship between NATO nations (being led by the US) and the Russian / Chinese 'bloc'. And, I think it's not going to either be easily remedied or relatively quickly."

    It's minor league brinkmanship. Neither side is going to go to war with the other over issues such as Georgia. The fact is Russia, the US, the EU and China haven't convergent interests, and they know it. Also, their leadership is fundamentally rational, so the outcomes are predictable. I really am not concerned about the behavior of these blocks vis-a-vis each other, because I view them as rational actors. My concern for militant Islam is precisely because it's not rational.

    #8 Posted: 1/7/2009 - 15:08

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