Hugh Fitzgerald sent this for posting yesterday, so mentally date it still as being posted on June 16. It begins in the White House and ends in a house at 7 Eccles Street, but it’s the arrival, not the journey, that matters.
Yes. At long last an intrepid Muslim, writing from deep within the Dar al-Islam, a Pakistani named Reza Azmi, has published an article in The Daily Times of Pakistan, “Thinking Aloud: ‘an archaic incongruity’?” that asymptotically approaches the grim truth about Islam. For those just beginning to find out about Islam, it should be a welcome place to start. That is, it is a good place to start for all those now making policy, or criticizing it, as it applies to the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, or to Indonesia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Malaysia, or to the endless Arab siege of Israel, or to India always threatened with Muslim mayhem and murder, or to helplessly Islamizing Western Europe, or to menaced Armenia and Georgia, or to the Caucasus, or to oil-rich Kazakhstan, to — well, as that policy now applies to anywhere or everywhere, about almost anything from weapons sales to energy policy to foreign currency holdings to immigration and naturalization rules, this article can be read in public, can be assigned in courses, can be distributed to one and all. For this article tells something like the truth.
And thus there should be none of that crippling fear that Muslims might complain about its contents, for it can innocently be said “but a Muslim wrote it.” And then, once this article has been circulated up and down, other ways and sources for learning about Islam, other than what the army of apologists suggests (including those President Bush apparently relied on just a year or two ago, including a professor of law from Ohio who uttered one series of howlers after another about Islam), will present themselves. Ibn Warraq and Ali Sina and Nonie Darwish and many other defectors from Islam should be read. They are ready to share what they know of how Islam operates on the brain, of how it is inculcated, of how it suffuses an entire society, affecting even those who may never attend a mosque, who may even be lax or entirely unobservant but who will rally round, will lie to protect and to promote Islam, in ways that only those who have done it themselves, and testified about it, or who have seen close family members do it (against all reason and good sense), can really know.
The works of the leading scholar of dhimmitude, Bat Ye’or, should be thoroughly digested by the those who most need to comprehend what is happening — not merely to Christians in Iraq or Lebanon or Egypt, but to Hindus in Pakistan and Bangladesh, and Buddhists and Hindus in Malaysia and Indonesia, so that the remarkable similarity in treatment of non-Muslims, through time and space, can be understood, so that the whole thing begins to make sense. And there are the books by Robert Spencer intended for a mass audience – Islam Unveiled, Onward Muslim Soldiers and The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades), as well as The Myth of Islamic Tolerance.
Copies of all of these things should be given out to officers and men. They should be available in libraries on army bases. They should be distributed in the State Department, and not only to the Middle Eastern desks. They should be made available, paid for by the Pentagon, in tens of thousands of copies, for all the member states of NATO – and if Turkey objects, Turkey can simply not be sent a shipment. After all, in Turkey they already know all about Islam. They should be sure to reach the desks of those commentators who, until now, have carefully tiptoed around the subject of Islam altogether, which now limits their usefulness — at least Fouad Ajami is clever enough to recognize that, though what he is prepared to say and write about this, and whether he is prepared to do the necessary study before speaking and writing on this matter, will be the test of his life.
Let copies be lying around Fort Monroe; let Generals Casey and Vines (he of the Esposito-composed reading list), and Ham and Kimmett (Abizaid, the keenest of the lot on these matters, probably doesn’t need any reading list or books sent to him) make this the subject of their summer reading – that and nothing else. And let them read and re-read, until it all sinks in. A week or two spent with the Articles and Archives at Jihad Watch might also help. Break the silence, break the taboos, end the ignorance, end the talk about “the war on terror,” end the talk about spreading freedom, start talking about defending against the Jihad and weakening the forces of Jihad. Stop the nonsense about “extremists” who have “hijacked” something, stop the talk about “tolerance” and “peace” in this (“noble,” “great,” fill in your false epithet here) “religion,” stop all of it. Stop saying “they hate us” for this or “they hate us” for that. They “hate us” on Wall Street or in the Pentagon or on Elm Street or Main Street for the same reason that “they hate” a Hindu villager beaten to death for being outside a mosque in Bangladesh when Friday Prayers have just ended, or a Thai monk who happens to take care of a Buddhist Temple in southern Thailand, or any number of others, of every nation, of high and low degree: because they are Infidels. Infidels live in monarchies and parliamentary democracies and dictatorships; it doesn’t matter; they are still Infidels. Infidels may have contributed not a penny to Muslims, or may have bombed fellow Infidels to protect Muslims, as some thought advisable, in Bosnia and Kosovo. They may be quick to aid Muslims after every earthquake or tsunami, with far more aid, delivered with far greater dispatch, than all the Muslim states put together. None of that matters: they are still Infidels. Residents of “Infidel” lands may be devout Christians or Jews, Hindus or Buddhists, or people entirely indifferent, even hostile to all beliefs. Doesn’t matter: Infidels all.
And how does the Administration take this in, and what does it make of it? It doesn’t take; it doesn’t make. So far the stated goal of this Administration is to create, in Iraq, a unified, prosperous, able-to-police-and-defend-itself nation-state. It can’t be done, not short of trillions of dollars and decades of making Iraq “our project.” And at the end of it all, what would we have? An Arab Muslim country (with the Kurds largely subdued, like the Berbers in Algeria), inevitably hostile to us because hostility to Infidels is not tangential to Islam, not something that can be sloughed off out of gratitude for all the money we have spent on them, but is inculcated through every other passage in the Qur’an and the Hadith, through the example of Muhammad, through the commentaries and works of every Muslim scholar, historian, jurisconsult since Islam was invented 1350 years ago. And the notion that Iraq could serve as a “model” for Sunni Arab states, when those Sunni Arabs will never reconcile themselves to the transfer of power in Iraq from Sunnis to Shi’a that the overthrow of Saddam Hussein by the Americans made inevitable, shows the depths of ignorance and failure to think things through. Administration policy has been formulated despite the actual hatreds in Iraq, despite the hostility toward Infidels inculcated from birth, and reinforced by everything in the society suffused with Islam, despite the inshallah-fatalism that explains the failure to do much more than adopt a “wake-me-when-it’s-over” attitude as American soldiers struggle and risk their lives, and spend American money to build a country for people who, most of them, do not care if we live or die, and in fact might take great pleasure, many of them, in our dying. If the stated goals of the Administration in Iraq fail to weaken Islam, then those are the wrong goals, and need not be pursued. And if, to make things still worse, those goals if achieved (a stable, harmonious, unified nation-state of Iraq) would not only will not weaken Islam, but would prevent the occurrence of the very things (sectarian and ethnic hostilities) that are guaranteed to divide and demoralize and therefore to weaken Islam, then something in the goals, something about the policies pursued, is not right.
Two things, beneficial to the Infidels if harmful even to “moderate” Muslims, can be the outcome – if permitted – in Iraq. The first is Sunni-Shi’a warfare. It may be low-level. It may be confined to a few places in Iraq. But more likely, given the kind of violence that seems to come naturally to Muslim peoples and societies, and is usually held in check either by a despotic regime that monopolizes violence, or by conditions of life that are so onerous that there is no time and no money for large-scale warfare, it will have no end. And because the Shi’a population is three times the size of the Sunnis, but the Sunnis have the long military experience, and have within helpful reach Sunni sympathizers, the very rich Gulf Arabs, and volunteers ready both from Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states to Egypt, Jordan, and Syria (where the Alawi regime will be glad to allow Sunnis or Shi’a Arabs safe transfer through Syria – that regime must accommodate the “real” Muslims in this way in order to limit domestic Muslim opposition), it will have no easy resolution.
The second possible outcome is an independent Kurdistan. An independent Kurdistan would inspire Kurds in both Iran and Syria (two enemies of the United States). Their unsettlement might further inspire other, non-Kurdish minorities in Iran, until the Islamic Republic of Iran was so busy dealing here and there with “insurgents” that it would have little time for anything else. Such insurgencies could have especially worrisome consequences for Iran if either the Azeris (30% of the population) or the Arabs or “Khuzistanis,” who live where all the oil is produced, were not promptly and ruthlessly and permanently suppressed.
And then there is the effect of both kinds of developments outside Iraq. Will not the Sunnis and Shi’a outside be tempted to send money (as the Sunnis did to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq War), volunteers (with those from Iran, and the Hezbollah in Lebanon, being matched by Sunni Muslim warriors from Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Syria), and materiel (assuming the Americans take theirs home, as they should, save for whatever is left for the Kurds)? Is it likely or unlikely that the Shi’a in Bahrain, who constitute 70% of the population, will not be inflamed further against their Sunni ruler? Or that the Sunnis in Pakistan will continue to attack Shi’a, or that the same thing may happen in Afghanistan, as it did when the Taliban and Sunni warlords would massacre the Shi’a Hazara? And what will happen to the almost evenly-matched Sunni and Shi’a populations in the Yemen? And what will the Shi’a who live in Al-Hasa, the Eastern Province, the oil-bearing province, of Saudi Arabia do, and what will it cost the Saudis in money and time and attention to deal with that?
And in North Africa, will not the Berbers begin to learn from the Kurdish example that they, too, as a non-Arab Muslim people, can undo the linguistic and cultural and political imperialism of the Arabs who use Islam as a vehicle for such imperialism? And among the more advanced Malays, and Indonesians, surely the same resentments at seeing their own people mimic seventh-century Arabs, take Arab names, copy Arab customs, bow in the direction of Arabia, invent false Arab lineages, slavishly copy or emulate the Arabs in every respect – which Islam encourages – will or could emerge from the noisy creation, and attempt to squash, a free Kurdistan?
Will President Bush finally see the need to do this? Will he finally understand how irrelevant and pointless is his present definition of “victory” in Iraq (a nation-state, stability, harmony, and so on) to the only goal that matters: weakening the camp of Jihad, dividing and demoralizing it, using up its resources? Does Bush at long last realize that the urge he and his supporters demonstrate, to simply fend off the missing-the-point criticism of political opponents in and out of Congress, prevents him, prevents all of them, from seeing the situation as it is? Are they ready to take in the unanswerable criticism from those who are not appeasers, those whose criticisms are based on the belief that Jihad is permanent and so must be the defense against it, and that this is not merely or mainly a “war on terror,” that the instruments of Jihad are various, and money, Da’wa, and demographic conquest must all be countered, and that the Americans have been squandering rather than husbanding resources for a long war?
The Americans have been doing this in this manic and messianic belief that it is up to the United States to train and equip Sunni Arabs and Shi’a Arabs and Kurds as recruits for what those Americans keep thinking and hoping will be an “Iraqi” army and an “Iraqi” police force, and that this army and this police force will in turn support a state that somehow — it is never quite clear how — will help to strengthen or support the Americans and other Infidels, in quite unspecified ways. And that furthermore, Iraq will somehow be a Light Unto the Muslim Nations that will be inspired by its example, by the example of vote-counting that transferred power from Sunnis to Shi’a, that formally recognized and accepted Kurdish autonomy, that even suggested that political legitimacy was to be located in the votes of mere men, no longer the slaves of Allah, but individuals exercising free choice (or so it was believed by some).
Will Bush, a few months away from the fifth anniversary of the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, finally stop prating about Islam as a “tolerant” and “peaceful” faith, stop prating about “Jihadist extremists,” stop spending all his time building up an Arab state and an Arab army? Will he stop trying to prevent the widening of those ethnic and sectarian fissures? Will he, finally, stop permitting American policy to be influenced by considerations of wishing not to offend, or perhaps even wishing to accommodate by doing the bidding of, those affable and plausible “moderate” Muslims who, having their own ill-concealed fish to fry, have so successfully inveigled the Americans first into invading Iraq on the assumption that Americans would have no further problems, but would be greeted as liberators? Now these plausible “moderates” have continued with the generals, promising all sorts of good-faith cooperation with American efforts. What they are really attempting to do is to manipulate the American soldiers for their own ends, to help them in their jockeying for power and for money, and to keep the Americans around for as long as possible on the theory (and it is a good one) that the longer they stay the more military equipment, the more aid, the more dollars will come floating down to various Iraqis with their hands carefully out to catch them. Only here and there, at home, does someone shout the obvious, unheeded: that the $400 billion already committed to past and future costs in Iraq could have been much better spent on energy programs that might have cut Saudi Arabia and other OPEC funders of the worldwide Jihad off at the knees.
Answers to the three questions above remain: No. No. And No.
But let’s pretend that on this very day, June 16, 2006, a spirit of someone else, not a sentimentalist insisting that everyone is the same, that everyone “wants freedom,” but someone with a greater familiarity with men and events, and with the ability and time to read deeply, enters into the soul of Bush, just the way that Lily Tomlin enters the body of Steve Martin in that famous movie. There’s a name for it. Met-him-pike-hoses. Yes, that’s it. Metempsychosis.
Newly possessed, Bush sits at his desk in his darkened White House office, and thinks. And as he thinks, those three questions asked above, the three questions that everyone in official Washington should be asking — come into his head. And they disturb him. He can’t quite make sense of what to say, because the questions make sense and what should he think? So he stands up and goes to the window, and looks out on the Rose Garden. A particular lushness today to the rose bush nearest to that window, the one that had been planted on June 16, 1904, having arrived in a package addressed to “President Theodore Roosevelt and the American People” by a grateful resident of distant Gibraltar, one Moses Montefiore Halevi, and his wife Sarah Virag Halevi (the card is preserved in the records of the White House Gardener). Just look at those roses.
And as he stares at that gift of Rosa gibraltarica var.joycei in the garden, by long placement now practically an American official rose he starts to think and then starts to fall into a revery by night it would be and isn’t the garden just the way its only natural the way gardens are at this season all abloom o god of heaven there’s nothing like nature and that bush which keeps blazing oboylanly this year as every year since in that big house and even before and his heart is going like mad and now he remembers when he was a young boy and he tripped over the flowerpots in the first house that must be where was it now in houston was it christmas time and always the same poinsettia and bang it goes and the pot and someone speaking spanish cleaned it up and then when he was a boy at andover and he knocked over the flowerpots this time geraniums still the red or even redder but where was it was it outside the addison gallery in the fancy display for the parents that special parents weekend just before thanksgiving and they beat exeter 12-6 and old saltonstall came down with his team and introduced himself and the walkers and the ellises were there too and when even he came but not to stay on the green had to stay at the inn too many secret servicemen so then coming home from the game and the tailgating and the beer and the girls and the cans and the cans of it and all he wanted was to take a pee or something and you couldn’t see a thing in the dark and then crash and smash and everyone laughing and then the latin master yelling old fittsie was it well as well him as another always going on about the greeks or the romans or something but what good is all that nowadays and all of them not just fittsie always yelling weren’t they all of them at him probably just didn’t like the politics of the da because he never deserved it did he da that’s what the lady called him the one from county galway who came to clean it all up afterwards and then when he was a young man not like those other ones those skinnymalinks the clinton or the kerry or whatever and the day he practically binked over at yale another one of those pots and these with roses roses roses all the way near the library was it this time coming back from skullandbones when it was three sheets to the wind and someone from avellino or somewhere they’re all the same aren’t they those people who do all those things for you just when you need them and that’s why let them all in because they are so grateful when you smile at them and they cleaned it right up but now it was different he was a man and men were supposed to clean up their own flowerpots and their own messes here and there and everywhere even far away because could it be that everyone decided they didn’t want freedom even when handed it on a silver platter and how silly and some people don’t know what’s good for them like a cow down in waco that won’t go into the right pasture with all the best hay and you have to thump it and when people don’t want what we all want of course we do don’t we they just spoil it for the rest of us all the other cows and what’s wrong with them anyway and why do we have to keep thumping them and why not and why can’t they be just like us that only makes sense doesn’t it we’re all brothers or cows under the skin and after all and at long last maybe its time for george bush to come to his senses so he will and he will whisper to himself the answers to the three questions your goodself asked above and here they are and if you don’t like them or if you do well it remains to be seen doesn’t it so perhaps you can now put a rose in your own hair and listen as he tells you yes he says yes he will Yes.