A poster at this website recently asserted about the jihad in Thailand that “The underlying issue is essentially an ethno- nationalist one — it is bound up with Malay identity and the failure of the government in Bangkok to accommodate Malay aspirations. Religion is very much a secondary issue.”
“Rohan Gunaranta [sic], a renowned expert on Islamic terrorism, also affirmed the same: He pointed out the parallels with Chechnya and Kashmir. “˜Those groups were initially nationalist but eventually developed a pan-Islamist outlook,” he said. “˜I believe that within the next five years southern Thailand will become like the southern Philippines.–
He also pinned high hopes earlier on that coup in Thailand, saying: “The coup was “a great opportunity that cannot be missed.” [Telegraph, UK, 29 Sept 2006].”
Gunaratna is not the least offending, but he is all over the place, solemnly delivering himself, like so many of these “terrorism experts,” either of the pointlessly obvious or of the entirely misleading. There are so many of these people. Every network has at least a few of them on well-paid retainer. Their self-assured ignorance, and the description of them as “terrorism experts” by the respectful newscaster (so-and-so is a “terrorism expert” who is then consulted for his semi-worthless or downright idiotic opinion) leave the credulous public worse off, by telling it what to think, than that public would be were it asked to make sense of things itself — without benefit of false authority.
It is the ex-Muslims, the defectors from Islam, the people who know all about it and are permanently unfoolable, who should be consulted in the corridors of power and in the broadcasting houses of the Western world. By and large, they are not touched with a ten-foot-pole.
Has Ayaan Hirsi Ali been to Congress or the White House? Has anyone in Washington asked to see a group — Ibn Warraq, Ali Sina, and many others — of those clear-eyed defectors? Or is there a fear of the reaction should sinister CAIR find out about it?
Is that it? We shall all suffer, made to endure or perhaps even share continuing widespread confusion, because of timidity and fear and ignorance on the part of those whose duty it is to instruct and protect us?
There is a story, reported as fact and not as apocryphal by Woodward, I believe, that Bush didn’t understand or even know about the difference between Sunnis and Shi”ites. But even if such a story were apocryphal, it is clear that no one making policy believed that there would be the hostilities between Sunnis unwilling to acquiesce in the loss of political and economic power, and Shi’a unwilling to give the Sunnis (why should they?) what they want. Once Saddam Hussein was removed, those hostilities became inevitable. The timetable and the ferocity of those hostilities might vary a little depending on the acts of the Americans, but the outcome — not at all. And the same goes for what the Kurds see as their one chance at independence which, despite the existence of some Kurds in the so-called national government (President Talebani, etc.) remains an inextinguishable desire.
Those who made policy in 2002-2003 were snookered or inveigled by Shi’a in exile, westernized, secular, attractive Shi’a, who assured one and all that all manner of things would be well once the Americans invaded. They forgot to add: all manner of things shall be well for us. As for you Americans, who cares?
And now that Wolfowitz and others who listened to all those assurances are out, a new group of American policymakers has arisen. These are the ones now prepared to stay in Iraq because they are credulous believers in what the Saudi, Egyptian, and Jordanian rulers tell them. They “must” stop Iran, but not, of course, by dealing with Iran’s nuclear project (no, that would help Israel). They “must” stop it by remaining in Iraq to make sure the Sunnis get their share, and of course that “share” as defined by the Sunnis is far more than what the Shi’a or anyone else save those Sunni Arabs would consider to be their “share.”
First the Shi’a call the tune, now the Sunnis. And the Americans remain eager to please, incapable of figuring out why they should leave and let whatever hostilities can continue to simmer continue forever. Instead of deploring such hostilities or trying to head them off, they should wish devoutly for aid to come from Hizballah in Lebanon (thereby using up volunteers and weakening Hizballah in Lebanon), and from Iran on one side, and from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan on the other, with Syria, as always, allowing both Sunni volunteers, and Iranian weaponry were necessary, to pass through. That is a way for the Alawite ruler to assure, as he sees it, his own continued survival. He’s very likely wrong.
But so are the Americans. When Gates says we must get it right and avoid all kinds of bad things happening in Iraq — you know, bad things like the Saudis and Iranians fighting a proxy or not-so-proxy war — he has it all backwards. But what did you expect, of such a company man? Did you think he had spent the last several years studying up on Islam? What was the ratio, do you think, of the time he spent attending football games with big donors or supporters at Texas A. & M., to the amount of time he spent studying the one subject that he and everyone else involved in the making of foreign policy, or even in having an intelligent opinion about foreign policy, should be studying: the tenets and attitudes and atmospherics of Islam, and the worldwide manifestations and varied instruments of Jihad?