The learned analyst
Jihad Watch reader Alan attended establishment Islamic scholar Juan Cole’s talk Tuesday morning at the New America Foundation, and kindly sent in the following report:
I attended Juan Cole’s talk this morning at the New America Foundation, a book signing event. His points:
1. Seeing the Muslim world as one monolithic world is totally misleading, erroneous and has led to bad US policy vis-a-vis the Muslim world. Pew polling of Muslims reveal that most Muslims have a favorable view of the US generally but they completely object to US policy, namely Iraq and Afghanistan and its blind support of Israel against the Palestinians. There is no one faction or leader that speaks for that world. Shi’ites don’t support the notion of a Caliphate as do Sunnis. Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia is not connected to terrorism. There is no evidence of that and yes some terrorists are Saudis but not all. Qatar also is a Wahhabi state but its brand of Wahhabism differs from that of SA so it is wrong when westerners see Islam as being synonymous with Wahhabism.
No mention, apparently (and not surprisingly), of the jihad doctrine or Islamic supremacism. Shi’ites don’t support the caliphate, but they do support jihad against infidels, and their subjugation under Sharia. Saudi Wahhabism is indeed connected to terrorism (see the 9/11 hijackers), but even more important are the Saudi-funded stealth jihad efforts to insinuate elements of Islamic law into Western societies and reinforce the principle that where Islamic law and American law conflict, American law must give way.
2. Yes, SA has human rights issues that must be addressed but in every other Muslim country you will see plenty of women drivers. And in SA, women do go to professional schools, though if they become doctors they will only serve the medical needs of women. Cole made it clear he is for human rights and is no fan of the strict Wahhabi brand in SA nor of gender separation. It is a fallacy to think that the US military can force social change in the Muslim world, however. He did not say what would be a good agent of change.
Of course the US military cannot force social change in the Islamic world. The real question is whether Islamic pressure groups can force social change in the other direction in the West. So far they are attempting to do so essentially unopposed
3. US invasion of Iraq essentially put a Shi’ite council in power, alienating Sunnis and creating the impression that US wants to dictate to the Muslim world according solely to US interests. This adds to Muslim animosity toward the US.
The Iranians, however, who are the chief beneficiary of the unwitting American aid to the Shi’ites in Iraq, don’t seem to have warmed to the United States as a result of this. And why not? Because of the doctrines of jihad and Islamic supremacism that inculcate hatred of and contempt for infidels. If what Cole said here were true — that American policy has made Sunnis dislike us — it should follow that Shi’ites would like us, as a result of that same policy. But they don’t. And why is that? The answers can be found in the Islamic doctrines and assumptions that Cole declines to address.
4. The Israel-Palestine issue is a festering sore for Muslims everywhere. It is a symbol for them of US and US-backed Israeli imperialism, and it is a major gripe for them against US which they see is totally in bed with Israel. Israel is guilty of starving Palestinian children in Gaza by its blockade of food and this is an outrage, a criminal act that unless corrected will never bring peace to the region. Bush was seen as being entirely against the interests of the Palestinians and so Obama is starting out with a handicap of bad Muslim perception. He will be challenged to undo the damage of Bush.
Here again the main issue is Islamic — the Hamas Charter is quite clear that the principal problem regarding Israel is that its existence within land that Muslims claim for Islam is considered to be an insult to Islam. If Cole thinks, and if Obama also thinks, for that matter, that if American policy changes toward Israel, that this problem will disappear, they are being naive. Hamas, Hizballah and the rest will never be satisfied until Israel is erased from the map. Further concessions to the Palestinians will not bring peace; like the withdrawal from Gaza, such concessions will only embolden the jihad groups to press harder for the total destruction of Israel.
5. Iran is at least 10 years from developing a nuclear warhead. Currently, Iran poses no threat whatsoever to Israel and the US because it scarcely has enough enriched uranium to power a small nuclear energy reactor let alone to build a bomb. Furthermore, the National Intelligence Estimate of ’07 showed that Iran is NOT developing nuclear weapons and that its nuclear program is for energy purposes. The US would do well to offer Iran its technical capability to help Iran develop its nuclear energy and natural gas industries and to stop all sanctions including trade and medical/food sanctions. This would help change the dynamic between the two countries for the better.
Sure. It worked in Munich in 1938. Why not try it again?
6. Contrary to press reports, Obama’s peace gestures to Iran have not been rejected. The Iranian leadership is merely saying cautiously, “OK, back up your rhetoric with action. We are ready to change our behavior toward you if you will change yours toward us.” Iran’s gripes against the US include the shooting down of the civilian airliner, trade sanctions, US support of Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war, and the overthrow of Mossadegh.
Here again, Cole is naive if he thinks a change of policy in Washington — which appears to be imminent — will do anything but embolden the Iranian mullahs to press for further concessions. And about this we will soon see which one of us was right.
7. Obama is doing the right thing by asking all the right questions regarding Afghanistan, such as, what is the end game here. The success of his policies will in part hinge on the outcome of elections next summer.
Afghanistan is already a Sharia state under Karzai. And the Taliban is stronger than it has ever been since it was toppled. What will the elections next summer change? By what measure will “success” be judged in Afghanistan?
8. Pakistan has shown no signs it wants Taliban rule. Currently the Taliban rule SWAT with 3 million people in a country of 165 million people most of whom have no interest in Islamic fundamentalism. In fact, the supreme court judges have been reinstated, new elections took place, and Pakistan is showing signs, if anything, of moving further toward democracy not away from it. These are all good signs and indicate Pakistan is not nearly as unstable as the press would have us believe. While there are fundamentalists in the country everywhere the majority of Pakistanis are secular and don’t want a Muslim state.
That may be true. But the Sharia advocates are in the position of the Bolsheviks in Russia in 1918: they don’t have the numbers, but they have the intellectual initiative, the audacity, and the ruthlessness necessary to seize power. Here again these vaunted “moderates” must act quickly and decisively if they are going to stave off the “extremists.” So far they have done nothing to impede their rise to power.
Cole also said that the US media and politicians were deliberately misleading the public about Islam. He said Time Warner was paying CNN to have Glenn Beck “deliberately spread false information about Islam” and he added, “He can see why Murdoch might do this, but CNN?” He didn’t say how Beck was misleading or why this disinformation was going on.
Utter fantasy. The media has never portrayed Islamic doctrine accurately, and that includes Beck.
I asked Cole before the talk if he had seen your entry on jihadwatch and he said, “I glanced at it. Was it favorable?” I didn’t have time to answer. After the talk, I asked him, “Would you be willing to engage in dialogue with Robert Spencer?” “No!” he said, curtly. I asked him why not, and was interrupted by a staffer who wanted Cole to be left alone to sign his books.
Aw, come on, Juan. It would be fun! I’m ready when you are!