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I have expressed before my understanding that the current conflict between the West and Islam must be understood in the context of the nearly 1400 year-long conflict that has waxed and waned since the beginning of Islam. And, on the difficulty and perhaps impossibility of coming to a reasonable compromise of coexistance with any form of Islam that takes Muhammad and the Quran seriously. read here and here and here and here and here and here. Joseph Farah in this article makes the same points. Link from Jihadwatch.
I have not commented on the current conflict so far, because I have nothing really to add to what others are saying. But, this article from Der Spiegel says what I think so well, that I want to link to it. What he said. (The article is in English) Link from Jihadwatch.
It strikes me that many of my recent comments in re "democracy" and American foreign policy carried a certain scornful dismissiveness. While I stand by my substantive analysis, I probably offered them in a misleading tone. Perhaps a few caveats and some nuance would be helpful.

What of democracy?

One problem: we are generally imprecise in our language. What we enjoy today in the United States (and often call "democracy") is a hybrid of republicanism (self determination through representative government) and democracy (popular sovereignty, rule by the people). In our system, power is invested in all the citizens--but generally exercised by a professional and learned political class. More importantly, for us, "democracy" has also become shorthand for a national culture of market-oriented economics, individual rights and equality of opportunity.

An aside: James Madison et al viewed raw democracy as "mob rule" and a recipe for disorder. While the framers of our constitution adamantly believed in government of the people and for the people, they were quite cautious concerning government by the people. The founders would not be surprised by the current tumult in the Middle East. They would have seen clearly the potential calamitous problem with democracy in that region: radical elements might use elections to take control of government and install themselves as dangerous but "legitimate" states.

For Americans, the Age of Jackson brought the beginning of a change in attitude, and within a generation, all elements of the American political system embraced the rhetoric of "democratic" government. Republican virtue, which idealized an elite class of statesman divested of their own self interest (disinterested), gave way to the "Democracy," which seized on an increasingly broadly distributed franchise and advocated, in the words of Alexis de Tocqueville, "self interest rightly understood."

In the decades that followed the War of 1812, the American democracy became inextricably coupled with the Market Revolution and forever linked with self improvement and free labor as a means of social mobility. In essence, the American Dream became not just political freedom, as defined in the Declaration of Independence or Bill or Rights, but economic opportunity as well.

Our calls for "democracy" in the Middle East are not necessarily demanding one-person-one-vote government. We are actually endorsing a broader, loosely defined idea of self-determination, which includes individual empowerment and a personal investment in stability among the people of the region. In our shorthand, democracy means a modern, educated, connected society in which the citizenry rightly understand their self interest--and act accordingly.

I have indicated that the subtext of this plan for "democracy" in the Middle East includes introducing Muslims to the pleasures of consumerism. Economic self interest, "rightly understood," is a key component within peaceful societies based on government by the people in the modern world.

This is not a new idea. In the midst of WWII, the Allies (USA, Great Britain & USSR) all agreed on "pastoralization" for post-war Germany. That is, the German nation was to be dismantled and de-industrialized and remade into an agrarian state, deprived of its status as a world power and forever defanged as a war-making threat.

But by the end of the war, the United States backed out of the gentleman's agreement. The United States opted for rebuilding and re-industrializing the defeated German nation in order to create a powerful democratic partner and strategic ally in a crucial part of the world. A few years later, after the "loss of China," the United States pursued the same policy in re Japan. As we know, these gambits paid handsome dividends.

Were these initiatives altruistic (giving the gift of freedom to our vanquished foes)? Or opportunistic (creating a lucrative economic partnership)? Or strategic? The answer is most likely "Yes." None of those explanations are mutually exclusive.

When we speak of "spreading democracy," generally, we are not cynically covering our ugly American imperial bent. Most of us genuinely believe in the superiority of our system of government and our way of life. We sincerely believe in the "greatness" of our system, and we want to share it with the "less fortunate." Would we like to make a buck and achieve our own security in the process? Absolutely.

Nevertheless, the initiative to remake the Middle East, however wrong-headed it may prove to be, is based on good intentions, national pride and a specific set of successes in our not-too-distant past.

For the record, I am not completely cynical about the power of democracy.
This article from Jihadwatch. Under Islamic law one who converts from Islam is liable to the death penalty. Perhaps this recent crackdown in Egypt supports what I've written earlier on the current threat to Islam from evangelical Christianity. As I've pointed out before, we are seeing Muslims convert to Christianity now at a rate unseen before in history.
What is it with Bush 41 & Bush 43 when it comes to China? Why does the Chinese government get basically a free pass on almost everything? See this latest on our China relations. Link from Drudge.
It seems a common assumption by the Adminstration and its supporters that democratic governments are peaceful governments; once most of the world's nations are democracies then we will live in a time of peace and harmony, the lions will lie down with the lambs, swords will be beaten into plowshares, the millenium will have arrived through our efforts at spreading democracy.

Now, I do not think the U.S. should spread dictatorship; and I think that God favors liberty over tyranny or license. But I challenge the thesis that democratic governments necessarily will be peaceful governments for the following reasons:

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Posted by: A Waco Farmer
Interesting to eavesdrop on the President and the Prime Minister today at the G-8, as they engage in a friendly discussion of the mundane, the personal and the monumental.

For the record: I agree completely with the President's candid assessment of the current Middle East crisis.

The Washington Post has the video and the transcript.

After talking about travel plans, sweaters, trade resolutions and G-8 stagecraft, the conversation turns to Lebanon, Hezbollah, Syria and the UN. Here is the best exchange of the conversation (which includes one vulgarity):

Bush: "What about Kofi? That seems odd. I don't like the sequence of it. His attitude is basically ceasefire and [then] everything else happens. You know what I'm saying?"

Sort of, Blair seems to say. They agree on moving the "process" along, and Blair agrees that sending Condi will set the right tone.

Bush (evidently still peeved at Kofi): "See, the irony is what they need to do is get Syria to get Hezbollah to stop doing this shit, and it's over."

Blair : "Who, Syria?"

Bush : "Right."

Blair : "I think this is all part of the same thing. What does he think? He thinks if Lebanon turns out fine, if we get a solution in Israel and Palestine, Iraq goes in the right way, he's [inaudible ] . That's what this whole thing's about. It's the same with Iran."

Bush : "I felt like telling Kofi to get on the phone with Assad and make something happen. We're not blaming Israel. We're not blaming the Lebanese government."
This morning I heard ABC radio make two significant errors in their framing of the current Mideast war. First, the only casualities they mentioned were those of Lebanese civilians. True, Lebanese civilians have been killed by Israeli action. But, no mention was made of Israeli civilian casualties. And, more significantly, no mention was made that the reason for Lebanese civilian casualties is that Hezbollah (and Hamas in their areas) deliberately place themselves within civilian populations in order to impede Israeli retaliation. The moral onus should be on Hezbollah for civilian casualities. Second, the report concluded with the comment that the current warfare is a setback for the Bush Administration Middle Eastern policy. True, but wrong. The current fighting is a setback for us, the U.S. It is a setback for the Middle East. Bad framing of the situation on both counts.
Israel has tried very hard recently to appease its enemies. It pulled out of Gaza and forcibly removed Jewish settlers there and in other places. In return Israel is now under increasingly heavy attack on two fronts: from Gaza and from Lebanon. For years many in the West have believed the Palestinian statements to the effect that 'give us back the land seized in 67 and we'll be at peace,' while ignoring their domestic propaganda calling for the utter destruction of Israel. Now the mask is off the Palestinian leadership, and a large segment of Palestinians themselves. They were given land and in return have given back war. Let's not have any more calls for Israel to show restraint. They have an enemy that cannot be appeased or reasoned with, only defeated.
China has an extensive and aggressive network in the U.S. working hard to aquire military technology. See this article. (link from Instapundit). So when do we impose sanctions against the Chicom government? We are enabling a powerful enemy to become more powerful by our trade policies.
Wonder why the Iranians have stated that they will not respond to the latest proposal till August 22? Here is a chilling thought from Zionist. Link from LGF.
August 22 is the Muslim celebration of the reconquest of Jerusalem. Combine that with Ahmadinejad's belief that he and Iran have a special role to play in the return of the Hidden Imam, and it could hit the fan. (Which I think it will when the Iranians have the bomb and a capable delivery system.)

See my earlier post on Deterence and the Mullahs.
In the last several weeks I have had occasion to meet, and in some cases to talk with, a few ex-Muslims who now are Christians. And I have had occasion to talk with several folks in a position to know about Muslim conversions to Christianity in Africa, Asia, even the Middle East. As I mentioned in a previous post, we today are seeing the conversion of Muslims in numbers that are unprecedented in history. Part of the fear driving the violent Muslims may be the weakness of today's Islam, a weakness that tries to hide itself with violence.

See this earlier post.
The last couple of days I've had suspicious thoughts about a couple of world events, but have not posted since I thought--no, I'm just paranoid. However, some others on the web have posted such thoughts.

First, Russia kills a major Chechen enemy commander (link to Wizbang), and Chechen rebels experience a bad "work accident" that kills a significant leader. (link to Jihadwatch) Is it a coincidence that these events happen during the time when Iran needs Russia to block any actions by the U.S. in the Security Council? Jihadwatch raises that question: reminding readers that the Iranians have been supporters of the Chechens.

Second, the media, and U.S. government, assumes that Communist China tried very hard to stop the North Koreans from launching those missles. Did they indeed? The Chicoms said they did, but . . . . Fact: the Chinese regard us as their chief adversary; Fact: it is to their benefit that we concentrate on numerous threats around the world; Fact: the Chicoms got an opportunity to glean intelligence from our response to the missles. A former Reagan administration official expressed his suspicions of the Chicoms. (link from Drudge)

If these suspicions are correct, then diplomacy has about as much chance with NK and Iran as it had with Saddam, for similar reasons.
Most of earth's territory has been conquered, often many times, by a succession of peoples. In the U.S. we think of our own conquest of native tribes (who themselves were often conquerors, e.g. the Sioux did nor originate in the Dakotas nor the Comanche in Texas or Oklahoma). And, most Anglos, even those most sympathetic to Native Peoples, are not getting on boats or planes and going back to Europe. Of course that would not solve the problem. Celts might demand that Germanic peoples move back east, ad infinitum. Those Hispanics who claim the southwestern U.S. should go back to Mexican peoples could be met by claims from Navajo or Apache.

Regardless of what our moral sense is regarding conquest, after a while we accept the movement of peoples as an accomplished fact. Which brings me to a question I have asked regarding the nation of Israel. To the Arab nations: how long does the nation of Israel have to be in place before you recognize it as legitimate? If the answer is "never, we will always regard it as conquered land," then I ask this question: why should we accept the Arab conquest of the Middle East about 1400 years ago as legitimate? Why should not Egypt be the land of the Copts, Iraq the land of the Chaldeans and others, Morocco the land of the Berbers? Arabs back to Arabia! In other words, if the position is taken that the Jews never can be legitimate occupiers of Israel, no matter how long they are there, then Islamic Arab claims on huge chunks of territory have no logical basis, no claim on the land either.

Of course, the real motivation, I maintain, is not nationalist, but religious. In Islamic thought, none of the Land of Submission ever can be given up (call it the Al Brezhnev Doctrine).
The Roman Catholic Church is beginning to take a harder line against Islamic denials of the rights of Christians in Muslim lands. Read the article. Link from LGF.

We have done previous posts on this topic. Here and Here
To have a reasoned discussion, both sides must be reasonable. See this article in the Times on Muslim attitudes in Britain uncovered by an undercover reporter. Link from LGF.

Here is an excerpt.

Focus: Undercover on planet Beeston
Sunday Times reporter Ali Hussain spent six weeks in Beeston, where three of the 7/7 bombers came from. He found an enclosed community, rife with conspiracy theories

The rich smell of Indian spices wafted along the road. Voices babbled in Urdu and Sylheti, a Bangladeshi dialect that my own family speak. Thick-bearded men in robes strolled the streets and youngsters wore their jeans rolled above the ankle after leaving the mosque, as Muslim custom requires.

I felt both at home and in a foreign land. This could almost be an Asian city, I thought, rather than Beeston, the suburb of Leeds where two of the July 7 bombers had lived.

I had come to gauge the mood of the community after the 7/7 attacks, which struck London a year ago this week. The world I knew as a British Muslim sprang from cosmopolitan roots, and I wanted to discover what the people of this more insular community really felt about the bombers and western culture.

I found myself both drawn to the warm embrace of the Muslim community that dominates Beeston, and shocked by the views it espoused in private.
Jihadwatch today has a great post contrasting the statements in the Declaration of Independence with statements by Muslim leaders. Read the post.

Here is a portion:

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." — Declaration of Independence

"Thus if [a] Muslim commits adultery his punishment is 100 lashes, the shaving of his head, and one year of banishment. But if the man is not a Muslim and commits adultery with a Muslim woman his penalty is execution...Similarly if a Muslim deliberately murders another Muslim he falls under the law of retaliation and must by law be put to death by the next of kin. But if a non-Muslim who dies at the hand of a Muslim has by lifelong habit been a non-Muslim, the penalty of death is not valid. Instead the Muslim murderer must pay a fine and be punished with the lash....Since Islam regards non-Muslims as on a lower level of belief and conviction, if a Muslim kills a non-Muslim…then his punishment must not be the retaliatory death, since the faith and conviction he possesses is loftier than that of the man slain...Again, the penalties of a non-Muslim guilty of fornication with a Muslim woman are augmented because, in addition to the crime against morality, social duty and religion, he has committed sacrilege, in that he has disgraced a Muslim and thereby cast scorn upon the Muslims in general, and so must be executed....Islam and its peoples must be above the infidels, and never permit non-Muslims to acquire lordship over them." — Sultanhussein Tabandeh, A Muslim Commentary on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, F. J. Goulding, translator, London, 1970.
The Timesonline has this excerpt from Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s book The Caged Virgin. Link found in LGF. Here is a portion of her essay to ponder.

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My parents belonged to Americans United for the Separation of Church and State the whole time I was growing up. The group's magazine usually could be found on the coffee table in the living room. My parents later dropped their membership, if I understand the story correctly, because AU chose to view abortion as a Church/State issue and push for unrestricted abortion. Now, another organization seems poised to make a similar mistake.

Amnesty International is moving toward the view that abortion is a fundamental human right, the denial of which is oppressive. Ironic that an organization dedicated to human life and rights should embrace human death and denial of rights to the unborn. Cardinal George Pell has a recent column on the issue.