Objections to the contain and isolate idea
who has often disagreed with my criticisms of the Iraq war, consistently arguing that we are really winning in Iraq, also disagrees with my idea of containing and isolating Islam. He writes:
“our only rational option is to contain and isolate Muslims within the Islamic lands, which we do have the ability to do. We did it for hundreds of years, and we can do it again.”
I think this is a proposal worth considering. But I don’t think it’s a matter of course to say that, under today’s conditions, we can—just the United States—“do it again.” Even if the rest of the world were willing to follow us, I doubt you could get even the tiniest beginning of a consensus to embark on this sort of undertaking. And the rest of the world WON’T go along, for a variety of reasons. Forget, for example, the absolute number of MUSLIMS in France today. Think about the proportion of Muslims in the population between the ages of, say, eighteen and thirty-five.
If you consider what modernists have made of Christianity and Judaism, I don’t think you can say that tradition and scripture make Islam absolutely unchangeable. Recalcitrant, yes, but there is no metaphysical impossibility. The other side of the coin is that “Fundamentalism” is a political movement that is likely over time to degenerate into factions under the pressure of governance. And there is much cultural and other resistance to fundamentalism PARALLEL to its resurgence. Moreover, the actual EXPERIENCE of fundamentalism—as in Iran and Algeria—tends to make people hate it and thus to make them “reformers” of a sort. The attitudes of the same tribes on the Afghan side of the Durand line and the Pakistani side toward the Taliban is another indication of this sort of thing.
I don’t say that transformation or moderation of Islam is by any means a foregone conclusion. But neither is it utterly a council of despair. I think that a reliance on “isolation” may be. We’re not, in fact, up to it and we wouldn’t be even if we suffered several 9/11s. Since we’re not about to start isolating them now, why not try the other tack in the meantime? A sensible policy can’t be built on KNOWING that the Muslims will or will not change this or that. It must be built on the recognition that we need to plan for and work for both eventualities, adjusting here or there as events dictate.
Perhaps in any case, neither idea will work unless we start having children again and regain confidence in our own heritage. And in the battle against an increasingly threatening secular government, we may find domestic Muslims to be allies that we cannot do without.
1. I am arguing for the most radical abandonment of the present world belief system, and your reply is that the world is not ready for it. Obviously the whole world is not ready to do this now. They will only be ready to do it as they come to understand the nature of Islam. As they come to understood the nature of Islam, which the mass presence of Muslims in their countries must force them to do, then they will begin to think anew and act anew.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 19, 2006 12:22 AM | Send
2. Your argument that in the meantime we might as well attempt to reform Islam would only get us more wrapped up with the Muslims, making us weaker and more confused, and them stronger.
3. You write:
I don’t say that transformation or moderation of Islam is by any means a foregone conclusion. But neither is it utterly a council of despair. This is the same faux realism that has been indulged in for three years by the supporters of the democratize-Islam experiment. For every disaster that their policy runs into, they have a full-proof reply: “Hey, we never said it would be easy.” Thus they pretend to be realists, when in fact they’re utopians. You’re like Communists forever excusing the failure of the latest five-year plan.
4. You write:
Since we’re not about to start isolating them now, why not try the other tack in the meantime? A sensible policy can’t be built on KNOWING that the Muslims will or will not change this or that. It must be built on the recognition that we need to plan for and work for both eventualities, adjusting here or there as events dictate. More faux realism. This is exactly like the Bush supporters who kept saying, every time he re-started the peace process: “Oh, that Bush, he’s really cagey, he’s just doing the peace thing so that when the Palestinians fail to perform, that will enable him to unleash the Israelis to handle the situation.” I was willing to give that argument a chance the first time I heard it. I stopped giving it any credit the second time I heard it, and now we’re in about the 15th round, and Secretary Rice is telling the Israelis they must allow full participation of Hamas in the Palestinian elections. Somehow the “other eventuality” never kicked in, did it?
The point is, once people involve themselves in a peace process, they get sucked into its dynamics, its hopes and fears, and cannot extricate themselves from it, because they can never admit that its premises were wrong. The only way to avoid this is not to start in the first place.
5. You write:
Perhaps in any case, neither idea will work unless we start having children again and regain confidence in our own heritage. And in the battle against an increasingly threatening secular government, we may find domestic Muslims to be allies that we cannot do without.You admit the desirability (if not the viability) of the contain and isolate plan, which implies that you recognize that Islam is our enemy, and then you turn around and you not only talk about making friends with Muslims, but you regard the Muslims as indispensable allies in helping us solve our own cultural/moral problems! These are the kinds of wild swervings that people will keep indulging in (just look at Daniel Pipes), as long as they fail or refuse to recognize the nature of Islam.