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Rantings of a Sandmonkey

Be forewarned: The writer of this blog is an extremely cynical, snarky, pro-US, secular, libertarian, disgruntled sandmonkey. If this is your cup of tea, please enjoy your stay here. If not, please sod off

Saturday, August 13, 2005

War on terror = War on Islam?

The hugely infamous Salman Rushdie has this interview with Reason magazine in which he states that he is mad at President Bush for calling the War on Terror that name, instead of it's more honest name, The War on Wahhabist Islam. Moneyshot: Reason: What they mean is that it is not about Islam properly understood. That it is about certain extreme followers of Islam who might not be interpreting the religion correctly. Rushdie: Yes, but Wahhabi Islam is becoming very powerful these days. To say that it is not about Islam is to not take the world as it really is. Reason: They are trying to make sure that Islam does not become synonymous with terrorism in the public mind. Rushdie: Of course, there is nothing intrinsic linking any religion with any act of violence. The crusades don’t prove that Christianity was violent. The Inquisition doesn’t prove that Christianity tortures people. But that Christianity did torture people. This Islam did carry out this attack. I think there is a desire, for virtuous reasons, to make this disassociation. You can respect those reasons, but there is a problem of truth. It reminds me a little bit of what Western socialists used to say during the worst excesses of the Soviet Union. They would say that that’s not really socialism. There is a real socialism that is about liberty, social justice, and so on, but that tyrannical regime over there which was actually existing socialism is not really Marxism. The problem was that that’s what there was. When that fell, in a way that whole intellectual construct of socialism fell with it. It became very difficult to ignore all these people coming out of the Soviet Union who detested the term socialism, because to them it meant tyranny. I think there is beginning to be that kind of disconnect in the discourse about Islam. There is an actually existing Islam which is not at all likeable. Ideologically, I think he is right. Unfortunately, for marketing purposes, I think naming it "the War on Wahabbi Islam" would have some serious conseqeuences. People over here, despite their apparent religiousness, don't really know much about Islam. That's why the Wahabbists are gaining power: they give out this image and play this role of the knoweldgeable true believers. You tell the egyptian average Mo that the US is waging war against Wahabbi Islam, and he would take it as a war on Islam. He doesn't know much about the Wahhabi part nor is he probably willing to listen. It would just confirm every goddamn conspriacy theory he told himself over the years to be true. So I am guessing Bush & Co. did a good job at naming it such a neutral name like "The War on Terror". No one is for Terror, so it's all good. But a "War on Wahabbist Islam" is bound to make any ally of the US in arab/muslim countries wince in serious discomfort, if not flat out reject helping the US fearing the reaction of the muslim populace that is very unlikely to be open-minded and understanding about this. So, sorry Rushdie, but the "War on Terror" is the correct term to use as far as i am concerned, no matter how dishonest it may be.


At 8/13/2005 03:38:00 AM, Anonymous Don Cox said...

I expect the War on Rushdie will continue as before.___Off topic, this is worth reading. An interesting reminiscence of the origins of the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.


At 8/13/2005 05:00:00 AM, Blogger gbaikie said...

I think there is another aspect to this. The War of Terror is a war on those parties that employ terror as a tactic. US used to give excuses for the use of terror tactics to some extent, the reasoning was that terrorists were living under a oppressive regime and other means of changing the political reality- speech and forming political parties was brutally opposed by the State. The terrorist act was seen unlawful/wrong/immoral but could seen as an extreme form of civil disobeyance- deliberately breaking the law in order to send a political message [though normally it's wise to pick laws to violate which are oppressive and injust, such as Ghandi and salt tax]. Additionally the cold war gave these dictatorship leverage.
Also this war isn't only to do with Islamic element, N Korea is part of it and preventing nukes from giving into the hands of any kind terrorists or simply a criminal group is also an element of this war.

At 8/13/2005 05:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

About two weeks ago, there were a bunch of stores in the news in the USA about this very point.

I don't know exactly what happened, but I guess someone in the US Government told the media that the name of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) was being renamed to the Global Strugge Against Violent Sunni and Shiite Extremism (GSAVE).

Well, I guess the white house didn't like it (or perhaps it was a trial balloon) because the next day, President Bush squashed this notion by saying "Global War on Terrorism" like 25 times in a speech he gave or something.

So, no GSAVE, still GWOT.

At 8/13/2005 08:24:00 AM, Blogger Rancher said...

No Quarter has an article on this.

"The counter terrorism community is abuzz over the President's comments yesterday at a principals meeting of the Homeland Security Council. Bush reportedly said he was not in favor of the new term, Global Struggle Against Violent Extremism (GSAVE). In fact, he said, "no one checked with me".

On the other hand The Wahhabi Myth doesn't think Al Qaida, the Taliban, or Ossama are Wahhabi. Maybe we should leave religion out of it. My Kurdish friends say the PKK are not terrorist but our State Department considers them to be. (See Comments) They make a good case. Meanwhile some want Hammas, or at least half of Hammas, taken off the terrorist list.

Powell: Hamas Isn't All Bad

We pretty much know what it's all about so what we "officially" call it is as you said, marketing.

At 8/13/2005 10:23:00 AM, Anonymous Tina said...

I disagree with Rushdie on this completely. The War on Terror is not against any part of Islam as I believe the terrorists have perverted the religion and twisted it to their own ends. It is a blatant blasphemy and the rest of the Islamic world needs to rise up and tear it out of the terrorists hands before the terrorists manage to destroy it altogether.

At 8/13/2005 01:42:00 PM, Blogger programmer craig said...

Hey Don! I read that article yesterday. I love iranian.com - about half the articles make me want to scream, and the other half leave me saying "yeah, that's right" which I think means it's pretty balanced :)

At 8/13/2005 02:28:00 PM, Blogger programmer craig said...

Lots of Iranian expats are saying the same thing Rushdie is, and he's also Iranian. I think they are wrong when they point to Wahhabi Islam, and I don't know why they do it. Have they forgotten Hezbollah? Have they forgotten all the acts of terror their Shiite government has been involved in?

I don't know and I'm not sayiong all those Iranians are wrong (they certainly have more experience living with an Islamic government than I do. It just looks to me like something is missing from that analysis, even if I went along with the baseline assumptions behind it.

But, Sandmonkey, I also don't agree with you, this time!

"No one is for Terror, so it's all good."

Eh? Support for Osama and Al Qaeda in the ME is down to 31%, from over 60% a few years ago. An improvement, definately! But it's not "no one" is it? 31% is a pretty big chunk of the population, SM!

At 8/14/2005 12:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tina said:
The War on Terror is not against any part of Islam
Any part?? You're kidding right? Read the first couple paragraphs of this blog to see that 'any part' is a pretty ridiculous statement.

At 8/14/2005 06:17:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


You got it. Both the cockroaches and the Far Out Right in this country would have loved it if Mr. Bush had said "Wahabist Islam" instead of "terrorism." Then both groups would have cheerfully dropped the "Wahabist" part. It wouldn't have been good for any of us.

It is important for people of good will to be able to recognize their allies and friends. If we allow ourselves to be split along lines that don't make sense, such as Christian v. Muslim instead of ordinary people v. immoral murderers, we will end up fighting each other when we should be fighting the murderers.

The Iraqis know better, which is why the Sunnis and Shia in Ramadi have united to fight Zarqawi.



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