I just came across this news story. It seems that the United Nations is going to undertake efforts to build new bridges between the West and Islam. The program is going to be called “Alliance of Civilizations”. An excerpt…
The campaign’s aim was to “bridge divides and overcome prejudice, misconceptions, misperceptions, and polarization which potentially threaten world peace,” U.N. chief spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.
Recent events had “heightened the sense of a widening gap and lack of mutual understanding between Islamic and Western societies — an environment that has been exploited and exacerbated by extremists in all societies,” he said.
They readily admit that the bombings in London one week ago prompted this move. Taking seven days to call a press conference and announce their resolve to take action is moving at warp speed so far as the UN is concerned. But how long is it going to be before they actually do something? Read the last paragraph of the article and you’ll learn that they’re going to form a committee to study the problem and make suggestions. Don’t expect anything resembling a plan of action until late in 2006.
So nothing concrete is going to be done for at least the next 16 months or so. And this is just for what is, essentially, a public relations campaign. Instead of any internal committee, the UN should hire one of the ad agencies from Madison Avenue. They probably would save some money. They certainly would save a great deal of time.
I haven’t tried to avoid sounding too harsh because, let’s face it, that’s impossible so far as the UN is concerned. Instead I’ll make the prediction that this as yet unformed committee will be very careful to try and assign blame for acts of terrorism equally between Western culture and Islamic society. This is entirely unfair because there is a decided difference between the types of extremists the two environments produce.
We have extremists here in the United States, and they come in two distinct flavors depending on which side of the political aisle they inhabit. The Conservative extremists demand that we finish the job started in Iraq by invading Syria and Iran, and maybe North Korea for good measure. Opposing them are the Liberals who insist that we have to immediately pull out of Iraq and apologize profusely to anyone who claims to have a grievance with the US while slathering on the foreign aid. (Did I say “Liberal”? I must have meant “Progressive”, or something like that.)
Notice, if you will, that our forms of extremism results in a healthy bout of political debate and discussion. This naturally occurs in Western liberal democracies even if neither side is willing to listen to the other. What we seem to lack in a rather profound way are people willing to perform acts of terror that are deliberately designed to kill as many innocent civilians as possible. The United Nations can give me a call when kids from Boise start to set off suicide bombs in downtown Damascus.
Steven den Beste did a great service to a great number of people when he brought this essay by Lt. Col. Ralph Peters (USA, Ret) to our attention. The title of the work is Spotting the Losers: Seven Signs of Non-Competitive States, and it pretty much sums up why some Islamic cultures are so desperate that they breed terrorists. For some reason I doubt that anyone at the UN ever read it, just as I don’t think that their ad campaign will address any of these causes.
The UN is calling this whole thing the “Alliance of Civilizations”. I’ve heard that name before. It was most recently connected to a summit of some kind that was held last month in Brasilia. One of the two reasons for the meeting was to open new markets between countries in South America and the Arab world, which is something that I find to be laudable. The other was to form alliances which would act as a counterweight to US dominance, which I find to be laughable. In this news article, the author makes it all sound like a low-rent European Union before the quotes from the attending delegates degenerate into condemnations of Israel and thinly veiled demands that the US pull out of Iraq.
So do I think that the new UN initiative will actually do some good and build some bridges between Islam and the West? Sure, that’ll happen about the same time that staunchly Catholic countries in South America form close alliances with Arab states that follow Sharia Law.
11 thoughts on “Bridge Out”
I don’t think that most people in the West had any negative feelings towards the Islamic world until the Muslims appeared to widely support the intentional murder of civilians as means of armed conflict. The intense hatred in this relationship is overwhelming on the Islamic side of the fence. Given the disparity in firepower, if the West felt the same way towards the Islamic world that they feel towards the West, Islam would simply be exterminated.
The real problem here is the widespread belief in the Islamic world that Muslim have a god-given right to rule over all non-Muslims and that any world order in which this is not the case is immoral and unjust. More than any other major religion or cultural group, Muslim make a stark separation in the ethical obligations a Muslim has to a fellow Muslim and those he has to non-Muslims. To a significant minority of the Islamic world, non-Muslims are simply sub-humans with no rights. Even Muslims who don’t hold this view find it difficult to side with non-Muslims against the Muslims that do hold the belief.
Until enough Muslims understand that Islam does not have a right to rule by force and that every human being deserves moral protection regardless of their religion, the Islamic world is going to be a source of violence.
“…Until enough Muslims understand that Islam does not have a right to rule by force and that every human being deserves moral protection regardless of their religion…” The problem is, from what I understand, the Koran can reasonably be read to suggest both of these things. In which case, for a Muslim to stop believing these things would mean to stop being a Muslim. If there are better Islamic scholars out there who can tell me this is wrong, I’d like to hear it. I made an effort to read some of the Koran recently. Very difficult going. We in the West need a fully annotated edition of the Koran, with detailed textual and historical essays and notations. Does anyone know if such an edition exists, for non-Muslims who want to study and understand Islam?
“I don’t think that most people in the West had any negative feelings towards the Islamic world until the Muslims appeared to widely support the intentional murder of civilians as means of armed conflict.”
Unfortunately, I don’t think there’s anyone around who’s old enough to remember such a time. Palestine had a growing Jewish population prior to WWII, but there were also a growing number of attacks against civilians, starting with the “Jerusalem Pogrom of 1920”. That’s one of the reasons why the Israelis managed to beat the Arabs against long odds in 1948: they’d already organized into militia units such as the Haganah for self protection.
“The problem is, from what I understand, the Koran can reasonably be read to suggest both of these things.”
Yes, it can. In fact, one can find all of the positive moral imperatives. (Tolerance, understanding, charity, etc.)
But, of course, that is hardly the point. It’s not even germane to point out that the violence is supported and carried out by a minority of the Islamic population. The fact of the matter is that some Islamic societies produce international terrorists, and I’m not sure that they’re trying hard enough to stamp them out.
James, I wasn’t clear. I agree with you. By “both” I meant that the Koran also contains admonitions to kill and oppress unbelievers. So, what do you do with this text? If a minority wants to focus on it, and base their violence on it, who is to say that they are not being true to Islam in doing so? The problem seems to be that an aggressive, violent form of Islam is not a bug, but a recurring feature, since it is based on language in the Koran itself. Moreover, it is certainly the case that Islam sees itself as a world unto itself, with unbelievers outside who are not considered to have the same human value. This is also Koranic, or so I have read. Muslims no longer have a Caliph or other generally recognized source of religious authority to say that suicide-bombing is not properly Islamic. And there is no way any such authority could say that the lives of believers and non-believers are of equal value. So, it is going to be tough to get an internal response to the current wave of terrorism from within the Muslim world which will be of much use. The best thing we are likely to get is an understanding that the terrorism is ineffective and ends up harming Muslims.
There was an Arab website someone linked to, and some of the comments were in English. The English speakers all argued that the London attacks were bad (1) because some Muslims might have been harmed by the blasts, or (2) that the larger impact would be to harm Muslims. The notion that it is categorically wrong to murder unbelievers did not seem to be on the table.
Historically, Muslim aggression was only waned when it suffered military defeat. The current wave of terrorism will subside when the individuals, groups and societies which support it and engage it are killed or badly harmed, repeatedly, until they get the message that their methods won’t work. Getting them to think their methods are wrong, morally, rather than ineffective, practially, is too much to hope for.
“By “both” I meant that the Koran also contains admonitions to kill and oppress unbelievers. So, what do you do with this text?”
Oh, I see. Thanks for the correction.
I agree with you, violence against infidels does seem to be a problem. I also agree that the only way to get it to stop is through force. After all, nothing else seems to work.
I’m going to go way out on a limb here and guess the UN program will NOT include exposure to Buddhist, Christian, Hindu or Jewish teachings, nor a discussion of the importance of free enterprise and democracy in human development, nor a discussion that Mohammed’s militant religious writings were designed to counter what he saw as the decadence and corruption of the Greek Orthodox Church during an era far different than today’s.
I predict more politically correct, multicultural, transnational progressive prattle directed at the Anglosphere, employing lots of bureaucrats, occuring in resort locations, and utterly lacking performance measures.
Seems pretty straight forwards to me. We have to accept that they want a global caliphate ruled by sharia law, and they have to accept that we will stand up to them.
First. Both the UN and those memberstates that can affort to pay ALREADY do use Madison Ave., especially the Saudi’s. This is part of the reason we’ve been treated to such a large dose of mindless agitprop from our friends in the major media establishments. The PR and publicity world is so tied into the entertainment biz in LA, NYC, and London that a very little bit of money can go a long way if spent wisely.
Next. For those of us who are remotely Jewish, jewish, or even apathetic regarding judiasm, we shouldn’t be surprised if we discover that the main subject of this so-called “alliance of civilizations” between the UN and leaders of Countries with muslim populations ends up being some new fiction regarding Zionism, Israel, or the worlds “Jewish” problem. Every time the UN bureaucracy and the gaggle of muslim despots puts their collective heads together, we’re treated to some new gimmick that blames Isreal or Judiasm for the worlds problems, and I for one am very very sick of it.
Regarding the meeting in Brasilia last month. I would be much more inclined to restrain my cynicism if either Argentina or Brazil (more accurately, PT) demonstrated a willingness to treat Hezbollah’s operations along their borders as serious matters. Pardon me for pointing out the obvious, but it’s hard to see an “alliance of civilizations” convention where FARC, (ex-) Shining Path, and Jihadi representatives walk about freely as boding well for “civilization” as most people commonly understand the term.
Lastly. The UN, which is more or less built on the bones of the League of Nations, is wholly unfit to deal with the issue by the very nature of it’s consitution. Because the League of Nations botched the dismantling of the Ottoman Empire, and was in essense a cynical attempt by European colonial empires to extend their rule under the cover of “mandate” or “commonwealth”, the UN bureaucracy is now, in effect, covering it’s own historical arse, politically and philosophically; as well as the rear ends of those “Western” Nations primarily responsible for the current geo-political instability rooted in their own colonial and post-colonial manipulations.
To wit, it is no accident that former Ottoman, British, and French administrative zones used secretarian, cultural, racial, and tribal divisions as tools of colonial statecraft, and we should not allow ourselves to be deflected from pointing out that we are reaping today a harvest that is the result of explicit imperial policy, sewn generations ago with exactly this effect in mind. T.E. Lawrence was not running about the wastes teaching tribesmen how to “build bridges”, but rather how to blow bridges UP! His political masters created the ideal of “arab Nationalism” as a propaganda tool to beat the Turks over the head with, and as Lawrence himself wrote later, fully expected to insert themselves into the equation as de facto rulers once the dust (sand) had settled, which, of course, they did, at least for a generation.
Now we are supposed to believe that a United Nations that enshrines exactly the artificial political and administrative borders so carefully designed by this or that colonial office to include hostile factions which are functionally impotent without said colonial office administrators, is fit to resolve conflicts the UN is in fact designed to maintain and protect???? We are supposed to believe that there’s something particularly muslim about a means of waging war, be it “terrorism” or “sabatage” or etc. that was principally learned from European instructors? Indeed, were one to read the American colonists Declaration of Independence, one might see disturbing parallels…
And shouldn’t Americans of all people allow that when the “world”, including ourselves, has stripped popular majorities elsewhere of the means to resist tyranny by open and active means… when a peaceful revolution is more often violently suppressed than successful… when whole populations are slaughtered unarmed, or starved to death as strategy… all while we Americans are so zealous in retaining our own Liberties. Shouldn’t we Americans tread cautiously before misjudging a state of affairs that we ourselves met in the past with violent revolution?
General Gage labelled the Sons of Liberty, “terrorists”, no? True, the American colonists didn’t wantonly attack innocent Londoners, and so the analogy doesn’t fit perfectly. But I’d hope that before rushing to point the finger at Islam, we at least grant the possiblity that were muslim intellectuals to read American history, they’d find many of their own problems and complaints echo our own prior to the revolution.
“General Gage labelled the Sons of Liberty, “terrorists”, no?”
This is becoming the favorite Leftist trope, and you destroy your own arguement with the very next line. There’s no equivalence, moral or otherwise, between a struggle for self-determination and deliberately striving to kill innocent people because they don’t worship the right god.
I’m afraid that the rest of your comment is just as contradictory.
This binary split that cuts the world into two – Us versus Them – results from the crude logic produced by the reptilian brain that differentiated cavemen from each other still prevails over human affairs. When are we going to break that pattern?
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