Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
umair haque  


Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The Real Problem With Islam

It's not any of the inanity you hear from our leaders ("fascism", etc).

The real problem with Islam is, in fact, very simple. It's imams/maulvis/etc - the guys that run mosques, the Islamic versions of priests/ministers/rabbis/etc.

Specifically, it's that there is NO requirement of any kind to actually become an imam. Anyone can be an imam - just add the title to your name, and off you go.

Now, every other religion in the world has pretty stringent requirements. Wanna be a priest? Go get a couple of degrees at a seminary. Wanna be a rabbi? Hit the Yeshiva.

It may seem tiny. But this simple requirement has a huge effect. It (unsurprisingly) ensures a certain degree of quality, and weeds out the inept, the incompetent, the radical, and the bloodthirsty. At a deeper level, it forces people to engage with the real meaning of religion - not the nostrums taught by fundamentalists.

The result is that any idiot - and there are many of them - can set up a mosque; and, further, he can preach pretty much whatever he likes.

Combine this with the fact that the wealthiest Islamic countries - Saudi Arabia and Iran - are also the most radical; and you have a recipe to take an entire religion off the rails.

That's because these players are more than happy to provide copious funding for "imams" who meet their political agenda; since there are no requirements to actually be an imam, nearly every lunatic in the world who has such a political agenda can very easily be an imam.

The result is that moderate mosques and imams are being replaced at an alarming rate with the more and more extreme. The very fabric of the religion is being warped by a broken institutional structure married to an explosion in capital.

Now, that's not to say that this trend isn't affecting other religions as well. The rise of Christian fundamentalism in the States can be traced back directly to "ministers" who've done little more than study the Bible with their buddies.

No matter how earnestly they may have done so, this is no substitute for real learning at the hands of the more learned. It is how fundamentalism is born.

The point is that if you really want to help tackle Islamic extremists - the answer is simple, not complicated. It has nothing to with bombs.

It has to do with encouraging institutional change within the religion itself. It means ending the funding of religious "schools" which do little more than indoctrinate kids into murder. It means engaging with Islamic insitutions of learning, to discover which ones are real (and accrediting them), and which ones are just simulations (and discrediting them).

More than anything, it means helping Muslims find out whether their imams actually know anything - or whether they're just extremists off the street, with no knowledge behind them, who've been lucky enough to get enough funding to start a congregation.

Me, I think religion is mostly awful and stupid. I have a hard time understanding how people can believe in fairy tales of a glorious afterlives and miracles that seem to vanish whenever you need them most.

I've long thought that there was an existence proof God couldn't exist - if he did, why did he have to speak through people/prophets? Occam's razor dictates that if there is a God, he wouldn't worry about prophets; he'd just *poof* a Bible (etc) directly into existence.

But most of the world's 6 billion people - including mental giants like Bush and Ahmadinejad - think religion is desperately important. Fine. The answer isn't in violence - that will only beget more and more extreme violence. It's a sad nostrum today that every "terrorist" killed just creates 2 (5? 10?) more. This is a major error in strategy.

The solution is in religion itself - helping religion play the role it's supposed to play, by mending it's long broken institutional structure.

Of course, given the fact that "ministers" who are one step shy of con artists can fill up stadiums in the States, I hold out little hope for this to happen - though, very interestingly, accrediting imams is an explicit plank in the British governments response to the recent scare.

In fact, one could even argue that what's long been true in the 3rd world is finally happening in the 1st - that there is no political tool so sharp, cutting, or efficient as religion; and so Bush, Ahmadinejad, and their pals have every incentive to let the world rip itself apart in the name of religion (while their portfolios skyrocket).

NB - Wierdly enough, the Bishop of Rochester makes almost exactly the same argument today in the Telegraph - recommended.

-- umair // 3:45 PM // 25 comments


Occupational licensing for world peace!
// Blogger Gordon Mohr // 5:41 PM

Everyone has a religion and a god - either consciously or unconsciously. Religions really is all about what they think is ulimate, where we came from, who we are, where we are going, what is our purpose.

Every worldview has to, at some point, rest on some unprovable beliefs....and your worldview dictates how you think about everything.
// Blogger Alan // 5:59 PM

That should be "Religions really are about what people think..."
// Blogger Alan // 6:00 PM

So, how might the non-Islamic world get into the imam-certification business? The US, in particular, is unlikely to be trusted in this regard -- at least not directly. But that provides the germ of a strategy, when put together with the ideas in this article: Detainees, if Freed, Could Help U.S..

Specifically: the U.S. and its allies could arrest imams -- but treat the most radical very nicely and release them quickly, making them seem cooperative and favored by the US, undermining their street credibility. Keep the most learned and moderate/sensible longer, boosting their standing as stoic religious patriots.

I think I'm joking. I think.
// Blogger Gordon Mohr // 6:29 PM

Hey Gojomo,

You're missing the point. It's not about directly getting into the imam certification business.

Rather, it's about identifying the real point of leverage in this conflict: recognizing that it's the structure of the religion which is broken.

From there, it becomes pretty trivial to try out quite a few different strategies.

Perhaps the most obvious would be to fund schools and mosques with imams accredited from American/globally recognized institutions in the key cities of the world.

I suspect the returns to such a strategy would be far greater than bombs and Gitmos.
// Blogger umair // 6:38 PM

Hi, Umair, could you clarify which Islam you're talking about? Although I left the religion long ago, I was raised a Shiite Ismaili Muslim (a very small subsect of Shiite Muslims) and what you describe is totally foreign to me. The way it works for Ismaili Muslims is that the Imam follows a bloodline that traces all the way back to Ali (the validity of this is arguable). What this results in is that there can only be one Imam at any point in time and the next Imam can only be chosen by the current living Imam.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 7:37 PM

Hey Rahim,

I don't want to draw the usual artificial divisions between sects.

You're certainly right to note though, that the institutional structure of Ismaili Islam is very different from the rest of Islam.

I'm trying to make a broader point - I'm talking instead about your average local mosques, maulvi/imam, and muslim congregation. Here, it's probably a good bet that accreditation is largely ignored, and so extremism is freer to take root.

Thx for the comment.
// Blogger umair // 7:51 PM

I appreciate the point -- but was wryly suggesting that any explicit attempts to influence the course of a religion, from outside that religion's own circle of believers, will face resistance.

A 'religious authority' funded by non-Islamic or non-devout Westerners is not going to have a lot of credibility no matter how much 'accreditted' book learnin' from "from American/globally recognized institutions" they have. In fact, the slightest whiff of non-Islamic support would undermine them pretty thoroughly. Who wants to be the USGov's favorite imam? Sounds like something that might get you killed.

The 'obvious' funding strategy you suggest would have to be almost wholly covert... like it was during the cold war. We'll know if it's happening and if it works in a few decades.

In the meantime, affirmatively persecuting those you'd like to strengthen might, paradoxically, work better.
// Blogger Gordon Mohr // 9:30 PM

So are you suggesting that peer-produced religion is dangerous? That crowds may not always be so wise after all?
// Anonymous Anonymous // 11:13 PM

Umair - I like the idea but Niblettes makes a good point about the wisdom of crowds. Obviously in the market place of ideas these radical imams are getting more venture capital funding and more customers than moderate pro western mullahs. This may be because the US and Israel have been humiliating them, killing their people and taking their land. Maybe the US and Isreal should stop bullying the Arab world.

IF the US wants to continue it's present policy it should pressure Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to arrest these radical imams and fund alternative moderate religious schools for the people.

I suggest a read of fourth generation warfare blog and the 4gen manual

Re: Alan "Everyone has a religion and a god - either consciously or unconsciously." - I dont so you statement is untrue.

"Religion really is all about what they think is ulimate, where we came from, who we are, where we are going, what is our purpose." No it's not. By this argument Standard Particle Physics is a religion. Obviously it's not. It's a common religious cop out to define religion so vaguely that it seems to encompass everything. Have the guts to take a real positon Alan. The minimum logical requirement for a religion is that it cannot be falsified. The minimum logival requirement for a scientific theory is that it can be falsified.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 12:50 AM

Good post. This is China's approach -- the allow freedom of religion, but religious leaders are licensed by the state. OTOH, I think you can find plenty of examples of extremism coming from state-sponsored religion (Iran, Japan under Hirohitio, etc.) In fact, the current crop of Jihadis were largely created by western world powers using them as pawns in the cold war. Qutb would have been a footnote in history had the CIA not promoted and relentlessly pushed his and other simlar imam's ideologies. I also note that during the time of Abu Hamid Al Gazhali, the situation was different -- the peaceful version of Islam which dominated the culture was separate from the political (and emphasized individual experience much like sufism). And the violent "political Islam" which replaced it after a few hundred years was much more "hierarchical". And you can find plenty of examples of very peaceful religions which have no central control or authority. One advantage of central authority, though, is that you have one place to focus your efforts if you need to calm things down. Finally, you cannot *completely* excuse the content of the religious doctrines themselves. The Ibrahim religions (judaism, christianity, and islam) all tend to have passages endorsing genocide, and remarkably to this day seem to get in lots of wars.
// Blogger Joshua Allen // 3:01 AM

In my opinion, there is a problem with the religion itself, as controversial as this may be. Here are a few reasons:

1) The Koran is believed to be the direct word of God. Therefore critical analysis and reform are impossible.

2) Unlike the "love thy neighbour" doctrine, Islam discriminates. For example, those who don't convert can be killed (according to Mohammed), and Jews and Christians living in Muslim lands can be forced to pay a tax. Another example is that a man's testimony is worth two women's.

3) Islam doesn't support seperation of church and state, and prefers integration (through sharia law, for example). By contrast, Christianity states society should "render unto Caesar" politics etc.

I agree with your analysis that imams are a major problem, but I think the issue goes deeper, and the religion itself is a root cause. Islam needs to reform itself and allow evolution of it's ideas for a modern age.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 8:09 AM

Those radical interpretations of the Koran are just that--interpretations.

There are for more moderate (and IMHO accurate) interpretations too... you should look into them before you preach the Bush gov't party line.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 5:14 PM

The original post and some of the follow up comments are very, very far off the mark.

Point 1: A priestly-class of religious hierarchy.

Good to know that Christianity didn't have any problems until Joe-Bob became a fundamentalist minister. Centuries of an Organized Catholic Church must have been a Utopia. [Apologies for the sarcasm, but really ... inquisitions, crusades, torture, pogroms.]

If you think that the local mosque Imam is a radical then either your definition of radical is far different from mine or it's been a long time since you've sat through the usual snooze-worthy, monotone khutbas at every mosque I've been too.

Point 2: Arresting Imams.

Hello? For what? Their thoughts? Beliefs? "1, 2, 3, 4 what are we fighting for?" Whose the fascist now? I hope that the comments along this line were in sarcasm that I just couldn't see.

Point 3: That there is a problem with Islam.

First, kudos to Joshua Allen for an interesting comment. One place where I disagree though is in the comment on Qutb. Qutb was only a chain in the link that essentially began with Afghani. Afghani - Abduh - Ridaa - Al-Banna - Qutb. It began as a reaction to colonialism and so long as neocolonialism endures in the Muslim world, so too will its politico-religious opposition. So strong is the oppositon that even those groups, such as the Wahabis, which vehemently despise Qutbesque philosophies are themselves incorporating them.

Second, even Qutb's argument's are being twisted by those whose anger and rage and thirst for revenge are continuously fueled by their own local events.

If one could say that there were fourteen hundred years of problems with Islam, there might be an argument, but if it's only 20 years that you can complain about then the issue is not with the religion. I would argue that even if the people of the Middle East were all atheists, you would still have the same conflict because the underlying issues remain. If memory serves, the suicide bomb was invented by the Sri Lankan Tamils who offed Rajiv Gandhi.

Final Analysis:

In my opinion there is no reasonable reason for Western Powers to interfere in the affairs of Muslim countries. If they choose to live a fundamentalist lifestyle, then so-be-it. What difference should it make to us. Interfering in their post-colonial growing pains (birth pangs as Ms. Rice noted) and supporting every manner of oppresive dictator only serves to alienate the populations, radicalize them further and make us their target.

Still, Western nations and the U.S. in particular will strive to do their utmost to prevent the formation of Islamic states and the reasons go beyond the "Armageddonist" crowd surrounding the Current Occupant or the silly notion that they care about democracy or equality.

Reason 1 is that in the short-term they cannot stomach the idea of a series of governments which they cannot bend to their will (e.g. Hugo Chavez).

Reason 2 is that they are as obsessed with memories of ancient Islamic empires as the current Qutbesque philosophers. The danger that the nascent Islamic movement may mature and turn more egalitarian and remove some of their artificially installed borders leads them to fear an additional power in the world which, again, would not bend to their will and which would break the pattern of pliable mendacity and corruption that permeates Muslim leadership today.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 6:54 PM

Nice idea, but I think the comments succesfully sink your hypothesis.

Lay-preachers and anyone setting themselves up to be a religious authority have been a feature of Christianity since the rise of Protestantism; and while this led to a lot of bloodshed, we've had enough history to know that distributed, "edge" religion is not necessarily more violent than the hierarchically controlled Catholic Church.

The only real inherant problem with Islam is that its texts do explicitly advocate unification of political and religious powers. That can be interpretted in different ways, but it sure "affords" interpretations of the kind : "God tells me that *our* priests must be in charge of the government"

Add to that a) that the middle-east is in the "middle" ie. at the frontier of asia, europe and north africa where various tribes tend to bump into each other, and b) that that's where all the oil is in a world dependent on oil, and you don't need to look to Islam to explain why this area is full of historic turmoil, feuding and violence.
// Blogger Composing // 7:24 PM

Umair, to correct your comparaison, Islam DOESN'T HAVE an " Islamic version of priests/ministers/rabbis". Islam has no clergy .An Iman is the person selected to lead a prayer in a given group , and that person is the person that can RECITE the Koran the best. If two people in a given group have equal knowledge of the Koran the oldest of the two leads the prayer. Thus the iman can be anyone and has no other role then lead a prayer. The sermon is open to the umma (community) as well.
Umair, what you describe as a "broken institutional structure" is a system that, like democracy, has given power to the people (umma). And like democracy it has the potential of being sidetracked by radicals ( look at what charades itself as a democracy in the States) but is ultimatly capable of self correction.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 9:09 PM

Umair, to correct your comparaison, Islam DOESN'T HAVE an " Islamic version of priests/ministers/rabbis". Islam has no clergy .An Iman is the person selected to lead a prayer in a given group , and that person is the person that can RECITE the Koran the best. If two people in a given group have equal knowledge of the Koran the oldest of the two leads the prayer. Thus the iman can be anyone and has no other role then lead a prayer. The sermon is open to the umma (community) as well.
Umair, what you describe as a "broken institutional structure" is a system that, like democracy, has given power to the people (umma). And like democracy it has the potential of being sidetracked by radicals ( look at what charades itself as a democracy in the States) but is ultimatly capable of self correction.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 9:09 PM

"I've long thought that there was an existence proof God couldn't exist - if he did, why did he have to speak through people/prophets? Occam's razor dictates that if there is a God, he wouldn't worry about prophets; he'd just *poof* a Bible (etc) directly into existence."

Your God you created everything. Do you have to prove you exist? Would you have any reason to prove that you exist? You created everything, now the creation wants proof that you exist. Would you provide it? It�s a matter of perception. We see things from our point of view; look at it from God�s point of view, assuming for a moment that God exist.

If one is seeking proof of God�s existence, one must consider two possibilities God exist or God does not exist. If God exist should we expect God to prove his existence? I think not. If God does not exist then there will be no proof of his existence. In both cases the proof we seek does not exist, that is if you do not believe God exist.

This does not prove that God exists this demonstrates why one would not find the proof of God�s existence one desires. If you believe God exist the proof is all around if you do not believe God exist then well the proof you seek that God exist does not exist.
// Anonymous Anonymous // 10:28 PM


You should stop thinking like an American for a sec. I'm not talking about a "religious authority"; just a simple accreditation system, much like other religions (and affiliated schools) have.

The assumption that "non-Islamic support" will be met with "resistance" is in fact Islamophobic.

If we keep assuming Muslims are "different", we will never engage with them.


The problem is that arresting these guys won't make a bit of difference. There are 5 more waiting in the wings to replace them, and churning them out is cheap - remember, it's not like they have to go to seminary for years.


The point of peer production is 1) specialization 2) democratization (to pick the best specialization). The point is that Islam's current structure enables neither - it enables the worst kind of oligopoly, if you like, similar to the big record labels.

Anon 1,

You're referring to only the most extreme interpretations of Islam.

Their spread is an *effect* of the *causes* I cite.

By conflating all Islam this way, you make a dangerous and almost racist comment.

Most Muslims today certainly don't believe "those who don't convert should be killed", or in Sharia law.

Your confusion stems from the fact that the number of those who do believe in such things is growing - I'm trying to stop that growth.

Anon 3,

Your whole comment is a series of asinine straw men.

Who said anything about "Christianity not having problems" or "arresting imams" etc?

Finally, you justify Islam's current problems with an appeal to history.

Obviously such an argument is really just weak induction; Islam hasn't been mostly extreme; hence, it won't always be extreme.

But all of these points ignore the current debate, and are totally irrelevant.

I am answering the question you *assume*: how do we make Islam less extreme.

It's also interesting to note that your response is the usual nonsense Muslims use to defend and blind themselves to the problems with Islam - a series of irrelevant factoids and clever non-sequiturs.

Finally, this idea that Western countries shouldn't "interfere". I don't hear anybody complaining when they give aid or trade.

We live in a globalizing economy. Countries will (and must) learn to have relationships with one another. That's not "interference" - it's reality.

Though I do take your points about Western aggression 100%.


The point of course is that Xianity *also* had institutions which carefully vetted members.

And you're raising a point I don't debate - that the history of *all* religion is violent.

But that's irrelevant, because all religion certainly isn't violent today; the question I'm answering is: why is Islamic extremism growing so rapidly?

FYI, the Islamic texts that advocate the unification of church + state are Hadiths, not the Koran.


Thanks for the "correction". That's the party line - the reason most reasonably fundamentalist Muslims will tell you Islam doesn't have formal authority.

Of course, it's great in theory, but nonsense in the real world.

How does the group decide who has the "most" knowledge? How do local imams get selected? Can an imam really be "anyone"? How many imams do you know that can relate to the real world in any meaningful way - to their congregation in any meaningful way?

In theory, this is a meritocracy, a market for religious knowledge - great.

But my whole point is that, of course, in practice, it almost *never* happens.

So, let's talk reality and facts - not romantic idealizations.


Your argument assumes that me + God = God. Let's just assume that me + God = me + God for now; because if we assume everything is God, clearly, we can't exactly have much of a discussion.

Thx for the comments guys - I enjoyed reading them.
// Blogger umair // 2:59 PM

My assumption that "non-Islamic support" will be met with "resistance" is not at all "Islamophobic".

Guess what? Catholics will resist overt attempts by non-Catholics to influence the "very fabric" of their religion. Jews will similarly resist. Evangelicals will resist. Even atheists would be deeply suspicious if a religious organization sponsored or certified atheist thought-leaders.

And it goes for nations as well as religions: it's very easy to whip up suspicion -- even violence -- against 'out-group' members who are trying to buy influence and substantive change among the 'in-group' beliefs using their foreign monies/strengths.

Umair, your opening post remarked, "I think religion is mostly awful and stupid." Do you think upon hearing this, religious people -- Islamic or otherwise -- want your funding, accreditation, and other strategies at play inside the practice of their faiths? They would naturally assume that the ultimate aim of your meddling is to spread your disdain, weakening their current beliefs. And they'd be right.

The religious *are* different from the areligious. There's no 'phobia' or failure to engage in recognizing that. But they're also the same, in their distrust of meddling by outsiders.

Perhaps you need to stop thinking like a cosmopolitan atheist materialist?
// Blogger Gordon Mohr // 5:54 PM


[This is anon #3].

On Imam training:
Your comment was:
Now, that's not to say that this trend isn't affecting other religions as well. The rise of Christian fundamentalism in the States can be traced back directly to "ministers" who've done little more than study the Bible with their buddies.

To a simpleton like me, you are implying that Christian fundamentalism is a problem and that it's due to the trend to have ministers who have no required, formal training. Now I may not like everything that Christian fundamentalists do and say, but I must admit that they have been much less extreme than the Catholic Church of long ago. The contrast is between trained, licensed clergy and the unauthorized type. If you're going to bring in Christianity as an example, you need to demonstrate how the authorized clergy are somehow better. I think you've set yourself an impossible task.

On the arresting of Imams:
It was in one of the comments and you addressed it directly in your own comment so I'm confused as to what you're asking. My follow up was to your original post and all subsequent comments prior to my own.

On the problems with Islam:
Islam is not extreme. Islam has no problems. That is my belief though I am fairly certain that it is not yours. Perhaps you should define the "problem(s)" that you feel needs to be fixed. I don't need to "Justify" any problems. I'm only explaining the reality of conflict: opression breeds resistance. It is true across religions (and un-religion). It's not an appeal to history. Colonialism is not just history. It is ongoing.

On interference:
Globalization, relationships, trade, those are not problems. It's the continued support of despots, the interference in elections, the corrupting or coopting of the elites that are problematic. They put Saddam in and propped him up when it suited them. When they tired of him, they bombed the country back a few centuries and left it a smoking ruin. Mubarak of Egypt, Hussein of Jordan, The Sauds of Arabia, Mush of Pakistan: not a backbone among them. So long as you deny freedom and, dare I say it, democracy, you'll face resistance.

Had Western powers been more evenhanded and less hypocritical (crushing democracy first in Algeria with FIS and more recently in Palestine with Hamas) and let the Islamist governments stand or fall on their own, there would be less resistance. Yes, the resistance is often brutal, regressive, criminal. Yes, society in general in the Muslim world has become intolerant to the extreme in many aspects of life and common discourse/debate on nearly any subject is often impossible. Still, the level of vitriol against the West, the level of sympathy for Qaidaesque criminals amongst the average citizens of the Muslim world (the "problem") would be much less if we in the West lived up to our own self-image.

Finally, you said, as an aside, that no one complains about aid. Let me be the first then. Aid is a gift to be siphoned off by the corrupt leaders and their cronies and the developing nations of the world are left to pay the donor countries back with interest. As someone once noted: "If they want their money back, they can look in their own banks. It's all back there in the leaders' names."
// Anonymous Anonymous // 9:07 PM


1) You're comparing Xianity of 500 yrs ago with Islam today. That's not exactly a valid comparison, unless you want Islam to be retrograde.

2) Arresting imams was a retarded comment, let's forget it was ever made.

4) The question isn't really whether you think Islam has problems. For all I know, you're the Grand Ayatollah Sistani.

Rather, it's whether the political and social consequences of Islam are more harmful than beneficial.

Looked at that way, it's pretty clear that Islamic extremists are oppressing the world's Muslims just as much or more so than George Bush.

Who's burning books and movies in Iraq? Not American troops (though they may be raping and torturing innocent people).

What's keeping Europe's Muslims from integrating? It's not the color of their skin; after all, other brown people don't have nearly the same level of poverty, crime, and general despair.


5) You conflate religion and politics. Please - it's an old and dead horse.

Let's accept that the West will go on to prop up dictators etc, and it will make poor people across the world very angry.

That's a very separate issue from the institutional structure of Islam - though it may feed the same effect (violence) it is a clearly distinct and separable cause.

6) By all means, complain about aid. But remember the alternative is...there isn't one.

Does a large chunk of aid get siphoned off? Of course (and I should know, read my bio).

Does that mean it's more harmful than beneficial? Of course not - just take a look at Israel; a nation now punching (far) above it's weight largely because aid allowed it to build world-class institutions - and of course the fact that the Israelis thought long and hard about how to build a working society, instead of feeling victimized and assigning blame.

Which is ultimately what this conversation - like too many conversations in the Muslim world - is sadly about.

Thx for the comment.
// Blogger umair // 1:12 AM

"But that's irrelevant, because all religion certainly isn't violent today; the question I'm answering is: why is Islamic extremism growing so rapidly?"

Come on Umair. Do you honestly think that if any Christian country was bombed flat and invaded by muslims that this wouldn't spawn "christian extremism"?

Have a look at 40 years of nasty sectarian violence that flourished in Northern Ireland due to the relatively mild presence of British troops there. Sectarian violence that was stirred up by fully acredited imams like Ian Paisley.

Imagine if the British army really was running around randomly bursting into the houses of Belfast and dragging catholics off for indefinite incarceration. You think the result would be much different from Iraq?

Invasion, resentment and tribal tension is plenty sufficient to make monsters out of men. You don't need to search for the extra-special ingredient in Islam.
// Blogger Composing // 2:32 AM

FYI, I was the first to mention arresting imams, and as noted in that comment, it was a joke -- mostly. You'd have to read the Washington Post article I linked to, though, for the full context.
// Blogger Gordon Mohr // 6:37 AM

anon3: I agree; it goes back to al Banna, et al. The point being that the west actively cultivated and fomented these memes in recent times. I also note that you have two nations with a billion people each, much closer to the Middle East than Europe/America, yet it is we who are "mixing it up".

To me, the reason is pretty straightforward. Europe is long since finished, and would have gone the way of Argentina long ago had they not been able to ally and triangulate with America. Now America's hegemony is quickly waning. The entire way of life of the west is at risk due to an ascendant Asia led by China.

Asia benefits (comparatively) as America and Europe bleed ourselves to death economically fighting wars and "isms" on all fronts. We are simply not equipped to compete with Asia economically (even without the wars), and being #1 has considerable privileges that we don't want to lose. No patriot wants to see what happened to Russia in 98 happen to the west. The neocons wager that military presence on all strategic areas bordering China will help "soften" the blow as our new economic overlords take office. And if we are so lucky as to have an excuse, perhaps even be used as a tool to take the wind out of Asia's sails and blunt the growth long enough to stay #1.
// Blogger Joshua Allen // 5:37 AM
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