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Showing posts from October, 2014

Let’s be honest, Islam has a problem right now by Fareed Zakaria

When television host Bill Maher declares on his weekly show that “the Muslim world . . . has too much in common with ISIS ” and guest Sam Harris says that Islam is “the mother lode of bad ideas,” I understand why people are upset. Maher and Harris, an author, made crude simplifications and exaggerations. And yet, they were also talking about something real. I know the arguments against speaking of Islam as violent and reactionary. It has a following of 1.6 billion people. Places such as Indonesia and India have hundreds of millions of Muslims who don’t fit these caricatures. That’s why Maher and Harris are guilty of gross generalizations. But let’s be honest. Islam has a problem today. The places that have trouble accommodating themselves to the modern world are disproportionately Muslim. In 2013, of the top 10 groups that perpetrated terrorist attacks, seven were Muslim. Of the top 10 countries where terrorist attacks took place, seven were Muslim-majority. The Pew Research Center r

Pakistan’s Lessons for Turkey NY Times

Turkey’s president, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, declared that Turkey is ready “for any cooperation in the fight against terrorism.” Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu argued that Islamic State militants pose a greater threat to Turkey and the Muslim world than to the West. But Turkey’s dilemma is far more grave than its leaders realize. Indeed, Turkey’s current situation resembles the early years of Pakistan’s sponsorship of the Taliban. The Islamic State is recruiting militants in Turkey. And failure to clean its own house now could lead Turkey down the path of “Pakistanization,” whereby a resident jihadist infrastructure causes Sunni extremism to ingrain itself deeply within the fabric of society. Although Turkey now recognizes the threat — the Turkish government voted to authorize military force in Iraq and Syria on Thursday — it has yet to come to terms with its own responsibility for helping to create it. Turkey claims that radical groups grew stronger because moderates seeking the overt

The social contract debate in Muslim Countries

CAN the prevalent political unrest and discontent in Muslim societies be regarded as a desire for change? In other words, are Muslim societies in search of new social contracts? The militant struggle is all about a complete repla­cement of existing social contracts with an Islamic code of life. Both non-violent radicals and traditional religio-political forces are pursuing varying agendas ranging from Islamisation of their respective societies to reformation of and adjustments in constitutions in line with their perceived Islamic ideals. Interestingly, these Islamist forces are not satisfied with the systems of democracy, controlled democracy or monarchies in their respective countries. Does the problem really lie with Muslim societies’ social contracts with their states, or is it the outcome of other pressures Muslim societies are subjected to? Various religious agendas are competing with the state’s social contract with its people. While identifying the underlying unrest in under

Only One Thing Will Make Israel Change Course by Noam Chomsky

Hi On August 26, Israel and the Palestinian Authority both accepted a cease-fire agreement after a 50-day Israeli assault on Gaza that left 2,100 Palestinians dead and vast landscapes of destruction behind. The agreement calls for an end to military action by Israel and Hamas as well as an easing of the Israeli siege that has strangled Gaza for many years. This is, however, just the most recent of a series of cease-fire agreements reached after each of Israel's periodic escalations of its unremitting assault on Gaza. Since November 2005 the terms of these agreements have remained essentially the same. The regular pattern is for Israel to disregard whatever agreement is in place, while Hamas observes it—as Israel has conceded—until a sharp increase in Israeli violence elicits a Hamas response, followed by even fiercer brutality. These escalations are called “mowing the lawn” in Israeli parlance. The most recent was more accurately described as “removing the topsoil” by a senior

Kissinger's lessons for today's policymakers

Kissinger is not wicked, but a realist par excellence, writes Oskanian As US President Barack Obama was outlining his strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), I was finishing reading Henry Kissinger's new book "World Order". It's a Kissinger book. It's insightful and to the point. He takes a grand view of how we got here. He is dispassionate about understanding and explaining the foreign policy decisions that have been taken and that continue to miss the mark of the all-important equilibrium among great powers. This has been the focus of his writings and speeches for four decades, beginning with his first book, "A World Restored", describing such efforts in the 19th century. The bear knows seven songs and they are all about honey - I don't know if that's an Armenian saying or a Russian one, but it's true for Kissinger as well. All of his songs are about understanding Europe's path to a balance of power and th

Confronting the IS — preventing more Frankensteins

The forces of revenge, phobia and senseless bloodletting unleashed by the preposterous invasion of Iraq in 2003 continue to ravage the region and its people. An equilibrium, howsoever unjust, once knocked out, produces a whirlpool of cycles of violence that are not amenable to any quick resolution. This is especially true in a situation where the rationale for military intervention was a fabricated lie — a deception. The alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) was the sole basis for launching the attack on a sovereign country and that too without any UN authorisation. Paradoxically, both George W Bush and Tony Blair, having said lies about the alleged existence of weapons of mass destruction in the ‘deadly’ arsenal of Saddam, not only survived but were re-elected by supposedly the most ‘enlightened’ electorates of the world. The US occupation of Iraq although camouflaged under the perceived existence of WMDs was intended to destroy the biggest military machine in the Mi