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May 29, 2010

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I want to believe this. But I thought a lot of people in the Muslim world supported Al-Qaeda's goal of uniting those countries and removing their current evil governments -- at least until you get to the method, or the part about putting a murderous religious fanatic in charge -- because division in the Muslim world probably does make them weak, and the West did divide them for that purpose, and their current little governments do seem unarguably evil, just as Bin Laden says. I don't see how a foreign nation that maintains close ties to those governments and keeps reminding Muslims of all this can effectively argue against fighting for a Caliphate.

But I thought a lot of people in the Muslim world supported Al-Qaeda's goal of uniting those countries and removing their current evil governments

No, they don't. Do you think a lot of people in majority Christian countries support some sort of political unification for majority Christian countries into some sort of uber-state? Of course not. That's insane. Because majority Christian countries, despite being nominally Christian, differ in enormously significant ways. Heck African Anglicans can barely manage to stay in communion with American Episcopalians.

Things in the Islamic world are much the same. Although Islamic majority nations are theoretically all the same, in practice, they differ to an incredible degree. Many Muslims think that many other Muslims are apostates -- just like most of the Christian right in the US doesn't think politically liberal Christians in the US are real Christians, to say nothing of those heathen Christians in Europe.

Now, there are lots of people in the Islamic world who wish to overthrow their crappy tyrannical governments. But that doesn't mean that they want AQ to be involved. Islamist movements in general are quite popular in some countries, but again, that doesn't tell you anything whether people want a Caliphate. Egyptians support the Muslim Brotherhood because the MB actually favors decent policies, appears to be incredibly honest compared to its competitors, and is the only group willing to stand up to Mubarak's dictatorship. Popular support for the MB has nothing to do with Caliphate delusions.

because division in the Muslim world probably does make them weak, and the West did divide them for that purpose, and their current little governments do seem unarguably evil, just as Bin Laden says.

Have you ever talked to people from the Arab world? Let me give you a hint. Many Egyptians are convinced that they are superior to other Arab peoples. Ditto for people from Lebanon. Or Syria. Etc. Given that mindset, claims about how the west divided them to keep them weak are not very effective. Nationalism is real. People in the Arab world, just like everyone else, identify with their nation and have little desire to subordinate it in a union with people they look down upon.

Do you know what makes Muslim countries weak? Being poor. Muslim countries that are not poor are not terribly weak. Beyond that, weakness can be blamed on crummy institutions arising from the resource curse or the legacy of colonialism. Either way, a failure to unify radically different societies is not the issue.

I don't see how a foreign nation that maintains close ties to those governments and keeps reminding Muslims of all this can effectively argue against fighting for a Caliphate.

We don't need to argue against fighting for a Caliphate. Because a Caliphate is a joke that Muslims play on gullible ignorant westerners. It is not a serious policy nor is it remotely feasible.

Do you get your estimate of Muslim opinions from single-person surveys? Or did you pull them straight from your muladhara chakra? Because a study from the University of Maryland (pdf, via link here) shows 65% agreeing strongly or somewhat with the creation of a new Caliphate that would unite the Muslim world, apparently with roughly equal fractions strongly agreeing and not agreeing.

And this shouldn't surprise anyone. Plenty of Christians in America voice their support for more foolish-sounding goals with less chance of benefit to their supporters if someone carried them out.

Do you get your estimate of Muslim opinions from single-person surveys? Or did you pull them straight from your muladhara chakra?

No, I get them from traveling widely and from speaking with real live Arabs and Muslims. And from being Arab.

You haven't addressed my fundamental point at all: do you think people in Christian majority nations are eager to dissolve their nations into some sort of pan-Christian union? If not, why do you think Muslims would behave any differently? Is their any reason beyond your ignorance of Islam and Arab culture?

Because a study from the University of Maryland (pdf, via link here) shows 65% agreeing strongly or somewhat with the creation of a new Caliphate that would unite the Muslim world, apparently with roughly equal fractions strongly agreeing and not agreeing.

Whether people agree that something would be nice in the abstract is irrelevant if you don't ask them whether they believe it is feasible or whether they're willing to work to achieve it. Note that these questions were not asked.

Many many people would say they support world peace. But very very few of those same people are interested in disarmament or demilitarization or cutting the defense budget. Making assumptions about how polities will behave based on the sky high polling of world peace is...not smart.

And this shouldn't surprise anyone. Plenty of Christians in America voice their support for more foolish-sounding goals with less chance of benefit to their supporters if someone carried them out.

And yet American Christians don't generally insist on abandoning their nationalism because of their faith. But you seem convinced that Muslims around the world will do precisely that. Because why exactly?

HF: Ultimately, we don't have to fight against pan-Arabism or pan-Muslimism, only al-Qaeda, which is extremely unpopular.

Even though, as Turb points out, that vague support will get whittled down quickly and severely once the particulars begin to enter into it.

One obvious issue: is it Shiite or Sunni?

The Obama administration doesn't seem likely to make any breaks with predecessors in terms of pushing for real progress on the Israel/Palestine front, reducing support for despotic regimes, fully disengaging from Afghanistan and/or Iraq, etc.

maybe if we all just clapped a little louder.

Well, changing foreign policy is possible, and within his purview. Capping the well off the coast of NOLA?

I'm all ears if you have any suggestions about how he can do that.

Until then, I won't hop on the silly bandwagon blaming him for not doing "something" sooner.

and within his purview. Capping the well off the coast of NOLA?

this really is the strangest thing i've seen in a while. despite my having never, not once, not even a little, suggested that Obama should be capping the well, people constantly try to argue this point against me. they stick a little "cleek" tag on this strawman and then they do a little victory dance. and i'm like... when did all these people go nuts ?

Really? After saying, "maybe if we all just clapped a little louder" in response to my post, you accuse me of attacking a straw man?

Motes, eyes, etc.

you accuse me of attacking a straw man?

well, you did.

I tend to return fire in kind. If I was the bigger man, I'd probably shrug off your straw man attack and be the bigger man. But I have never claimed to be that.

here's to small men!

and FWIW, my initial comment wasn't directed at you personally - it just caught my eye that you were criticizing Obama, while people in the thread below are using the "we need solidarity" defense of Obama.

(clinks glasses)

Keep in my mind, the prior post was critical as well: I was supporting Larison's argument that Obama is not the leftist that the GOP claims. Which, to me, is a fault.

Hey, you know a great way to win the hearts and minds of Arabs? Stop blowing up their hearts and minds!

I mean, "...a promiscuous view of the legitimacy of the slaughter of innocents, who more often than not are, in fact, Muslims." Well, good thing we in the US aren't doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan, right?

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