22 May 2017

The mountain comes to Muhammad

The President was in Saudi Arabia over the weekend to finalize another arms sale and give a speech about Islamic extremism. The speech, as it appears on the President's Facebook page, was an interesting balancing act, and from the snippets I've heard Trump delivered it well. The balancing act consisted of not denouncing the religion of Islam while not appearing to pander to it. In this way he avoids alarming people without insulting the intelligence (for want of a better word) of his fans with happy talk about a "religion of peace." Trump's main point. repeated forcefully in the highlight of the speech, was that it's primarily the responsibility of Muslim-majority governments to "drive out" extremists from their midst, but on this subject the President may have been too vague for his own good. What exactly is an "extremist?" On Trump's testimony, it seems to be someone with a proclivity toward violence. More specifically, they are "barbaric criminals." But for what purpose? Trump himself says that terrorists only invoke God falsely, that "Terrorists do not worship God [but] worship death." This misses the point by some distance. Any discussion of Islamic extremism (or Islamism) has to be a discussion about shari'a law. The issue since the middle of the last century has been whether governments in Muslim-majority lands are legitimate if they don't govern according to the traditions of the Prophet as canonically interpreted by some ancient school of jurists. If a line is to be drawn in the sand against Islamic extremism, it presumably needs to be made clear that extremists aren't entitled to force shari'a down anyone's throats, not even fellow Muslims'. Of course, Saudi Arabia probably is the wrong country to make that speech in, and the President has to be a diplomat -- as does any businessman of global reach, I suppose. But if anything, Trump's diplomatic solicitude toward the Saudis sometimes makes the Riyadh speech sound like a description of an alternate reality.

To my knowledge, all the terrorist acts carried out by Muslims in the U.S. have been carried out by Sunni Muslims, but in Riyadh Trump says that the fount of terrorism is Iran, the Shiite superpower. The Islamic Republic, which just had another apparently fair election in which the presidential candidate favored by the "Supreme Leader" lost, is the first cause of regional instability, in Trump's account. In his biggest absurdity, he calls Iran's intervention in support of the established government in Syria "destabilizing." To be fair, Iran certainly has been overly aggressive in its defense of Shiite rights outside its territory, particularly in Yemen, having no more right to act as guardian of the world's Shiites than Russia, say, has to act as guardian of the world's Slavs. But to say, as Trump seems to, that Iran is the problem in the Middle East or the Muslim world, simply ignores the autonomous origins of Sunni extremism in resistance, often supported by both the Saudis and the U.S., to secular or leftist regimes in the region. Americans might be confused by this focus on Iran, presumably caring little for geopolitics, were it not for the enduring hate engendered by the 1979-81 hostage crisis that makes it all too easy to portray Iran as the bad guy. Yet for all we know Sunnis probably would have flown the planes into the towers had the Shah of Iran remained on his throne. Scapegoating Iran for the global reach of Islamic terrorism today is an easy call in Riyadh, not to mention in the President's next stop, Tel Aviv, and it may fool people who still don't know (or don't care about) the difference between Sunni and Shiite, but taming or crushing the Islamic Republic is unlikely to solve the terrorism problem here or around the world, and I hope Trump isn't making plans on the assumption that it will.


Anonymous said...

The problem in the islamic world is islam. If islam didn't exist, almost all of those problems also wouldn't exist. Given the violence, hatred, bigotry and intolerance preached in the koran, as long as there is an islam, there will be those who justify their actions by those surahs. If we are not willing to crush it outright, then we should at least have the common sense to ban it in the West.

By the way, although it hasn't been 'officially' called, there has been a explosion at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England tonight. As of this moment, 19 dead, 55 injured. I'm guessing most of them will be children. Another brutal act of violence that would not have occurred if England banned islam and drove every muslim piece of shit out of their nation.

hobbyfan said...

Knowing Dumb Donald, he's probably just dug himself a deeper hole. Deeper still after he'd condemned the person(s) responsible for the bombing attack at an Ariana Grande concert, of all things, as "evil losers".

Anonymous said...

Sunni, Shi'ite, Wahhabi, whatever. They are ALL followers of the violent teachings and example from their prophet, the child-rapist mohammed. NOTHING created by such a vile bastard should be followed by civilized people. islam must be banned from the West for the safety of Western people. Any government that cannot - or will not - defend it's own people is a government that does NOT deserve the support, respect or obedience of its people.