"What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

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"What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#1  Postby Precambrian Rabbi » Mar 15, 2015 5:43 pm

I found this to be an interesting, insightful, and - I felt - astute article. I'd be interested in hearing the opinions or comments of some of the people here.

(Quiet long though - put the kettle on.)

http://www.theatlantic.com/features/archive/2015/02/what-isis-really-wants/384980/?utm_source=FB0305_1
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#2  Postby Beatsong » Mar 15, 2015 10:39 pm

Fascinating! Thanks.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#3  Postby metacristi » Apr 03, 2015 7:19 pm

Certainly the article brings us at least one step ahead, good to be made clear that ISIS is Islamic. Very Islamic. 3 big problems with it, in my view, though:

1. it is extremely doubtful that the quran is so elastic in interpretation as the author claim (via Rationality, once a basic core of islam is accepted). I would definitely go with ibn Warraq here, the quran for example is amenable to some interpretation but it is not infinitely elastic (some parts have a very clear meaning, they are hopeless). Actually we can determine objectively that the interpretations of jihad, martyrdom, sharia imposed all over the globe etc hold by the 'radicals' today are more plausible in the light of what the quran and the hadith actually say. I'm afraid one cannot have both high compatibility with Modernity and still hold to the doctrines of 'perfection' of the quran and Muhammad. Postmodernist delusions cannot save the situation.

2. It is true that some Islamic sects are more peaceful than others. Yet we do not have to go too far in the past to see that even these more peaceful sects held physical jihad, martyrdom or imposition of Islamic law on non-muslims in high respect (sufis, from al Ghazali to Naqshbandiya, and even Ahmadis are not exempt from that). The reality is unfortunately that the Islamism of classical islam (before roughly the middle of 19th century) and that of the modern 'radicals' are strongly related.

3. The fundamentalist 'quietists' of today are definitely a continuous source of new radicals on short term, I don't think is wise to just turn a blind eye to this on ground that they are peaceful today. Neither is wise to think that the problem will disappear by itself due to the 'mainstream moderates', providing more time.

This is roughly the counterpart of what the German socialists thought about Hitler's ascension to power, 'let time prove he is incapable and then it is our turn', that he would change the laws themselves never occurred to them. I'm afraid the existing situation proves clearly that if the Islamic world ever becomes stronger again we cannot hope to more than the mixture of Islamic and western law which characterizes the Islamic world today all over the globe, with its inherent severe curbing of basic secular rights.

To not see that the islamic world has failed so far to create societies with a healthy level of secularism in spite of a long exposure to Modernity is a huge blunder in my view. If islam is not reformed in non trivial ways (going well beyond the proposals of those who try to save the 'perfection' myth) and the islamic world becomes strong again I'm afraid the impersonal dynamics of sharia will push things toward what someone on the net (in have the quote copied, I don't remember where I saw it) put so plastically:

1.5 billion Muslims the overwhelming majority live in peace. Most of them are law obeying citizens. Well that’s true. But so were the Nazis in Germany in the forties. Most of them were good fathers and mothers who only wanted what was best for their children. Only a small percentage worked in concentration camps or committed war crimes. When Muslims get to rule I expect more or less the same. A small group fanatics takes control and the rest are law obeying citizens who will turn their head away when a holocaust occurs. They'll probably even say that it’s against Islam.


In my culture there is a saying 'strike while the iron is hot'. NOW is the time to do something in this problem not when the windows of opportunity may pass. I'm afraid just waiting for better times is not really the best interpretation of the existing realities, waiting for the necessary change entirely from inside can very well prove to be a chimera.

Now I understand very well the huge problems facing the honest reformers of islam and why they choose the paths they choose (I am actually sympathetic with them, to some extent) but unfortunately strong edifices can be built only on strong ground, I don't think myths at the basis can withstand the huge pressure coming from above, the proverbial ''compartmentalization' of the mind can vanish very easily in the future (the intellectual/political/economical Western ascendance vanished), yet the basics of a non reformed islam will still be there in full force.

My view of course but I don't think we can afford to overlook it easily. It is often said that history does not repeat itself, which is true, but at least parts of it can easily go mainly in the same direction. That islam, as it is practiced today even in its 'mainstream' variety, has the potential to return us all in important ways toward Middle Ages is no myth I'm afraid. Our passivity now may prove very costly tomorrow. Let's create a better future with place for all but let's begin from reality not myth.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#4  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Apr 03, 2015 7:54 pm

:roll:
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#5  Postby SkyMutt » Apr 03, 2015 8:58 pm

metacristi wrote:NOW is the time to do something in this problem not when the windows of opportunity may pass.


Would you care to expand on this? What is this "something" which is available now, but may at some point become a missed opportunity?
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#6  Postby metacristi » Apr 04, 2015 11:07 pm

In the last decades we have witnessed a resurgence of the old medieval islam which should worry us for it was exactly during this time when the West made the most concessions to islam and the Islamic world. In the place of many so called 'experts' I would give a much more importance to the role which non-muslim pressure (be it only intellectual) played and still play in the relative modernization of islam after the middle of 19th century (when the forces of progress finally had a chance, unfortunately they are still a fragile minority and never managed to neutralize sufficiently the defective parts of sharia, mainly due to the basics of this religion).

There was a good chance to catalyse a real muslim Enlightenment during the phase when the Islamic world was extremely weak, when even enough muslims doubted that sharia in the public area could 'work' well. That chance was missed via a slide from an extreme ('it is not fair that the savages posses a disproportionate part of the world's raw materials for they are incapable to use them') to another one, namely the impotent cultural relativism of today which prevent basically any important criticism of islam, no matter how rational.

We can still attempt to catalyse an Enlightenment in islam but the windows of opportunity when we can do that can be missed completely if we continue to empower the return of islam in public area via passivity (any significant decline of the West for example is likely to create big problems in the muslim world, with important returns toward the past, even in the West itself if the islam stays the same and muslims become sizeable there*). I do not advocate the use of force as a form of pressure but exposing muslims to a rational criticism of islam is a must. Acting as if we are on a boat on the verge of sinking (via attacking unfairly the West, Christianity etc) is not only dishonest intellectually but cannot help a bit in the modernization of islam (why on Earth to want to stay on that boat, more islam is the solution).

I'm sorry if some feel offended by my stance but I would say that it is better to offend muslims now and make them understand that sharia in public affairs cannot work. We have at least to try. Otherwise our followers may even live times when all non muslims become 'islamophobes' even for advocating basic personal freedoms.




*a possibility which cultural relativists cannot contemplate but which is perfectly possible in the light of current evidence, demographic prognoses are notoriously unreliable' cuts both ways
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#7  Postby tuco » Apr 04, 2015 11:35 pm

What I really want? To keep relevant material together if possible. The difference between me and ISIS is that I don't act.

One step head alright.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#8  Postby epepke » Apr 05, 2015 2:18 am

SkyMutt wrote:
metacristi wrote:NOW is the time to do something in this problem not when the windows of opportunity may pass.


Would you care to expand on this? What is this "something" which is available now, but may at some point become a missed opportunity?


Dunno what he wants. But I've seen some Muslim groups stepping in to do some good things. Simple things, like going around handing flowers to people. There's a British anti-extremism comedian who is even working with the government. I hope he doesn't get attacked with a machete. He's mocking extremism in a way that might appeal to disenfranchised young Muslims and staunch the flow to ISIS. I remember quite a lot of slumbering and "not meeeeeing" from Muslims over the past decade ago, but this is starting to change. Maybe ISIS passed a threshold that caused people to wake up. I am in favor of this. Better late than never.

Maybe it's not as exciting as a bomb, but as far as I'm concerned, it's good. Both unthinking anti-Muslims and those who like to go around calling people "Islamophobes" can take a pole right up each moralistic glory hole as far as I'm concerned.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#9  Postby Macdoc » Apr 05, 2015 7:56 am

To not see that the islamic world has failed so far to create societies with a healthy level of secularism in spite of a long exposure to Modernity is a huge blunder in my view.


Saddam's Iraq was very secular.

Muslim communities worldwide cannot be lumped together. My wealthy riding in Mississauga is 1/3 Muslim - very well integrated ( our MP is sometimes Muslim ) and as peacable if not more than the numerous others that comprise the Canadian mosaic of cultures.

We have not ghettoized them as happens in France which breeds resentment and opportunity for radicalism to take hold.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#10  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Apr 05, 2015 9:08 am

Macdoc wrote:
To not see that the islamic world has failed so far to create societies with a healthy level of secularism in spite of a long exposure to Modernity is a huge blunder in my view.


Saddam's Iraq was very secular.

Muslim communities worldwide cannot be lumped together. My wealthy riding in Mississauga is 1/3 Muslim - very well integrated ( our MP is sometimes Muslim ) and as peacable if not more than the numerous others that comprise the Canadian mosaic of cultures.

We have not ghettoized them as happens in France which breeds resentment and opportunity for radicalism to take hold.

But you haven't studied enough about Islam Macdoc. It's a very evil, monolithic entity that's far worse than Christianity! :roll:
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#11  Postby Macdoc » Apr 05, 2015 9:15 am

Pacifica is our enemy.....Pacifica has always been our enemy ... ;)

This is a good look at a similar coin

On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel's ...
www.beliefnet.com/.../End-Times/On-The- ... eddon.aspx
How evangelicals became Israel's best friend. ... Christians and believe that the nation of Israel will play a central role in the unfolding of end-times events. In the
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#12  Postby SkyMutt » Apr 05, 2015 10:45 am

metacristi wrote:. . . the impotent cultural relativism of today which prevent basically any important criticism of islam, no matter how rational.


It seems to me that any who wish to criticise Islam are free to do so, witness prominent critics such as Harris, Hirsi Ali, and others. That some voices are raised against this criticism by certain self-righteous individuals does not mean that it's being prevented. Do you have any evidence to support your assertion to the contrary?

metacristi wrote:I do not advocate the use of force as a form of pressure but exposing muslims to a rational criticism of islam is a must. Acting as if we are on a boat on the verge of sinking (via attacking unfairly the West, Christianity etc) is not only dishonest intellectually but cannot help a bit in the modernization of islam (why on Earth to want to stay on that boat, more islam is the solution).


What does criticism of Christianity have to do with empowering radical Islam? That is, what sort of "unfair" attacks against "the West" and Christianity are you referring to, and how do they relate to the issue of how Islam will develop?

I'm curious: Why do you capitalize "West" and "Christianity" yet consistently spell "Islam" and "Muslim" all in lower case? It seems to be intentional--what motivates you to do it?

metacristi wrote:I'm sorry if some feel offended by my stance but I would say that it is better to offend muslims now and make them understand that sharia in public affairs cannot work. We have at least to try. Otherwise our followers may even live times when all non muslims become 'islamophobes' even for advocating basic personal freedoms.


I'm not offended in the slightest by what you've written (though I'm not Muslim, either), but there do seem to be some gaps in your logic. For instance, I oppose the use of sharia law because I oppose any religious influence on government, and I would not want to live in a country where sharia law was in force. However, it appears that several Islamic majority countries incorporate it, or elements of it, and that it works for them. Can you explain how "sharia in public affairs cannot work"?

There are zealots who freely throw around the term "Islamophobe" in an attempt to silence criticism of Islam, but such indiscriminate use of rhetoric appears self-defeating. The term is felt in many circles to be wholly or mostly discredited by that sort of usage, and I think that your prediction in regard to its future is more dystopian fantasy than credible extrapolation from the present.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#13  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Apr 05, 2015 11:28 am

SkyMutt wrote:

I'm curious: Why do you capitalize "West" and "Christianity" yet consistently spell "Islam" and "Muslim" all in lower case? It seems to be intentional--what motivates you to do it?

He does the same thing with Human Reason for some reason.
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#14  Postby tuco » Apr 05, 2015 11:30 am

Why do you capitalize "West" and "Christianity" yet consistently spell "Islam" and "Muslim" all in lower case?

Because s/he is trolling you, intentionally or not. Apparently some take great pleasure in feeding trolls since its in apparent form of rational debate.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#15  Postby laklak » Apr 05, 2015 4:14 pm

I get so tired of hearing No True Muslim or No True Christian. How about No True Scientologist? No True Rasta? Fuck woo in all it's guises. I try to be reasonable and accommodating, but find that as I age I have less and less patience for their bullshit superstitions.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#16  Postby Scot Dutchy » Apr 05, 2015 4:37 pm

The best way to defeat islam is education. It is the only way to restrict it in the west. It is working but again a slow process. We are only onto the third and at the most fourth generations.
In muslim countries natural evolution will have take place. Only when enough people realise how false it is will the scales tip but it is not going to happen tomorrow that is one thing certain. It will only happen if the so called moderates stop giving the extremists room and air to function.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#17  Postby metacristi » Apr 05, 2015 5:18 pm

SkyMutt wrote:

It seems to me that any who wish to criticise Islam are free to do so, witness prominent critics such as Harris, Hirsi Ali, and others. That some voices are raised against this criticism by certain self-righteous individuals does not mean that it's being prevented. Do you have any evidence to support your assertion to the contrary?


It seems to you. Yet we still live in an age of political correctness and cultural relativism totally disconnected from facts. Important thresholds do exist if you haven't realized yet. Not necessarily in the laws. Sometimes blocking fully legitimate directions of research. Like the subject of islam. Just check for example what was the treatment of Hirsi Ali, Dawkins or Sam Harris in liberal circles (not necessarily also 'progressive').

There is a huge pressure on those holding different views on the problem of islam (other than the rosy cultural relativist view) and this shows, both Hirsi Ali and Harris made some strategic steps back (less Harris to his merit) in order to ease that pressure and deflect more efficiently the accusations of bigotry. To be honest if I had the same prominence i'd do the same, I cannot accuse them too much, this is the spirit of the time Yet this does not make less legitimate the view that islam is sufficiently different at the core from the other Abrahamic religions which to make necessary different approaches in order to modernize it durably. History I'm afraid proves this plenty.


What does criticism of Christianity have to do with empowering radical Islam? That is, what sort of "unfair" attacks against "the West" and Christianity are you referring to, and how do they relate to the issue of how Islam will develop?



The cultural relativist attacks on the West and Christianity have long history now so this is a rather odd question to ask in my view. Yes Christianity for example has problems but to misrepresent it in order to fit the islam model is definitely an abuse, in reality is not that difficult to see who is really moving the goalposts here.

The West on the other hand had and still has its dark sides but to accuse it for almost all the ills of the muslim world for example is an abuse and so is to severely downplay the role of the West in the making of modernity via claiming that the Scientific Revolution and the industrial revolution were 'multicultural endeavours'. There was definitely a concentrated effort in the last 70 years against both the West and Christianity even in Academia, some valid no doubt yet a sizeable part totally unfair, leading to modern witch hunting.

On the other hand we still do not have a quranic criticism on a par with Biblical criticism even in Western Academia (the Higher Criticism was one of the reasons which lead to the abandonment of inerrantism of the bible in christian circles and the advent of modern liberal Christianity). Plain apologetics for islam replaced serious scholarship long ago (as Maxime Rodinson pointed out well). How on Earth do we want to induce reform in islam if the basics of this religion are left basically untouched by modern criticism (due also to plain fear but this is no excuse) whist the West and Christianity are basically presented to Muslims as non alternatives, the source of all evil in the muslim world?


I'm not offended in the slightest by what you've written (though I'm not Muslim, either), but there do seem to be some gaps in your logic. For instance, I oppose the use of sharia law because I oppose any religious influence on government, and I would not want to live in a country where sharia law was in force. However, it appears that several Islamic majority countries incorporate it, or elements of it, and that it works for them. Can you explain how "sharia in public affairs cannot work"?

There are zealots who freely throw around the term "Islamophobe" in an attempt to silence criticism of Islam, but such indiscriminate use of rhetoric appears self-defeating. The term is felt in many circles to be wholly or mostly discredited by that sort of usage, and I think that your prediction in regard to its future is more dystopian fantasy than credible extrapolation from the present.



Read for example 'The Devil We don't know' by Nonie Darwish and you'll understand where I come from. Sharia, even part of it affecting the laws*, does not work if the goal is to create healthy democratic societies.

The future I'm afraid looks rather bleak if the same theological/educational/institutional levels of islam remain basically the same, and it looks to be so unfortunately given that even large parts of the medieval Islamic jurisprudence are still with us, unlikely to be replaced. The sad reality is that the liberals are a very fragile segment of the population in the muslim world and they do not dare to take attitude against sharia in public affairs. On long term it seems, even in the West.

Now I respect muslims as human beings without any problem. I do not make a difference between people, their legitimate secular rights should always be there. Yet islam the ideology is a source of huge problems and we should have a firm stand on this problem. No more appeasement of demands coming from the defective parts of sharia, there should be a single secular law for all. Finally protection of islam against criticism, be it important, is not one of those secular rights. Rational criticism of islam and exposure of muslims to it should cease to be anathema for it can actually solve more if we think on long term.

Frankly I do not see any reason of important optimism at the moment, besides decision people in the West are not even capable to identify exactly where the core source of the problem comes from. It just seems to me that we need to be much more honest with us if we really want to succeed.

*the situation in the Islamic world is that captured well by Bernard Lewis (such a situation is impossible without the large participation of the masses and the existernce of an islamic worldview indoctrinated via the current religious education):


Turning from international and regional to domestic politics, the difference between Islam and the rest of the world, though less striking, is still substantial. In some of the countries that practice multiparty democracy, there are political parties with religious designations—Christian in the West, Hindu in India, Buddhist in the Orient. But there are relatively few of these parties, and still fewer that play a major role. Even with these, religious themes are usually of minor importance in their programs and their appeals to the electorate. Yet in many, indeed in most Islamic countries, religion remains a major political factor—far more indeed in domestic than in international or even in regional affairs. Why this difference?

One answer is obvious; most Muslim countries are still profoundly Muslim, in a way and in a sense that most Christian countries are no longer Christian. Admittedly, in many of these countries, Christian beliefs and the clergy who uphold them are still a powerful force, and although their role is not what it was in past centuries, it is by no means insignificant. But in no Christian country at the present time can religious leaders count on the degree of belief and participation that remains normal in the Muslim lands.

In few, if any, Christian countries do Christian sanctities enjoy the immunity from critical comment or discussion that is accepted as normal even in ostensibly secular and democratic Muslim societies. Indeed, this privileged immunity has been extended, de facto, to Western countries where Muslim communities are now established and where Muslim beliefs and practices are accorded a level of immunity from criticism that the Christian majorities have lost and the Jewish minorities never had. Most important, with very few exceptions, the Christian clergy do not exercise or even claim the kind of public authority that is still normal and accepted in most Muslim countries.
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#18  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Apr 05, 2015 5:47 pm

:roll:
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#19  Postby tuco » Apr 05, 2015 6:14 pm

lol don't say you are not glad meta is around ;)
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Re: "What ISIS Really Wants" - 'The Atlantic' Article

#20  Postby Thomas Eshuis » Apr 05, 2015 6:17 pm

tuco wrote:lol don't say you are not glad meta is around ;)

I would have said so.
Is there a point to your posts or do you not realise you're exhibiting the same behaviour you're accusing others off?
"Respect for personal beliefs = "I am going to tell you all what I think of YOU, but don't dare retort and tell what you think of ME because...it's my personal belief". Hmm. A bully's charter and no mistake."
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