Monday, February 04, 2008

The Two Faces of Islam and the Challenge to America

I just read the Foreign Policy Research Institute's 2007 Templeton lecture Americanism vs. Islamism: A Personal Perspective by Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, M.D. the founder of American Islamic Forum for Democracy. I found it through the blog, Haft of the Spear.The West should incubate or catalyze an Islamic Reformation possibly by restocking mosque libraries with more politically moderate books and supporting American Universities in the Middle East.


Nice idea John but:

The State Department, USIS and private foundations have had American University and moderation programs and plans for many years. Problem is US actions, like invading Iraq and backing Israel, resonate louder even with moderate Muslims (outside America). So US attempts have been counter-productive, leading to Muslim backlashes.

Also America's ally Saudi Arabia has easily outspent the US building Wahabist mosques, religeous schools (madrasses) and Universities (with well stocked libraries).


Yes, but this is really a battle of hearts and minds. If all we do is spend money on weapons to kill Muslims, we'll lose the war. Actions speak louder than words and as you point out, our actions have been counterproductive. Therefore, we need to fight the battle on all fronts and quit shooting ourselves in the foot. That, or wean ourselves of Middle East oil. I doubt the latter will happen. There's no political will to change the status quo.


Problem is Muslims are getting more worldly and sophisticated with much more (Muslim) money for higher education. They look at actions rather than be mesmerised by words.

The US has attempted several $100 million advertising campaigns to convince Muslims that the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan wasn't the invasion of Muslim lands.

New York advertising firms and the odd covert action contracting company hired after 2001 to run the campaigns had no idea why Muslims still disliked the US even after such large amounts was spent.

I think the key problem is that Muslims resent US forces still being in Iraq and Israelis periodically launching invasions deep into Lebenon. Muslims will tolerate Muslims killing Muslims but they won't tolerate Christians or Jews killing Muslims.

Until the US withdraws substantial forces from Iraq I think hearts and minds funding will have little impact.

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