I believe we are on an irreversible trend toward more freedom and democracy — but that could change.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Where does you candidate stand?

Regardless of your stand on the President Bush, the War in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether your affiliation is with the Democrats, Republicans, Greens, Libertarians or Independents, you should ask yourself a simple question:

Where does your favorite candidate stand on the the War Against Jihadism?

George Weigel, the author of the "Faith, Reason, and the War Against Jihadism" asks that much on the pages of Newsweek, a publication that is usually singularly inhospitable to the Clash of Civilizations views.

Extended quote below:

That is what we are fighting: jihadism, the religiously inspired ideology which teaches that it is every Muslim's duty to use any means necessary to compel the world's submission to Islam. That most of the world's Muslims do not accept this definition of the demands of their faith is true—and beside the point. The jihadists believe this. That is why they are the enemy of their fellow Muslims and the rest of the world. For decades, an internal Islamic civil war, born of Islam's difficult encounter with modernity, has been fought over such key modern political ideas as religious toleration and the separation of religious and political authority in a just state. That intra-Islamic struggle now engages the rest of humanity. To ignore this, to imagine it's all George W. Bush's fault, or to misrepresent it because of a prudish reluctance to discuss religion in public, is to repeat the mistakes the advocates of appeasement made in the 1930s.

In the mid-twentieth century, it was important to understand the ideas that fed the totalitarian passions of fascism, Nazism and communism. It is just as important today to understand the ideas of such progenitors of jihadist ideology as the Egyptian scholar-activists Hassan al-Banna (1906–1949) and Sayyid Qutb (1903–1966). Why? Because the power of ideas that can call men and women to make great sacrifices can only be trumped by the power of more compelling ideas that summon forth nobler sacrifices. Yet while our presidential candidates have endlessly debated who-was-right-or-wrong-and-when about Iraq, the imperative of effective U.S. public diplomacy—of making the argument for freedom and decency effectively around the world—has gone largely unremarked. That failure reflects a reluctance to grasp the nature of this new kind of struggle.

This is a war of ideas, pitting two different notions of the good society against each other. The jihadist vision claims the sanction of God. The western vision of the free society, in which civility involves engaging differences with respect, has both religious and philosophical roots. Some Americans have lost touch with the deepest cultural sources of the nation's commitments to religious freedom, tolerance and democratic persuasion, thinking of these good things as mere pragmatic arrangements. But if the United States can't explain to the world why religious freedom, civility, tolerance and democratic persuasion are morally superior to coercion in religious and political matters, then America stands disarmed before those who believe it their duty to impose a starkly different view of the good society on us.

The war against jihadism is being contested on many fronts simultaneously. There is a military front, which involves Afghanistan and Iraq but also includes such unlikely places as the Caribbean, Mali and the Philippines. There is an intelligence front, an economic front, an energy front and a homeland-security front. Such a complex war, which could last a generation or more, cannot be the prerogative or burden of one political party. The war against jihadism must be owned by both political parties. Thus one measure of any presidential candidate's seriousness is this: can he or she build a bipartisan coalition capable of sustaining the long-haul struggle required to defeat jihadist nihilism?

The landscape is indeed forbidding. Still, there is some good news: the war against jihadism can lead to cultural and political renewal in America. Making compelling arguments in favor of the free society reconnects us with the great ideas on which our liberties rest. Putting faith and reason into conversation strengthens the unity of our diverse society. Defending religious freedom, and supporting Muslim reformers who seek an Islamic case for tolerance and pluralism, reminds us that American civil society is built on truths about the dignity of human life. Energy policies that de-fund jihadism by reducing our reliance on petroleum as a transportation fuel can ignite entrepreneurial energies, revitalize the American auto industry, and help the environment. Rational homeland security policies can make us safer and less beholden to political correctness.

The jihadist merchants of death must be defeated morally as well as militarily. Doing so offers the American people the opportunity for national self-renewal and the chance to defend the cause of human dignity throughout the world. The stakes—the future of freedom—are very high indeed. It's past time for those who would lead us to acknowledge that.

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1 comment:

najistani said...

Sentenced to death: Afghan who dared to read about women's rights

From http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/sentenced-to-death-afghan-who-dared-to-read-about-womens-rights-775972.html

A young man, a student of journalism, is sentenced to death by an Islamic court for downloading a report from the internet. The sentence is then upheld by the country's rulers. This is Afghanistan – not in Taliban times but six years after "liberation" and under the democratic rule of the West's ally Hamid Karzai.

The fate of Sayed Pervez Kambaksh has led to domestic and international protests, and deepening concern about erosion of civil liberties in Afghanistan. He was accused of blasphemy after he downloaded a report from a Farsi website which stated that Muslim fundamentalists who claimed the Koran justified the oppression of women had misrepresented the views of the prophet Mohamed.


How you can save Pervez

Sayed Pervez Kambaksh's imminent execution is an affront to civilised values. It is not, however, a foregone conclusion. If enough international pressure is brought to bear on President Karzai's government, his sentence may yet be overturned. Add your weight to the campaign by urging the Foreign Office to demand that his life be spared. Sign our e-petition at www.independent.co.uk/petition

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I am a cantankerous man living and working in the Silicon Valley where reading books is an abomination that is virtually unheard of, frowned upon and may be detrimental to one's career. I avoid censure by never conceding that I ever read or owned a book in my life. If anyone accidentally glimpses my scant proficiency in any subject matter, I immediately accredit it to having glanced at DrudgeReport that day.

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