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« Off Topic: Comet McNaught | Main | South African Voting Hall of Shame Continues »

January 22, 2007



I have at least three questions:

1. What do you mean by "the socio-political circumstances that many muslims find themselves in"? Do you mean the poverty in the Middle East, North Africa, or South East Asia? Or the dictatorships?
2. Why do you believe that the particular socio-political circumstances you have in mind affect terrorism?
3. Why do you think that "free and representative governments" would prevent terrorism?


TC, I was also interested that Mike spoke of "the intolerable socio-political circumstances that many Muslims find themselves in".

In South Africa I have heard many people speak of a problem in Cape Town where many refugees or other poor people from Africa have made their way to the Cape with almost nothing.

Some of them then get looked after by some radical Muslim groups. They give them food, shelter and clothing and convert them to Islam. The theory I heard says that these guys end up becoming quite extreme - they get brainwashed and indoctrinated by the hands that feed them.

Now its impossible to argue that their socio-political sitations (war torn homes and poverty stricken situation) has not made them more susceptible to the indoctrination that has greeted them.

But thats not to say that poverty causes terrorism. There are many poor nations, far poorer than Palestinians for example, that have not turned to terror. And as we know most prominent terrorist leaders do not come from impoverished backgrounds.

But poverty and the "intolerable socio and economic situations" certainly do help these terrorist leaders in their goal of recruiting soldiers for Jihad.


1)TC, by ‘intolerable socio-political situation’, I was referring to the dictatorships, the poverty and the feeling of humiliation. The rise of Islamism in the Muslim world is the result of a combination of these factors. Not dissimilar to the factors that led to the rise of Nazism is Germany.

2) I do not believe that terrorism is a uniquely Islamist weapon. It is just one of the techniques that they use to wage this war. But lots of other groups have engaged in terrorism whether it was the IRA in Ireland or the Tamils in Srilanka to name just a few.

3) I think that many Muslims believe that Islamism is the only way to improve their lot. No forum for opposition to the repressive regimes which they live under is allowed except the radical Mosque. We need to give Muslims other alternatives to solve their grievances. A believe that free and representative government would do just that.

I think you raised some great points that need to be fleshed out and debated much more. I will do a post setting out my position more clearly this week.


You state:
"Building stable, free and representative governments in the Muslim world is the only way to win the war on terror. "
I'm not convinced this is a "fact". Although it would seem to be a logical position, and to our "way" of thinking would seem to be self evident, I'm not sure that the axioms underpinning this theory necessarily apply in all circumstances, and in particular in the middle east.

In your reply to comments you go on to say that
" We need to give Muslims other alternatives to solve their grievances. A believe that free and representative government would do just that."
Again, I'm not convinced this is necessarily the solution. However, even if it is, I don't think that providing the solution will solve anything. People need to be given the tools to produce their own solutions. Imposing a solution won't work. Although help is required, say to overcome hurdles, e.g. toppling Saddam, imposing a solution would seem not to be in the best interests of those we're trying to "liberate".

I like the thoughts on outsourcing, if anything it reveals the complete lack of moral compass of the western media, and more particularly a completely pervasive bigotry and racism beneath a facade of liberalism.



I am not going to comment until you put up an extended piece....but based on what you wrote I disagree....waiting for your post setting out your position more clearly....



Hillel, I agree with you. The people of the Middle East of course need to also take responsibility for their own fate whether it is in Iraq, the Palestinian Territories or Somalia. But the West can also do a lot to support them. As I said before some sort of partnership is needed.

In Somalia for example, the internationally recognised (although transitional) government is extremely weak perhaps almost non existent. We can not expect such a government to enforce law and order or deliver basic services alone. Large numbers of international troops are needed to stabilise the situation. Then over time, Somalis will have to be trained and start taking over responsibility and building institutions that can ensure the proper functioning of an independent state.

I don’t really buy the imposing not liberating argument. I think all people naturally wish to be free. I don’t think it is possible to impose freedom. It is by definition liberation. The problem is that in say Iraq, we deposed one dictator that was replaced by militias and Jihadists. America has unfortunately done too little ‘imposing’. Iraqis may vote but they are certainly not yet free.



Let us agree to disagree then. I'm not convinced "people naturally wish to be free", I think the opposite typically applies.

People wish to have the freedom to subjugate themselves to a lifestyle of their choosing. They usually are just not prepared to admit to their subjugation, or worse, their chosen lifestyle doesn't allow others the freedom to choose and requires that they impose this lifestyle on others by force.

Democracy, i.e. "freedom" (and I don't mean the opportunity to vote which is largely a meaningless exercise unless it has an influential outcome) as defined by "us", the West, isn't necessarily the brand of "freedom" all people would choose. This may be because they don't understand our definition of freedom. On the other hand it may be because we have an inflated sense of self and assume everyone, even those from different cultures and civilisations must automatically agree with our world view because we're right.


Hillel, I don’t buy the argument that democracy isn’t for everyone. I think that certain basic rights and responsibilities apply to all peoples no matter what their religion, culture race etc. I see basic human rights in a similar vein to the 7 Laws of Noach.

Also if we look at the reality you will find that democracy (using a broad definition) is not just a Western or Christian thing. There are Jewish democracies (Israel) and Muslim democracies (Turkey) and Hindu democracies (India). There are democracies on every inhabited continent. Japan is a democracy, South Korea is a democracy, South Africa is a democracy, Brazil is a democracy etc etc.

These countries are all culturally very different and the make up of their states also vary greatly but all adhere to basic human rights. I don’t see why all people including those in the Middle East do not deserve and have a responsibility to do the same.


This could go on for ages perhaps we could take it off the blog. There just isn't space to set out and defend a position.

I fundamentally agree about "basic human rights / responsibilities". Everyone is entitled to them and equally vital, everyone is obligated to provide them to or uphold them for others. (That is a given).

I think though that you may find not everyone is prepared to agree to (y)our idea of what constitutes basic rights and responsibilities, and that is where the problem starts to arise.

It's fine where everyone is prepared to live and let live, but that's not always the case.

My argument hinged fundamentally on the axiom that "democracy is the best way to achieve these ends in all situations and for all people" - in other words, that 'democracy is freedom'. I didn't say people in the ME (or anywhere else) aren't entitled to rights, I said the best way to provide said rights is not necessarily through democracy, particularly initially.

Imposing democracy in itself is an imposition of our world view, which may not be a bad thing, but should be recognised as such. The fact that there are many culturally diverse democracies doesn't imply that it will always work. But this is really a side point.

Perhaps the fundamental point is that civil society, with at least a minimal level of harmony, is a fragile thing. Choice, is in a sense a privilege. We refuse choice to people who are unable to use it (e.g. minors). Civil society, freedom, needs to be fiercely defended. Handing over a Ming vase to someone with no or little appreciation for it will not result in a happy outcome. It goes without saying that only education can persuade someone that a Ming vase is something worth protecting.

The other points, peoples obsession with choosing a subjugation and what constitutes basic rights will have to wait for another time.

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