Friday, July 17, 2009

The Negative-Sum Permanent War Against Islam

Forget rhetoric. Think about what is actually happening in the world. With the neo-cons kicked out and, in the minds of thinking people, utterly discredited, has anything changed? Or is Washington still fighting a war against Muslims?

The U.S. military has not left Iraq; on the contrary, it has consolidated itself out of sight. The threats against Iran have not only not ended; they have intensified. How else does one interpret the impatient remarks of Secretary Clinton and the highly public movements of Israeli nuclear-capable ships into better positions from which to attack Iran? U.S. forces are not withdrawing from the Muslim world; they are building up. Supply lines are shifting from ground to aerial. Deaths on both sides are rising. The main campaign under the neo-cons was in Iraq, a country of some 30,000,000, including the several million refugees and the 1,000,000 who died as a result of the U.S. invasion. Now the main campaign is in Pakistan and Afghanistan, an area with a population of some 190,000,000. The refugee flow in Pakistan is rising so fast it cannot even be calculated. That is not progress.

The war on Islam, or, to be more precise, the war against activist Muslims who talk back, demand their rights, and refuse to kowtow, is slowly becoming institutionalized. It is being transformed from an emergency response to a deadly threat from a small but evidently vicious, immoral, and possibly uncompromising group into a permanent policy of aggression toward all Muslim societies that refuse to submit.

Washington does not discriminate between extremist Muslim enemies and Muslim social reformers. Not just Hamas, in itself no enemy of the U.S., but the whole half-starved civilian population of tiny, helpless, half-starved Gaza is treated the same as anti-Western terrorists in their training camps. Moslems who talk back are threatened with the same military response as Moslems who shoot back.

This attitude toward Islam is irrational and self-defeating. Condemning Muslims to submission or resistance is a fool's game with endless unpredictable opportunities for disaster that only multiply as the game continues to be played. Even if the West managed to survive and maintain such a policy, eventually the side-effects of endless war would encompass the decline and fall of Western democracy: endless war and democracy are mutually exclusive. Western arms may, conceivably, always win, but Western society can only lose a zero-sum military conflict with Islam. If that tragedy occurs, it will come as no satisfaction to Westerners that Muslim society will also end up a loser. Nothing is more tragic than a negative-sum outcome.

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