In the United States, sometimes Republicans seem to imply Democrats not only don't want to fight terrorism but also have no idea how to do it; on the other hand, Republicans know exactly how. They claim George Bush kept this country safe for the last 8 years by torturing people and attacking Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11 but was ruled by a brutal although secular dictator.
The argument goes that because there have been no further attacks here, Bush succeeded even though he did not get the mastermind behind 9/11. In fact for a long time, he said it didn't matter. Was that because he didn't want him except as an excuse? Over and over we would be told some 9/11 mastermind had been killed or captured but usually with a name we never heard before he was taken out. The two names we have heard the most still are either free or died of natural causes in Pakistan.
The fact that Barack Obama said we should have finished the job in Afghanistan is argued that means he's a pacifist. When he said we were distracted by Iraq and it was a sinkhole that would swallow us, he was being weak. When he said we should go into Pakistan to get bin Laden, to break up these networks hiding there, it was said that's too tough. Pakistan is our friend (never mind that we have now been making discrete, targeted attacks across the border or that we are much hated in Pakistan). If you are looking for logic, don't even start looking into any of this. Logic plays no role in it.
Anyone, be they Islamic or of no religion, should see the problem with the Islamic extremists who are still active around the world, and in some cases still control countries. It would be nice to make the argument that all religions are equal for the good and damage they can do, but it doesn't actually hold water.
Most religions, if you go back in their beginning sacred texts, might begin in a bloodthirsty way, but many have come to see the beginning wasn't right and have moved onto other ways of seeing their responsibility to creating a civilized world.
I hear the argument that there are two parts of Islam. One is more peaceful such as we saw with Anwar Sadat, and the other more brutal as we have seen with the Taliban. The latter part is what is funding and providing the human fodder to attempt to take over the Arab world for starters. Could we believe that those extreme elements would stop at the borders of current Arab nations if they consolidate their power?
In some Islamic controlled regions, people can be stoned to death for adultery (including those considered more moderate like Saudi Arabia). In Somalia, there was a 13 year old girl who had been raped, reported it and that led to her being stoned to death for adultery. CNN story. Somalia, of course, is a nation with no formal government and is being ruled by the worst Muslim elements, but it's not the only place such things have happened or would happen if the extreme elements of Islam gain power.
Out of these extreme elements have come the kind of men who attacked Mumbai. At the time I am writing this, they have not yet proven from where they came; but whether it was internal to India, from Pakistan, al Qaeda connected, or someone else, they would have one thing in common with all other such attacks-- Muslim extremists seeking revenge for past wrongs. Sound familiar? Religion and ethnicity seem to be at the heart of their crusade. Terrorism is their vehicle to right past wrongs and one more thing-- gain power.
What I didn't know until this happened was that India is 13.4% Muslim and at one time was ruled by a Muslim king: A bit of history of Deccan India. The group, who claimed credit, feel they have been repressed and persecuted (statistics would tend to back up their claims). They may well have gotten weapons and training in Pakistan or at a Madrasah (spelled different ways) school but they wouldn't have had to go outside India to do this.
In Islam today there is a segment that wants to find intellectual solutions to problems. They, like the King of Saudi Arabia, are trying to fund and grow schools that will make Arabs equal to anyone in the world for success, something that had been true in the past before the negative arm of Islam appeared to gain an upper hand. There is another segment who murders teachers, considers secular education to be a threat, and believes only their religion offers what anyone needs to know.
When someone says we have to kill the ones who carry out terrorist acts, I say great. Let's do it. The problem is how do you find them? Sometimes they die themselves in their attacks. Who trained and funded them? It didn't take much money in either the case of the attacks of 9/11 or the recent one in Mumbai. All you need are people willing to die for their cause. They can be living next door to those who would find such an act to be an abomination to god.
Has the United States with its brutalizing of suspected enemies increased or stopped the likelihood of there being more young men and women rising up willing to die for their cause? Have George Bush and his cohorts encouraged the Arab world to see there are better options for a good life than religious extremism or has he empowered that segment? Without the kind of education that the King of Saudi Arabia is promoting, there is no hope, but most of the hijackers on 9/11 were educated and Saudis. So it's not that simple either.
I am not one who believes we can talk reasonably to people who are have gone to the level of considering terrorism to be a reasonable approach to getting their way. I don't believe we should ignore the extremist groups who train such people to carry out attacks. There should be a penalty. How do you find them before they commit an atrocity? It's not like we can kill everybody who is a Muslim. They represent one-fifth of the world's population and are in almost every country. What kind of monsters would the rest of the world have to be to kill innocent people to get at a few bad ones? If we did that, wouldn't we be like the terrorists? Does evil beget good?
Good Islamic people are obviously in the majority, or this situation would be worse than it is. Of the good people though, are there some who secretly applaud what the terrorists have done? Are there those, who while they would never do a violent act, are supportive of the Islamic extremist desire to take over much of the Arab world and maybe beyond forcing it to abide by their interpretation of their religious precepts.
To the Western mind, Islamic religious control, even in moderate nations, is bad, most especially for women who must hide their bodies, cover their hair, not drive a car, can't meet with a man alone without being threatened with punishment, and on it goes. Government retribution is often very violent.
Not all Muslims desire world conquest. Most are content to live peaceful lives and follow their own beliefs but not force them onto others. How do we, and they, weed out the ones who think otherwise? That's why this is not that simple. Terrorists and their supporters often live among ordinary people who are peaceful. Often their own neighbors don't know who they are. How do we find them first before the violence?
The problem with terrorist attacks like what happened in Mumbai is the murderers have used as an excuse things in the past that were done to their people. Resentment about these wrongs, as they see it, are what is used to make people willing to die themselves for revenge. Muslims are massacred. Muslims massacre. Do a search on any of that and you will find endless links to stories. Where does it stop?
it has to stop with moderate Islamic peoples turning against those who do these things, not letting religious loyalty protect those who are hurting all Muslims.
it has to stop by people seeing that they make their own lives good, help others to make theirs work, and it's what leads to future generations finding joy.
it has to be stopped by government retaliation that is appropriate, devastatingly effective, focused, with no safe borders to hide behind, but not just killing anybody from an opposing religion.
it has to stop when people teach their children revenge doesn't work. Let go of those past wrongs because if we don't, they will destroy us.
it has to stop now, not after revenge that just starts the cycle again.
There is a difference between revenge and justice, and it's something a good educational system can help people to understand. A better world is one that is better for all. It is very sad when religion and ethnicity are excuses for killing as clearly they were this week in Mumbai.
What do you think?