Wednesday, March 31, 2010

On a desi alarmist

CIP was highly offended by my providing this link to - an interview with Republican Vijay Kumar, candidate to the US House of Representatives in Tennessee's fifth Congressional district.

The interview begins with FP saying to VK "You are one of the rare individuals running for office in America who is actually making the issue of Islamic Jihad a significant part of your campaign". It only goes downhill from there.

VK believes that Islam drives a fourteen-century old jihad, aimed at dominating the world. That it extends into our times, he shows by quoting Maududi. Any peace with the lands of Islam, he claims is only a truce, occurring only when a stalemate exists, and is accepted by Muslims only because it is pausing to gain strength. The Axis of Universal Jihad consists of Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Iran. The war VK describes is primarily ideological, and the four steps he wants taken immediately are:
1. Stop all immigration from the Axis of Jihad nations.

2. Stop paying Islamic tribute–so-called “aid”–to Pakistan, Egypt and the Palestinians.

3. Support those moderate, secular, Muslims–there are many—against theological fundamentalists.

4. Build a United Front of Victims of Jihad. That is where Jew and Gentile, Saxon and Slav, Hindu and Buddhist, Norwegian and Nigerian, Catholic and Protestant, Evangelical and Orthodox, have common ground. All can unite to contain the extremist ideology, because all historically have been victims of Universal Jihad.

My take: here in the US where the Christian Right are an influential voter bloc, and where Catholic bishops and nuns take politically significant stances on things like abortion, health-care and immigration, we should be cautious about claiming that we have managed to decouple religion from politics and the affairs of the state. The matter of fact is that this decoupling of religion and politics is even more elusive in most Muslim-majority states.

Iran is not a threat to the United States; the hullabaloo in the US is because Iran poses a threat to Israel (and so, for those whom Israel is the 51st state, by extension, the US is threatened). In any case, Iran which is mostly Shia, will not lead any time soon the Muslim world which is predominantly Sunni.

Pakistan has made a practice of sponsoring "non-state actors" - read jihadists - to pursue its foreign policy goals in Afghanistan and India. However, the biter has been bit; the jihadis it has sponsored are busy blowing up Pakistan itself. Moreover, to the annoyance of the Chinese, these jihadis are penetrating Chinese Turkestan, and to the annoyance of Russia and the Central Asian Republics, the jihadis are spilling over there as well. Pakistan is controlled by army, bureaucracy and some wealthy landowning (and recently industrialist) families, and Islamization is their cynical way of maintaining control over an increasingly impoverished and falling-behind-in-human-development burgeoning population. (People think of India when they think of the population explosion, but India has merely tripled its numbers since Independence; Pakistan has increased five-fold!). Moreover, by holding a gun to its and the world's head ("nuclear weapons may fall into the hands of fundamentalists") Pakistan's ruling elite has made itself undisplaceable.

Lastly, Saudi Arabia - their sponsorship of Salafi doctrine around the globe has served to foster conflict between Muslims and their neighbors. They provide the ideological force behind many of the disorders we see in the Muslim world. Think of Saudi Arabia as providing the Marx and Pakistan the Stalin.

It is to the US's eternal shame that Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are its allies. It puts paid to any notion that the US represents a shining city on a hill, and other such symbology.

I do not see anywhere VK asking for a war of extermination, pace CIP. As to restricting immigration, worrying about demographic warfare, etc., I do not buy into those ideas. As to waging a battle of ideas or other - we have to accept people by their actions (not by what they profess) {that is the import of the First Amendment}. Judging by actions, we have little to fear from most. Whom we have to worry about are the ruling elite of Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and their proxies. I wouldn't even say we have to fear them. As long as the freedom of expression remains, so that Islam can be critically examined without fear, just as Christianity or Hinduism or other religions have been, the battle of ideas is unavoidable.

The danger VK poses is that his fears will be seized upon and converted into action against a great many blameless people. His diagnosis of the situation is vastly exaggerated. And as the US has found, 5K soldiers, $1 trillion+ and many foreign civilians later, overreaction to a threat can be far worse than the threat itself. Cooler heads must prevail.

PS: from India's view point, Pakistan poses an immediate threat of death and destruction (e.g., Mumbai Nov 26, 2008). Indians greatly resent the world's - particularly the US, China, Saudi Arabia and UK's continuing nourishment of the Pakistani jihad machine.