Archive for September 3rd, 2006

Civil War or Clash of Civilizations


– Attacks and civilian deaths in Iraq have risen sharply in recent
months, with casualties
increasing by
1,000 a month, and sectarian violence has engulfed larger areas of
the country, the Pentagon said Friday in a strikingly dismal report
to Congress.Civilian and military deaths and injuries
have surpassed 3,000 each month since May.

The report held to previous Bush administration statements that Iraq
is not in an all-out civil war, but conceded that "conditions that
could lead to civil war exist."

from the LA Times

What exactly is the definition of civil war we are using
here, and in what metric does Iraq fall short? It seems the only thing
the place from degenerating into a Sunni-Shia bloodbath is the
presence of the US as a unifying force – militias from both sects are
trying hard
to kill as many of us as possible.

Unfortunately, on this point the President is correct – if we leave,
the country will completely break apart. Trouble is, even if we stay,
just means
the Iraqi militias will only be able to dedicate themselves to killing
each other part-time, have of course to devote the rest of their time to
killing US,

The scary truth is that the only thing capable of preventing
an all-out civil war between Shia and Sunni would be the intervention
of an Islamic
or Greater
Islamic Republic with the Theological weight to call the mullahs from
both sides together, and impose order.

It seems clear to the Dowbrigade that theocracy is
the only kind of government that can work in this part of the world
at this point in history. From northern Africa to eastern Europe governments
based on Sharia, 800-year-old Islamic law, have proven functional where
Western-style administrations running the gamut from free-market Capitalist
to Red Book Communist have failed spectacularly and abjectly with a staggering
cost in human misery.

Even in Israel, our pet "only Democracy in the Middle East", the Church
has a greater influence than in any of the other Western democracies. The
Council of Rabbis and the religious parties are consulted on all aspects
of Israeli life.

It is our personal belief that after 5 consecutive generations
being cheated out of their birthright and sold down the river by corrupt
local leaders
in consort with the bloodless
vampires of petro-capitalism, ordinary people in the Middle East are so
jaded and cynical of ALL politicians that they are taking refuge in the
most powerful and real thing they can see and feel in their lives – God.
For them, right now, the life of the Spirit is more real, cleaner and
clearer, and more liberating and rewarding, than anything we or our local
front men can offer them.

But what do we know. Politicians on all sides may try
to take advantage of this sad state of affairs, scholars and pundits
may try to analyze
and explain it, visionaries and educators may be able to change it in a
generation or two, but realists have to accept that any attempts to transform
the Middle East through Democracy are, for now at least, doomed to abject,
tragic and costly failure. The Middle East will be ruled by religion
until well past our lifetimes.

However, all is not gloom and doom. Letting nature take
its course and following a policy of isolation and detente similar to
our posture towards
the Soviet Union will eventually expose the flaws and inability to provide
for its population of the Islamic
, just as they did in the
case of the Soviets. But until we let them expose themselves in equal
and open competition, they have the luxury of controlling the ground simply
on the basis of being anti-US.

Any true patriot who believes in the inherent superiority of our system
should welcome this kind of comparative competition, and should support
anything that can stop the open warfare and move us toward a non-violent
war of economies, social systems, and , yes, cultures. Let the best culture

Converting to Islam


DUBAI, Sept. 2 (Reuters) Al Qaeda, in a video
posted Saturday on the Internet, called for President Bush and non-Muslims,
especially those in the United States, to convert to Islam and abandon
their "misguided" ways, or else suffer the consequences.

from the New York Times

Our first reaction, on reading the above story, was
"Where do we sign up!" After all, the benefits of the offer are immediately
obvious. In addition to avoiding annihilation by the Righteous Sword
of Islam, one could partake in the admittedly limited earthly ecstasies
allowed by the One True Religion while experiencing a lifetime of discrimination
and oppression or a quick and spectacular death leading to the frankly
exhausting servicing of some Wiltonian number of virgins in the afterlife
(the exact number of virgins, we understand, is currently the subject
of an ongoing polemic among the various sects, strains and branches
of the One True Religion).

As to converting, well, how hard could it be? A little
internet research on converting to Islam led us to ConvertingtoIslam
dot com
, where we discovered the phrase "La ilaha il-Allah, Muhammad-ur-Rasulullah".

Translated into English, this means There is no God
except Allah; Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. According to Converting
to Islam, recitation of this phrase is all that is required for converting
to Islam! We were saved!

But could we, with clear conscience, recite words
which seemed to negate and deny our racial heritage, religious upbringing
and personal beliefs? Why, sure. As a worker with words, we realize
both their power and their limitations. As a psycho-linguist we accept
words as relative, not absolute, and their meaning dependent on myriad
cultural, psychological and situational factors.

Furthermore, over our long and illustrious career
as an amateur and professional Anthropologist, we have at various times
sworn, sung, chanted, recited or intoned oaths of allegiance to the
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the Cali Cartel, the International Brotherhood
of Workers Revolution, the National
Society of Hare Krishna, Tyxcotrapti, the purple mushroom god of
the Onawama Indians of southern Colombia, B’nai Brith, the White
Nation, the Movimento Revolucionario Tupac Amaru, the Disciples of Doom and the Magicians of the Golden Dawn.

And we believed with all our heart in all of these
world views at one time or another, at least for a few minutes. If
genius is truly the ability to simultaneously hold irrevocably contradictory
points of view, then the Dowbrigade is an Einstein of Ecumenicalism.

Of course, not everyone feel that way. Take
Jeff Jacoby, in an
OP-ED column
in today’s Boston Globe.

IF YOU WERE one of the journalists kidnapped in
Gaza last month and ordered at gunpoint to become a Muslim, what
would you have done?
Fox News reporter Steve Centanni and photographer Olaf Wiig announced
acceptance of Islam on a videotape released by their kidnappers
— “because they had the guns," Centanni later said, “and
we didn’t know what the hell was going on."

Whether their acquiescence was an act of cowardice or of prudence,
reasonable people can debate. Clearly it wasn’t their only choice.
If I were ever told,
with a gun to my head, to recite the Shahada or die, I hope I would have the
courage to take the bullet.

Whoa! Easy for HIM to say. Put us firmly in the Centanni-Wiig
camp. Following in the long tradition of Jews who wore crosses to escape
the Inquisition, or celebrated secret seders in occupied Europe to
avoid the Nazis, or closeted gays in the army or professional sports,
or terrified teens asked if  they’ve ever smoked pot during a
routine traffic stop, we would recite the words and hope to live to tell
the tale

For words can tell a twisted tale in many ways, and
their meaning is a constant negotiation between talker and listener,
God can hear a human heart, in a language where no parsing is possible.

As to our possible conversion to Islam, it is currently
on hold. Perhaps our position is best summed up by the message
we found on the web site The True Religion. The message read, "
is presently closed."