Saturday, July 30, 2005

questions answered

Ian Buruma answered questions online about the roots of Islamic extremism and the motivations of homegrown terrorists, Friday, July 22. The first sentence of my question (based on this post) did not make much sense, after they had mangled it. It originally read 'It's true that it is cowardly and wrong to say that we should not be in Iraq, because Britain would then be less of a terrorist target. It's also true that the demands of the jihadists are not negotiable. ...' Here is the reply:
Victories in the holy war are certainly an excellent way to gain more recruits and enhance the prestige of the jihadis. It is of course not only Islamists that underestimate the capacity of liberal democracies to fight back. Fascists, Nazis, and Communists also thought that democratic societies were too decadent and addicted to comfort to engage in wars. This attitude can encourage extremists to strike out in ultimately self-destructive ways.

However, the fact that a victory for the jihadis and ex-Baathists in Iraq would be a disaster, not only for the democratic world, but especially for most Iraqis and their neighbours, does not mean that the war was justified or wise in the first place. But having started this war, the United States should do everything in its power to help Iraqis cope with the consequences. Whether the US has the goodwill, the skills, the knowledge, or the power to do this, is of course another question.
More here from Martin Wolf and Roula Khalaf.


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