The Taliban is using land reform as the tease to draw Pakistani peasants into their web of regional power. Having stupidly been given the right to enforce sharia (Islamic law) in lieu of the statutes of the land in Pakistan’s Swat state, the Taliban took a giant step towards creating a regional Islamic republic (which would engulf Afghanistan as well) by threatening the feudal landowners in the region with death and/or imprisonment for returning to their landholdings. As Taliban troops advanced on their benefactors in Pakistan’s capital city of Islamabad, conquering new lands a mere 60 miles away, Pakistan’s military finally launched a counter attack, forcing the Taliban, after suffering heavy casualties, to withdraw to wait for a better day.
Pakistan has between 60 and 100 nuclear weapons, and this reality, coupled with the Taliban surge noted above, has given the Obama administration “grave concern.” We are seeing militant action growing everywhere, and the Shiite monolith – Iran – embodies an accelerating and disturbing trend of militant Islam’s goal of imposing sharia and Islamic control on the region, if not the world. Jihadist expansionism.
Pride in being a jihadist, fomenting the demise of the non-Islamist world is scary to us, however distracted we may be by this financial disaster that surrounds us. There are specialists in spreading the word, by force and violence if necessary. Osama Bin Ladin, Ayman Zawahri, and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, cleric/mentor to some of the most violent terrorists.
According to the April 29th New York Times, al-Maqdisi “has grown tired of hearing younger extremists accuse him of going soft… ‘Credit is due to the testimony of enemies,’ Mr. Maqdisi wrote, as he directed his readers to a recent journal article by Joas Wagemakers, a Dutch scholar of jihadism, and the ‘Militant Ideology Atlas,’ both published by the [Combating Terrorism Center at West Point]. Both identified Mr. Maqdisi as a dangerous and influential jihadi theorist, he noted.” He needed affirmation in the Western world for his militancy, and our intelligence experts hang on every word he utters. You get recruits by being hard on the West… by killing Westerners and inspiring others to do so.
So is there no hope? Is the recreation of the Crusades inevitable? But then there was this election in Indonesia, the largest Muslim country on earth – with hundreds of millions of people. Once the bastion of tolerance, Indonesia had seemingly fallen victim to the plague of radical Islam (notably the growth of the Jemaah Islamiyah faction and the rising tide of ethnic killings). We remember the 2002 bombings in Bali when Western tourists (and a lot of locals) were incinerated while at a local pub. Fundamental Islam had taken root, and major political parties were formed around this growing wave of religiosity.
But despite this fever, in the April 9th parliamentary elections (the results are still being tallied), the exit polls told an incredible story. The April 16th Economist reported the early results: “A cluster of Islamist parties saw their combined support slump from 39% to 29.5%. Only the Prosperous Justice Party, or PKS, the most Islamist party, which came fourth with about 8.4%, bucked the trend.” Could it be that the harsh rules of neo-Islamist fundamentalism were beginning to jerk some in an opposite direction? Was it possible that people were either tired of the rigidity and intolerance of their faith or, perhaps, saw the wisdom in a separation of church and state… a lesson that even the United States seems loathe to learn?
In the end, there are human beings on this planet, and the pendulum swings have taken us all to extremes. Perhaps the “inevitability” of any trend must be understood within the historical perspective of that back-and-forth, spiraling movement of human nature.
I’m Peter Dekom, and I thought this was a ray of sunshine you might want to see.