Friday, January 30, 2015

Arms and the Men

Lee Smith has had a brainstorm (he thinks):
The answer [to the problem of ISIS and those it inspires], say Western policymakers and pundits, is that Muslim moderates need to step up and rescue their faith from the fanatics who’ve hijacked it—an answer that has the advantage of avoiding hateful bigotry toward hundreds of millions of peaceful, believing Muslims who often form the majority of their communities both in the Middle East and in the West. The invocation of Muslim moderates seeks to rescue both the humanity of the community that is most often targeted and victimized by Islamist terror and of the Westerners who wish to deal with the threat of Islamist violence in their own societies without tearing those societies apart. Those are virtuous aims. The problem, of course, is that what sounds virtuous isn’t necessarily what works—and when virtuous-sounding solutions fail, the obfuscation that follows often makes the problem worse. 
So, maybe Western policymakers and pundits need to find a way to reframe the problem. Maybe the issue isn’t about religion or reinterpreting Muslim scripture at all. Maybe it’s about power politics and actually arming Muslim moderates to kill Muslim extremists.
Well, that's a plan. A flawed, and probably unworkable one which gives rise to manifold difficulties. The first of which is: who gets to define was a "moderate" is? Us? The self-declared "moderate"? Because, frankly, we have seen what can happen when we arm ostensible non-extremists. Either they turn out to be extremists after all (hello, Taliban circa Charlie Wilson's War) because we know nada about Islamic supremacism and jihad. Or else, spurred by the desire to be on the winning team/riding the stronger horse, they become extremists. Or else, being "moderate," and therefore lacking the same zeal and motivation as their holy warrior brethren, they turn out to be feckless in the field of combat (despite being armed up the wazoo by us infidels).

To me, Smith's argument sounds a lot like, "Hey, let's reframe the problem and arm the 'moderate' Germans to kill the Nazis."

That would have won the war, right?

I say forget about depending on the "moderate" Muslims. At this stage of the game, it makes far more sense to arm the Jews.

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