Skip to comments.Shall there be war...?
Posted on 02/25/2006 12:42:03 PM PST by pickrell
The attention of the media pundits seems temporarily fixed upon "the likelihood of civil war in Iraq", while they all wait to see what new crisis erupts from the White House. It beats euchre, to pass the time.
As mandatory for journalists, they seem to be missing the point. Imagine our surprise at that revelation...
Shall the Shi'ites begin a bloody war with the Sunni's? The facts argue convincingly, that the civil war between the Shia and the Sunni began 1400 years ago, and merely has 'rest periods' for each side to propagate new foot soldiers. Much of the history of this conflict is obscure... but much is also transparent. The problem with transparent, however, is that you can usually see right through it...
After the death of Muhammed in the early part of the 6th century, the problem of succession became acute. Islam was constructed 'borrowing' much out of Semitic, Christian and other existing ritual, but succession was never addressed. Would the adherents follow a monarchical, hereditary line where power over the faithful passed from the Khalifah, (Caliph), to his heirs, father to son, or would the power reside in a collection of spiritual leaders, Imams (the prayer leaders), who would regard the Caliphate as merely the military arm of the religion to be "guided" in all particulars by the Imamate. In short, would there be 'civilian' control of the military?
During the messy succession battles which inevitably followed Muhammed's death, the fourth Caliph, Ali, came to be the first and only successor acknowledged by virtually all of the faithful around the world as then existed. Throughout the period the battle to extend Dur Al Islam, the land of the faithful, never faltered. But Ali brought on a more nuanced approach than the preceeding "This is my sword, this is my Quran... choose one from column A..." kind of approach. He embraced the saying that "Never with my sword, if possible by my purse, and never with my purse, if possible by my mouth". The idea was that the conquered people could either elect to be killed, taxed or talked into Islam. With those selections on the menu, Islam spread like fast food throughout Arabia and the adjacent lands.
Such was his fame that the translated phrase "No sword can match dhu-al-Faqar, and no young warrior can compare with 'Ali'!", was subsequently inscribed on thousands of swords in honor of the one owned by Ali. Such was his enduring stature that even an American Heavyweight champion would one day, even in the land of the infidels, foresake his birthname of Cassius Clay to assume the name of Islam's most famous fighter.
Ali was eventually deposed by a local governor who tricked him into what probably was the first runoff vote ever.
Unfortunately a dissident buried a poisoned sword into his head a little later, and the glory of the martyred Caliph predictably blossomed out of all proportion to what he had achieved in life. When his son Al Husayn and many of his dissident followers were subsequently killed by the vastly larger army of Umar at Karbala, the Shi'ite movement was born. Al Husayn became martyred and enshrined in nearly the stature of his father Ali.
The Shi'ites have always maintained that the only true leader of Islam must be a descendant of Ali, a husband of one of Muhammed's daughters, and that he would be a spiritual leader who would spread the domination of Islam to vanquish all non-believers throughout the world.
The Sunnis have maintained that the Caliph is the strong arm of the faithful, and all authority rests in him and his designated heirs as they spread the domination of Islam to vanquish all non-believers throughout the world.
One problem with American pundits is that they don't evaluate the above party platforms carefully enough, before they decide who will wear the home team colors, and who will occupy the visitor side of the stadium. The other problem, as mentioned in the beginning paragraphs, is that we aren't at the opening kickoff... but rather at the 9,746,237th or so quarter. Frankly, the referees are getting tired.
Whether that strongman would be Abdul Gamel Nasser of Egypt, Saddam Hussein of Iraq, or the next ruthless Bedouin who claws his way to the top in a sea of blood... the result is that the right of power lies with the new Caliph, as he slashes his way to establish the new Caliphate, if the Sunnis prevail. If on the other hand the Shia prevail, then the sword of Islam is likely controlled, or at least heavily influenced by whichever Imam is the least mentally stable.
So what can George Bush be thinking? We can speculate by his choices of Administration.
Donald Rumsfeld represents the pragmatic military manager who determines that the most important part of winning an impossible battle is to cast previous turfwar aside, and shift our spending up to the sharp end. That is, the expansion of highly mobile, highly trained, and highly armed fighting forces, as a percentage of our affordable troop levels, rather than the political protection of reserve dollars "flowing into my Congressional District".
Dr. Condoleezza Rice represented the choice of a top historian and theoretician as National Security Advisor, (as opposed to those who could deliver the most political muscle to the likes of a Bill Clinton). By selecting a craftsman of understanding, we can deduce that the President wishes to develop a strategy for victory, rather than a palliative good up until the next election.
I would further deduce that the Administration is looking towards a repeat of the Turkish solution.
The last Sultanate-Caliphate was abolished by the Ankara General Assembly in 1924. The Turks had observed the unending bloodshed which issues from both the Shia and Sunni approaches to succession, and decided in a bold move that Turkey would move away from the religious stranglehold, and forever walk the path of the Republic, where power is vested in elected representatives of the people, whatever their religious convictions, and by Constitution establish a rule of law, and thereby an established mechanism of succession of power. The brilliant Mustafa Kemal Pasha, Attaturk, (a title meaning the "Father of the Turks"), pressed this solution out of mature love for the Turkish people and the good of their descendants. Like him or not- such a man raises up a nation.
It is important to understand that this solution was not imposed upon the Turks. Their fierce resistance to British invasion at Gallipoli and other places established that conquering Turkey would be a tough nut to contemplate. But the Western education of Attaturk, coupled with the containment of further Islamic conquest since the European ascendancy, produced an eventual cold acceptance of reality, that only by free expression of religion in a modern, secular state, could the advancements of science alleviate the suffering of the peasantry.
Is Turkey perfect? No. Are we? The utopia long planned for by the collectivists worldwide is as elusive today as it ever was, and ever will be. And University types can certainly dissect Turkish imperfections at their leisure. The Turks are still Islamic by majority, and though "friends" of the U.S. when communism had threatened, are now just as susceptible to Islamic agitation as any other people. It remains to be seen whether the Turkish secularism can long survive rabid Wahhabism. But a people growing used to the twentieth century are much less likely to crave a return to the sixth century, as would a people struggling to grow used to the ninth century.
By providing the time for the Iraqi Shi'ites, and the Iraqi Sunnis, to understand that the resumption of a 1400 year old religious battle will only bring about the same destruction that renders Arabs as possessions, tools of whichever power group temporarily grabs power this century, with the issue will never permanently decided, the Iraqis are given a chance, an only a chance, to grab onto the Turkish solution. No one can impose it- not even the United States. An Iraqi Attaturk needs to emerge, while the chance still exists.
All of the propaganda about the inviolability of the forbidden areas and the holy shrines of Islam is exposed as nonsense when one studies the history of Arab massacre of Arab, and the seige and destruction of so many Arab holy sites by Arabs themselves. One of the most sacred of artifacts of Islam, the Black Stone, was itself damaged and broken into three pieces, and the Ka'Bah in which it was housed was burned to the ground, during the seige of Makkah (present day Mecca) and the bombardment of the Haram (a holy mosque) in 683.
[To make a long essay even more painfully long, the Black Stone is reported by scholars as the remnant of a large meteorite which was seen to fall to earth by the astounded Semites, long before the time of Muhammed, and had been worshipped as a fetish, enclosed and protected by a primitive, roofless, four-walled "shrine". It was captured by Muhammed, who immediately realized the visceral draw of the "relic from the heavens", and incorporated into the beliefs of the Muslims. It is today kissed by millions of Muslims each year].
The destruction of the Golden Mosque last week must rekindle the memories of Arabs, that so much internecine destruction is the unavoidable result of setting aside the unsigned armistice, and continuing the Islamic civil war. In the words of Shahrastani in 1153, "Never was there an Islamic issue which brought about more bloodshed that the Caliphate".[History of the Arabs, Hitti.]
And Americans need understand, as Dr. Rice, now Secretary of State for the free-est nation on Earth, understands, that we must be prepared for whatever star the Sunnis and Shi'ites of Iraq decide to set sail by.
If they follow the Turks into a better life, then the rest of the Arab world will look with envy at a rising culture on the Tigris and Euphrates, and will have a harder time maintaining the rest of the Arabs in crushing poverty which cultivates and seeds the violence of Wahhabism.
If they don't, then we need put aside further illusions of avoiding world wide religious warfare... and prepare to meet the madmen head on. For no matter which sect wins a war to the 'finish' in Iraq, they will find themselves in the familiar 6th century agony of a victory with no spoils, other than all which was thereby spoiled. The end of misery doesn't not lie in control of an archaic Caliphate, and weapons of mass destruction will only result in their own mass destruction.
Whatever the outcome, the chance was paid for by the blood of infidel warriors in Marine uniforms. Let them reflect upon that... as they decide who represents the true religion of Peace.
Good post pickrell
Outstanding read. Filled in many gaps in my knowledge of the so-called ROP.
"Whatever the outcome, the chance was paid for by the blood of infidel warriors in Marine uniforms."
You're absolutely right. I find myself looking at "632 AD", and the words "6th century" spring to mind, no matter how many times I correct myself. Good point.