There is a fiery ongoing debate that is taking place across many media outlets and around the globe as to what causes violent religious fanaticism that has been recently exhibited in many parts of the Muslim world and beyond. Commentators, pseudo-intellectuals, and pundits on the left believe that most of the violence the world is seeing in various parts of the globe is due to the organization of extremist fringe groups that have hijacked a peaceful religion and have reinterpreted it to wage an ideological and political war against the West and non believers. Conservatives and right wingers think that Islamic extremists are at war with American values and freedom and that the U.S. is a kind liberator and a gentle peacemaker that has not instigated any of these movements or has had a hand, indirectly or directly, in giving birth to these murderous organizations as a result of a foreign policy of meddling and interventionism. That is of course not the truth and most mainstream Libertarians believe that the foreign policy of The West has been the major contributing factor to the threats we now face as individual human beings living normal lives in mostly civilized societies. The chaos across the Middle East and The Islamic Holy Wars that threaten freedom and natural human rights around the planet are a product of both an interventionist, overbearing, and murderous, U.S. and European foreign policy coupled with a religion that has an extremely violent history of conquests, human rights violations, deep unresolved political, social, tribal, and religious conflicts that go back centuries, along with genocidal missions that are all guided by scriptures and religious doctrines.
The Jihad, or Holy War did not start a few months ago. In fact it has been going on for over fourteen-hundred years since the birth of Islam in the 7th Century CE. The use of force and the waging of wars goes back to the conquest of Syria in 637, the conquest of Armenia and Egypt in 639, the conquest of Southern Italy in 827, and to the authoritarian and blood thirsty reign of The Ottoman Empire from 1299-1918 which includes the genocidal slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians in 1915, shortly before the collapse of this hegemonic super power. After World War I the violence in The Middle East was not as prevalent, however, U.S. Foreign policy, with the help of other Western nations, would change that in a dramatic way.
The recent acts of terror and ultra violence can be directly linked to the policies of Western governments that have continuously meddled and forcefully inserted their presence in Arab and Muslim affairs. The British had control over Israel-Palestine after WWI until 1948, when the United Nations, with U.S. support, voted for and established a Jewish State which would ultimately lead to misery and despair for hundreds of thousands of Palestinians which still continues to this day. Zionism along with political backing from The West has put Palestinians in a hopeless situation. They now live in what is commonly referred to as “an open air prison” after they were thrown off their land and out of their homes and this has sparked disdain and strong hatred toward America and other European countries for their role in this seizure of property titles. There are other defining moments involving the U.S. government that have shaped the current geo political state of affairs and which gave birth to jihadist organizations that are continuing to emerge and spread through all hemispheres. Here are other examples of interventionism and wars that have had an impact on The Middle East
1953: The Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh, is overthrown by the U.S. CIA and British intelligence which puts The Shah in power. He is eventually overthrown by the Ayatollah Khomeini and a theocracy is put in place in this country. These events planted seeds of hatred against America which have grown into giant trees with very strong and deep roots.
1980s: The U.S. supported The Mujahideen against The Soviets. This later created blowback since we armed the pernicious and murderous jihadists of Afghanistan which was used against America years later.
1990-1991: The Gulf War in support of Kuwait. This further inflamed the region and is a major reason Bin Laden waged war against the U.S. and other countries. This maniac said over and over that he was strongly opposed to Non-Muslims on holy lands and he put emphasis on the fact that innocent Muslims were being killed by the Americans. This does not excuse Bin Laden and his followers for the acts of terror they committed across the planet. This barbarian used religious ideology to fight political grievances and he should be condemned for all time. Nevertheless, western wars to spread democracy and the ongoing entanglement in foreign affairs of Muslim nations, causes blowback and it must be discussed to show this obvious correlation.
From 2001 until the present The West has been involved in some major military conflicts including the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan. The torture of captured “terrorists” has been widely publicized and drone attacks are in the thousands, which include the slaying of innocent civilians. Wars for oil, removing dictators, propping up dictators, military aid to Israel, arming rebels, and placing sanctions also adds to the animosity and hatred flagrantly evident in the hot bed of The Middle East and Northern Africa. Does any rational person think that these Western policies of military interference in the business of other countries does not have a direct effect in creating angst and hostility towards these western nations that claim to be fighting terror but are actually creating an army of jihadists? It is not advisable to kick a hornet’s nest repeatedly and then expect a benign and delicate reaction. With all of that being said, it is important to fuse Western foreign policy with religious scriptures and texts to have a complete understanding of why blood is being spilt everyday in every corner of the world by fanatical Jihadists. Sam Harris does a great job of discussing the shortcomings of Islam and he obliterates The Young Turks’ Cenk Uygur in this long but engaging and enlightening video on religion and Islam
I think it would be highly disingenuous to say that all Muslims are violent extremists. That is simply not the case. There are many hardworking, peaceful, and wonderful Muslims all over the earth and it is important to recognize their presence. There are 1.6 billion Muslims and unfortunately a substantial portion of the faithful are not peaceful and humane. There are different estimates of the breakdowns but I think it is accurate to say that 10% (160 million) adherents to this religion are jihadists or potential jihadists with the propensity to kill in order to spread their beliefs and create a worldwide Caliphate. They belong to groups like al-Qaeda, Al Nusra, Al Shabaab, Boko Haram, and ISIS, along with many others. Another 10% (160 million) are Islamists which means they do not engage in violence directly but they wholeheartedly and vocally support Jihad, Sharia, a Caliphate, and executions for crimes against the religion, which include drawing cartoons of the prophet, adultery, and being homosexual, along with the death penalty for committing apostasy. The largest percentage are the conservatives or orthodox believers and they represent 70% percent (1.1 billion). They mostly support Sharia Law in various forms and use a fairly close interpretation of the holy books in their everyday lives. Largely non violent, but nevertheless, they hold extreme views and consistently adhere to stringent moral codes that translate to the inhuman treatment of women along with rigid obedience to religious customs and practices. It must be pointed out that denominations in Christianity ( Polygamous Mormon cults) and Judaism (Chasidism/Hasidism) also mistreat women of their religion, however, is it not widespread throughout the Christian or Jewish faiths. The remaining 10% (160 million) percent are moderates who live peacefully amongst everyone and have largely cherry picked the best parts of their religion to live by and these are the people who are also threatened by the more extreme believers. They are very open to living Western lifestyles and often support liberal democracies. They do not force their beliefs on anyone and they just want to live normal peaceful lives.
The major monotheistic religions like Christianity and Judaism have had checkered and violent histories. Christianity has been responsible for some of the most evil events in human history and some of the verses in The Old Testament are so wicked and destructive it is hard to see how it is used as a basis for morality. The one major difference is that these two religions have undergone major reformations. I do not adhere to any religious dogma and do not affiliate with any religious churches, faiths, or institutions. The most rational position is to be a freethinker and base ideas and morals on logic and reason, not statements and scriptures that need blind faith with no evidence to back up absolutely improbable claims. The whole world is not going to stop believing in the faith they were coerced into believing as youngsters over night. That is just wishful thinking. It would be uplifting to know that all the major religions could be reformed and inhuman and primitive acts would no longer be tolerated. This is just an optimistic outlook for a pessimistic reality.
In conclusion, it is not just a few thousand extremists that commit jihad and it is not only foreign policy that brought the world to the present crisis we all face. It is a combination of a belligerent and nefarious foreign policy mixed with a religion that is long overdue for a reformation.
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