April 25, 2004



One question that is seldom asked is: Why did the Muslim world witness the demise of the Taliban and the Iraqi Ba'ath with indifference verging on disdain? To be sure, many Muslims felt humiliated because the two beastly regimes were overthrown by non-Muslim powers, not by liberating forces from within Islam. But there is no sign that any substantial body of opinion within the Muslim world regrets the collapse of the Taliban and the Ba'ath.

What interests a growing number of Muslims is to find out why were the Taliban and the Ba'ath such easy pushovers.

A few persist in asserting that neither stood any chance against the might of the world's only superpower. This may well be true, but does not answer another important question: Why did the Taliban and the Ba'ath lead their nations into conflict in the first place?

Others argue that the Taliban and the Ba'ath were programmed to run into conflict with the Western world because of policies that excluded the Afghan and Iraqi peoples from the decision-making process while making conflict with the West inevitable. Both collapses showed that, contrary to claims by some "Islamologists," the overwhelming majority of Muslims do not love despots and are not prepared to fight for them.

This was made clear in recent conferences of Muslim democrats in Istanbul and Alexandria. In each case, the subtext was that democracies can't be led into deadly conflict without majority consent. We know that no such consent was given or even sought in either Afghanistan or Iraq.

There is a growing sentiment in the Muslim world that their political systems have reached a dead end, with some form of democratization as the only way out. The old debate on whether Islam is compatible with democracy is hardly engaged these days. The issue now is the necessity of democracy for Muslims rather than its compatibility with Islam. Even the most conservative of Muslim regimes are now committed to the creation of elected organs of government.

History Ended, the reform of Islam is just a detail.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 25, 2004 11:54 AM

Not Ended. Maybe Ending. This still can play out in many ways.

Posted by: old maltese at April 25, 2004 2:28 PM

Wishful thinking. I give you Sudan.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 25, 2004 7:32 PM

That's just good old-fashioned racism--the Arab government is reasonably reform minded.

Posted by: oj at April 25, 2004 7:41 PM

We will know Islam is reforming (from within) when some firebrand imams are hanging from lamp-posts (presumably for urging the killing of other muslims). And not until then.

Posted by: jim hamlen at April 25, 2004 10:16 PM

"Just a detail"? It could be about as bloody as Europe's religious wars, which weren't a walk in the park....

Posted by: PapayaSF at April 25, 2004 10:46 PM


History wasn't over yet then. It ended when Reagan convinced the world that Communism/socialism had failed and that democratic capitalism still worked.

Posted by: oj at April 25, 2004 10:54 PM

Mr. Judd;

The Arab government in Sudan? The one that is persuing a government policy of famine, slavery and genocide? If that's reform, I'm not sure it's an improvement.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at April 26, 2004 12:51 PM

They're trying to cut a deal with the Christian South. Meanwhile, they're committing atrocities against black Muslims in the West--America was built on anti-black atrocities.

Posted by: oj at April 26, 2004 12:55 PM

One, I'll believe they're sincere about cutting a deal with the Christians when it's been cut and tried for a while, and not a moment sooner.

Second, they're slaughtering Muslism in Darfur. Don't quite see that as a sign of democratic capitalism, somehow.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 27, 2004 1:21 AM


Ask a Native American if genocide is incompatible with democratic capitalism.

Posted by: oj at April 27, 2004 7:57 AM