Eric Raymond has a four-part series, of which this is the latest chapter.
His position is clear; this is war, and the war is inevitibly built into the structure of Islamic society. This is a pretty clear Bernard Lewis/ Samuel Huntington position, and I agree with him more than a little.
But personally, I’m not ready to give up on peaceful outcomes yet, and I’m not knowledgeable enough to be sure that this is the ‘Clash of the Civilizations’.
But it won’t hurt for us to prepare for war while we try and reach peace, and in this chapter, I think he’s spot-on in stating that diplomacy means very different things to the Arab world and to us, and that a clear-eyed understanding of that difference (which may or may not be the one he outlines) is the only way to practice real diplomacy and avoid war.

One thought on “TALK OR FIGHT?”

  1. Date: 07/01/2002 00:00:00 AM
    If war is ‘built into’ the Islamic faith, why have they fought such comparably fewer wars than the West has? Millions and millions have died in European wars, what was the last major war the Islamic world participated in, Iran-Iraq? I think the whole idea of Europe and America trying to pretend that the Islamic people are more war-like is joke given the past 100 years of modern history.Furthermore, Eric Raymond has apparently done absolutely no research on Islamic history. The entire history of early Islam and the later spread of the relgion has many instances of war, but virtually every one of them is seen as a final step necessary only after negotiation has failed. Furthermore, a fundamental aspect of Islamic war is that you must treat your enemy with respect and dignity once the battle is over. To go even further into this poorly constructed argument between this site and Eric Raymond’s, Huntington does not say at all that Islamic society is more war-like than Western, rather that the two are destined to war over a clash in ideas and values. While I agree with you that diplomacy might mean different things to different cultures, there is absolutely no evidence that one society is inherently more warlike than any other. In fact, on the basis of the evidence it would seem that Europe and the United States are the most war-like, but certainly that could not be the case, could it? Furthermore, the things being asked for by the respectable (non-fanatic) Muslims are all very reasonable things. Mostly they are asking for a fair solution in Israel/Palestine, and for greater democracy and freedom in their lands which leads to more economic prosperity (or vice-versa). My own travels have revealed a world whose people (if not governments) are rapidly coming together. It would be a huge mistake to listen to an Eric Raymond type who sees fundamental differences in humanity itself that make one group “more warlike” even though the evidence is cleary against that view. Such divisions are precisely what is not needed to engage the moderate majority of people in the world who want economiuc prosperity first and foremost.

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