« National Journal Blog - 2, 5 June, 2012 | Main | Open Thread - 7 June, 2012 »

06 June 2012


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Babak Makkinejad

Comparison with US are useful only in delineating the vast chasm that exists between Turkey & US.

The state cannot be "even-handed" - by definition - in a Muslim state. Defense of Islam is the Raison d'Etre of a Muslim state.

A political dispensation that treats Christains and Muslims in the same way - say in Egypt - is a theoretical impossibility as well as a practical one.

Every (semi-)secular dispensation that I am aware of among Muslim polities have been one or another form of military dictatorship.

The closest instance of what you are suggesting is in Lebanon - a country created by France for Christians.

Babak Makkinejad

Mexico is uniformly Catholic. It is an irrelevant example to the Muslim polities when it comes to the separation of Church and State.

Once again, I repeat, a secular and democractic political dispensation in Mulsim polities is a dangerous fantasy - in my opinion.

It has not happened for the last 180 years when various Mulsim states began the process of reforming their polities.

The best you can hope for is a state that does not take it upon its institutions to decide who is a (good) Muslim and who is not.



"The best you can hope for is a state that does not take it upon its institutions to decide who is a (good) Muslim and who is not"

How about a state that truly respects its non-Muslim citizens and treats them as equals with Muslims? Such states have existed in Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt in the post-colonial era. Can we expect to see such states again or must Muslims come to live in the US where thay can live as responsible members of the communit with others of different belief?

With regard to Mexico in the late '20's, it is true that Mexico was once uniformly Catholic, but the Calles government in Mexico did not respect that. pl

Babak Makkinejad

I imagine that Jordan, Iraq, and Egypt were all under the tutelage of the British when the situation that you describe had obtained.

Once the British left the Middle East, you were left with a soft dictatorship in Jordan and hard dictatorships in Iraq and in Egypt.

Which goes to demonstrate my point; if the Muslim is not safe in the Muslim state (be it staunchly secular or staunchly religious), non-Muslim could not expect anything better.

The Kemalist will beat you into line since you are too religious, the anti-Kemalist will beat you into line because you are not sufficiently religious.



To describe the royal governments of these countries as either hard or soft dictatorships is a great exageration. pl

Babak Makkinejad

Col. Lang:

I was thinking of the republican Iraq and republican Egypt that succeeded the monarchies.

I stand by what I said about monarchical Jordan.



If Hashemite Jordan is a dictatorship, it is an exceedingly mild mannered dictatorship which gave the Palestinians its citizenship from the beginning of their exile. No other Islamic country did that. In gratitude some Palestinians attempted to overthrow the monarchy twice. The rest have mainly married Jordanians. pl


“And this time unlike Libya we have an iron clad guarantee that Assad and entourage would have safe passage to exile in Russia. “

Qathafi was offered the way out and refused to take it.


I'd say the closest instance would be India -- where a plethora of religious groups operate in a democracy. It doesn't eliminate outbreaks of sectarian violence but I'd argue it reduces them.

Certainly, all religious hierarchies have shown they prefer to have theocratic regimes. What is harder to argue is any claim that such regimes are effective governance.



As I keep trying to say, Assad will not take such a "deal" either because he is merely the representative of the large part of Syrian society who do not wish to be ruled by the Saudis' designates. pl

Alba Etie

Col Lang
Is there any type of settlement for the Syrian Civil War that could be brokered by the international community -under the UN or other mandates ? Any type of segregated safe havens that could be set up to separate the warring factions ?

Babak Makkinejad

India is largely Hindu polity and not a Muslim one.

Yes, I agree with you, some sort of corrupt representative government exits there.

But there is no Rule of Law - none.

And from time to time, the Hindu mobs go and attack Mulim, Sikhs, or Christians - or rape and murder their way through the untouchable communities.

Hindus have a better propaganda; no doubt.

You do not understand, in my opinion, the appeal of the integrated religious community - where everything you do will be sacred.

Many othrs do - such as Muslims, Jews, and some Catholics.

I think the governments of Iran, Morocco, and Saudi Arabia are quite effective regimes.

They provide for common defense, etc. Where they do not do so well are in the areas of Justice and Liberty.

FOr example, I would give Saudi Arabia a grade of C in Justice and F in Liberty.

But that does not make her an uneffective government.

On the other hand, looking at Greece, let us say with a grade of B in Liberty and C+ in Justice - I do not find that country run effectively.


Alba etie

Absent a partition of Syria to allow for the creation of a "sanctuary state" along the coast for Alawis, Shia and Christians, I can foresee not outcome but the eventual triumph of the Sunni and subjugation of the others. pl

rjj du Nord

"You do not understand, in my opinion, the appeal of the integrated religious community - where everything you do will be sacred."

This describes a HOW which is not difficult to understand. What is difficult to accept is the claim that any HOW much less that particular mode can be generalized or institutionalized.


I understand your view.

The segment of society not wishing to serve under the mastery of the Wahabs should be looking for alternatives while they still have control of the state adminstration and relations with China and Russia. Retiring the Assad family, setting up a UNSC supervised transition government, and commencing the process for a new social contract would be in their interests.

The Blind Doctor of Damascus is on his way down, and not everyone will want to go with him




"the process for a new social contract" that new social contract will condemn the dhimmi groups to subservience to the Sunnis. Getting rid of Assad will not affect that outcome. pl

Alba Etie

Col Lang
Would it not be in the interest of both the Russians & the West not to have a Sunni dominated Syria ? If the Russians could keep the Syrian seaport base -and Leader Putin could say for his domestic audience he was protecting the Syrian Christians-perhaps we could achieve consensus at the UN security council for an over arching deal to end the Syrian civil war . Furthermore- if the UN partition could end the threat of Muslim Brotherhood dominated takeover in Damascus ; could this be a starting framework for a UN mandated end to the Syrian civil war ? This would take very many Blue Helmets -but how about having the Arab League send its troops collectively to peace keep . Perhaps with Iran having some role as well -
And Assad and entourage could be given safe haven in Russia -


Yes one party rule can make the trains run on time. Perhaps a better term than effective would be stable. Some of unitary regimes resembles oaks, rather than reeds -- strong until broken by a storm which does not trouble the reeds.

I do understand the appeal of a single belief system under which all actions are sacred although such a vision is not enticing to me but my read of the evidence is that such a regimen is neither stable nor able to produce modernity. It is also alarming to me as a woman that almost all such regimes assign a lesser role to women.

You see democracy as a Christian form of governance. While democracy may flourish better where some Christian attitudes prevail, it is nonetheless an idea about how to run a government which has no inherent religious content any more than a claim there is a Christian way to run a rocket ship.

Babak Makkinejad

You and Jane evidently do not know that there is no centralized religious hierarchy in Islam.

The closest one is among the Shia - but even there (spiritual) leadership is by popular acclaim.

Babak Makkinejad


I am not sure what you mean by stable.

US has experienced a Civil War in her first 200 years - France many during the same period.

Most stable democracies that I know of have been constitutionl ones: UK, Denmark, Sweden, Japan, etc.

I understand that you have a vision that democracy; i.e. representative government & the rule of law, can be adopted by many other states.

The fact remains that only the (Western) Christian states - in the former territories of the Western Roman Empire - have been able to do so; after almost 300 years of trial and error.

This empirical fact must be accepted first and analyzed later to learn how and why.

It might be that a political order such as the one in - say - France - is unattainable in Iran.

Like an obese balding 59-year old janitor that desires the 19-year old red head universty student - with all the curves in all the right places, All Woman - who is majoring in Women's Studies.

Somethings in human affairs are un-obtaiable - at any price.

Babak Makkinejad


Meant to say: "Constitutional Monarchies have been most stable democratic orders."

rjj du Nord

Actually, no. Absence of hierarchy dimly grasped. But realized after D. Habakkuk posted the reference to the McNeill book Keeping Together in Time is there is no way to comprehend effects of elaborate shared ritual(even performed as mindless routine).

So, I take it back.

rjj du Nord

make that elaborate shared kinetic ritual.


A lot of Alawites, I think, distrust other (mostly Sunni, Gulf-supported) Arabs. They will likely see Arab League "peacekeepers" as enemy occupying forces. Maybe Russians will be more trusted by Alawites and their allies than the Arab League? (I'm guessing wildly here) But the West and the anti-regime Syrians will not (certainly, Bosnian Muslims and Kosovar Albanians were very hostile to the Russians getting involved in any meaningful manner, as were NATO countries.) Even now, what we are asking/demanding of the Russians is that they act as our tools, implementing our agenda (well, how much of that agenda is really "ours," who knows?), not that we'd bend our agenda to accommodate their interests (which, in turn, may not fit with the opposing factions in Syria anyways). I don't see a diplomatic solution to the mess, since everyone has been ratcheting up so relentlessly and publicly.

Babak Makkinejad

How about a confessional-based system such as Lebanon's?

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad