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15 September 2012


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I agree with much of this but would add that the US foreign policy community did much during bother the Bush and Obama Administration to encourage revolution in societies that were dimly understood if at all. pl


simultaneous anti-us political protests in capital cities in a broad arc of islamic countries with differing political coalitions...

ostensibly demonstrating political outrage attributed to disrespect shown in an internet-posted video trailer from a purported film financed by an unknown group for unclear political goals

an internet reaction event

not a viral internet reaction in which attention to something is passed on from person to person and spreads like a contagion - like a virus

a staged internet reaction event

a politically inspired group posts something on utube that serves as a vehicle for counter political demonstrations by other politically inspired groups

which political groups are the likely architects of this highly coordinated political demonstration that spans continents, time zones, countries, tribes, etc

an impressive new venue of political theater

Babak Makkinejad

What is missing is this:

"They love their religion and are not anxious to enter a secular nirvana."

Clifford Kiracofe

We have been out there for over two centuries. How is it that the foreign policy of these United States is so misguided in recent decades?

The US foreign policy community, such as it is, has fallen into a delusional state it would seem.

Forty some years ago, I asked a mentor what he thought the main problem with US foreign policy was. An FSO who had served in Spain in the 1930s, served with Murphy in North Africa in WWII, and who later rose to ambassadorial rank, he answered simply: "Naivete."

The film -- a project circa 2009 of foreign emigres of a yet to be identified group of associates. So far identified are the convicted Egyptian emigre felon who has served jail time for financial crimes in California and the anti-Muslim Egyptian emigre activist Morris Sadek. The cast and director were misled and used. Are there financial or other links to any foreign powers? Are any of those involved acting as agents of influence of any foreign power? Are any acting as agents provocateurs linked to foreign terrorist organizations? I do not see this as a freedom of speech issue yet. It appears more on the order of an information operation which needs investigation. Did Morris Sadek or any of the others involved tip directly or indirectly the Egyptian radical TV program (or others) to the YouTube trailer which then incited violence and death in the region?


I utterly disagree with this article.

In the late 1920s, the British, in an attempt to calm the Muslim outrage over Rajpal (the Punjab, India, publisher of a pamphlet that satirized the Prophet's marital life), attempted prosecuted him under existing laws, but he was acquitted. (Rajpal was later murdered, by Ilamdin, an illiterate carpenter.)

The British then introduced a law in the Indian Central Legislature to the effect that anyone who offended the religious sentiments of a community would be subject to criminal penalties. I think the European & appointed members could have passed the law. There was a debate among the Indian members (elected by a very limited electorate).

The division lines were - the nationalist leaders wanted such a law because they thought it would cement Hindu-Muslim unity and allow them to present a united front to the British. The Islamist leaders wanted such a law because insults to Muhammad could not be stomached.

There were however, liberal, Muslims too, Hindus, Parsis and others. They argued, in vain, that such a law was unnecessary, that religions had met with derision and criticism before and had survived. They argued that the law was in effect the government bowing down to blackmail, that any community that had the muscle to riot would have people who offended them prosecuted, but the law would not protect tiny minorities like the Parsis, who lacked the numbers. Of course, freedom of speech is curtailed by such a law.

It didn't matter, the law passed. It is still on the books in India and Pakistan. In Pakistan, it has been elaborated into the blasphemy law that you hear about. In India, the law has been shamefully used by Hindus as well, to suppress books and plays that they do not like. It is as the liberals predicted, riot, and then the government then acts against the person who offended the rioters.

There are plenty of stupid Hindus who see Muslims' ability to unite for a riot as a great strength and want to emulate it. For the sake of peace in the world, we cannot give in to this current threat of riots, but have to stand firm. If the Muslims succeed in imposing a code of silence, we are doomed.

Hindu society, as you may be aware, has been in need of reform, and has been in the process of reform for the last couple of centuries. Reformers were and are unpopular in their time; but no one threatened their lives; the wars of opposition to them were wars of words. What reform will be possible if the reactionaries see Muslims succeed in imposing a code of silence over what they consider to be "sacred"?

I do not want anyone's feelings hurt. But this issue is far too important to accept Foresman's argument. The fear of Islam is already there. "Christoph Luxenberg" is a pseudonym of a scholar of Arabic and Islam because his writings might provoke violence against him.

This is exactly the Islamic project, to make what is sacred to them sacred to the whole world, not out of conviction, but out of fear, so that offending them becomes like yelling fire in a crowded theater.

I tell you what, why don't we riot whenever Muslims call us Kafirs, or attempt to proselytize us? It hurts our feelings just as much as that stupid movie hurt theirs, does it not. Why are our feeling less sacred then theirs? Why not at least riot whenever we are hit with a terrorist attack? Burn down a mosque and a Quran or two. Why is sauce for the goose not sauce for the gander?


One thought to add. It can be argued based on historical experience that the emergence of societies into a condition we call "modernity" never was the result of mass yearning for something different or better. The development was always puioneered, led and - in some cases guided - by an elite stratum of society of one sort or another. They probably succeeded where there was a more widespread predisposition to accept changes experienced at first as instrumental/beneficial and only indirectly of worldview.

Rough counterparts to those elites seem to have existed in Islamic societies for decades. Yet we see the resilient force of traditional ways of thinking and behaving. Turkey was an exception and probably will continue to be despite the Islamic revival (like the 19th century Christian revival in the US?) Malaysia is also interesting because there an instrumental shift has occured economically under elite guidance even as that elite finds it useful to perpetuate islamic mores. (Malaysia is not a tribal society, though).


I'm so happy to see you back!


"NEW YORK—Mitt Romney denounced an anti-Muslim film that is stirring unrest in the Middle East, even as he stood by his condemnation of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo for its implied denunciation of the film."


In response to your last question:

Because mainstream Christianity has become:

- diluted down into a kind of 'do what you want because Jesus is about love maaaaan' sort of nonsense in order to appeal to the mainstream, and has lost its meaning.

- more worried about social justice and other bullshit nebulous terms than about actual Evil and

- mocked on one hand (Bill Maher, hollywood, etc) while demonized as this monolithic terror entity. Look at some of the bunched panties on here talking about 'Dominionists'.

I left my local parish because the priest was very illegal immigrant friendly and joined a SPPX parish. The feeling I get though, is that Catholicism is undergoing a 'back to basics' revival - lots of single young men and women at Mass, and the women with lace over their hair!

I think Mother Church is at a tipping point. If it tries to go the way of the Protestant heresies and attempts to liberalize more, you will see a schism. I think a return to pre Vatican II would bring a lot of people in from the cold.



Our minimal relationships with the Islamic World used to be conducted by self conscious elites who were well educated in the classic sense (humanities) Ah! I forgot you do not deign to read fiction. Those elites did not think of themselves as missionaries sent from the city on a hill to save the natives. Now, we have masses of the self-righteous infesting the government and academia intent upon spreading the gospel of modernism as it was taught to them in poly sci. and IR classes. You are an educated man in a dangerously shallow field. pl


Humans have a need to classify and identify causes. But, to have the Near East erupt simply because of a film trailer (even before Israel bombs Iran) defies credibility.

Tribalism, the one true religion, alien drone attacks, western “Lily Pads” forts metastasizing through the Muslim World, and rising food prices are all triggers for the unrest. End the wars and regulate greed and major causes of the turmoil would end.


A friend has asked for a larger version of the map used in the blogpost. Can a link be provided? Thanks


Charles I

because as Pat tirelessly tells us, the gander is not like the goose.



Foresman would have to provide it. I can't make it bigger. pl

Charles I

what does Christianity mean? On the subject of Dominionists, what does "Christianity" instruct us on planetary science and stewardship now that the evolution of free will has placed both within humankind's grasp other than that melting equals opportunity and the Northwest Passage does most certainly belong to Canada?

David Habakkuk

Clifford Kiracofe,

I second that -- as I have missed the stimulus of your comments.


And tell me, what do the 'people of Middle East sow?" And what will they "reap"? Or does this dynamic you articulate only apply to 'Westerners'?

Paul Escobar


Hindus have rioted & brought down Mosques. Apparently, when it comes to the Muslim Rohingya, Buddhists are capable of the same.

In my simple mind, there is a simple explanation.

When people hold resentment/fear of "others" (whether derived from history, personal experience, or hearsay) they become walking time bombs. All they need is license from some respected leader, and they're off.

In popular Muslim culture, the U.S. happens to be their resented/feared entity. As soon as they were given license, many Muslims went off on "it".

Hank Foresman

You missed the point, no one said anything about censorship; rather I was talking about the fact that human beings should at times show restraint in their passions.

Jose L Campos

I will remark on an irony.
If the guys that revolt were doing so for economic reasons they would be put down mercilessly but they are using religion. And confronted with religion we are powerless because our rhetoric requires that there be complete respect and practically total indifference towards religion.
A dialectical bifurcation.


It's not our foreign policy. We've been hijacked

The Twisted Genius

Amen to that! All those quaint admonitions that our parents drilled into our heads were the bedrock of civilization.
Keep a civil tongue in your head.
If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all.
Show some respect.
Be a gentleman.



I am happy to see you back as well. pl


Jose Escobar

Once again, your comment contains the fallacy that Muslims are not really Muslims. They are instead; unemployed, the alienated from "progres," the oppressed, the disenfranchised or perhaps just the bored. Anything is better than admitting that religion is a real and overwhelming force in their lives. But to know that about them you would have to know (irony alert) their history, (something more than the colonial period). You would have to know their literature (fiction), their philiosophy, their ethnology, etc. What a waste of time that would be! Let's discuss the real stuff under all that "fluff." Let's talk economics! I have been listening to this crap since I tried unsuccessfully to stop the search in the USG for the "moderate realists" among the Iranian mullahs. My failure was part of the cause of the Iran-Contra Affair. pl


Was there ever a time when westernization would have succeeded?


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