An Effective Response To Terror

J.J. and I have been going back and forth on a post she wrote about Bush’s trip to the Netherlands.

It is a conversation that has been held by millions of other people at many different points in time, myself included.

I don’t have time to provide a very lengthy post about this but I want to comment on it. Essentially the conversation is about the most effective method of defeating terrorists and in particular whether the U.S. is currently aiding in the recruitment of new terrorists or serving as a deterrent.

When I have a moment I want to come back and review some articles that I had posted last year. In the interim you might find these two to be quite interesting. Here are selections from both pieces.

I hope to dig into them in detail a little bit later.

Bernard Lewis discusses the past, present, and future of the Middle East

Considered by many the world’s foremost living historian of the Middle East, Bernard Lewis, the Cleveland E. Dodge Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus, has studied the Muslim world for more than half a century. His work spans the medieval to the modern periods and encompasses multiple aspects of Islamic lands, from the Ottoman Empire to Islam’s relationship with the West. Cultured and refined, he has written with great respect about the Muslim world, which for centuries was the center of civilization. For years and in several books, he has examined Islam’s troubled attempts to encompass modernity. His latest book, What Went Wrong: Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response, looks at that region’s “downward spiral of hate and spite, rage and self-pity, poverty and oppression.”

He wrote the book before September 11, 2001.

The rage that fueled the attacks has been building for 300 years, says Lewis, a British-born, naturalized U.S. citizen who turned 86 last May. His phone was ringing off the hook last fall with requests for interviews, lectures, and private sessions with U.S. officials in the Pentagon and the White House.”


Bernard Lewis Unplugged


They forgot that is not just a matter of negotiations between leaders, but between two differing civilizations. It is easy to slip and interpret your adversary according to your worldview. I will give you an example. I think that Israel was right to enter Lebanon, and I well remember how its army was received as an army of liberation, with flowers and music, but from the moment the job was completed, it was necessary to withdraw from there. The late withdrawal, as it was undertaken without agreement, with abandonment of friends and weaponry, was interpreted by the Palestinians and the other Arabs as a sign of weakness. From the experience of Hizbullah they derived that the Israelis are soft, pampered, and if they are hit — they will surrender. These things have been said explicitly by the Palestinians.


Let me be precise: Muslim culture stands out in the generosity of its victors. The victor does not push the face of the vanquished in the dust, but the result of the struggle has to be clear to both sides. A struggle that ends indecisively is an invitation for trouble. The Ottomans provided us with many examples of this conduct: they crushed rebels with a strong hand and an outstretched arm, but did not humiliate the defeated, they showed generosity toward them and even helped them rehabilitate themselves. If the one with the power does not exhaust his ability to bring about such a victory, his conduct is interpreted as cowardice.

Another example of differing interpretations of conduct is the is significance of manners and customs: I visited Jordan some time after the signing of the peace agreement on which the Jordanians bed much hope, and I found the Jordanians agitated over the conduct of the Israeli tourists which they saw as provocative and humiliating. It was difficult for me to explain to them that Israelis behave that way even to each other. The Israelis, who seem to be the least polite people in the world, are not understood by the Arabs, who have the most well-mannered culture in the world. It is not a matter of insignificant etiquette, but of conduct that has a bearing on relations between the peoples. The lack of courtesy of the Israeli solders at the checkpoints has terrible repercussions and something needs to be done about this matter.”

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