The solution to Iraq will not come with guns and boots on the street. The answer will come through Islam, not in spite of it. I do not believe that the behaviors of the terrorists and insurgents represent Islam in its moderate and pure form. I believe that 99.9% of all Muslims live peaceful and family oriented lives. To the extent that there is criticism for the behaviors of men toward women in Islam, I wonder whether the proportion is more or less similar to behaviors of men throughout the World. We only gave women the vote in the United States in 1916, after all, so we American men can hardly claim the moral high ground here. Many types of sexual abuse at home, and in the office, still exist in the United States in huge numbers. The difference, perhaps, is that we have relatively reliable statistics about such things; and we have laws to prevent them. When Muslim countries begin to keep reliable statistics on such abuses, they will naturally move toward the same types of proscriptions of behavior, which Americans and Europeans have found necessary over the past 50 years.
In my interviews, I have consistently asked my Muslim interviewees whether there is anything fundamental in the difference between how Islam is followed by its Sunni and Shia followers, which would justify these two groups killing one another. The answer, like the answer for Irish Catholics and Protestants, is “Absolutely not!” It is for this reason that I decry use of the term “Sectarian,” to describe the fighting in Iraq. It is tribal; it is a Hatfields and McCoys style feud; it is Al Qaeda finally making its way into Iraq for training, because Afghanistan is no longer available to it as a training base; but it is not based on religion. The sooner we Americans get it through our thick skulls that we need to differentiate between what is political and what is religious, the sooner we will allow a solution. To the extent that our media constantly keeps trying to tie terrorism and the tragedy of Iraq into a religious struggle, they perpetuate the same, because impressionable young people can actually believe such nonsense. Yes, there are assuredly problems and differences within Islam. But these are for the Muslims to resolve, in a peaceful way. 1.3 billion Muslims means that, like Hitler’s Nazi regime, the “final solution” cannot ever be reached by violence, because if one embarks on such an exercise, the World outcry will at some point overwhelm the process. The very idea of the United States being worried about Iran having nuclear weapons is ludicrous! It’s just something our politicians are using to scare us. The truth is that if anyone ever pops another nuclear weapon in anger, just one ballistic missile submarine (and we have many), would pound the leadership, which espoused such an attack, into a black hole, sending hundreds of thousands of their countrymen with them. This would not be good for their PR.
I am often told that Islam is a good and peaceful religion. I believe this. It is necessary, without a doubt, that Islamic scholars and leaders throughout the World begin to consider how they might communicate in a civil manner, and resolve their differences peacefully.
To the extent that politicians are using Islam as their excuse for continuing the bloodshed, they must be shown up like the rats they are. Like rats in a dark corner, true Muslims must shine a bright light upon them, and expose their venality. That done, no good Muslim will stand for their continuation in positions of power.
But there’s the rub! It is not for me to say. These facts seem obvious, and yet, only Muslims can clean up the house of Islam. Only Muslims can take back their religion from the miscreants, who have hijacked it to their nefarious ends. Since I have been listening, I have heard many Muslims take the position that Islam is a moderate, peaceful, and fair religion. King Abdullah, of Saudi Arabia, convened a meeting of leaders of all 57 Muslim nations in Makkah last December, and all bought in on the “Makkah Declaration,” which said exactly that. I was personally thrilled to read the news coverage of that event in foreign newspapers, as it was barely covered in the Western press. But, as someone close to me once said often, “Actions speak louder than words.” Conferences and symposia about the issues are great beginnings, but they are useless if nothing happens. It is not for me to say whether anything is really happening, as I am not Muslim.