Saturday, January 9, 2010

On Terrorism Part II

I lost my essay.

EDIT: Wait, no. Found it:

Since the United States was first established and it first encountered the Muslim world, the two have met with great strife. In the article “The Fallacy of Greivance-based Terrorism,” Lee explains that the first encounter with jihadists that set the precedent for American interaction with the Muslim world occurred shortly after the American revolution. From the first conflict and attempt at resolution through treaty, the United States attempted to take a secular position and ignore the basic system of Islamic culture. This obviously led to some conflicts in attempting to negotiate. Furthermore, most of the former Ottoman empire had continued to reject most Enlightenment ideals, thus leading to a larger communication gap with the West. These radically different cultures conflict almost inherently and lead to a relationship that has been full of animosity since the beginning.
Near the turn of the century, the Barbary pirates were causing a large problem for the United States, blocking their trade routes, stealing their supplies and imprisoning sailors. The founding fathers of the American Revolution were still struggling to establish commerce and freedom of action with the international community. For most of the Barbary states, a peaceful negotiation was not an option, as the pirates attempted to claim their religious right to jihad and claim infidels as slaves. This, in stark contrast to Enlightenment ideals of human rights led to a standstill in compromise. Eventually, the United States took military action to assert its dominance in the seas. Maintaining a completely secular approach, we remained distant to the Muslim world.
Throughout the 19th century, the United States found itself in conflicts with the Ottoman Empire, and attempted to take the secular liberal path each time. American attempts at neutrality went unappreciated, as the Ottoman empire continued to attack ships. This led to more American intervention in the form of missionaries and aid being sent to the Middle East to protect the Jewish population that was under persecution. Unfortunately, most missionaries were captured and conflict with the Muslim world arose once more. Only in the 20th century, did Woodrow Wilson acknowledge the differences between the two cultures and actively try to be understanding of their religious background during negotiations.
Even if the United States understands that the heart of the conflict lies in cultural differences, there is still much ground to be made in forming a positive relationship with the Muslim world. The Ottoman empire could not negotiate completely with the United States due to their rejection of Enlightenment ideals. Furthermore, their natural spite for democracy and human rights philosophy is difficult to overcome. Lee states that many Muslim states outright reject Enlightenment ideals, despite it being detrimental to the standard of life of its people as well as to the economy of the state. This rejection is due to the close association with Western democracies to sin and corruption. Osama bin Laden stated that it is the capitalist mechanism that soldiers are dying for when they fight for America. The current culture of these countries does not understand the economic principles behind capitalism and believes that there is no way for the righteous to flourish. While one culture completely opposes the very nature of another, compromise becomes difficult.

After acknowledging that the United States has always had a poor relationship with the Muslim World due the radically different cultures, Lee proposes some possible solutions. Diplomacy, though it has been ineffective in the long run, can help America make great strides in its relationship with the Muslim world. The divide is not solely one of secularism versus one with a fanatical religious base; it is also one of a conflict between a society that values the rights and life of the individual, compared to one that sees killing infidels as the path to paradise. Lee proposes that we support the teachings of less radical Islamic beliefs which are being taught by various leaders in the Middle East. Through such efforts, we can only hope to close the gap between our two world and reconcile for the benefit of both cultures.

Sorry for the weird formatting. My html exploded.

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