Winning: Islam Triumphant

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April 17, 2007: What if Islamic radical movements won and took over? Actually, we know what would happen. Rebels generally make bad rulers. That's an observation based on the historical record. There are several current examples. The Taliban took over in Afghanistan and ran the place for five years in the 1990s (through 2001). The Taliban made themselves very unpopular, not just because of their attacks on lifestyles they didn't approve of, but because they were incompetent when it came to running a country. Same thing in Iran, where the religious establishment has been running the place since the 1980s. The Iranian clergy won't allow a fair election, and are nervously waiting for the population to get pissed off enough to start another revolution.

They there's Sudan, where hardly anyone noticed the Islamic conservatives taking over in the 1990s. Sudan has several rebellions going on at the moment, but the rulers believe they have God on their side and have no intention of letting anyone else play. In Lebanon, Hizbollah established a separate state within a state in the 1980s, and have survived on handouts from Iran, and a lucrative drug business. But Hizbollah attempts to increase their power have resulted in violent resistance from the rest of the country. Hizbollah may have turned themselves into Islamic folk heroes, but no one trusts their ability to run a country.

Hamas is the poster child of rebels who won an election, and then find themselves unable to govern. Since Hamas got control of the Palestinian government a years ago, the Palestinian economy had gone into the toilet, and crime has skyrocketed. Hamas isn't claiming "God's Will" on this one, and seems unable to figure out what to do now that they are in charge. It was much easier being an outsider, and criticizing the government.

The Taliban in Pakistan are another group that loves to criticize the powers-that-be, but makes a mess of things whenever they try to show how it should be done. The Taliban have allied themselves with Pakistani Islamic conservatives, who already have a lot of political power in the tribal territories. But the preachers have proved notably inept when it comes to solving non-religious problems. Actually, attempts to deal with religious issues has proved disastrous as well. As is often the case, people are willing to talk-the-talk when it comes to righteous living, but more resistant when asked, or forced, to walk-the-walk. Try taking away the videos, music, booze and drugs, and people vote with their feet or, as is the case in Afghanistan and Pakistan, with their guns.

Unlike earlier revolutionary movements, the Islamic radicals have not given much through to what they would do if they won. The attitude seems to be that divine guidance will provide solutions as needed. Inconvenient examples of how that has not worked, are ignored. While all this makes the Islamic radicals easier to handle as enemies, it also eliminates the possibility of negotiated settlements. It truly is a fight to the death, because truth, for the Islamic true believers, is not based on fact, but faith.

 


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