Gaddafi gone, good; Islam takes over, not necessarily good…

October 26, 2011

What ups and downs. First we hear Gaddafi has been killed, good. Then we begin to realize that a billion dollars of U.S. aid to NATO in the Libya military intervention and what we now appear to be getting for it is another Islamic nation that will follow sharia law, the antithesis to western democracy.

Actually I am not sure from what I have just been reading that it is a done deal and that Libya will take the Islamic or radical Islamic and/or sharia law route. Things are in a state of flux, but reportedly the head of the provisional government there said sharia law would be adopted. I understand there is opposition there to that (oops more civil war?).

There are conflicting reports as to whether Tunisia, though a largely peaceful transition, will adopt sharia law — I just read a news story that quoted the leader of the ruling party there that said it would not for fear of offending western nations for whom it depends upon for its economy — tourism, trade.

Islamists and the military seem to be taking control in Egypt after the U.S., or the Obama administration anyway, got all excited about the promise of the dawning of a new era of democracy through what has been called the “Arab Spring”.

In my lifetime the official and consistent foreign policy of the United States has been to promote democracy and self-determination of people worldwide, and I think it has been partly sincere, if there is such a thing as partly sincere.

Looking backwards to the Cold War:

If self-determination should wind up being the choice of the communist path, then we were not for it, because communism is counter to everything we stand for, particularly in the field of human rights and a fair and impartial judicial system, and of course it does not fit in with our capitalist approach to economic matters.

A further problem is that even if people supposedly chose communism, the evidence casts doubt on the validity of the notion that such was actually chosen by free will.

The communist threat was in the past.

Today the threat appears to be what some call “radical Islam“. Governments that are run under the control of this radical Islam (such as Iran) do not fit our definition of what takes place in free societies brought about by self-determination and the choice of democracy.

So, years ago, in the Cold War, a democratic-communist government would be an oxymoron.

Today it is hard to conceive of a democratic-Islamist government that uses strict sharia law (which is a religious doctrine that does not square well with western ideals or human rights — particularly for women, although it is said to be interpreted differently in different Islamic nations, some being a little more progressive or liberal).

So, for our 40 billion-dollar investment in Libya we may have helped promote another Islamist state.

The irony here is that U.S. administrations have had in their thinking the idea that the promotion of western democracy means freedom of religion, but you can hardly have freedom of religion (or even freedom from religion) if its tenets and strictures are written into or directly used as the basis of a nation’s laws and if religious leaders have any control over the government.

(Our own laws may be often based on moral codes that have their basis in religion, but they have become secular — kind of like Chirstmas.)

I think the United States is correct in promoting (not necessarily through war, though) self-determination and democracy, with freedom of religion and the separation of church and state, which goes along with freedom of religion. George W. Bush was correct in saying that we are not at war with the religion of Islam itself or those who practice it. Instead we are at war with terrorists who proclaim they are following Islam in what they do.

The religious right wing in the U.S. does not help the cause of peaceful foreign relations or for that matter, the promotion of religious freedom in the U.S., when it paints everything as a Holy War against Islam.

I will admit, though, Christianity by our history and custom has been what I would call the de facto official religion of the United States since its founding. Judaism has had a struggle but has become accepted. Most others are tolerated to some extent, with the exception of Islam, which faces extra scrutiny in light of the terrorist activities,  especially 9/11.

Short of armed intervention, there is nothing wrong with generally promoting western democracy, but all-out nation building does not seem terribly practical and is subject to the law of unintended consequences.

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(Sharia law for Libya?) Obama may have another Middle East victory: Bin Laden down and now Gaddafi

August 23, 2011

LATEST UPDATE (8-25-11):

At the the opera they say it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. In libya,  it can’t even begin to be over till Gaddafi crawls out of his hole or until he is pulled out. His loyalits are still resisting and he’s still issuing statements, according to reports, even though his command center/residence was taken over.

And one wonders if this will all devolve into a civil war.

UPDATE:

8-24-11

Over the last 12 hours or so the story/rumor that is circulating concerning the apparent Libya rebel victory over Gaddafi, who served as a tyrant for more than four decades, is that a draft of a new “democratic” constitution is circulating and that it calls for the imposition of  Sharia law.

I have to admit I know next to nothing about Sharia law, except basically I understand it is an Islamic religious code. Well if a nation is going to have an official religion, it seems logical it might well adopt that religion’s code.

I could no more deal with the imposition of Sharia law here in the United States than I could deal with the imposition of some Christian code of conduct based on the Old or even New Testament of the Holy Bible.

In the U.S., religious freedom, which includes the prohibition of a state-sponsored religion (and I would add, freedom from religion), is a fundamental part of our democracy. It would seem impossible to achieve anything close to our basic freedoms with the imposition of a religious law, even though much of our law is derived from religious moral codes of the past.

And that story or rumor about a pending imposition of Sharia law in Libya is just that, a story or rumor.

But again, my limited understanding is that there are various forms of Sharia law and that different people, that is different Muslims, interpret it differently.

Now that I think about it, Iraq, which we liberated and nation-built with so much cost in blood and treasure, now uses Sharia law. And so does our oil-rich “friend ” Saudi Arabia.

(From what little I do understand of Sharia it is not fun to be a woman where it is practiced, unless you like having no rights.)

While we have to hope that something good comes out of the Libya rebel cause, such as a Western-style democracy, I’m not sure it should make a lot of difference to any of us here in the Good Old USA. We have our democracy and a nice country — we need to take care of ourselves and let Libyans decide what they want to do.

And by the way, does it bother you as it does me when I see all those ignorant people shooting automatic weapons into the air in “celebratory fire”? BBC (a much better source of news than any of our outlets) did a little story on the dangers and the many deaths that idiot behavior causes.

Are those people really ready to take care of things for themselves?

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My previous post from 8-23-11 follows:

Maybe there is hope that the Libya thing won’t turn into an Iraqi/Afghanistan/Vietnam quagmire after all — we don’t know yet.

Unlike the Republicans, I freely admit or concede our President Obama is looking pretty clever right now. I was critical of his move and method on Libya, thinking that although we (the U.S.) went in there, by air power, under the cover of NATO, we would be left holding the bag and it would all turn into a messy civil war, as is or was the case in Iraq and/or a seemingly unwinnable fiasco as in Afghanistan.

I was right in that it takes ground troops — air alone would not likely topple Gaddafi — but the troops were indigenous rebels, the way it should be I would think.

As of this writing, Gaddafi has not been captured yet, but reports are that fighting is intense around his palace or compound, I guess they call it (I thought he lived in a tent), and smoke can be seen coming from his residence.

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UPDATE: Now at mid morning my time on the West Coast reports are that rebels have taken over his compound and have found some of his officially-stamped papers. No reports of Gaddafi’s capture yet. If he’s like Saddam Hussein, I’d day call Rotorooter.

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It’s almost laughable how the Republican candidates have to say they are happy Gaddafi is out or almost out but refuse to give Obama any credit.

I don’t even buy that it could have come quicker with more U.S. help — I mean maybe it could have, but I have to admit Obama was wise not to make this an American war. He also knew that he could not afford to get into still another ground war.

Of course no one knows what will happen now. It could still turn into complete chaos.

But for now, with the Obama-ordered killing of Osama Bin Laden by U.S. special operations and elite forces and now apparently the downfall of Gaddafi, I’d say Obama is looking pretty good.

But the economy here at home and the question of whether the Republicans can field an acceptable candidate, palatable to the bulk of American voters, will likely decide whether Obama gets a second term.

P.s.

I wonder what Assad in Syria is thinking about now.