There's a piece in the NYT today which has the pro-occupation Right yelling "victory" all over again. It recounts some anecdotal tales that indicate a groundswell of younger Iraqis turning their backs on the violent excesses and corruption of fundementalist religion. Over at Commentary, they're leading the victory parade, calling it:
the realization of the most ambitious goal of the Iraq War: the de-radicalization of Muslim citizens. This is, in its way, more important than political reconciliation and even more important than hunting down al Qaeda. This is the long war stuff, the hearts-and-minds stuff.And the rest march in lockstep from that lead.
The goal was to offer freedom as an alternative to extremism; the criticism was that it was a dream; the reality is that it is happening.
But of course, Commentary isn't saying who the criticism that extremism had a stranglehold on the Middle East came from. It came from that same Islamaphobic yapping conservative pack who are now claiming this as the real mission. Their hypocrisy knows no bounds.
Lefties always knew that religious fundamentalism, given free reign, will alienate the young. We've always known what moderate conservatives also know - that fundamentalism is the enemy of liberty no matter which religious flavor it comes in. Sullivan makes the point well.
Fundamentalism is, of course, based on a ridiculous lie: that God's will in every particular is ever fully knowable by humans. And when fused with politics, its intolerance and fanaticism always expose themselves. That's why the younger generation of Persians is so hostile to Islamism as well. It's why we will win the long war if we do not destroy ourselves in the process and do not unwittingly empower the fundies by our over-reaction.What secularists and moderates on both Left and Right have always said was that even so, if it was replaced by extremist nationalism or a zealous tribal ethic then the violence wouldn't stop. And it hasn't - and the newly-secular youth of Iraq are being dragged into that violence in increasing numbers. Here's the bit from the NYT article the occupation cheerleaders are managing to ignore:
One huge caveat, of course. Religious fervort comes in waves; anyone who doubts its power in the Arab Muslim world is misreading the place. But the extremes, given enough rope, often hang themselves. Look at Jordan. Now, if only we could persuade the Republicans about this fundamentalism thing ...
The number of Iraqi juveniles in American detention was up more than sevenfold in November from April last year, and Iraq’s main prison for youth, situated in Baghdad, has triple the prewar population.In many cases, they're doing it for money - because the disaster that is Iraq post-occupation doesn't led them make ends meet any other way. What a heckuvva job! What a victory!
But while younger people were taking a more active role in the violence, their motivation was less likely than that of the adults to be religion-driven. Of the 900 juvenile detainees in American custody in November, fewer than 10 percent claimed to be fighting a holy war, according to the American military. About one-third of adults said they were.
A worker in the American detention system said that by her estimate, only about a third of the adult detainee population, which is overwhelmingly Sunni, prayed.
“As a group, they are not religious,” said Maj. Gen. Douglas Stone, the head of detainee operations for the American military. “When we ask if they are doing it for jihad, the answer is no.”