Saturday, November 21, 2015

UN-American & Un-Islamic

Conspiracy Making: This short article, which dates back to May 25, 2015, continues to come up again and again on social media, and although many people seem to take it as true, since it is based on an unclassified Pentagon document, it actually offers an insight into how conspiracy theories are weaved.

This is what the article claims to reveal: “Confirmed Secret Pentagon Report Reveals US “Created” ISIS As A “Tool” in a Proxy War Against Assad.” Below is an excerpt from the DIA report meant to back this claim:

“… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist Principality in eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime, which is considered the strategic depth of the Shia expansion (Iraq and Iran).”

But this is the full quote taken directly from the unclassified document:  


Can you spot the difference? The document speaks of a hypothetical scenario that could develop should the situation in Syria “unravels,” that is, should the state fail. The report, then, points to sponsors of the opposition as favoring this development as part of their effort to isolate Assad. There is no American plan here or a course being advocated, and the whole scenario is premised on having the Obama Administration continuing to do nothing.

Earlier in the report, the role of Iran, China and Russia in supporting the regime is also acknowledged. The report can be read here, there are many redacted sections. 

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Un-American & Un-Islamic: Slavery, racism and intolerance all have history in America. Yet, when we talk about oppression, injustice and censorship, we describe them as being Un-American. The reason for this apparent contradiction is simple: a nation prefers to define itself by the best it has to offer, even as it continues to combat its worst tendencies. The same goes for Islam. Slavery, intolerance, misogyny, homophobia are all part of Islamic history and some of their manifestations issues lingers to date to varying degrees. Still, Muslims define themselves by the best that their religion has to offer, including tolerance, conviviality, love of peace and justice, the “live and let live” spirit, all of which are values that can be found in the Quran. Fringe groups both in the U.S. and Muslim-majority countries exploit and revel in the negative aspects of their culture, with hate groups hiding under the protection of the First Amendment, and terrorist groups like Daesh justifying their acts under the pretext of return to authenticity,” but both sets of groups are denounced by the overwhelming majority as Un-American and Un-Islamic. No amount of legal or theological trickery can blind decent people as to the basic immorality involved in the speech and acts that reflect hate and nihilism.

But we have to note here that both epithets, Un-American and Un-Islamic, often reflect an ethical and moral judgement not a legal one. We cannot punish someone for being Un-American or Un-Islamic, we can punish specific crimes. Generally speaking, it’s Un-American to be intolerant, once again, we are referring to the aspirational nature of the statement here, not the historical reality affiliated with it, but unless the intolerant person decide to assault his neighbor for being different, then, no crime has been committed, and no punishment can be meted out by law. But society, in this case the neighborhood, can choose to shun the intolerant person. In this sense, Muslims shouldn’t wait for someone to commit an overt act of intolerance to be shunned, and for his behavior to be considered Un-Islamic. Most Muslims, in fact, don’t associate with people who hold radical views: extremists make them feel uncomfortable, just Christian extremists make most other practicing Christians uncomfortable. 

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The same people who advocated and now are busy defending and justifying the Iran deal are now focusing their energies as well on attacking Saudi Arabia, both on its dismal human rights record and its support for terrorism. The problem with stance, however, is that these very issues still apply to Iran who in addition to supporting Shia death squads in Iraq, Syria and Yemen, is also supporting the Assad regime of Syria, the Houthis of Yemen, Hamas and its affiliates in the Gaza Strip and the Territories, and even Daesh and Al-Qaeda. Iran is also still cracking down on dissenters, and continues to execute political prisoners after sham judicial processes. But none of this matter it seems. Iran is not simply giving a pass on all of these issues, its behavior has also been rewarded with an accord that, in practice, shields it from international and regional pressures, and preserve its core nuclear capabilities and knowhow. Only Saudi is being attacked. This lack of consistency by smart and knowledgeable people bespeaks of an ideological frame of mind and an ideological agenda, and undermines the issue of human rights and democracy, and the fight against terrorism. This attitude will not bring peace and stability to the region, and will shield America from repercussions. On the contrary, it is a way of stoking the fire, and guaranteeing further mayhem.

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Obama Says Russia Faces Strategic Choice as Assad Can't Stay. “It is not conceivable that Mr. Assad can regain legitimacy in a country in which a large majority of that country despises Assad, and will not stop fighting so long as he’s in power,” Obama said Sunday at a news conference in Kuala Lumpur. There is an increasing awareness on Putin’s part that the extremist group is a much bigger threat to Russia than losing an embattled ally in Assad or anything else in the region, Obama said. The downing of a Russian passenger jet last month drove that point home to Putin, he said. President Obama continues to make statements and predictions which he is clearly unwilling to back with actions. He believes fate will act on his behalf.  In the last five years, fate never did, and the situation in Syria and elsewhere worsened. It’s not clear what sort of Archangel Mr. Obama is listening to, but he is either the Fallen One, or something is being lost in translation.