[continued from part one]

At any rate, Islam and subsequently those areas that espouse the Islamic way of life as a part of its culture are not tolerant of certain aspects of western society that we take for granted (or for some, ignore and/or avoid). In theory, this is because we understand that there is always a blend of cultural custom that plays a dynamic in this equation. And that this cultural factor is not always sin accordance with Islamic practice. As such, these sovereign entities will take precautions in order to limit the exposure or introduction of such elements into its society. When such sovereign entities begin feeling overt pressure to do otherwise, we begin to see resistance, generally to the level of the perceived intrusion/threat.

This mindset, however, is not limited to sovereign entities, but also includes those persons who generally make up these sovereign entities. So the resistance to the above can also take the form of individual and group resistance fighters (remember, one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist). Therefore even in the absence of an official governing body or body set up by a foreign entity (that doesn’t sanction internal resistance), the people will still be at odds with the contradiction that is being imposed on them. From this perception, absent the means to fight a perceived enemy on equal terms (i.e. lack of an army or contemporary military equipment), people resort to the means in which they are able to resist – so-called guerilla warfare.

Of course this goes into a discourse on suicide bombers, the targeting of innocents, and a host of other issues. Without going into a whole other discussion, let me state categorically that Islam does not condone, or otherwise promote suicide, or the taking of the lives of women and children, or non-combatants as a general rule. One of the beautiful things about Islam is that its practice is clearly legislated. The rules of warfare are not an exception. Now obviously, this is a very broad swipe at the geopolitical state of affairs, but that nevertheless encapsulates what we are seeing with this whole Muslim/terrorism debate.

We have a situation in which we are at war with an ideology. Not Islam per se (so says the government), but certainly with Muslims who have a political/national agenda and perceived the U.S. as an enemy or at minimum, an obstacle to their goals. The problem is that this perception is not limited to a few, isolated, so-called extremists, but is prevalent amongst the people of the region that is being contested. America’s ways are not their ways. It is akin to a Muslim attempting to go into a Christian home, and demanding that the occupants stop living a Christian lifestyle and now live an Islamic one. There’s going to be resistance.

The problem for the U.S. is that in order to actually “win” this “war”, it has to capture the hearts of the people that his is attempting to subdue. The people, the common man in the street, has to want democracy, has to want the presence of U.S. troops and personnel and the like. They have to want to buy what America is selling. The people have to genuinely feel that the U.S. has their best interest at heart. Guess what? They don’t feel that way. Consequently, we are observing a predictable dynamic.

We have troops that are in harm’s way every day. Death and manglement is the order of the day from any direction. There are no battle lines, with the enemy on one side and us on the other. So what happens is that the common soldier tends to view everybody as the enemy or potential enemy. This, in turn, affects how a soldier will interact with the populace. It’s much easier to mistreat, lookdown, harass, and otherwise antagonize an enemy than a friend.

By and large, our troops accord themselves with honor. But they are being placed in a situation that is ill-suited for what they are trained to do on the one hand, and what their very presence conveys on the other (an occupying military force). It only takes a few incidents to taint the larger body of good work and polarize the populace against and already perceived adversary.
The people obviously react negatively to this perception by their occupiers. As a result, they feel victimized, and step up their activities to expel people, in their view, that don’t represent their interests, don’t respect their culture, and want to cause them harm. The situation will only continue to deteriorate because each party views the other as hostile. Soldiers, historically are ill-suited for the task of nation building for this very reason. Historically, people of occupied territory look disfavorably at foreign troops in their midst. The result: conflict!

So we have to ask ourselves “why are we constantly interfering and interceding in the affairs of sovereign nations that do not pose a threat to the U.S.? What is it about our foreign policy that so antagonizes so many people and nations around the world?” Further we should ask ourselves and consider the answer to the following: in whose interest is it to continue down this path of religious and cultural polarization? Who benefits? (it was these questions that reminded me of President Eisenhower’s words). Are we safer today than we were yesterday?

I would submit that the answers to these questions are not as simple as “Muslims hate us and our way of life.” If we begin to sincerely and honest answer these questions and determine if the answer is worth the consequences that are involved, then we will be better suited to deal with the dilemma that we now face.

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