Confronting the Radical Islamic Monster: Benazir Bhutto "Got" It

Western imperialism shares a lot of the blame for the turmoil that exists in the Middle East. The United States' hands are not clean in this regard. However, Benazir Bhutto, in her posthumously published book, Reconciliation, warned the West and her fellow Muslims that this is far from the only problem that confronts the Muslim world.

When they realized that she "got it," from the sense of understanding the breadth of the problem, radical Islamists made sure that she "got it" for the final time, as they presided over her murder on December 27, 2007.

In an effort to see both sides of an important issue, Bhutto is not shy to blame Western imperialism for contributing to the Middle Eastern malaise.
The colonial experience has obviously had a major impact on the Muslim psyche. ...No one doubts that the record of the West in majority Islamic nations is not a pretty one.

Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West
, p. 4
I have written about this previously, and ironically that the United States is largely to blame for Benazir Bhutto's death.

Bhutto realizes, though, that to finish by only blaming the West is not a fair assessment of the situation.
There are a rush and an ease to condemn foreigners and colonizers, but there is an equally weighty unwillingness within the Muslim world to look inward...

The Muslim-on-Muslim massacre that took place in Karachi in October [2007] is consistent with the Muslim-on-Muslim fratricidal sectarian violence that is raging in...Iraq... The Talibanization of [parts of] Pakistan highlight[s] my central concern...

Reconciliation: Islam, Democracy, and the West, p. 15-16
Admittedly, George W. Bush increased

Why is it so easy for many to (correctly) cast blame in Bush's direction, but to ignore (incorrectly) that in the absence of Western imperialism, the radical Islamist problem would still exist?

the complexity of the issue by invading Iraq for no good reason. Nevertheless, why is it so easy for many to (correctly) cast blame in Bush's direction, but to ignore (incorrectly) that in the absence of Western imperialism, the radical Islamist problem would still exist?

Within the Muslim world, there...continues to be a violent confrontation among sects, ideologies, and interpretations of...Islam. This destructive tension has set brother against brother [and] tortured intra-Islamic relations for 1,300 years.
[In] the Muslim world--where sectarianism is rampant--simmers internally, extremists have manipulated Islamic dogma to justify and rationalize a so-called jihad against the West.

One billion Muslims around the world seemed united in their outrage at the war in Iraq... But there has been little if any similar outrage against sectarian civil war, which has led to far more casualties. ...The attacks of September 11, 2001, heralded the vanguard of the caliphate-inspired dreams of bloody confrontation... ...intellectuals are quite comfortable criticizing outsiders for the harm inflicted on fellow Muslims, but there is deadly silence when they are confronted with Muslim-on-Muslim violence.

Reconciliation, p. 2-3
If we ever expect to come to a mutual understanding between nations we must admit that there are two sides to the seemingly never-ending equation of violence and animosity:
  • The West must stop its Imperial interference in the affairs of other countries
  • The radical Islamist monster must be confronted and stopped
If Benazir Bhutto "got it", and paid the ultimate price to one side of the equation of violence for getting it, why can't we get it?


  1. I think it's because the US (and I'm generalizing here) feels that we know best how to solve the problems in the Middle East. Not unlike radical Islam, we feel we are right and so we need to impose our views on them.

    I think it comes down to too much pride and not enough trust. The blame for this lies not only with the politicians in this country, but with the media as well.

  2. Maybe I'm close to agreement here. I would only add that the issue of radical Islam is "fundamentally" a problem for the Muslim world.

    Western foreign policy blunders have exacerbated this conflict. In the case of al Qaeda, goading the USA into rash actions was part of their plan, and President Bush played his part beyond their expectations by invading Iraq.

    Osama bin Laden et al. want to rule their fellow Muslims, and they are counting on the "Long War" of the neocons to aid their cause.

  3. UK,

    Very good point.
    Not unlike radical Islam, we feel we are right and so we need to impose our views on them.

    We could learn a great lesson by taking our own medicine--that we expect them to take.


    I completely agree that

    the issue of radical Islam is "fundamentally" a problem for the Muslim world.

    and that

    Western foreign policy blunders have exacerbated this conflict.

    The problem, however, is spilling over into the United States to some extent, and to a great extent in Europe.

  4. It is interesting to note that the friction between the different strains of Islam was typically rather muted prior to Western involvement. Note that I am not saying the friction was absent, only that it was far more muted. Consider Africa, where the various "tribes" were set against each other by the imperial powers. We still see the repercussions of this today in Africa in the unbelievable butchery and inhumanity going on there (woefully underexposed here in the U.S). I think the situation is not entirely different with the Muslim world; the imperialists themselves exacerbated the problems between the Sunnis and Shia-and lets not forget that there are plenty of ethnic frictions mixed in there along with the religious ones), between Persian and Arab, between Arab and Kurd, et al, in ways of which are still influencing the world.

    BTW, in many ways your two propositions seem mutually exclusive, at least if by "confronted and stopped" you are referring to military force. I have little faith in the ability of the U.S. (or any nation, for that matter) to confront and stop the RIM militarily without succumbing to the temptation of imperialism to which all military powers have succumb.

  5. Somebody once commented over on One Utah about IEDs going off on American highways if we don't "win" in Iraq. That's pretty much the John McCain/Bush position, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out in this year's election.

    When you talk about spillover, I know that's not what you mean. You're probably worried they will put loudspeakers on the mosques or something.

  6. Derek,

    I have a couple of friends from India and one from Pakistan, who have told me that the Imperialists did a great deal to inflame the hatred between the various factions there. I agree with you.

    I love the "Radical Islamic Pest" metaphor as you put it in your comment on the previous "Monster" article. I think your assessment is correct--if we butt out, the problem will be much smaller and much easier to confront. By "stop", I don't necessarily mean military, and I definitely DON'T mean than unless it comes into our borders. But I think it IS coming into the borders of Europe, and they may require force to counteract it.


    I agree that the "IEDs on American Highways" is a silly concern. (I do, however, feel like we should be doing more to protect our borders.)

    I'm talking more about "Londonistan" where increasingly large areas are considered Muslim territory and off-limits to non-Muslims. I'm talking about police not going in to stop French riots because they fear they'd be overwhelmed in exclusive Muslim areas. I'm talking about Muslims refusing to live by national laws because they want to live by Sharia instead.


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