Saturday, September 20, 2014

Religion and Geopolitics Review: Saturday, September 20

Religion and Geopolitics Review this week includes:
The Islamic State (IS) has a clear religious vision of their goals and enemies and future recruits. We must be clear as well. They propose erasing artificial borders dividing national entities of Syria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, and Lebanon; and creating a seamless religious organization of communal life under the new caliph.  They are fighting to establish a foothold in the Levant (the L in ISIL as the President calls them). They will extend north into Turkey and reunite with the huge Muslim population ringing the southern borders of Russia. This return of the Ottoman caliphate poses a grievous threat to the Turkish nation-state, but it is not clear if the religiously awakened Sunnis of Turkey would weep over the loss. The strength of the Turkish state and the loyalties of the Turkish military will be key. The IS has many adherents across the globe who look to them as the most successful "strong man on a horse" in the Islamic world. They also have many natural enemies who we must engage in this war. They are the Christian Orthodox states (Greece, Serbia, and Russia); the Shia states (Iran, Iraq, and the Syrian remnant); the mixed Christian/Shiite/Sunni state of Lebanon; and the Sunni nations all over the world who have established themselves as Islamic nation-states.

It should trouble us that the coalition being organized by President Obama is to be centered in Saudi Arabia. The Saudis want us to join in their war against the Shia states of Iran and Syria. The Saudis are more responsible for the worldwide spread of the jihadist ideology than any state in the world today. Any coalition with them will pit us against the best organized armies willing  to fight the radical Salafist Sunnis.  How this crucial strategic alignment of allies and enemies will be formulated goes to the heart of the constitutional responsibility of Congress to declare war. It is now the duty of our statesmen to present arguments in the media, public assemblies, and the upcoming elections.

Here are some of the best arguments we have seen for a Christian/Shiite/Sunni nation-state alliance against the Sunni purification movement of the jihadists:
  1. Mr. Leslie Gelb, president emeritus of the Council on Foreign Relations, argues for a potential Iranian alliance in his recent piece on American strategy and alliances in the Middle East.
  2. Conservative journalist and author Pat Buchanan has made some of the most convincing geopolitical arguments for a different alignment.
  3. Finally, here is liberal world-affairs journalist Fareed Zakaria on rethinking our alliance with the Saudis.
 Anthropology of Accord  outlined a similar case a year ago:  A Christian Awakening on the Road to Damascus.

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