2004 September 29 Wednesday
Islamic Educational Institutions Growing In Iraq

Previously secular schools and universities in Iraq are going Islamic.

Under Saddam, Beytool's school was only allowed to teach the strict, state-approved curriculum. But now, it's a private school and they are free to teach whatever they like. And in a sign of the changing times here, the focus is now overwhelmingly on Islamic education. Instead of teaching the alphabet, the goal in Beytool's class is to memorize 28 basic verses from the Koran, and learn how to wash before prayers.

Hundreds of religious seminaries have popped up.

And the government has no control over hundreds of Shiite religious seminaries known as the Howza teaching Islamic theory and law once banned under Saddam.

George W. Bush is in favor of "faith-based initiatives" and has spoken of Islam as "a religion of peace". So does he look on approvingly at the Islamization of Iraq which the US invasion has made possible? Will all the Iraqi students coming out of Islamic schools be more or less inclined to plant bombs along roadsides or to shoot rockets and mortars at US military bases? Will Iraqi children be more or less inclined to join Al Qaeda once they have been educated in the transformed Iraqi schools?

This trend toward a more Islamic and radical education is happening in some other Muslim countries as well such as Indonesia (which is the fourth most populous country in the world after China, India, and the United States) and Dagestan. Even though the secular Baathists in Syria haven't been overthrown by the United States and the secularists still control school curricula Syria is experiencing an Islamic religious revival.

While General Abizaid and other official military spokesmen are now touting the official Bush Administration line that Iraqi government military forces are approaching the point where they can take over the job of putting down the insurgency some US Army officers speaking anonymously say they think the new government forces are collaborating with the insurgents.

Reports from Iraq have made one Army staff officer question whether adequate progress is being made there.

"They keep telling us that Iraqi security forces are the exit strategy, but what I hear from the ground is that they aren't working," he said. "There's a feeling that Iraqi security forces are in cahoots with the insurgents and the general public to get the occupiers out."

The invasion of Iraq has clearly backfired. We are worse off for having invaded. We have set off the radicalization of a population that was previously under the tight control of a fairly secular (my Middle Eastern standards) dictator. We now know this mess was predicted in advance by the National Intelligence Council in a report they provided to the Bush Administration in January 2003.

The estimate came in two classified reports prepared for President Bush in January 2003 by the National Intelligence Council, an independent group that advises the director of central intelligence. The assessments predicted that an American-led invasion of Iraq would increase support for political Islam and would result in a deeply divided Iraqi society prone to violent internal conflict.

It is highly questionable whether continued US presence in Iraq serves any useful purpose. But Bush doesn't want to admit to making a huge and incredibly costly mistake. At the same time, the Democrats are reluctant to advocate withdrawal since they don't want to appear weak. So the debacle will continue.

What is the bottom line of these bad trends? The United States can not defend itself from terrorists by secularizing and democratizing the Middle East. The neocon dream of American transformation of the Middle East is an unrealistic fantasy. We need better policies to protect us closer to home such as much more effective border control, vigorous immigration law enforcement, and tougher visa application screening. Keep the people with deadly intent away from us. Stop letting Muslims immigrate. Also, do a big push to develop alternatives to obsolesce oil and thereby at least partially defund the jihadists and defund the Muslim Wahhabi missionaries of Saudi Arabia.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2004 September 29 01:31 PM  Mideast Iraq

Luke Lea said at September 29, 2004 2:41 PM:

You make a good case, Randall. Do you propose we withdraw, not just from Iraq, but from the entire Persian Gulf? Granted, the oil countries would continue to pump and sell their oil to the highest bidder? But would they also use their choke hold on the world economy for aggressive purposes, e.g., to insist on open immigration to the West, non-support of Israel, Sharia law for Muslims in the West, and whatever else you might imagine? What are the implications here, over the short and medium term (next twenty to thirty years) while we are trying to transition to a post-oil age economy? Wouldn't a better strategy be to split off the Kurdish north and Shiite south, and offer them military protection against the Turks and Iranians? That way we might be able to maintain military garrisons in the region. After all, we've shown we're pretty good at knocking off unfriendly regimes. We just don't know how to rule them or even tell them how to rule themselves. Of course I am hardly a strategist.

Randall Parker said at September 29, 2004 3:25 PM:


We first ought to get in gear with massive energy research and better protection at our borders.

I do not think we should withdraw from all of the Persian Gulf right away since that would send the wrong message and encourage Al Qaeda most likely.

As for the ability of the Arabs to use the oil weapon: How? If they sell to one country then another country can buy its oil from Venezuela, Russia, Nigeria, etc. Also, the Arabs are not all likely to operate as a uniform block in their attempt to wield oil as a weapon.

I think a partition of Iraq could be accomplished before withdrawal. We'd have to arm the Kurds really well. They'd even offer us bases in their territory for their own benefit. We ought to help all the Kurds move from the Arab regions to the Kurdish zone before we withdraw.

You say:

Of course I am hardly a strategist.

But here's the deal: Neither is George W. Bush. Your guess is at least as good as his and probably better. Put yourself in the Oval Office. It is your call. What would you do that would help the most?

I'd order the US government to engage in a massive program on its own physical plant to insulate buildings, install more efficient heaters and other equipment, and upgrade all capital plant that uses energy to use the latest and most efficient stuff (e.g. new jet engines for B-52 bombers and C5 transports). I'd try to get state and local governments to do likewise.

John S Bolton said at September 29, 2004 3:47 PM:

Large bases in the Persian Gulf coastline districts are in the national interest. Regime change has been tried, and will not have any democratic ripple effect. America needs to own the oil provinces of significance in that region, which have no locals living directly on them, and which are capable of being controlled from the coast without running into intervening populations. Terrorist-sponsoring states now have the power to hold up oil prices. if regime change is ordered in Iran, there will still remain the populations, afterward, which will slide back into the state which produces terrorists. Water finds its own level, their being of the same species does not prove that they want freedom from aggression, or want it enough to move beyond passivity alongside an element in their society which wants freedom for aggression. The superiority-of-offense policy has failed; now they have to try defense and stop pretending that openness to terrorism is a virtue. Our immigration policy was not that dangerous, in a world where moslems did not fly; now it is a most obvious dereliction of the responsibility to protect and defend the citizenry. Our taxes are for the defense of the citizen, not the foreigner; all else is treason.

Invisible Scientist said at September 30, 2004 7:46 AM:

All of this makes it even more necessary to start a Bronx Project for alternative energy sources
to make the US and the world independent of oil imports, otherwise, the new radical version
of Islamist leaders who will conquer to power in Saudi Arabia and Iraq, will have so much
oil money during the next two decades, that they will be able to afford any kind of imaginable
weapons in this century.

When I asked a famous Wall Street analyst why the US government is not interested
in starting a "Bronx Project" for alternative sources or energy, especially given that
there are already viable improvements in cheaper and safer nuclear energy, he
retorted cynically that one who attempts popularizing an alternative to oil
will die in a mysterious accident. Despite the fact that the 2 oil
industry veterans Bush and Cheny will skin me alive for writing this paragraph,
I am audaciously listing some information on the Integral Fast Reactor,
which is an evolutionary design that got improved during the last two decades, in such a way
that it would not only require only 1 % of the uranium fuel needed by conventional
reactors operational today, but it also burns all the long term nuclear waste as its
own fuel, leaving behind only short-term low level waste which has a half-life less
than 300 years, making Yucca Mountain unnecessary. The bottom line is that even if
the whole world used this IFR for energy to charge the electric cars (also described below),
there would still be enough uranium for 1000 years.
Here are some web sites for the Integral Fast Reactor:

Also here is a web site for successful zinc-air fuel cell based
electric vehicles that are competitive with gasoline:

gcochran said at September 30, 2004 11:52 AM:

This is about what I expected before we invaded. Now you know why I had to up my blood pressure medicine; seeing this future was plenty disturbing, let me tell you. Kassandra was cursed.

What to do next? I hear lots of people saying that Bush's mistakes are in the past and somehow should not be considered in deciding who should run the show from this point on. That's utter crap. He and his crew were, at best, criminally negligent. And I csan only believe that if If I try real hard: I think it was something a good deal worse than that. I really don't care to listen to people arguing that nobody one could have anticipated that WMD was a bust, that Al-Qaeda connections were illusory, that there would be a significant insurgency. enough to make OIraq virtually uninhabitable. _I_ foresaw it, for Christ's sake. I've read about the Algerian war (and many anticolonial wars), even if nobody in Bush's inner circle has. I even foresaw that the Administration would end up blaming the intelligence community for Administration nonsense.
Punishing the bozos who got into this is necessary, right, and the first item on the to-do list. I'd rather have most of AEI in jail than crush Fallujah: we invaded Fallujah, remember, they didn't invade us. They weren't looking for trouble, while AEI was. Only if there is a legal way to do, of course, but I have faith in our prosecutors. Such a purge might look a little anti-semitic, but I'd be happy to imprison Woolsey and Gaffney, Rumsfeld and Cheney, etc, as many as needed to restore ethnic balance. In fact, if I had my way, we'd be trying columnists and such just for being stupid and irresponsible enough to go along with this farce without bothering to check it out. Wars are seious business: I think few people who influence or make policy put as much effort into thinking this through as they would have when buying a car. When a civil engineer building a dam simply ignores best practice, doesn't bother to do the necesary engineering calculations, uses inferior materials, ignores every expert - and the dam breaks - we put him in prison. We don't talk about how noble dam-bullding is - we don't say that he was an idealist, and that at least he tried. Nope. We throw him in the slammer.

Of course, with Kerry, we have someone who opposed Gulf War I: in which we resisted aggressive war (initiated by a real asshole) in a strategically sensitive area (oil) , strongly supported by the world community. On the other hand, Bush _commits_ aggressive war. Not an optimal choice when you think about it.

Invisible Scientist said at September 30, 2004 1:13 PM:

In addition to greed for oil, Bush and Cheney (2 oil industry veterans) invaded Iraq partly
in order to establish a permanent US base there in order to keep Iran and Saudi Arabia in check,
and also just in case Al Qaeda tries to conquer Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Right now, this turned
out to be the trap of the century for the US, and the US took the bait by walking into that place.
The US cannot leave Iraq very easily, because the minute the US leaves, there will be a chaos there.
My guess is that Al Qaeda will ultimately conquer both Iraq and Saudi Arabia, and then the price
of oil will stay above $100 per barrel for several decades. At that moment, the highest treason in the
US history will be exposed: as soon as UC Berkeley demonstrated the feasibility of the Integral
Fast Reactor (described above) which is 100 times more fuel efficient than the conventional reactors
currently in operation, the US government discontinued the funding.

gcochran said at September 30, 2004 2:07 PM:

" The US cannot leave Iraq very easily, because the minute the US leaves, there will be a chaos there."

So what?

Gregory Cochran

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