Minion Mailbag Vol 2

Greetings again loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader will dip again into his minion mailbag and see what he finds… Let us examine this message:

Dear Naked Villain:

I noticed this paragraph on your site:

“We need to find a way to work with the significant educated
middle class of Iraq to build a new model for the Muslim
world. One in which democracy works. Where ethnic and
religious differences are tolerated. And one in which
peacefully co-existing with your neighbours is valued.”

It is granted that a democratic ruling model has never been a
great success in the muslim world, but until WWII there were
areas of religious tolerance, relative peace, and co-
existance. Usually these were followed by brutal periods of
intolerance, where conversion by force was the rule fo the
land. One such place was Palestine, from about 1800-1940-ish.
All faiths were welcome. Most could own land, run business,
and live day-to-day. Peaceful coexistance was valued. Not to
say all were equal. A Jew or Christian (People of the Book)
had most rights, but paid a religious tax and could not hol
certain public offices. An unrelated faith would not usually
be able to own property and would have to partner with a
local to run a business. Point being that there is nothing
inherently intolerant, violent, or death-loving in most
Islamic practice. (The Taliban are a high profile exception-
they are just evil and deserving of whackage.) This history
may provide the seed we need to encourage mainstream Islam to
veer more towards tolerance and away from the extremist
groups.

-Edwin Thomas (of the Hidden Empire)

Dear Edwin Thomas:

Firstly, your Maximum Leader hopes that this Hidden Empire stuff doesn’t get out of hand. As you all are aware, those who refuse to accept the dominance of the MWO will have to be dragged out and shot. Their bodies will be left to bloat in the sun. That said, allow your Maximum Leader to respond to your very thoughtful message.

Your Maximum Leader feels he now needs to revise and extend his remarks from an earlier blog. (At the time of the earlier blog he was feeling particularly upbeat and optimistic. Rest assured he is now back to his nakedley (nakedly?) villainous self.) While he certainly does hope that the educated middle-class of Iraq can form the core of a successful democratic state; he also fears that many years of the brutal Hussein regime has crippled that middle-class. And consequently, those people are not secure enough economically to be a strong core for a democratic state. One can hope that with the lifting of sanctions, the gradual influx of capital, the growing outflow of oil, and the restoration of basic services the economy of Iraq and the fortunes of the middle class will grow. Of course, the wiping out of the final reminants of the Hussein regime and the establishment of security within Iraq is another cornerstone of a stable democratic state.

Your Maximum Leader needs to address the implication that the educated middle class of Iraq (such as it is) is also westernized to a degree. At least insofar as toleration is concerned. Your Maximum Leader does not mean to imply that the Iraqi middle class is imbued with western style toleration. Your example of the Palestine under the Ottomans as a place where tolerance was valued is one that we can all hope will be utilized by those hearty souls who will lead (or help lead) Iraq in these dangerous times ahead. But, your Maximum Leader feels it is important to point out that Jews and Christians were tolerated in the Ottoman Empire in as much as they were very small minorities who lived in confined geographic areas. It is easy to tolerate minorities with limited political and economic rights. It becomes much more difficult to tolerate a minority with equal political rights (especially one that might be protected in some way) and with equal economic rights. And it may be nearly impossible to tolerate a minority who have translated political and economic opportunity into great success (ie: Israel). Especially if the majority is not nearly as well off as the minority. Examining the problem this way begins to illuminate the current problem we have in the middle east. Your Maximum Leader will commend to you Bernard Lewis’ Article The Roots of Muslim Rage which is a good primer for much of the very intelligent and helpful material Lewis has published.

So where is your Maximum Leader going with this discourse on toleration? Simply, he doesn’t feel that the middle class of Iraq is ready now to be tolerant of significant Jewish or Christian populations in their country. They may not be ready for toleration of other muslims in their country. This is a significant problem.

Additionally, your Maximum Leader is not fully convinced that the Iraqi middle class is desirous of a secular democracy. They may be all for democracy, and perhaps even a degree of toleration. But, your Maximum Leader is confident that any Iraqi legal code will give some preference to the tenets of Islam that are common to Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds. Democracy ca come in many forms, it is the preference for us in the west to have secular ones. Established religions are not incongruent to democracy. But this gets to the heart of the toleration issue as well. Democracies do not have to be tolerant. There is such a thing as a democratic tyranny.

Your Maximum Leader doesn’t mean to parse terms so closely. But, he feels that given the current environment in the world (and the United States); and the continuously escalating rhetoric and expectations for Iraq a little parsing might be in order. It is the firm belief of your Maximum Leader that most people assume that the US is hoping to midwife a secular, western-style republic in which the rights of minorities are protected in Iraq. Your Maximum Leader believes this is possible utilizing a modified federal system under a constitutional monarch. A federal system could provide some autonomy to each of the three major ethnic/religious groups in Iraq. A constitutional monarch may help to unite the country under what is (your Maximum Leader believes - inarguably) a traditional governance structure. Moving towards this type of system, or any system will take time and much effort. Direct US involvement will need to continue for 3-5 years at least. (Conceivably many more.) And US support (economically and politically) will be needed for many more. But the prospect for the middle east with such a nation near its centre is hopeful.

Your Maximum Leader hopes that the people of Iraq (all of them) will be willing to work towards breaking the mold of dictatorial or autocratic states that have dominated the muslim world. But, your Maximum Leader firmly believes that democracy is hard work. You have to be totally committed to the idea and practice of democracy. Your Maximum Leader, as a good Hobbesian, believes that the natural state of man is dictatorship. (Indeed this belief is a cornerstone of his desire to establish the MWO.) Dictatorship is easy. (Trust me on this one…) You just do what you are told, you get along, and if you are lucky your basic needs are met and you can manage a decent life. Iraqis have to commit themselves to change. Without it, as soon as the US starts to withdraw, Iraqi democracy - such as it will be - will start to unravel.

Carry on my minions!

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