Tuesday, January 31, 2006

THMQ commentary - January 31, AD 2006.

We believe that The Hatemongers Quarterly (hereinafter "THMQ") ought to be one of the premier and most-visited blogs. Their humor is quite amusing (and sounds quite sophistocated) while their commentary, their point, is always spot-on. They describe issues in words that are ethereal and succinct. This is, without any doubt, one of Our favorite blogs. Ever. Anywhere. (If We were God, We would command all people to visit it every weekday. (Not the weekends because THMQ does not post on weekends. Verily, We would be the Most Merciful.))

An example of their skill, wit, and spot-on-edness, to coin a word/phrase, is this: "After all, what’s more progressive than infantilizing Palestinians? There, there, little Achmed: We know you can’t help yourself. Did the big bad hyper-power upset you again?" ("Those Peaceable Palestinians") In these few sentences, THMQ has been able to exemplify Leftist patronization of Arabs, while at the same time rightfully mocking it. This has been something that has bothered Us: while ostensibly promoting Arab people, the Left errs greatly in coddling Arabs and patronizing them. This also does a disservice by reinforcing inaccurate perceptions, beliefs, and propaganda by the Arabs, mainly that Western powers (mainly The United States and Israel) are responsible for their suffering. Not to mention, such coddling and patronizing is utterly demeaning.

In today's post ("The Official 'Hatemonger's Quarterly' January Academic of the Month"), THMQ posted a review by Augustus Richard Norton (THMQ's academic of January) of a book by Robert Fisk (whose name We shall not include). To show just how off Norton was, THMQ included a review by someone more astute: the second reviewer pointed out a number of glaring inaccuracies by Fisk in his book. Although it may seem that some of them are trivial, many of these inaccuracies are quite significant in import. This deeply concerns Us: it is well known to Us that the Left skews history, indeed, even reality in order to make it fit their deranged paradigms.

As one political science professor once said in a class We took, academics tend to believe that their theories are not wrong, but rather the world is. If, say, one has an economic theory that has not proved to be congruent with reality (just for a random example, let one consider Marxism), the academic would be wont to analyze why the world did not comply with the theory rather than analyzing how the theory ought to be modified or how it is wrong.

inna naHnu a'lamuun.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Amerika ist nicht das Vierte Reich. And regarding Imperialism.

Some people are fond of comparing The United States, particularly its government, particularly the current administration of George W. Bush (HafiZahu-llaahu wa barakaatu-llaahi wa raHmatuhu 'alayhi), to "Nazi" Germany (more properly, NSDAP Germany), with parallels being drawn between Bush (HafiZahu-llaahu et cetera) and Hitler (la'natullaahi 'alayhi). This is utterly ridiculous.

We have studied the Third Reich (NSDAP Germany) from the rise of the NSDAP to the fall of Germany under the Allies. We have studied about Hitler. We, therefore, find it difficult to figure exactly where such people, who call Bush "Hitler" or America "Nazi Germany," find their arguments or justification. Let Us examine how this cannot be so.

NSDAP had a secret police force, the Gestapo. No such organization exists in The United States. Whereas it is true that various law enforcement agencies exist, primarily local police forces and federal agencies (the FBI, the Department of Homeland Security, the Secret Service), none of these have the mandate the Gestapo had, nor the responsibilities the Gestapo had, nor the activities that the Gestapo carried out. People are fond of claiming that The Government is oppressing dissent. We find no evidence of this whatsoever. People who oppose The Government, particularly its popularly elected officials, are quite vocal in their disagreement and opposition. Newspapers regularly print news that reflects badly on The Government, if not challenging it outright. We have yet to hear of anyone being arrested, detained, or otherwise unjustly detained or silenced because of one's political or martial views. Indeed, We would go so far as to say that people who are right of center have deplorably failed in raising their voice as successfully, as loudly, and as vociferously as those who are left of center have done. We view the public discourse as unfairly tilted towards the left, with improper and insufficient representation of the right, whose members are often unjustly, unfairly, inaccurately, and viciously maligned by the vocal left. With such a state of affairs, how can one even consider that The United States is in any way like NSDAP Germany?

The Government of NSDAP Germany carried out quite shocking and inhumane persecution, prosecution, and other criminal activity towards certain classes (id est, categories) of people, such as Jews, homosexuals, Rroma (also known as "gypsies"), Jehovah's Witnesses, uncompromising Christians, Slavs, Communists, Socialists, and other political opponents. The rights of entire classes were restricted, if not eliminated completely. No one has done anything remotely like this in The United States, nor would anyone, even The Government, be able to carry something like this out.

NSDAP Germany had the goal of expanding its Lebensraum by expanding the Third Reich. (This is not a new desire. Various states such as The Soviet Union, The United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Austria, The Ottoman Empire, the Arab caliphate, various Indian kingdoms, Japan, China, and The Netherlands have desired the expansion of their empire. One ought to remember: The United States broke away from the British Empire, Canada still belongs to the British Empire, the Louisiana Purchase was made from France, a part of Canada was under France, and Spain ruled Florida and Mexico.) NSDAP Germany attempted to accomplish this by first uniting all German peoples with the German state (which was justified and popularized by the quite catchy slogan of: "Ein Volk, Ein Reich, Ein Fuehrer": referring to the desire that all Germans live in one state under one glorious leader.) As such, NSDAP took the Sudetenland from France, annexed Austria, and took parts of western Czekoslovakia. Then NSDAP Germany set out to expand Großdeutschland by enslaving the Slavs.

Various people like to use this trend to point out the imperialist impulse of The United States. In Our opinion, this is utterly ridiculous.

First: The United States have never announced in any way their desire to expand an empire, to rule any state, or to diminish the independence or sovereignty of any legitimate state. Indeed, The United States have been tirelessly pursuing the expansion of other states' independence, stability, and legitimacy. Thanks to the actions of The United States, millions of people live in more independent, sovereign, and legitimate states, while other illegitimate states and/or regimes now fear for their own survival.

Second: The argument that The United State have, through their foreign policy and foreign military operations, expanded their influence, control, rule, and power cannot be used to justify claims of American imperialism. This will be explained later.

Third: A characteristic of imperialism has been the undeniable and obvious control of another state over a state. This point is relevant where imperialism is concerned when one considers non-territorial imperialism. An example of this would be the actions, policies, attitudes, and desires of Russia and The United Kingdom with regard to the Persian Empire. There was no doubt that Russia and The United Kingdom were imperialist powers in Persia. Large swaths of the country were under the exclusive control of the imperialist powers. This trend cannot be used against The United States. Whereas it is true that The United States have attempted to exercise control and influence on other governments, The United States do not compromise the popular sovereignty or independence of any state. The people of every state, regardless of what influence The United States may exercise over it, have the freedom to elect whom they please and when they please. The Government of The United States recognizes these officials to the extent that The Government, by law, may. (For example: with the recent election of Hamas into the Palestinian government, The Government's policy becomes complicated. On the one hand, by all external appearances the Palestinians voted Hamas in of their own free will and choice. On the other hand, Hamas has been listed, rightfully so, as a terrorist organization and The Government has a policy not to deal with terrorists. If, therefore, The Government refuses to recognize a Hamas-led or -dominated Palestinian government or refuses to maintain relations with Hamas, it would not be out of any American imperialist impulse and its consequent policy to enforce its desires on foreign peoples by recognizing or not recognizing their governments based on whether the peoples follow The Government's will or not. It would simply be because the policy of The United States is not to maintain relations with terrorists. If a law were passed to grant an exemption with regard to Hamas, then The Government would treat a Hamas-led or Hamas-dominated Palestinia government as it has treated previous Palestinian administrations.)

People tend to confuse "imperialism" with "systemic hegemony." While the former is a choice, the latter is not. States such as The United Kingdom, Russia, and NSDAP Germany made the conscious choice to engage in imperialist ventures, to give in to their imperialist impulse. At some point, systemic hegemony also played a role: between the World Wars, The United Kingdom was simultaneously imperialistic and the systemic hegemon: both factors fed on each other. After the Second World War, however, The United Kingdom remained imperialistic but had lost its status as systemic hegemon. That role passed on to The United States. During the Second World War, or, rather, just prior to it, the Soviet Union took advantage of opportunities to give in to is imperialistic impulse. Stalin made agreements with Hitler which allowed Stalin to expand the Soviet empire. The alliance between Stalin and Hitler was doomed to fail, though: NSDAP Germany's desire for Lebensraum, the enslavement of the Slavs, and attaining the position of systemic hegemon all conspired against the alliance and against the Soviet Union. To fulfill its desires, NSDAP Germany would have no choice but to challenge and oppose, indeed, to conquer even, the Soviet Union. After NSDAP Germany's defeat, the Soviet Union's imperialist impulse remained: it capitalized (no pun intended) on its territorial and systemic gains. Concerning the latter, it began to use the post-bellum potentially bi-polar system to exert its qualifications and characteristics as systemic hegemon, attempting to unseat The United States. The Soviet Union miscalculated, however: assuming the position of systemic hegemon is not something one can work towards, only something that comes to be as a result of the international state system. If the Soviet Union wanted to become the systemic hegemon, it would have to make it an integral and necessary part of the system, which it basically excluded itself from by rejhecting systemic economic structures, which is what made The United States the systemic hegemon.

The United States never chose to become the systemic hegemon. This role was thrust upon them by their military and economic superiority. Because of both, they could maintain their relative superiority over all other states. Simultaneously, the integral, pivotal, and necessary character of their involvement with the system made them the foundation, supporting pillar, and other necessary supporting structures of the system, thereby being able to perpetuate their hegemony.

The system that exists, though, cannot be maintained through inaction, inactivity, or uninvolvement. If The United States withdrew from the system (militarily, politically, economically, either of these ways, or all of these ways), the system would collapse, and another hegemon would arise after a bitter and bloody contest. It could be possible for The United States to regain the position of hegemon, but only if it became involved in the system - it would necessarily have to be a continuation of the current system rather than simple involvement in a new system. Each system is utterly different: different rules, different major players, different arrangements.

Now, on to American imperialism versus American hegemony: The United States' involvement in the world is partly out of self-interested perpetuation of the system and partly out of a desire to exert influence over others. It is a cardinal rule that every state desires to exert influence, if not control, over others. To say any state is different or unique regarding this matter (either in desiring or not desiring control or influence over others) is utterly ridiculous and, additionally, plainly wrong. It is a natural impulse of every state in order to safeguard its own interests (ultimately, its security) by neutralizing the ability of others to act against the state, which can be accomplished by controlling others or, if that is not possible, to influence it so that it will follow the will of the influencing state. No state ought to be praised or blamed for this. We say this because people behave that such an impulse is unnatural, wrong, uncalled for, or simply immoral. Utterly ridiculous: that a state desires to control or influence others does not matter a bit. Similarly, a state having control or influence over another ought not to surprise one, as if a state can exercise control or influence over another, it will do so.

What does matter is: How does the state's control and influence affect the controlled or influenced state's people?

And here We can draw a glaring comparison between past systemic hegema (plural of "hegemon" according to the rules of Greek, whence "hegemon" comes) and The United States, the current hegemon. If The United States were, as is claimed, interested solely in spreading their empire and hegemony, then one could expect certain behaviors and tendencies. History provides ample examples of precedence with this regard. However, The United States does not act in a similar manner.

The pattern of past hegema was to force other states to enter its influence, if not control. This would include recognizing the hegemon's supermacy, paying tribute, contributing to its foreign policy, and so on. Those who resisted would have been invaded or otherwise compromised, either by the hegemon or its subjects. In contrast to this, during its hegemony, The United States has never forced any state to join The United States in any way whatsoever or in any way to recognize The United States' superiority by paying tribute, contributing troops, or otherwise placing its resources at The United States' whim and caprice. Those who have opposed The United States have benefitted from being defeated by The United States: the glorious rise and success of Germany and Japan are a result of The United States' development of and contributions to these states defeated by The United States. The contrast between The United States' treatment of Germany (Western Germany) and the Soviet Union's treatment of Germany (Eastern Germany) amply shows how The United States, although sharing certain common impulses and desires, are different nonetheless. Whereas Western Germany retained its independence and sovereignty, and whereas Western Germany's rise was thanks to substantial support from its hegemon, Eastern Germany was practically a part of the Soviet Empire, which did little to contribute to its well-being.

Even recent events have shown not only how The United States are different but, importantly, how they positively affect other peoples. There is nothing in the rules of warfare or defeat that dictate that the victor must assist, develop, or advise the defeated. As a matter of fact, it is quite commonly accepted that the defeated is obligated to serve the victor in whatever way the victor determines. Despite this, The United States have spent considerable resources (military, political, and economic) on defeated states, such as Afghanistan and Iraq. The very involvement of The United States has been beneficial: the people of these two states live in regimes wherein they are given far more rights, liberties, freedom, and participation (true, effective participation) that they have never had in any time in their past. This is significant considering that for some time Iraq was under another hegemon, The United Kingdom, under whom it enjoyed none of the rights, liberties, freedom, and effective participation it can exercise now under The United States.

What is significant is that these actions by The United States have not been undertaken out of a desire to spread American influence, control, hegemony, or imperialism. (Spreading their hegemony would, in any case, be utterly useless for The United States: as the systemic hegemon, The United States exercise potentially unlimited hegemony over every state in the system, which today includes every state in existence.) The Government of The United States saw Iraq as a threat to its survival and security, and so it moved to neutralize that thread. All of these benefits, which is expected of The United States in any case, are side benefits considering The Government's actual intentions and motives.

And with this, We desire to refute two claims that are commonly slung against The Government and/or The United States: That The United States is imperialistic or acting on its imperialist impulses, and that The United States or their Government can be likened to NSDAP Germany - which, in Our mind, are both fundamentally incorrect, wrong, and utterly ridiculous.

As far as comparing America to NSDAP Germany, we are reminded of this wonderful cartoon by the eminently talented Chris Muir, who produces a daily cartoon, Day by Day, and whose comic We cannot recommend enough):

wa naHnu a'lamuun.

Democracy, elections, and Unpleasant Leaders

Much has been said recently about democracy and the recent election of Hamas into the Palestinian government.

One must distinguish, however, between democracy and elections. Elections a democracy do not make. Democracy includes, fundamentally and necessarily, certain other elements such as civil rights, civil liberties, free elections, fair elections, the rule of law, due process, and check and balances: all of which buttress popular sovereignty, upon which democracy is based. It is quite safe to say that none of these elements exists in the Palestinian territories or in Iran - or, for that matter, in much of the world. So, whereas it is indeed true that Hamas and Ahmadinezhad and Vladimir Putin have been elected into office, it cannot be said that they were democratically elected, or that they were elected by vox populi, or that the states they rule are democratic.

And as prevalent, non-democratic elections are considered to be illegitimate.

So, We kindly request those speaking out against democracy (or the US's efforts to expand democracy) to remind themselves what democracy really is. Once again: elections a democracy do not make.

wa naHnu a'lamuun.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Why America must prevail.

Throughout history, international states have been arranged in various orders under various hegemons. For a long time, the traditional pattern was for a hegemon to conquer vast stretches of land, creating an empire, while expanding the empire's influence into other states that the empire cannot so easily conquer. A good example - recent also - is the Soviet Union, which was basically a Russian empire (containing various non-Russian states) while exerting influence over other states which, for whatever reason, the empire did not incorporate.

The rules for such a system were well-understood. If they were challenged, it was for the benefit or sovereignty of a vassal state - whether a vassal by being part of the empire or by the empire's influence thereon and therein.

But humanity lives in interesting times. There is no vast empire. The last one to exist - the USSR - collapsed under pressure from the hegemon, the US. Indeed, one might say that the USSR desired to institute a traditional international state system in place of the new, liberal system that had arisen under US hegemony. The stirrings of US hegemony began with the First World War, and this position was undoubtedly cemented after the Second World War. The USSR rose to oppose - as is wont to happen: no hegemon remains unopposed or unchallenged - and it fell.

Yet, despite these facts, it seems to Us that people are woefully unaware of both the unique nature of the current system as well as the benefits therefrom.

Keeping an empire intact is certainly not easy. The US has no empire, making its job as hegemon, in some ways, easier. Nevertheless, the US exerts an enormous amount of influence, moreso, We would argue, than if it were imperialist. The values of the US - commercial, political, religious, social, economic, and technological modernism and liberalism - are promoted and spread. They have become the standards to which many, if not most, states aspire to. The peoples of the world are acutely aware of these standards and values: they seek their implementation in their home states. In effect, a sort of soft power empire exists throughout the world under the august crown of the US.

Unlike previous empires, however, the US is not so interested in exploitation of others solely for its own gain. Compare the US's policies to Europe's, who descended upon Africa and divided it with no regard to reality on the ground, for no reason other than imperial prestige. The Europeans had nothing to gain from their adventures in Africa, and yet there they went. The US is far more shrewd and wise. The US realizes that what is good for others would be good for the US in the end.

Consider also the unique example of the US actually aiding others. The US is not only charitable but far more charitable than any state, let alone empire or hegemon, that has ever existed. The fact that the US was instrumental in assisting its former enemies - such as Japan and Germany - simply boggles the mind.

As We said before, no empire or hegemon goes unchallenged. When the USSR fell, something had to rise to challenge the US's hegemony. European powers, such as France and Germany, feel they can assert themselves. Russia and China feel they can manipulate the discontent of others to serve their anti-US goals. Militant Muslims feel they can topple the decadent, weak, and inactive West. And they are all wrong.

They are also all stupid.

It is utterly ridiculous that these states can imagine they can survive in a world where the stability, ensured by the hegemon, is diminished. Is national prestige or the fall of the West really so important that one will risk one's own security, stability, success, and development? Do these states believe they can control the various elements that will undoubtedly spin out of control should the US withdraw from its duties as enforcer of the peace? What sort of game do these states think they are playing?

We utterly reject any and all claims that others ought to stand up to the US. Such suggestions are practically suicidal. For once the world is under an international regime that is stable and conducive to various types of development, progress, and advancement. States are free to obsess about the environment, healthcare, animal rights, and other nonsense issues. They do not worry for their own survival against bloodthirsty rivals.

Such foolish, stupid people. Rather than supporting the international regime that has built the foundation upon which they have built their palaces of marble and gold, these states "standing up to the US" are doing nothing but knocking down their own pillars and destroying their foundation's support. In other words, they are shooting themselves in the foot.

People are wont to complain loudly against the injustices of the international regime - but what are these poor states doing by themselves to help themselves? We utterly reject any suggestion or proposition that any state, or people for that matter, is unable to better one's own station or situation. Such suggestions are utterly insulting to the abilities and intelligence of these supposedly disadvantaged states. If they made better decisions and set their own issues in order, they will be able to advance and progress. It is utterly ridiculous to expect another to do everything for one's own progress - and even if one did, what thanks would that one get? Those whom the US has helped stab the US in the back. May they perish in weakness for their insidious pride and stupidity.

The concept of each nation being sovereign, of equal value and worth, with its own pride and prestige - these concepts are thoroughly outdated. One's standing in the world varies based on a number of factors. To suggest all are of equal value is utterly ridiculous. (Hat-tip to one who can suggest to Us a phrase to use in the stead of "utterly ridiculous.")

Thus, it is the duty of the US, as the world's hegemon, to set the world's states in order. Iran, for example, disregards the system and threatens to seriously stabilize it. It has already crossed the boundaries of acceptable behavior. That any major state (in this case the US and Israel) would feel threatened demonstrates a violation of the system, which must be rectified. The US must never shy from using force, for force is the only language with which international (and in some cases, domestic) issues are definitively settled.

Which brings Us to a related but important point: without this system in place, the world would not be open to more opportunities for equality, solidarity, progress, growth, or development. On the contrary, the world would recede to its previous state of alliances arrayed in formations against alliances, the world engulfed in bloody cut-throat competitions for power and dominance, which would continue until one power or alliance prevails. This power would undoubtedly not be the benevolent dictator the US has been. We, therefore, exhort opponents of the US to kindly remove the blindfold from around their eyes and to see reality as it is. How people can even conceive of a world better off without US hegemony escapes Our mind. It goes against reason, against common sense, against reality.

Let all hope that the US shall act decisively once more to put Iran in its place: in the shadow of the US, where everyone belongs unless they are willing to assist with the burden of hegemony.

Additional note: Mess not with Israel. Israel is one state that acts with impunity for its defense. Its threats are not empty. For this, We are thankful: Israel helps alleviate the lonliness of hegemony, sharing the burden of hegemony and posing, veritably, as an outpost of the system in that unstable area of the world, through which the system can rectify violations and keep the area in check.

wa inna naHnu aa'lamuun.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Our Thoughts on Iran - Part the First

Regarding Iran, We remain quite concerned. The most concerning aspect is the utter lack of knowledge anyone has as to what Iran genuinely intends. After what the world has seen with Hitler and Pakistan, We refuse to accept that Iran is interested in nuclear reactors solely for the sake of energy. Having said that, what does Iran want to do with its nuclear capability?

Iran can use its nuclear capability as a bargaining chip, as North Korea does. Or it can use it to increase its prestige, respect, and influence amongst Muslim states - in an attempt to turn them away from the West. Or Iran can use them to destroy Israel and the Great Satan. In any case, an Iran with nuclear weapons will not bode well for regional security. We may even say that such a situation would cause greater instability.

The Middle East, however one defines it, is not monolithic. Each state therein has a national identity, and a desire to prevail over its neighbors. Each state's neighbors are its friends and its enemies and competitors. There are, in addition, several significant ethnic groups, each seeking to further its own interests. The Arab states do not like Iran for a variety of reasons, the primary ones being that Iran is Persian and Shiite. Most Arab states are Arab and Sunni. Even Shiite groups do not necessarily like Iran.

Within Shiism there are two major groups: the activists and the quietists. The dominant group in Iran is of the activist Shiites. Indeed, Grand Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini led the Revolution with activist Shiites, who remained in power. These Shiites not only wanted to overthrow the Shah, whom they saw as a Western agent, but they also wanted to erect an Islamic state and prepare for the Reappearance of the Hidden Imam (al-Imaam al-Ghayb). They believed their acts would spur the Hidden Imam to reappear. Many participated in the Revolution for the sake of the Hidden Imam. Furthermore, activist Shiites believe in the active involvement of clerics in government. Grand Ayatollah Khomeyni publicized his "brilliant" theory - "Velaayat-e Faqeh" or "Government of/by the Cleric," wherein the government would be supervised by, the law guarded by, and the Islamic Revolution furthered by unelected and omnipotent clerics. These clerics would function under the Supreme Leader, or Vali. The first Vali was, not surprisingly, Grand Ayatollah Khomeyni. After his death, his successor, Grand Ayatollah Khamene'i, became the Vali. He remains in his position to this day.
However, the quietists prevail. And there's a reason for this. Activists could have only been successful in a state wherein they were the majority. Sunnis will not consent to Shiite dreams, goals, acts, or dominance. One of the Hidden Imam's acts will be to convert Sunnis into Shiites, and to destroy those Shiites who oppose or block the Shiites. The quietists believe that the Hidden Imam will appear at his own time and in his own way. Shiites cannot do anything without him, so they must remain in devotion and keep praying for the imminent Reappearance. Rather than fighting with swords, they are expected to fight with prayer and proselytizing. Quietists believe that all activities regarding government, military, politics, and the world cannot be transformed to the true Islamic way unless it is done under the guidance and leadership of the Hidden Imam. Any effort would prove to be futile.

In Iraq, the leading cleric is Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani. This position is unofficial, bestowed by peer acclaim. Not only is Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani a significant figure in Iraq, he is a significant figure throughout the world. With the possible exception of activist Shiites, most Shiites refer to and follow Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani. (Activist Shiites refer to and follow Grand Ayatollah Khamene'i.) One cannot be entirely sure what Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani believes about Velaayat-e Faqeh. Some say he rejects it entirely, others say he accepts it but in a modified fashion. In any case, the Shiism he practices and teaches is a far cry from that of the activist Shiites in Iran.

The clerics are always interested in maintaining some form of influence on politics. In Iraq, this is done by people voting for those whom their clerics recommend. Clerics also determine whether the people should cooperate with or resist the government. Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani has been accused of being complacent with Saddam Hussein's rule, but through his actions during and after the liberation of Iraq, we can see that his non-opposition to the government is his default policy. So it was not surprising when he told the Shiites to cooperate with the liberating forces. Nevertheless, the fact he accorded this cooperation to what was thought to be an occupying, non-Muslim power speaks volumes regarding how far Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani will go to ensure the continuity of the Shiite people and their quietist tendencies. Never has Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani sought an official position in the Iraqi government: indeed, no quietist cleric would. They are supposed to remain separated and aloof from the government.
This is a stark contrast to Iran, where recently the theocratic regime under Grand Ayatollah Khamene'i basically orchestrated a coup, throwing the reformists out and ushering their supporters in. (We are as yet unsure what label to ally to the new government. They can be called conservative and traditional, although radical is increasingly becoming accurate. For now, We shall use "hard-line.") By exercising their authority, the clerics in the government effectually threw out the reformists and then orchestrated for Amadinezhaad to win. As a hard-liner, Ahmadinezhaad would listen to the clerics and implement their desires rather than opposing the clerics, as Hojjatollah Khatami did. In effect, the clerics regained control over Iran. Grand Ayatollah Khamene'i, who was not taken seriously before, was now the undisputed ruler of Iran.

This activist/quietist split is affecting affairs amongst Shiites in Iraq. Activist groups, such as Shiite militias and Muqtada as-Sadr's group, are supported and funded by Iran. These groups, in their own way, oppose and are frustrated by the quietists. On the other hand, the quietists want security, stability, and autonomy, which are all threatened by the activists. No one will publicly oppose Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani; it remains to be seen whether Grand Ayatollah as-Sistani will command the same amount of respect and prestige.

Today's issues with Iran, then, seem less to do with Shiism and more to do with the type of Shiism in Iran.

More next time.

wa inna naHnu aa'lamuun.