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Fighting Extremism – the American or the European Way?

"It's long been predicted that France's simmering cauldron of lawless Muslim ghettoes would someday combust," contends Duncan Currie in his article called "Over There, Over here" in the rightwing magazine The Weekly Standard.

Along with the chronic troubles in Iraq, the 7/7 bombings in London, and last year's murder of Theo van Gogh in Holland, the French riots pose one of the central geopolitical questions of our age: Does democracy quell ideological fanaticism?  President Bush thinks so, and he's based his long-range anti-terrorism strategy on spreading liberal institutions and decent governance in the Middle East. 

The French have never had much truck with the Bush doctrine. Too risky in its military aims and too quixotic in its democratic triumphalism, has been the Chirac government's basic stance. Of course, anti-Bush doctrine attitudes among the French can partly be explained by sheer resentment of the American hyperpuissance. But as the riots indicate, they were also a function of pragmatic fears--fears that support for the U.S.-led war in Iraq would spark France's ethnic-Muslim powderkeg.  […] Democracy may well cure the poisonous political culture of the Arabs, as President Bush has predicted. Whether it quashes the mini-intifadas set to explode in Holland, England, et al. will depend on the self-confidence and self-assertion of European elites.

He explains why the United States is in a better position and quotes Prof. Francis Fukuyama's recommendation for Europe:

First, countries like Holland and Britain need to reverse the counterproductive multiculturalist policies that sheltered radicalism, and crack down on extremists. But second, they also need to reformulate their definitions of national identity to be more accepting of people from non-Western backgrounds.

John Rosenthal, Editor of the Transatlantic Intelligencercriticizes the widespread perception in the media and blogosphere of a French intifada  by pointing out that Muslim and non-Muslim rioters mix and that

there is as of yet no hard evidence that Islam - and, more specifically, the political form of Islam preached by the Islamists - has played any role in the outbreak or spread of the violence. (...) The danger in the present circumstances is precisely that the Islamists will gain in prestige by virtue of their ability to maintain order where the French police cannot.


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ROA on :

Three comments: One: If the Weekly Standard is a rightwing magazine, is the New Republic a left wing magazine? Where do you draw the line on rightwing vs. leftwing, conservative vs. liberal? Or is it always rightwing vs. liberal? Two: based on the book “The Greatest Threat” by Richard Butler, former chairman of UNSCOM and the Volcker Report, isn’t it possible that much opposition to the Bush Doctrine was because Saddam had bribed the French, Russians, and Chinese? Three: It does seem very likely that France’s unwillingness to assimilate their immigrants was a major cause of the current riots, and that Muslim fundamentalists will use this to their advantage in the future.

Esther on :

The Weekly Standard is Bill Kristol and Fred Barnes' paper right? Since they're two of the Conservative voices on FoxNews, I think it's safe to call it what you did. People need to not be offended by rightwing or leftwing. If it's true, it shouldn't be offensive. To comment 3, which came first -- chicken or the egg? Did France refuse to assimilate their immigrants or did the Muslim immigrants refuse to assimilate? My bet is on the latter.

ROA on :

If you also refer to publications on the other side of the political spectrum as leftwing rather than liberal, then I have no objection. My objection is when one end of the political spectrum is called rightwing and the other liberal. You could be right about France wanting to assimilate their immigrants, but the immigrants resisting those attempts. If that is true, then the French were idiots for not restricting immigration.

Joerg W on :

ROA, I did some research and found out that we called Mother Jones a "liberal" magazine in August. So we have been inconsistent and should do better. However, isn't "liberal" in many circles as derogatory as "left-wing"? I think we have been fair to the Weekly Standard. Many blogs use only left wing or only right wing sources, we use both and present different points of view. Regarding oil for food bribes: Everything is possible. Nothing surprises me anymore. | 10/28/2005 | The oil-for-food fiasco "Federal and state prosecutors in New York have already charged more than a dozen companies and executives with paying bribes to the former Iraqi government. The Securities and Exchange Commission is conducting its own inquiry into Iraqi businesses. Texas oil tycoon Oscar S. Wyatt Jr., the former chairman of Coastal Corp., pleaded not guilty Thursday in New York to charges that he paid bribes. The report says Wyatt-controlled firms paid more than $7 million in illegal surcharges. Wyatt has denied wrongdoing. Iraq used its oil wealth to influence some countries' policies at the United Nations, rewarding Russia with $19 billion in oil contracts and France with $4.4 billion in deals, according to the report. But the report also notes that numerous U.S. companies, prevented from directly entering the trade, established subsidiaries in France to do business in Iraq."

Chris on :

Great write up. I have no objection to parsing a magazine to the political directions of it's editors. Many magazines and newspapers try (sometimes ironically) to balance their opinions, but no harm in calling a spade a spade.

Online Wong PoKér Hu on :

I honestly think that the extremists that have been causing a raucus in Europe do not represent the majority of those partaking in Islam. Their actions are the manifestations of the twisted minds of a select few.

joe on :

Actually the only time a publication, writer, speaker, etc is every identified is when he is considered by the M$M to be a conservative. Then they are labelled as "right wing". So Howard Dean and Ted Kenndy are consider mainstream just as the NYT, IHT and CNN, both the US and International flavors are mainstream while FoxNews and the WSJ are considered to be right wing. I do not think any of you can find an example of a member of the US Democratic Party ever being called left wing by the US M$M. It happens all the time to members of the Republican Party.

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