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RAND is Exploring Religious Conflicts

RAND is Exploring Religious Conflicts

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RAND is Exploring Religious ConflictsDr. Srinivasan KalyanaramanGregory F. Treverton1, Heather S. Gregg, Daniel Gibran, Charles W. Yost have authoreda RAND Corporation report titled "Exploring Religious Conflict". The "new" finding of this report, is an acronym "NRM" denoting "New Religious Movement", which,according to the authors, threaten to develop like tumors into violent organizations (think "Al Qaida"), threatening the USA and the rest of the world. Apparently this was the product of a 3-day Worskhop of 'intelligence analysts and religious experts' on religiousconflict, hosted by RAND corporation (estimated cost to the US taxpayer: $100,000).This report is interesting primarily because it either plumbs depths of incompetencehitherto unreached by the American "Strategic Affairs" community, or caters to a strangecombination of Marxist Communist and extreme right-wing Christian fundamentalist propaganda. It appears that RAND has "found" religion and joined another "NRM": NewReligious Media.What is cited as the intellectual foundation of the report is (University of California leftistacademic ) Mark Juergensmeyer's concept of "Cosmic War". Is this just an attempt to goone better on Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations"? Hard to tell, but the reader iswelcome to try:"This concept refers to the metaphysical battle between the forces of Good and Evil thatenlivens the religious imagination and compels violent action. Cosmic war has roots inthe theology of most religions. In the three monotheistic religions, it is the Day of Judgment, the cosmic battle between Good and Evil, and the realization of God's ultimate purpose for His creation. In Hinduism and Buddhism, it is the perennial struggle to exitthe Wheel of Existences with its continuous cycle of rebirths in order to return toBrahman or achieve Nirvana. Cosmic war ensues when this inner conflict between Goodand Evil becomes manifest - physical, not metaphysical."If that doesn't give pause to the reader who thought RAND was a professionalorganization, the methodology, data, analysis and conclusions of the RAND reportcertainly will. According to Treverton et al,"NRMs (New Religious Movements) can be found in Hinduism - the RashtriyaSwayamsevak Sangh or RSS, Israel (Gush Emunim), Christianity (the US-based IdentityMovement) and Islam, including Al-Qaeda, a global network with a transcendant visionthat draws support in the defence of Islam." And added, "…Al-Qaeda cannot be defeated by force, but only by reaching out to its roots in religion and promoting convergence of Christianity and Islam."Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld had a succinct term: "weasel words" to describe thecontortions of left-wing "analysts" and Saudi-owned American politicians to argue for appeasement of terrorism. For those who might depend on RAND for information, let us
 
 point out that Al Qaeda is considered to be a 1992 or 1996 invention. The timingcoincided with the end of the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, when the Pakistani ISI,funded by the unwitting American taxpayer through the largesse of "experts" likeRAND's, helped to turn weapons, training and the surviving hordes of Islamic extremists brainwashed in the madarssas of Pakistan, against the Infidels of the West - viz, America. Now let us examine RAND's list of "New Religious Movements" that Treverton et al tryto club with Al Qaeda - both for what it includes, and what it omits.The report's contribution is a false generalization on metaphysical, co(s)mic war, flippantcomparisons unrelated to cultural or civilizational contexts. There is little evidence of analytical rigor and virtually no empirical basis. Lacking original thought or evidence, thereport trivializes the threat of terror with the arbitrary choice of 'New ReligiousMovements' (NRMs) cited as examples of a new innovative categoryThe report appears to whitewash Al Qaeda, with its proclaimed mission of jihad againstthe world, by clubbing it with a mishmash of socio-political entities and obscuremovements. For instance, "Gush Emunim" is an organization of Israeli Settlers in theMiddle East, with no evidence of any axe to grind against anyone except those who try tooust them from their homes. The "Christian Identity Movement" is a superset of weekendwarriors in America who don camouflage and prance around the pine forests of Alabamaor Idaho, imagining a world of "Aryan Domination". And with these is RAND's amazingclassification of the Indian "RSS" (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh") as a "NEW"Religious Movement! The RSS, just to give Treverton and his gang of Einsteins a hint,was formed in 1925. That, per the calendar normally followed even in California, was 80years ago. It predates RAND and Treverton by a long way. It may even predate theAmerican entities such as the Neo Conservative Movement, the Moral Majority, and theJubilee Mission Baptist Church. The RSS is the world's largest volunteer organization,with over 12 million volunteers. How RAND came to the conclusion that the RSS is"new" and poses a threat to the rest of the world, is a question that the US taxpayers whofunded this "Workshop" and "Report" may well ask.Is RAND trying to deflect the focus of American lawmakers from the focus on war onterror? It was not too long ago that RAND's Parachini noted:"Given the thousands of Jihadists trained in Afghanistan, the struggle with al Qaeda isliable to last for a decade or more."The principal author of the present RAND report, Treverton, seemed to have differentideas:"Al Qaeda may eventually be contained, but new threats are likely to emerge. So the task is to contain terrorism; it cannot be rooted out. That task sometimes requires militaryinstruments, as in Afghanistan, but most of the time it is a matter of patient, multilateral police and intelligence work."Both quotes from a symposium held in 2003 by RAND jointly with Frontpage
 
Magazine2Garbage in, garbage out is the adage of the information age. Treverton clarifies what hemeant in the above quote, with his new statement in the present report. Here is anexample of terse observations and profound policy recommendations in the presentreport:"…Al-Qaeda cannot be defeated by force, but only by reaching out to its roots in religionand promoting convergence of Christianity and Islam."Such a policy prescription of Christian-islam religious convergence has, unfortunately, NOT been backed up by evidence and critical analysis of the underlying causes and patterns of islamist terror. After all, almost all major terror events, recorded so far, haveemanated only from Taliban (that is, madarasa students) or traceable only to terroriststrained in or with links to non-democratic, islamist countries of Pakistan and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. What does 'convergence of Christianity and Islam' mean? ShouldChristianity adopt islamist jihad as a central doctrine?When they take a break from hallucinating on 'cosmic wars', RAND thinkers mightconsider introspecting on the Hindu response to jihad in India for nearly 8 centuries. Theymay find it useful to refer to Andrew Bostom, 2005, 'The Legacy of Jihad - Islamic HolyWar and the Fate of Non-muslims,' Prometheus Books. Al Qaeda is not another NRM, it provides the justification for all the terror activities the world has witnessed so far, be it in New York, Thailand, London or Ayodhya. See also Andrew Bostom's 'Legacy of Jihad inIndia', July 2005 in the American Thinker3."Rarely understood, let alone acknowledged, however, is the history of brutal jihadconquest, Muslim colonization, and the imposition of dhimmitude shared by the Jews of historical Palestine, and the Hindus of the Indian subcontinent. Moreover, both peoplesand nations also have in common, a subsequent, albeit much briefer British coloniallegacy, which despite its own abuses, abrogated the system of dhimmitude (permanentlyfor Israel and India, if not, sadly, for their contemporary Muslim neighboring states), andcreated the nascent institutions upon which thriving democratic societies have beenconstructed."Dhimmitude: the Islamic system of governing populations conquered by jihad wars,encompassing all of the demographic, ethnic, and religious aspects of the politicalsystem. The word "dhimmitude" as a historical concept, was coined by Bat Ye'or4 in1983 to describe the legal and social conditions of Jews and Christians subjected toIslamic rule. The word "dhimmitude"5 comes from dhimmi, an Arabic word meaning"protected". Dhimmi was the name applied by the Arab-Muslim conquerors to indigenousnon-Muslim populations who surrendered by a treaty (dhimma) to Muslim domination.We note that the project was funded by the CIA's Directorate of Intelligence - the same people who did not see any threat in Mohammed Atta and Co. as they watched them enter the US and "learn to fly" in 2001. One wonders why the CIA Directorate of Intelligence

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