Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Disconnecting Lebanon from Syria, Disconnecting Syria from the Syrians
"Key US legislator says will block aid to Lebanon, by Adam Entous, Reuters, 27 August 2006, http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060827/ts_nm/mideast_usa_lebanon_dc (from Democratic Underground).
"Islamic Revival in Syria Is Led by Women," by Katherine Zoepf, New York Times, 29 August 2006, A1, http://www.nytimes.com/2006/08/29/world/middleeast/29syria.html.
Tom Lantos, a California Democrat who not only supports a McCain-Lieberman foreign policy but also married a first-cousin of Zsa-Zsa Gabor, pushes for the continued separation of Lebanon from Syria:
A key U.S. legislator said in Israel on Sunday he would block aid President George W. Bush promised Lebanon and free the funds only when Beirut agreed to the deployment of international troops on the border with Syria
"The international community must use all our available means to stiffen Lebanon's spine and to convince the government of Lebanon to have the new UNIFIL troops on the Syrian border in adequate numbers," said Tom Lantos, the ranking Democrat on the U.S. House of Representatives' International Relations Committee.
Syria, showing the same stupidity that got her expelled from Lebanon in the first place, promises to play into her enemies' hands
Syria has threatened to shut its border with Lebanon if U.N. troops deploy there. Israel says it will not lift a sea and air blockade of Lebanon unless a U.N. force helps ensure that no new weapons reach Hizbollah in the south.
Meanwhile, women less glamorous than Zsa-Zsa (and not of the liberal Muslims kind) do their bit to hasten their brothers and submit Damascus to the Koran
At those meetings, participants say, they are tutored further in the faith and are even taught how to influence some of their well-connected fathers and husbands to accept a greater presence of Islam in public life.
These are the two faces of an Islamic revival for women in Syria, one that could add up to a potent challenge to this determinedly secular state. Though government officials vociferously deny it, Syria is becoming increasingly religious and its national identity is weakening. If Islam replaces that identity, it may undermine the unity of a society that is ruled by a Muslim religious minority, the Alawites, and includes many religious groups.
Syrian officials, who had front-row seats as Hezbollah dragged Lebanon into war, are painfully aware of the myriad ways that state authority can be undermined by increasingly powerful, and appealing, religious groups. Though Syria’s government supports Hezbollah, it has been taking steps to ensure that the phenomenon it helped to build in Lebanon does not come to haunt it at home.
For many years any kind of religious piety was viewed here with skepticism. But while men suspected of Islamist activity are frequently interrogated and jailed, subjecting women to such treatment would cause a public outcry that the government cannot risk. Women have taken advantage of their relatively greater freedom to form Islamic groups, becoming a deeply rooted and potentially subversive force to spread stricter and more conservative Islamic practices in their families and communities.
Mr. Abdul Salam explained that such secret Islamic prayer groups recruited women differently, depending on their social position. “They teach poor women how to humble themselves in front of their husbands and how to pray, but they’re teaching upper-class women how to influence politics,” he said.
(It is not surprising that radical Muslims are exploiting women in this way. Christians did the same thing to spread their ideology and conquer Rome. Women are not somehow opposed to religion. They are the vehicles for religion.)
Arab National-Secularism is in collapse. Since Sharon took power in 2000, and Bush took power in 2001, Lebanon and Iraq have been freed from the National-Secularist yoke. Now we see the Syrian National-Secularists increasingly isolated from their former-client and from their own people.
Like the Qaedists, the National-Secularists are losing. The dreams of our generational enemies in the Middle East are falling apart. Good.
Interesting bit about women leading the rising tide of Islam in Syria. I think the paradox of Christianity and Islam both using this approach is fascinating. If we accept your assertion that Christianity's great appeal to women was its tenet of equality for all, and that this was the main source of friction between Christianity and Rome, then does the trend in Syria tell us anything about the friction between Christianity and Islam? Clearly many of these women are choosing submission and inequality for some reason. What is it? Order? Security? And is that equality vs. hierarchy conflict the central source of friction between the two religions?
Posted by: Mike | Thursday, August 31, 2006
The universalist notion that all individuals were worth the same was the reason it was a threat to the classical regime. Remember, though, that Jesusism-Paulism did not expect men and women to act the same. It prescribed gender roles that were an integral part of the promulgation and integrity of the faith.
One thing we may be seeing in Syria (and other Islamizing populations) is a deconfliction between males and female roles, which allow more freedom for each in their domains. If sexually-deconflicted societies are run essentially as patriarchies (directly ruled by men nearly all of the time with pervasive influence by women) deconflicted families are run essentailly as matriarchies (directly ruled by women nearly all the time with pervasive influence by men). I outlined this earlier 
Many secularist regimes, however, have purposefully shunned a deconflicted strategy and gone instead for a "combined arms" one. This centralizes command through the system, leading to a powerful State that (in the case of Syria, for instance) abolishes civil societies with State-aligned society and abolishes civil families with State-aligned families. This can work as long there is a "grand ideal, overarching theme, or noble philosophy that represents a coherent paradigm within which individuals as well as societies can shape and adapt to unfolding circumstances" , but over and over again such National-Secularists ideals have failed.
Thus we are not seeing a tilt in the balance of power from women to men, so much as a desired tilt in the balance of power from the State to individuals.
(The answer to your last question may have to wait until Part VI or so of my series on Jesusism-Paulism...  ;-) )
Posted by: Dan tdaxp | Saturday, September 02, 2006
And I wanted so badly for you to take the bait on that last question!
Great point about the deconfliction of roles and State-aligned societies. That's why I love tdaxp!
Posted by: Mike | Tuesday, September 05, 2006