Tuesday, February 24, 2015

ISIS, Rabbinical Wisdom and Jihad Jujutsu


 Gamaliel was, perhaps, Jerusalem’s most respected Rabbi circa 35 A.D.  When asked how the Sanhedrin should deal with the alarming and seemingly heretical Jesus movement, he counseled restraint and patience advising that:

“if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them.”  (Acts 5 33-39)

In support of his case, he cited earlier popular “messiahs” that had come and gone of their own accord.
Today, when the West is challenged by radical Islam, Gamaliel’s sage advice rings true.  Leaving the Islamic Middle East alone to work out its issues may be the most prudent and productive response.

A thumbnail portrait of Middle Eastern history and quick peek into the probable future will provide useful perspective.


From ancient times up until the 16th Century, the legendary Silk Road and associated spice trading routes were the commercial arteries through which Europe obtained precious silks, spices and even opiates.  These routes passed through Persia and the Arabic lands.  The Middle East was prime real estate and its inhabitants prosperous traders.

Fortunes plummeted when Columbus returned from his voyage to the New World.  With the Age of Discovery, oceanic shipping displaced land based commerce,  Thus the Atlantic facing nations including England, France, Spain and the Netherlands rose to world dominance while the Middle East and Italy, then the commercial hub of Europe, withered into irrelevance.

However, the invention of the internal combustion engine coupled with the discovery of Middle Eastern petroleum made the Islamic desert wastelands a hot commodity again.  Following the First World War, the Western imperial powers assured themselves of access to Mid-East oil by divvying up the region into client states ruled by compliant war lords.

From that time onward, imperialist meddling in Mid-East by Europeans and the U.S. has never ceased. A century of political, economic and military intervention by Christian, Jewish and secular Westerners has stoked nationalist and religious resentments alike.  This is manifested in the violent “blowback” that Ron Paul and our own CIA has documented.

A look forward validates the Gamaliel strategy.  The fracking boom combined with new energy efficient technologies have broken the Mid-East stranglehold on energy.  The world is awash in petroleum and prices have tanked.  Experts estimate that we have a supply of over 200 years of crude in the ground.  My guess is that way before the supply runs out, the human race will have moved onto new energy technologies and Mid-East oil will as relevant as Silk Road trade routes in a jet plane world.

As oil income wanes in importance, the region’s people will seek other livelihoods.  This will require innovation and investment which demands economic and social liberalization.  At that point you can  kiss radical Islam goodbye unless, it is “from God” as Gamaliel hedged 2,000 years back. 

If it is from God, so be it.  But I don’t think so.  Meanwhile, Islamists use political, cultural and emotional
Jujutsu. Jihadists turn the force of Western incursions back upon their opponents. The harder that America strikes at them, the more foolish we look.

A half century ago, The United States faced a far more formidable threat from the Soviet Union, a true military super power.  At that time Princeton scholar, George Kennan, recommended a policy of “containment”, diplomatic and economic initiatives to hem in Stalinist – Soviet expansionism.  This formed the basis of U.S. foreign policy for the next 40 years.

The Marshall plan to rebuild war torn Europe and Asia was the type of program that he envisioned. This was s patient Gamaliel approach. Unfortunately, America’s militarists misrepresented Kennan’s intent.  They exploited it to justify a massive military buildup, nuclear proliferation and unceasing armed intervention the world over. 

President Eisenhower, the diplomat/warrior hero of World War II, perceived the folly of continual proxy wars and runaway military expansion.  He withdrew from the Korean War and warned his countrymen of the dangers of the “military industrial” complex in his presidential farewell speech:

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.”

Ultimately, America prevailed in its showdown with the Soviet Union, because of Gamaliel theory, not armed confrontation.  Because Soviet Communism was oppositional to human nature, it collapsed under its own weight.  It was of man, not of God.

Thus the true danger from the Islamist movement comes not from wild eyed terrorists.   The true danger is how it frightens Americans to surrender their essential liberties to the military and surveillance state.  Long before Ike, America’s first warrior president foresaw danger of a militarized government:

“a large standing Army in time of Peace hath ever been considered dangerous to the liberties of a Country… it could not be done without great oppression of the people.”

America’s enormous warfare establishment makes us unsafe by intervening in intractable international conflicts that are beyond our control and in which we have no moral standing or compelling interest.  Americans are best served by the Gamaliel strategy of allowing the will of God or nature to take its course,


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