Islamology

Afghanistan. Something is wrong again. And again, there is a room for political analysts (“political analysts”, too) to explain that somebody failed to understand something and failed to do something right.
It is not for the…

Afghanistan. Something is wrong again. And again, there is a room for political analysts (“political analysts”, too) to explain that somebody failed to understand something and failed to do something right.
It is not for the first time in the life of political analysts. Something is happening that has not been planned but also illogical. Both world wars were unplanned; there should have been no Saigon once and no Kabul now.
A few decades ago, the heralds of the end of the USSR such as Andrei Amalrik were considered to be less than sane, not only in the Soviet Empire, but also in the West. It was hard to imagine the collapse of the empire in general, and that it would happen very soon… It was really unbelievable. Sovietology as a science of social research was compromised by its inability to foresee the most important thing – the collapse of the USSR. Sovietologists tended to believe that it was impossible to defeat the Moscow state without a global catastrophe, and that it could only be contained (according to George Kennan). The Sovietologists were naively mistaken when they studied the five-year plans, the evolution of the officially published economic indicators, seemingly believing in these finger-wagging figures. Sovietologists carefully studied the speeches of political leaders, looked for “hidden messages” in parade photographs, and pondered with serious faces why 99.9% of the voters voted in one Soviet republic while “only” 99.6% in another. Many political and social science theses were written, but when the USSR collapsed, it turned out that all those studies and predictions were just rubbish.
Today, there is nothing to hide; we have a similar situation in Afghanistan. There is no need to pretend that the US and its allies have failed to do what they did not do. They did a great deal, and they were convinced that they were doing the right thing, that they were going to create a Western democratic Afghanistan. They certainly spared no resources, they devoted two decades to it, a time when generations change. They almost believed that the objective had already been achieved, because it was the achievement of the objective that was the formal motive for ending what was supposedly the longest war in US history (in my humble estimation, the Cold War was longer, although it ended not in the way it was planned).
It can be said at once that the USSR and Afghanistan “studies” had the same methodological shortcomings – in both cases, the countries were seen as communities distinct from liberal democracies, and all those differences were seen as evils that, once eliminated, would be fine. More precisely, all Islamic states are unhappy insofar as they are different from the West, and so “Westernization” is the true path to happiness.
As much as we try put everything under the cover of political correctness, Islamic civilisation has generally been seen as lagging. It had to be introduced to progress, enlightened, freed from religious dogma and even dressed in European clothes. Sincerely. And it was completely irrelevant that, as a result of this ‘laggingieki’, Afghanistan and the Islamic world in general had their own vision, which was largely trampled by Islamologists.
What do we think, rightly or wrongly, about political Islam? We are a collection of comments and studies that I have observed, asked and read. I do not claim to be complete and correct. Right or wrong, let the Islamologists of the present and the future decide.
Christianity and Islam are irreconcilable religions and conflict between them is inevitable. Probably, this is not true. The texts of the fundamentals of religion contain many of the same personalities, and those personalities are not in conflict. However, political analysts, who proceed on the assumption that Islam is fundamentally unchangeable, predict that the conflict between the West and the East will now mean a war between traditional Christianity and Islam, rather than a confrontation between nuclear countries. We have an interesting fact: Russia may play the role of a neutral state in this conflict, something similar to India’s role in the so-called Non-Aligned Movement during the Cold War.
Islam as a religion is an integral part of some countries’ politics. It certainly is. In the Euro-Atlantic community, the practice of faith is treated by politicians as a kind of ‘leisure activity’, and there is an attempt to simply insist on separating religion from politics. Samuel Huntington saw it as a great advantage of Western civilisation that the authorities of politics and religion are distinct, but it is possible that, in the 21 century, an advantage may become a disadvantage. The power of the Islam religion is clearly a better consolidator of community than the Western belief in the power of the common market and trade.
Islam offers an attractive idea for transforming the world. It is rather untrue, and that is good news for the West. Rather than dictating its own conditions to the world, Islam has taken to tearing down the existing world, as if only by tearing it down can something be built. Destruction is harmful to Islam itself. There are no attractive global proposals in Islamic politics today, so a global Islamic revolution is unlikely.
A clash of civilisations is inevitable. It is very much like the truth. If we continue to think as we have been, it will be a long war, and let us not complain that we lost and that is the end of it. The end is far away, and, by the way, we can win.
Egidijus Vareikis

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