The West can't change Islam, and it's folly to try

Former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich's recent Op-Ed attempts to paint President Obama as part of our Middle East problem ("As Middle East burns, Obama fiddles," Sept. 30). His suggestion that moderate Muslims help remove the threat from radical Islam to our culture exposes a typically shallow appreciation of the situation.

The politically correct mantra that all our problems are caused by a small faction of Islamist terrorists is disingenuous at best. From moderate believers to radical fundamentalists, Muslims of all stripes abhor our promiscuity, women's equality, mixing of the sexes, homosexuality and tolerance for drugs and alcohol.

But most damning in their eyes is our democracy, which allows us to believe or not believe in God and to determine individually our relationship to Him. Blasphemers, missionaries and Muslim converts to Christianity face execution under Sharia law, and all attempts to impose western values onto Islam merely inflame the situation.

From Nigeria through North Africa and into the Middle East and Asia, there are 1.3 billion Muslims in a mosaic of complex, intertwined political entities. There are multiple ethnic groups with variations of a single religion — the majority Sunni and minority Shia, along with a few smaller sects — and a total absence of democracy.

The dominant institutions are the military, Islamic theocracies and tribal structures based on family and clan loyalty. Every nation has some different combination of these three elements.

From the 1920s until the 1960s, all the Muslim nations were colonies of Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands. The Europeans eventually were kicked out in violent uprisings. The only reason we entered the region was our need for Middle Eastern oil.

We lost the oil reserves by 1980. Every administration and Congress since has careened from one costly debacle to another — in Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan — with no logical rational for our presence.

We fostered regime change in Libya and Egypt that gave the Muslim Brotherhood control in Egypt and power to a gaggle of Islamic militias in Libya. We are supporting rebels in Syria with no idea who will replace the country's beleaguered dictator, Bashar Assad. And either Israel or the U.S. will eventually attack an Iran that is supported by Russia and China.

It is time to pack up our kit and leave before we engage in another unwinnable war that could end in a global conflict that has nothing to do with our national security.

Charles Campbell, Woodstock

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