Militarist Mind at Work

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This is just weird. According to Edward N. Luttwak, in his op-ed in today’s New York Times, a Barack Obama presidency would complicate American relations with the Middle East because he is — are you ready for this? — an apostate Muslim!

As the son of the Muslim father, Senator Obama was born a Muslim under Muslim law as it is universally understood. It makes no difference that, as Senator Obama has written, his father said he renounced his religion. Likewise, under Muslim law based on the Koran his mother’s Christian background is irrelevant…

His conversion [to Christianity], however, was a crime in Muslim eyes; it is “irtidad” or “ridda,” usually translated from the Arabic as “apostasy,” but with connotations of rebellion and treason. Indeed, it is the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit, worse than murder (which the victim’s family may choose to forgive).

With few exceptions, the jurists of all Sunni and Shiite schools prescribe execution for all adults who leave the faith not under duress; the recommended punishment is beheading at the hands of a cleric, although in recent years there have been both stonings and hangings.

O.K. Luttwak does hedge quite a bit on the idea that we might expect death sentences declared on Obama, at least from Middle Eastern governments. On the other hand —

another provision of Muslim law is perhaps more relevant: it prohibits punishment for any Muslim who kills any apostate, and effectively prohibits interference with such a killing.

And Luttwak writes merrily along with accounts of apostate folks who were, in fact, killed anyway despite their governments’ letting them off the hook. Oh goody. If we elect Barack Obama president, the terrorists have an excuse. Not even Luttwak’s mushy closing paragraph can cover up this subtext:

That an Obama presidency would cause such complications in our dealings with the Islamic world is not likely to be a major factor with American voters, and the implication is not that it should be. But of all the well-meaning desires projected on Senator Obama, the hope that he would decisively improve relations with the world’s Muslims is the least realistic.

Because. they. will. try. to. kill. him.

Edward N. Luttwak is the author of Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace, a book I actually read. In it, he argues that humanitarian assistance to war-torn locales is a bad thing, because it tends to keep people alive and therefore prolong the hostilities. It’s not surprising to see Luttwak’s mind continuing to work in its eyebrow-raising manner to this very day.

I just checked the index of Luttwak’s book and no, there are no references to precious bodily fluids. In case you were wondering.


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