Comments sections of various websites are filled with people who have dim, insulting, or downright horrific views on Islam, largely because the religion itself is riven with just enough differences to make it super hard to generalize it. But what’s going on with Sunnis and Shi’a and what in the hell is an Alawite? Let’s … Continue reading Sectarianism Made Super (Or: How To Tell Your Shi’a From Your Sunni)
I just got done with a week's holiday in Jordan, the only country in the region not to have suffered catastrophic civil war, conquest, or some other kind of military disaster in recent years. I saw a variety of Free Syrian Army coffee mugs (with little slogans etched into them with a nail, like "Damascus … Continue reading The Levantine Mess (Or, What It Looks Like From Jordan These Days)
Human systems often are too large, and too complicated, for single leaders to have undue influence. We often like to think that human history would have changed had we added a good leader here or shot up a bad leader there. But killing Hitler would not have changed the security challenge faced by a rising … Continue reading 5 Leaders Who Really Mattered
My last post posited on how debt was not going to be the thing that took down the American superpower. But it did get me thinking - what could? History's seen several superpowers come and go, starting with the Roman Empire in the ancient days to, most recently, the Soviet Union. How do superpowers fall? … Continue reading How To Break A Superpower in Seven Easy Steps
It's tons of fun to fall into alternative realities, as well as think you're smarter than everyone around you. Hence the reason why conspiracy theory books sell quite well, and why, even when somebody can't properly calculate the strength loss caused by ignited jet fuel, they might still believe Mossad was behind 9/11. But I … Continue reading 5 Great Conspiracies Made Geopolitical
Contrary to some true Islamophobic believers, politics and Islam have not always gone hand in hand. Under the Ottoman Empire, most Muslim territories were going the same way as Christian Europe – faithful but modernizing, scientific but not atheistic. Up until the 1950s, the difference in religious participation between Europeans and Muslims wasn’t that much. … Continue reading Where the hell did political Islam come from?