Common Ground or Conflict?

A pundit was pontificating last night that the new guy in the White House is doing the right thing by reaching out to the Muslim world to try and reach common ground with them.  Apparently, he is set to praise the Muslim contributions to science and medicine and their cultural heritage.  The announced belief is that if we make an effort we will clear up “misapprehensions” about the US and will find this common ground to build a lasting peace with Muslims.   Supposedly there are only a handful of Muslims who are terrorists and threaten our nation and if we dialogue and project an aura of appreciation with the majority of them all will be well.  The guy in the White House is convinced that this is an achievable goal. 

I am all for common ground.  Having spent a career as a lawyer I am accustomed to the dynamics of disputes and their resolution.  Settling cases is usually a much better outcome than the vageries of litigation.  My job was often to find that common ground to settle contentious issues.  But sometimes there was no common ground.  We went to trial for a winner take all effort.   Naturally, the trial did not always produce a clear cut winner who took it all.  Trials  are normally messier than that and the outcomes only partially reward the righteous and the penalty to the wrong doer is not the justice the prevaling party had hoped would occur.   Still there was no common ground and the courtroom battle was the end result.  Sometimes you have to recognize that common ground does not exist between the contending parties no matter how hard they try and even when they are acting in good faith to seek that middle area of agreement that both parties can accept.

I wonder if the US really has any common ground that can be reached with the Muslim world.   Many of them probably do like us and many of them are not out for violence or jihad; however, there are significant numbers that do wish us ill, and all those from the West.   We have no way of separating the bad apples from the rest.  The bad guys have melded themselves into various societies from the Middle East to the US and all points in between.  An example is the home grown Muslim terrorists in Britain and in Spain and even here on our shores.  The Netherlands have had assassinations and so have the Germans at the hands of Muslim terrorists.  Does anyone trust Pakistan or the Afghan peoples?  I don’t know about you but I have that eerie feeling of walking down a dangerous alley and not knowing when someone would attack.  You might walk right through without any problem, but on the other hand, knowing they are out there makes your hair stand on end.  Our cultures are very different.  We may be prudish or more like Paris Hilton but in the West we do cherish our freedoms and rights.   You have to only look at the way the Muslim world treats its women to see the stark differences in outlook.  I know a few places here and there allow a bit of freedom for ladies and some even allow them to attend school.  But do you truly believe the majority of them will ever view women as equals in society?  It runs counter to the very premise of being Muslim for them to acknowledge that.  Hey, they get 4 virgins in heaven if they are martyrs and they are in fact allowed multiple wives here on the earth.    Theocracy is the foundation of their cultural and political beliefs and that will never change unless they abandon their religious beliefs.  That is certainly not going to happen any time soon.  I realize there are exceptions to this view within the Muslim world  but the exceptions are tiny compared to the majority and thus of no consequence when discussing a hoped for mutual understanding.

I know we praise cultural diversity in the US.  But that is meaningless.  Each culture has its own mores and tenets.  You could say the UN has a diverse culture but I would contend that it has no culture at all.  Look to the Balkans where they have been trying literally for centuries to find that common ground.  Only a decade ago it was a killing field there because the cultures never  meshed into a new singular culture.   I think we are better off acknowledging that we have no common ground with the Muslim world and seek to reach agreements that are purely pragmatic and self-serving for both parties.  Nations, and in this case cultures,  have no friends but only interests.  That idea has been proffered by lots of folks much smarter than me over the years and they are right.  Just as we had no common ground with the Soviets we have none with the Muslims.  We did manage to not destroy each other for over 50 years.  There were those Soviet apologists and admirers who made the same argument for decades that we should seek common ground with them.  We never could.  We could reach agreements to not destroy each other and that was about it.  We can use our trading power  and carefully utilized military power to require the Muslim states to reign in their terrorist or suffer severe reprisals.  It is a false hope and pipe dream to believe we will ever “understand” each other or sing Kumbaya around the campfire with these people.  

We are better off dealing with reality than deceptive attempts at some modern new age brotherhood of man.  I don’t wish the Muslim world harm or ill but I damn sure do want to be left in peace.  They can do their thing and let us do ours.   I like democracy and they don’t.  I completely reject the notion of a religious figure directing the affairs of our world but they find it totally accpetable.  To heck with common ground let’s just have some common sense in our relationships with them.  Our respective world views are not compatible so let’s keep our worlds separate but at peace. 

Bernacke stated today that we can’t sustain the levels of deficit spending.  Pardon me but like the teen would say–“Duh”.  What is weird is that the market even reacted to the announcement.  Such an uproar over the obvious.


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