Fareed Zakaria at PostGlobal

Fareed Zakaria

Editor of Newsweek International, columnist

PostGlobal co-moderator Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International, overseeing all Newsweek's editions abroad. He writes a regular column for Newsweek, which also appears in Newsweek International and often The Washington Post. He is a member of the roundtable of ABC News' "This Week with George Stephanapoulos" as well as an analyst for ABC News. And he is the host of a new weekly PBS show, "Foreign Exchange" which focuses on international affairs. His most recent book, "The Future of Freedom," was published in the spring of 2003 and was a New York Times bestseller and is being translated into eighteen languages. He is also the author of "From Wealth to Power: The Unusual Origins of America's World Role" (Princeton University Press), and co-editor of "The American Encounter: The United States and the Making of the Modern World" (Basic Books). Close.

Fareed Zakaria

Editor of Newsweek International, columnist

PostGlobal co-moderator Fareed Zakaria is editor of Newsweek International, overseeing all Newsweek's editions abroad. He writes a regular column for Newsweek, which also appears in Newsweek International and often The Washington Post. more »

Main Page | Fareed Zakaria Archives | PostGlobal Archives

The Veil Vs. The Suicide Belt

Pakistan's Swat Valley is quiet once again. Often compared to
Switzerland for its stunning landscape of mountains and meadows, Swat
became a war zone over the past two years as Taliban fighters waged fierce
battles against the Pakistani army. The fighting ceased because the
Pakistani government has agreed to some of the militants' key demands,
chiefly that Islamic courts be established in the region. Fears abound that
this means girls schools will be destroyed, movies will be banned and
public beheadings will become a regular occurrence.

The militants are bad people, and this is bad news. But the more
difficult question is, what should we -- the outside world -- do? How exactly
should we oppose these forces? In Pakistan and Afghanistan, we have done so
in large measure by attacking them -- directly with Western troops and
Predator strikes, and indirectly in alliance with Pakistani and Afghan
forces. Is the answer to pour in more of our troops, train more Afghan
soldiers, ask the Pakistani military to deploy more battalions, and expand
the Predator program to hit more of the bad guys? Perhaps -- in some cases,
emphatically yes -- but I think it's also worth stepping back and trying to
understand the phenomenon of Islamic radicalism.

The Swat Valley was historically a peaceful area that had autonomy
within Pakistan (under a loose federal arrangement) and practiced a
moderate version of sharia (Islamic law) in its courts. In 1969, Pakistan's
laws were formally extended to the region. Over the years, the new courts
functioned poorly, with long delays, and were plagued by corruption.
Dysfunctional rule eroded government credibility. Some people grew
nostalgic for the simple, if sometimes brutal, justice of the old sharia
courts. A movement demanding their restitution began in the early 1990s,
and Benazir Bhutto's government signed an agreement to reintroduce some
aspects of the sharia court system with Sufi Muhammed, the same cleric with
whom the current government has struck a deal. (The Bhutto arrangement
never really worked, and the protests started up again after a few years.)
Few residents of the valley would say that the current truce is their
preferred outcome. In the recent election, they voted for a secular party.
But if the secularists produce chaos and corruption, people settle for

The militants who were battling the army (led by Sufi Muhammed's
son-in-law) have had to go along with the deal. The Pakistani government is
hoping that this agreement will isolate the jihadists and win the public
back to its side. This may not work, but at least it represents an effort
to divide the camps of the Islamists between those who are violent and
those who are merely extreme.

Over the past eight years, such distinctions have tended to be regarded
as naive. The Bush administration spent its first term engaged in a largely
abstract, theoretical conversation about radical Islam as a monolithic
global ideology -- and conservative intellectuals still spout this kind of
unyielding rhetoric. By the second term, though, Bush officials ended up
pursuing a most sophisticated policy toward political Islam in the one
country where reality was unavoidable -- Iraq.

Having invaded Iraq, the Americans searched for local allies, in
particular political groups that could become the Iraqi face of the
occupation. The administration came to recognize that 30 years of the
secular tyrant Saddam Hussein had left only hard-core Islamists as the
opposition. It partnered with these groups, most of which were Shiite
parties founded on the model of Iran's ultra-religious organizations, and
acquiesced as they took over most of southern Iraq, the Shiite heartland.
The strict version of Islam that they implemented in this area was quite
similar to -- in some cases more extreme than -- what one would find in Iran
today. Liquor was banned; women had to cover themselves from head to toe;
Christians were persecuted; religious affiliations became the only way to
get a government job, including college professorships. While some of this
puritanism is mellowing, southern Iraq remains a dark place. But it is not
a hotbed of jihadist activity. The veil is not the same as the suicide

The Bush administration partnered with fundamentalists once more in the
Iraq war. When the fighting was at its worst, administration officials
began talking to some in the Sunni community who were involved in the
insurgency. Many of them were classic Islamic militants, though others were
simply former Baathists or tribal chiefs. Gen. David Petraeus's
counterinsurgency strategy ramped up this process. "We won the war in Iraq
chiefly because we separated the local militants from the global
jihadists," says Fawaz Gerges, a scholar at Sarah Lawrence College, who has
interviewed hundreds of Muslim militants. "Yet around the world we are
still unwilling to make the distinction between these two groups."

Anything that emphasizes the variety of groups, movements and motives
within that world strengthens the case that this is not a battle between
Islam and the West. In the end, time is on our side. Wherever radical Islam
is tried, people weary of its charms quickly. All Islamists, violent or
not, lack answers to today's problems. Unlike them, we have a worldview
that can satisfy the aspirations of modern men and women. That's the most
powerful weapon of all.

The writer is editor of Newsweek International and co-host of PostGlobal,
an online discussion of international issues. His e-mail address is

Comments (54)

mansour112 Author Profile Page:

I support the comments of "CITIZENOFTHEPOST".
To look at the symtoms alone cannot solve a problem.As a scientist I have to look at the underlying reasons and try to deal with them to fix a problem.I think this is an american problem as far as polticians and journalists in general are concerned.

DebChatterjee Author Profile Page:

Fareed's article has been published under a different name in Newsweek (RADICAL ISLAM IS HERE TO STAY, p. 24) issue (dated March 09, 2009). Of course it looks like Newsweek has morphed into (Islamic)Newsweek. The coverpage has Arabic script on greenbackground. Is the bin Ladin family funding Newsweek too ?

Anyway, Fareed shows that despite his outward sympathies for secularism and democracy as in the West, he is a (reluctant) supporter/advocate of Islamic extremism/fundamentalism.

One of the many flaws in Fareed's acceptance of radical Islam, is that the Muslims who are radicals by definition have to promote Shariah everywhere on earth. That's what radical Islam preaches [Quran(008:033),(009:029),(005:033),(047:004)]. Quranic messages as cited are indeed radical. No one can argue against the messages because they are Allah's timeless message. So, who is to tell they need to be re-interptreted.

Thus, if radical Muslims in the SWAT valley see home grown Muslim terrorism in neighboring India inspired by the global jihadists (Al-Qaeda), these Muslim extremists would support it, and we (non-Muslims) have to accept it as the way of life - that's what Zakaria is saying here. So, if this Al-Qaeda inspiration spreads over to Britain, USA etc., Zakaria such must be acceptable, though with reluctance.

What Zakaria does not tell the reader is that Islamic extremism, doctrinally, does NOT respect geographical boundaries. Thus survival of militant Islam implies that no place on earth would be rid of the Shariah laws. This is elaborated in Maulana Syed Abul Ala Maudoodi's famous monograph: JIHAD IN ISLAM. I would ask all serious bloggres to get a copy and read it. It is scary. Fareed has just shown that he is also not far from Maudoodi's spiritually and intellectually, though Fareed wears the American tuxedo and speaks well.

Clearthinking1, you are right on the issues. With more Fareed Zakarias influencing US foreign policy, I am sure that Osama bin Laden & Baitullah Mehsud will find sympathetic ear, and share a cup of tea at the White House.

edbyronadams Author Profile Page:

The problem with trying to divide the violent from the extreme is that every culture provides violent people and that violence often spills over to outsiders by design or accident. The problem for people outside that culture is the support that the merely extreme or those acting purely on tribal loyalty give the violent ones.

So, we produce our own Timothy McVeighs and Eric Rudolphs but they have no safe havens to organize into larger groups and create bigger threats. That is the problem with the Muslim world. People there who are not violent tolerate and support the people who are.

There is no way America will break those bonds of religious and tribal loyalty no matter how much Zakaria and Ignatius opine about it.

clearthinking1 Author Profile Page:


I hope your friends in the foreign policy world do not read this embarassing article.

You made a distinction between "those who are violent and those who are merely extreme" in Pakistan. Good call. The Sri Lankan cricket team and your dead Mumbai brethren appreciate your distinction. It's obvious.

After they have killed you and your children, Fareed will then be able to tell you that the "violent" (bad) ones are the ones that killed you and the "merely extreme" (good) ones are the ones that are applauding your death.

Excellent analysis of the threat of Islamic terrorism.

Bobr1 Author Profile Page:

As far as I understood, Mr. Zaharia classifies Islamists as "merely extreme" if they flog and behead only local villagers in Somalia or Waziristan, and as "violent" - if they do the same to white tourists. I see. OK, sure, if we like it this way. And where do we put "merely extreme" let say Saudi, Iranian, Pakistani or Egyptian Islamists who recruit, indoctrinate, supply, harbor and direct the obviously "violent" variety?
If there is a Lesson of 9/11, it is that if you find an excuse not to deal with the first type, you'll invariably get the second type.

Chaotician Author Profile Page:

Beautiful insights, but hopelessly naive! Americans care not at all about reality; only how much money can be made! Everything American is colored by this basic fact: Where's the money? How do I get more than my share? Who controls's the Money? What must I do to get some?

abhab Author Profile Page:

Zakaria says:
“All Islamists, violent or not, lack answers to today's problems. Unlike them, we have a worldview that can satisfy the aspirations of modern men and women. That's the most
powerful weapon of all.”

Well said. Notice that the degree of any country’s viability and progressiveness is inversely proportional to the degree it uses the Muslim Sharia as a basis for its legislation. Compare for example Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Is it any wonder,then, that the ten countries of the world that have the most corruption, poverty and illiteracy are majority Muslim countries?

GaryPeschell Author Profile Page:

Fareed Zakaria, I believe, is essentially right on two major points:

1) Every radical Islamic group in the world is not a threat to the United States. After all,
Hassan Nazrahla, leader of the powerful Lebanese Islamist group Hezbollah was appalled by the 9/11 attacks on New York's World Trade Center, asking rhetorically what those 3,000 American civilians had to do withthe Middle East. (His take on the Pentagon attack was more nuanced: it was a" military target" - the same rationalization used by some prominent Americans such as Congressman Peter King to justify their support for Irish Republican attacks on British soldiers, police officers and politicians just a few years back.)

2.) People quickly tire of living under radical Isalm. Case in point: Iran's young people - who will be running their country in relatively few years - appear to be chafing under Islamist social strictures. Even now, the Isalmist forces that be in Iran cannot seem to make women keep their hair completely covered in public. (Check the news photos and filmclips out of Iran!)

scepticus1 Author Profile Page:

The latest news report says that three military personnels were fired upon by militants in the Swat Valley. The spokesman for Fazlulla Mohammad informed that they were fired upon because they( militants) were not informed of the entry of the soldiers. If this is the state that the government troops have to take permission from the local militants to enter that area then what kind of peace accord is the one that was made? The ostentatious reason given is that the foot soldiers of the militants are to informed well in advance so that they will not fire at the soldiers. Next step will probably be requirement of visa. Are we to believe that the peace deal was done with just religiously fanatical outfit or with religiously militant gangsters?

Chops2 Author Profile Page:

Although I totally agree that "No country where religion rules is successful" its unfortunate that u couldn't care less about the people in the Middle East. They are people after all. They are hostage to, and stereotyped by, the extremist elements within who are psychopaths that must be defeated ideologically and militarily (as I'm sure u would agree).

But you cannot disengage because as u pointed out:
"All the U.S. needs is to get the oil out of the region at the world's cheapest possible price"

Thats part of the problem is it not?

scepticus1 Author Profile Page:

It is difficult to agree with the author's optimism. The introduction of Sharia in Swat valley is not the end but the begining. It may end like the "Arab and the Camel". Recently I heard a quote attributed to Lenin I think. He told that 'if you thrust the byonet and find mush push further. If you encounter steel leave it'. Now those who want the Islamic law to be enforced has found mush and they are not going to stop. The person who is spearheading the movement is Sufi Mohammad who had been jailed for years. Whether he is just a fundamentalist only is debatable. He had been training youngsters and sending them as Mujahideen to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. This is not exactly what somebody who is only fanatically religious will do. He is more than that. It is someone who wants to fight the infidals and bring everything to the ssstrict religious standard. It won't be the milder version of Sharia which was being practiced in Swat the one replacing the corruption ridden modern justice system which the people want to replace. It is not the modern justice system which is corrupt, it is the people. If the same people who are going to handle this Sharia also what differnce it will make. Erlier the corrupt one was threatening the poor ones with jail term or fine, now it will be " Off with your hands" or even "Off with your head". What a fate is in store for a woman who talks unwittingly to a stranger!!! Stoned to death.
Then what is the alternative? It is gloomy prospect. There seems to be none. It is said that all the military action has been for no avail. It is a wonder how such a huge military cannot defeat the terrorist who numbers few thousands. It is really a mystery. If you go by the sheer wight it will be like using a sledge hammer to squat fly. The fly seems too agile and gives a wide berth to the flying hammer. The reason must be that the genetic phobia of Pakistan the India is about attack. Sometimes I think it is more or less like the Village Chieftain who is afraid of the falling sky. If Pakistan can get over this phobia it can concentrate on its western front and lawless west. Probably the army has its own interest in keeping the cauldron boiling in the eastern sector. That is the only thing which justifies the existence of such a big establishments. India is the army's bread and butter. Send some ill-equipped hapless ones to the western bad lands and show to the world the number of soldiers killed in the fight with militants. Others can meanwhile have a good time in HQ.

clearthinking1 Author Profile Page:

Mr. Zacharia,

You have lost significant credibility as a foreign policy analyst. You wrote:
"Not all Islamic militants are global jihadists" in reference to Pakistan and Swat.

You know that this statement is ABSOLUTELY FALSE.
To present the local vs global distinction from Iraq as relevant to Pakistan is not only false but DISINGENUOUS.

You know as well as anybody that the epicenter of global Islamic terrorism is among the very people that you are apologizing for and calling "local militants" instead of "global jihadist".

This article feels more like propaganda (Islamic apologist propaganda) than objective analysis appropriate for the interests and security of the U.S.

My friend, the pressure is on and it's crunch-time for "moderate muslims" such as yourself to pick a side - modernity or Islam.
Next time you write an article for an American audience please check in any residual pan-Islamic loyalties and propaganda at the door.

qqqmul Author Profile Page:

Pakistan is falling apart. I'm in India now. It's amazing to see some Islamic woman covered in black from head-to-feet when it's hotter than hell.

Kiyoryu Author Profile Page:


is it really their own fault? Lets look take one example of an Islamic country with anti-western sentiment, like Iran:

In 1951 the Iranian parliament voted in a secular prime minister, Mossadegh. He had been voted to the parliament through democratic elections. But because he supported the nationalization of Iran's oil companies, the UK tapped the CIA to take him out. The plan was (initially) to assassinate Mossadegh and reinstate the Shah, who was in exile at the time.

Two years later Kermit Roosevelt was in Iran and Mossadegh was over thrown, reinstating the Shah as the head of the country. Fast forward 20 years, the Shah is exploiting the common Iranian and he is eventually over thrown.

Contrary to popular belief, the opposition groups were not necessarily cohesive and were at odds with each other. They Followed Khomeini not because they wanted Sharia law but because the one factor all the groups had in common was Islam, thus the Ayatollah managed to exploit that and come out on top when the Shah left.

Had the CIA never intervened, Mohammad Reza Shah would have remained in exile and there would never have been a need for the Islamic Revolution.

Every time the CIA tries to remove someone from power in these developing countries it creates a power vacuum which give the radical Islamists the opportunity to seize power. This may not be the case with Saudi Arabia or Somalia, but it certainly is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So, no, these people do not only have themselves to blame. Men like John F. Dulles and George Bush create the scenarios where radicals are allowed to come to power and ruin the lives of all the other citizens there.

Citizenofthepost-Americanworld Author Profile Page:

I beg to differ on three points which remain, it seems to me, totally unsubstantiated.

1. It is said that "we have a worldview that can satisfy the aspirations of modern men and women, and that it is "the most powerful weapon of all".

Assuming we do have a worldview, and whatever it be, it still remains to be demonstrated I believe that it can satisfy the aspirations of modern men and women in the whole of Latin America, of Africa, of Asia, as well as in the Middle East. So far, our so-called worldview has left a lot to be desired in terms of satisfying the aspirations of modern men and women, more particularly in Palestine, in Vietnam, in Haiti, in Afghanistan, in Iraq, etc.

2. With all due respect to all involved and regardless of their self-serving claims, we did not win in Iraq, whatever "win", "war" and "mission" may possibly have meant in the past, and may now mean, today, after so many attempts at defining those terms and at giving them some sort of substance throughout those years of conflict. Given our latest military adventure in Iraq is by no means over, it is still premature, I believe, to claim "victory", just as it proved premature to have once dared claim so arrogantly and foolishly "mission accomplished".

3. It is being concluded that "in the end, time is on our side."

I believe it remains to be shown exactly when, in such protracted conflicts, time has ever been on our side. The current conflicts that matter internationally have no acceptable military solutions. Unless we are prepared, therefore, to get to the root causes of those international conflicts, then to negotiate overall political solutions all parties can live with, I believe time is running against us, just as it has so far, those conflicts having only increased with time, leading all the way to the New York Twin Towers collapse. In a context of permanent conflict and of perpetual war, time is working against us as much and as fast as it is running out.

DebChatterjee Author Profile Page:

Clearthinking1 wrote:

"Or is Fareed Zacharia showing a subconscious Muslim allegiance which makes him support the ultimate cause of Islam as the world's religion and law?"

Methinks you are clear on thinking this through. Fareed is a pan-Islamist.

nuke41 Author Profile Page:

"It's worth distinguishing between Islamists who are violent and those who are merely extreme."

I agree; one group you kill, the other group you torture then kill.

clearthinking1 Author Profile Page:

This article is unusually simplistic.

"We won the war in Iraq chiefly because we separated the local militants from the global

This is an absurdly incorrect correlation between Iraq and Pakistan. We attacked Iraq, so there were local nationalist militants. In Pakistan, there is no separation between between "local" and "global".

These groups do not have the support of the locals. So who supports them? The Pakistani ISI/military. This is part of the terrorist network that has supported terrorism in India - YOUR MOTHER (&MOTHER'S)COUNTRY - and USA, Britain, etc..

If this is the level of analysis in our foreign policy elites, we are in big trouble. Or is Fareed Zacharia showing a subconscious Muslim allegiance which makes him support the ultimate cause of Islam as the world's religion and law?

1toughlady Author Profile Page:

The problem with Fareed's analysis, cogent as it is, is that once again it sells out women. I am tired of we women, and our rights, being considered expendable. Go veil the men for a change.

Maryann261 Author Profile Page:


Thank you for writing your post. It represents exactly how I feel.

The Middle East is a failure. Those living in the Middle East only have themselves to blame. As long as Islam dominates the region, it will remain a failure. No country where religion rules is successful. I couldn't care less about the people in the Middle East. All the U.S. needs is to get the oil out of the region at the world's cheapest possible price.

Pakistan will never change as long as fundamentalists are in charge. They actually run the country. Pakistan is a terrorist nation and should be treated as such.

MeNU2 Author Profile Page:

Samuel Huntington is wrong about many cultures, not just Islam. He is an intellectual white supremist, believing that Anglo Saxonism is better than other cultures.

scorpiocity2002 Author Profile Page:

The most important issue that is not talked about and not tackled in any way is CORRUPTION. Corruption at every level of the government both in the Pakistani and local level. The wealth is not spread to the SWAT land all these years and there are no development. The USA side is also tobe blamed as they have their own corruption during the BUSH and earlier years.

This topic is not ferret out in depth by any journalist including yourself. I feel there is a need to identify each and every corruption and corrupt officials and this will heighten all the conciousness of the SWAT people and they can direct their anger at the right people. I think journalists do not want to get into this area because they will be barred form access to the powerful and/or they will subject themselves to danger.

I challenge you to produce an indepth TV documentary on corruption in Pakistan and USA and named the people involved. I am not blaming you per se, I just think all you guys are refusing to recognise that the SWAT people has no where to go except to the Taliban with the complicity of corruption by your profession and those in power.

DebChatterjee Author Profile Page:

Fareed Zakaria had stated in an earlier issue of Newsweek, writing an euology for his PhD thesis advisor, Prof. Samuel P. Huntington (Harvard U)., that while Sam was an excellent person, he (Sam) got stuff about (Islam) wrong. Hence Prof. Huntington's thesis about Islam and CLASH OF CIVILIZATIONS is flawed.

Now let's see: a Muslim by religion, Fareed, must be right about Islam. So, when he suggests that there are "good Muslim radicals" and "bad Muslim radicals", he is coming to the defense of radical Islam in general. Thus, when he writes that radical Muslims who are confined within one area and do not have a global agenda are nicer, I get afraid. For, how long will it be when the localized radical Muslim becomes inspired to globalize his/her agenda ? One who enforces the veil today, can also enforce the suicide belt tomorrow. Is there any difference ? If so, what is it ?

tma_sierrahills Author Profile Page:

PS on "Safe Havens"

In an earlier post I was referring to the futility of trying to erase all "safe havens" worldwide. I was not saying that terrorists should be able to attack our troops from safe havens, nor be able to plot terrorist attacks anywhere without our spying, infiltration and, if necessary, attacking to stop a planned attack on us.
- - -
Border Enforcement + Immigration Moratorium = Job & Eco Sanity

tma_sierrahills Author Profile Page:

Re: "Safe Havens"

Good article. One problem is the idea that we must never allow so-called "safe havens," which not only assumes God-like powers on our part, but plays into the hands of militants, as we come crashing in and create more enemies.
- - -
Border Enforcement + Immigration Moratorium = Job & Eco Sanity

CAC2 Author Profile Page:


Even with a record high unemployment rate, over 90% of Americans are still employed. And even with a bad housing market, America's homeless rate is quite low compared to many other countries. And the vast majority of Americans enjoy luxuries and health care that people in most Middle Eastern countries could only dream about. But America (correctly) recognizes a problem when even a one digit minority of Americans who work hard do not have economic security, good housing, and adequate healthcare. Our "crisis" is a way of life in many Middle Eastern countries.

And, frankly, I am a highly educated woman with a good job, who owns her own home, and lives a happy life of her own making. If I was in most Muslim countries, I would be wearing some ugly black robe with a husband as ignorant as yourself, caring for your screaming brats in some mud hut in a desert.

I'll stick with America, thank you very much. I'm quite proud and privileged to be an American, a fact that is not affected by the stock market.

kushankraghav Author Profile Page:

mr. zakaria, i fully understand your intentions to provide a plan for peace in terror hotspots without reverting to war, which unfortunately kills innocent civilians along with terrorists..you believe in all regions where radical islam is tried , people get weary of it quickly.however one cannot ignore the fact that sometimes this same radicalism blows into full blown dictatorship and the region under the influence of religious radicals become isolated in such a way that the people living there do not appreciate the true meaning of liberties we in the free world value so much..they take those liberties as a form of western influence seeking to destroy their religious values..the radicals in such a situation create a atmosphere of suspicion and take advantage of it to continue their populist support..i think radicalisation of any society can be exacerbated by a atmosphere of isolation,ignorance and suspicion which are exactly the conditions radicals aim to create.
IF one wants to defeat radicalism by peaceful means it is imperative to focus on spread of secular education in islamic world and creation of institutions which strengthen democracy and foster a culture of tolerance and inclusiveness.

borntoraisehogs Author Profile Page:

This is all the fault of the infidel Bush . Obami bin Biden will soon surrender the great Satan to the jihadists .

edbyronadams Author Profile Page:

The only secularists that can stay in power are those who are willing to use terror themselves to stay astride the tiger. Perhaps we in the West can only hope for inherited power like the Saudis, the Assads or the Hashemites in Muslim majority nations or they revert to Islamist and havens for attacks against us.

Islam itself is the problem.

rlsrd Author Profile Page:

You mean pay them off. Didn't we start paying the insergents $300.00 a month to stop fighting us and that was a sticking point when we tried to hand off the military duties. The ruling party was balking at the payoffs? Plus we then packaged the deal as the SURGE and isn't Bush a hero, he was right about more trips. I think you have to get your facts straight before you speak. Oh, wait you never do that.

vikram3 Author Profile Page:

Mr. Zakaria, how do you explain 57 exclusive Islamic nations? What do they say to non-Muslims?

If most Muslims are moderate, how come they insult non-Muslims (and also kill) whenever they are in majority or even a significant minority (India, Thailand, Phillipines, UK...)?

It certainly does NOT seem like a religion of peace to me.

IyerK Author Profile Page:

Classic explantion. I just remember your Lee Kwan Yew's interview last year when he politely pointed out the american policy flaws when it comes to occupation. I remember many journalist and columnist in the east clearly saying that US should partner with some of the Baath Party members and clearly distinquish between Sadaam and his party members. As usual, US's arrogance of not listening is being paid by american life(s).

wrock76taolcom Author Profile Page:

PGOULD1 wrote:
Islam's utter failure is not so much due to the behavior of its radical and violent minority. Rather, it is the passive tolerance of its majority for the dysfunctional status quo they currently embrace. And that tolerance does not seem to be changing anytime soon.
One such passive tolerance of the majority is continuing to allow ideolgues as Islamic specialists to interpret Quran. It is time that the extremists' interpretations be challenged by the Islamic centers of learning such as the Azhar University. It is ideologues, not Muslims, who close girls' schools. Islam ask ALL believers to : read!
What could be more passive than going against God's command: read. Is a form of treason common sense as well as to God to deny girls education.

zcezcest1 Author Profile Page:

I have tremendous respect for the author, but he misses a huge point. Extremism is a step along the way to violence. Moderates don't start wars.

The author is sadly accurate, however, when he says the Taliban (and others including Hezbollah and Hamas) does bring order, something societies crave after corruption. It is truly a deal with the devil.

vernedwards Author Profile Page:

Why are we at war with Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere? Because we (the West) entered their lands and meddled in their affairs, and many of them hate us for it. We did it for oil and Israel, and to thwart the expansion of Soviet influence. Violent fundamentalism is in large measure a reaction to our persistent presence--interference, political imposition, skulduggery, and murder. We have not been the altruistic nice guys that we like to think we are.

I say that we should leave Muslim lands and leave them to their own devices, and that we should be very selective about which of them we allow to enter our country until some level of mutual trust has been established. If we continue to stay (which we undoubtedly will), we face many years of violent conflict.

thelaw1 Author Profile Page:

Extremists that use violence are different than extremists that live in the past or live to the letter of the Koran.

Once you start blowing crap up you need to be exterminated or jailed for life. Trials will only be used successfully for propaganda by our enemies.

Most of us understand exactly what the difference is, the problem is that President Obama campaigned as if he did not understand. I have heard nothing to date about this except that we are going to give 900 million to HAMAS through the ever reliable UN.

Strength through weakness, promised and now being delivered admirably.

am_polsky Author Profile Page:

The distinction is tactically relevant, but not strategically relevant. Islamic extremists create the environment and supply the recruits to the global jihad.

Moreover, Islamic extremists have frequently become militarized -- without any obvious signs. Consider the London 7/7 bombers and other European Islamists. Their Islamic faith was rigorous, but not violent-- until one day when they decided to be violent.

A more useful observation in the article is:
"Wherever radical Islam is tried, people weary of its charms quickly."

It occurs to me that the best antidote to radical Islam is . . .the experience of living under radical Islam. In the West, our interventions have acted to "save" people from the disasters they've chosen. Left to their own devices, sooner or later the Iranians will throw off the mullahs. . .

Shiveh Author Profile Page:

There was a man living in Iran in early 20th century called “Ahmad Kasravi”. A philosopher, atheist, renowned naturalist and an outspoken anti-clergy that was eventually knifed down by them; he used to say that we (in Iran) owe the clergy one last hand in running the government. He would add that it is only after people see what they would do that the country can move forward toward modernity without ever looking back.

Kasravi believed in humanity being decent and “clean” in nature. He believed in the eventual triumph of good over evil and that is why he was willing to give evil a final chance to show itself. It looks like at the start of the 21st century many countries in the Islamic world are going through his prescribed path. It is also clear that the way to clean the Islamic world of the evils of Islamofascism is thru education and presenting the clear differences between a way of life that values each individual life and a death cult that grows in violence. The west has hastily chosen a militaristic path to confront this evil, while our best weapon is our love of life and pursuit of dignified living. So, stop bombing them and help them rebuild their societies. It is cheaper and it will also help all of us in this single planet we all live in.

jeangerard Author Profile Page:

I also think that fundamentalisms of all types will gradually disappear with broad inter-cultural education and experiences, the best that modernization has to offer. A worldwide economic system based on jobs, food and health and welfare of ordinary individuals would help. I agree that such changes can't be brought about by force. It will take time and cooperation. I also fear that we don't have much time left to get it right, and at present cooperation is overwhelmed by competition and greed. But I have some hope.

Rational7 Author Profile Page:


I completely agree.


You refer often to HATE. Take a minute and read your own post. You are only serving to paint yourself as ignorant and hysterical.

Rational people are able to debate ideas while maintaining a respectful tone.

jack9 Author Profile Page:

Fundamentalism of ANY kind is a problem.

bryanmcoleman Author Profile Page:

After reading the rather loquacious post with the mixed case style penned by "Somali", i am reminded yet once again that it is the wise man who keeps speaks quietly and the fool who shouts, waves, and dances.

Advice to Somali. You would serve yourself better to keep quiet rather than make a complete mockery of who and what you are.

DoTheRightThing Author Profile Page:

Zakaria is wrong. Initially, the Sunni militias welcomed Al Qaeda, and then, finding the AQ manners (roasting babies, etc.) not to their liking, partnered with the Coalition to eliminate AQ in their areas. Similarly, in the South, initially the Shiite militias, some with Iranian-supplied weapons and fighters, controlled large areas. But when the Iraqi government soldiers came to those areas to establish control, the civilian population cooperated with the Iraqi government against the Iranian-backed Shiite militias. Unfortunately, in time, the Sharia law now in force in Pakistan will produce a population groomed to follow - not oppose - Al Qaeda and Taliban leadership.

thetrajectory Author Profile Page:

Pakistan has been compared to a matryoshka doll of terrorism in an article at http://thetrajectory.com/blogs/?p=236
A counter-terrorism strategy for Pakistan needs to be comprehensive and long-term; there are no quick-fix solutions.

rannrann Author Profile Page:

Fareed you write, "Wherever radical Islam
is tried, people weary of its charms quickly."

Well, one would hope this to be the case, but the radicals demand power and obedience and once they have it they will not give it up easily, to anyone. So, the people may tire of it as the Afgans did under the Taliban rule before the US invasion but they were also powerless to overturn it without the US invasion.

Frankly, I think the US has tried in Afganistan but without strong Afgan and Pakistan leadership there is not much for the US to do for the long term.

I think the only people who can change Afganistan, Pakistan, Iraq or Iran are the people of these Nation's themselves, it is their culture, religions and laws and they must choose.

IN fact the US should never have invaded Iraq. Afganistan is another story, NATO should have stepped in long before the US invaded to help people overturn the Taliban, simply, for what they were doing to the female population.

I think the US can only be of help to Nations such as Afganistan, Pakistan or Iraq in dealing with their radical Islamists, upon request, otherwise, the US, should only deal with radical Islamists that are threatening the US.

Time is not necessarily helpful, afterall, time has only multiplied extremism in the past 10 years.

sumantrawat Author Profile Page:

Pakistans problem has more to do with its inability to look in the mirror and recognize its dual identity.On the one hand it seeks to be a liberal democracy on the other it wants to be an Islamic republic.Mr.Zakaria you can't have it both ways.The less educated aggressive and willful Pashtun ideology that wants Sharia will get its way one way or the other.Pakistan clearly needs either a loose federation or another breakup a process that is afoot even as the debate over the future of Pakistan continues.

kaycwagner Author Profile Page:

Your comments are enlightening but frightening. I can only hope your brave predictions are right, that normal human need for harmony will in the end prevail. The choice between veil and sucide belt is more difficult for me as a woman than you might imagine. The barriers that existed in this country until the last 20 or so years were nothing in comparison to the degrading and sometimes fatal conditions that exist in these hard core Islamic nations yet I experienced sufficient attudinal change to guarantee that forced to live in an Islamic country, I would choose not the belt, but the automatic rifle and I would use it without hesitation.

edbyronadams Author Profile Page:

"But if the secularists produce chaos and corruption, people settle for


It may be quite beyond the secularists to maintain order since their opposition believes that chaos is a prelude to power and that death in service of that power is blessed.

pgould1 Author Profile Page:


America has experienced its own form of cultural dysfunction in its history. What made American slavery so insidious was not so much the slave holders themselves as it was the passive acceptance by an entire people who willingly fed, clothed and nurtured the beast referred to as the "peculiar institution."

Many years after our own Civil War, Mark Twain tried to explain how slavery could be tolerated for so long by so many seemingly intelligent and decent people. Twain noted that when you find yourself being raised in a culture where everyone and every institution you are taught to obey and respect (i.e. one's own parents, law enforcement officers, judges, businessmen, politicians, media figures and clergy) assures you of the legitimacy for what is occurring, it is the rare person who rises up to protest.

Islam's utter failure is not so much due to the behavior of its radical and violent minority. Rather, it is the passive tolerance of its majority for the dysfunctional status quo they currently embrace. And that tolerance does not seem to be changing anytime soon.

And do it goes...


pihto999 Author Profile Page:

LOL. Zakaria will be attacked for this by the domestic and foreign Left and by the fanatic Muslim extremists. Tactically, Zakaria is correct. There is nothing new about it: in WW2 US allied with Stalin to fight a bigger evil. But there must be no alliances like this strategically. Look where our alliance with Saudis brought us.

Spreading Freedom is the only answer. It worked in Japan in 1945, it worked in Iraq. Oh yes it did, even anti-American MSM admitted it and grudgingly write articles about it! And now Left who had huge stake in US defeat in Iraq are having a fit.

yeolds Author Profile Page:

Mr Zakaria:

Please get off your high horse, presuming that any problem you perceive to be anti=american can be solved by the USA. There are a number of problems with your world view:

1/. USA is corrupt almost beyond repair see the mess you made of the world economy, yet non of the actors ade in jail, indeed, most of them are collecting stupendous incomes at the expence of the TAXPAYER.

2/. If the USA does not reform its public and private economy, by reducing its bubbles and spending only cash they have, the USA is heading into bankrupcy - would take but one event of foreigners refusing to buy any more Treasuries [or refusing to roll over maturing treasuries] and the USA economy is caput, as the USA $ would lose its reserve status, thus no OIL IMPORT financed by printing presses.
3/. You do not have any military or other interst either in Afganistan [they did not cause 9/11] in Pakistan, they do not want your support of puppets [as in the last 30 years or so] and you can not afford any war expense as your economt is collapsing.
4/.You and the USA can not afford to buy off the various groups as you did to Sunnis [$300 per month per individual] as you do not have the funds -except by putting more odious debt on your children and grandchildren or by begging more cash from China.
5., I would strongly suggest that you quit harping on foreign policy, and start writing notes showing how the USA can recover [though never to the level of 2007] from the mess created in the last few years. Read some economic data [not the false pronouncements of the USA government] and try to find acceptable solutiuons.

smithjohnson748 Author Profile Page:

Zardari's leadership of Pakistan is described as one of cunning, devious, erratic. His mishandling of the political situation has come in the way of the US operations against Al Qaeda and the Taliban at a time when the Obama Administration is re-tooling its Afghan strategy. He leadership of Pakistan must dismantle the infrastructure used by terrorist organizations in its territory to root out terrorism from the region. Pakistan pretending to take action against the terrorists is not enough. Their problem is rooted in their intelligence agency, the ISI. Until and unless Pakistan addresses this problem, the U.S. should not provide any assistance to Pakistan.

gaga19832002 Author Profile Page:

Its just like here in the US. We have
radical Christians whom I tolerate and
we have extremist Christians who blow
up federal buildings, kill federal agents
and shoot doctors who are providing legal
medical procedures.

PostGlobal is an interactive conversation on global issues moderated by Newsweek International Editor Fareed Zakaria and David Ignatius of The Washington Post. It is produced jointly by Newsweek and washingtonpost.com, as is On Faith, a conversation on religion. Please send us your comments, questions and suggestions.