2/22/2006

A Defense Of Ali al-Sistani

After a blast destroyed the dome of a Shi'ite mosque in Iraq, many have expressed worry that Iraq may indeed be headed toward civil war. The leader of the Shi'ites, Ali al-Sistani has called for restraint and a seven-day morning period. Meanwhile, al-Sadr has his thugs ready to attack the Sunnis at a moments notice. I did some research and the role of these two is rather fascinating. This is very bare-bones, but here goes:

The difference between the Shi'ites and the Sunnis is similar to Catholics and Protestants. They both worship the same God, but in slightly different ways. I think many people confused this as an ethnic difference, but it's not. In the Shi'ite camp, there are two basic schools of though. Sadr, (the fat bastard) is of the school of Iran's Ayatollah Khomeni, that being that the clerics should be the government and rule by strict Islamic law. Sistani is of the school of thought known (rather quaintly) as Quietism. In this school, Islamic law should rule one's personal life and should be the source of governmental law, but not necessary control the government. Democracy, free elections are fine as long as they don't greatly conflict with Islamic law.

In short, if we have to pick a horse in this race, it's Sistani. Many like to point out that he's hardly an American democrat (small "d"), and that's true...I wouldn't want him as my Congressman, but as far as Iraq goes, he's just fine. He's been saying all the right things, today being a good example and as far as a leader of the Shi'ites goes, he's the best we could hope for. Sadr, however, is bad news and has tried to challenge Sistani for the "heart and soul" of the people. Some have said Sistani is handling this in "the old ways," (or, if you will, "old-school") that being he's letting Sadr hurt himself with his own rhetoric (sounds familiar). I hope it works, or else our not killing Sadr when we had the chance will become the biggest mistake of the war.

And you know what else? Ali al-Sistani has his own website. He's got a staff...PR, the works. Smart readers of Jim-Rose.com know this is a very good sign.

Things are going to be tough in Iraq for the next decade, but we can't get skitish. In little ways, we're exporting our culture to the Middle Eastern country. For every Sadr that shoots his mouth off to the David Gregory's of the world, there's a dozen other Iraqis being ignored by the Goodbye Lenin Media that would like to have a coke, surf the Internet (maybe to Sistani's site) and watch King Kong on DVD. It's the same thing with China...just keep pumping capitalism down the pipeline and democracy will follow.