The Words of the Kaufmann Family

Planning Ahead - Mere Light - Observation, Analysis, Commentary

Frank Kaufmann
January 15, 2007

16 Asian nations just signed the Cebu Declaration on Energy Security, (in the Philippines). Signatories to the Cebu Declaration on Energy Security pledged their support on ensuring the security of energy supplies in the Asian region and to work together to find alternatives to fossil fuels.

On December 1 in the New York Times and wildly reprinted everywhere, Thomas L. Friedman published "The Energy Wall," arguing that curing Western energy dependence on the Middle East will allow Western powers to continue to engage honestly with the most progressive Arabs and Muslims on a reform agenda, without being hostage to the most malevolent."

Presently there are a number of hybrid cars on the US market including the Honda Civic, Honda Accord, Toyota Prius, Toyota Camry, Ford Escape SUV, Lexus 400h SUV, Toyota Highlander SUV and the Mercury Mariner. Some of these are SUV's, and some are luxury automobiles.

I have written repeatedly that the invasion of Iraq was retrograde from every basis for analysis from spiritual to military. In addition to its falseness based on backward and anachronistic starting points, it was also unintelligent from all measures including geo-political foreign policy analysis, to the technical use of the term "intelligence." Perhaps the only benefit from this war is that its results are SO bad that it calls otherwise distant or even hostile groups to work together in search of a solution and a way past the current horrors. We must all work together to move forward toward a better world. People exploiting this cosmic misstep simply to attack Mr. Bush and his collaborators, or to pursue domestic or international political advantage, including through hearings to pin blame, are doing everyone a disservice, and all should keep track of who these people are. Electing or empowering such people will not make matters better. We must move past swinging this way or that in the vain imagination that one "side" or other can be correct in isolation.

What is noteworthy about the Cebu declaration and the front-running Western intellectuals and activists advocating and developing future oriented energy sources is the impact these developments will have on the fountainhead of Islamist militancy (and its Latin American friends).

Inexorable progress toward the development of alternative energy sources will bring with it proportional independence of major world economies from the Middle East and other politically and economically backward oil rich areas. Energy like all else in the world will be decentralized (imagine open source wiki like energy production), and human potential will finally be released from backward and moronic political habits dominating international relations even at this moment.

Beyond the general, global impact of trends toward release from bondage and enslavement based on energy greed and need, there is a special impact these developments will have on the Middle East. Progressive and enlightened Muslims should pay extreme attention to these developments and the coming of this re-alignment.

From my limited perspective this is how I see Islam in the world today. It is a tradition closely bound to the ideals of truth and justice. As such interpretation is crucial and tends to come with passion. Truth and justice are not the virtues and ideals that commonly emanate environments of soft pluralism (though they surely can in the right hands). The ideologues (not the thugs) among militant Islamists are committed to rigorous standards of Muslim interpretation. Thus in this world, it is truly the case that ONLY committed Muslims (and a small few others) can intuit and decipher the viability of militant Islamist ideologies. As such committed Muslims (of the progressive and enlightened stripe) are the ones who should passionately lead the mission to recover the ascendancy of the traditions of enlightened Islam.

There are important religious reasons for this, but the pending emergence of political and economic disengagement from the Middle East (and other backward oil rich areas) creates a new urgency. As soon as the world's major economic engines lose interest in the Middle East, if there is not in place secure foundations for the emergence of stable political society, and fecund economies, that region will sink into a black whole of dark unceasing violence and destruction with no one left to care. I could even imagine even the most virulent Zionists, calmly moving elsewhere (once again) waiting to return and rebuild (Jews seems fairly good at waiting to return. The last wait was a long one).

Energy independence and the realignment of a future world of political and economic cooperation is not THAT close. It is coming soon, but there is still time for the same types of Muslims who helped Europe through the "dark ages," to help militant Islamists through theirs. It will take courage and urgency. But much is at stake.

Frank Kaufmann is the director of the Inter Religious Federation for World Peace. The opinions here are his own

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