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November 22, 2008

This is an awesome video demonstrating molecular mechanisms in our cells.

I love it! :D


In case that the above link doesn't work for you;


(click to play the upper left video player)


With narration;



(Errmm..is there anybody here study molecular cell-bio ?)

08:17 PM Dec 01 2008


Russian Federation

it's not easy but possible...

 Thank you  for your great explanation. The mankind has  made and is making huge steps in the shpere of  gene structure cognition;and it's true, that many illnesses  can be cured, or are ready to be cured after  realizing how the mechanisms of the gene interrelations work.

What is your study in this field devoted to?

05:06 AM Nov 30 2008



Glad to see that you both like it :)

For the question; 

Do you think, it is possible to study  all the functions of  organism 100%?


If we are talking about human (only one species) alone, I think, now a day, we already have a quite clear picture of  functions of each organs in our body. 

But, if the term 'all functions of organism' means all physiological mechanisms in molecular level in all cell types. That's a very huge area, but also the ultimate goal.

There are approximately 20,000-25,000 genes in our genome. In a functional context, intracellularly, interactions of biomelecules are dynamically going on, many separated events occur simultaneously but linked to each other, like many long cascades of dominos that would be connected at some points. And, intercellularly, there are a large number of cellular interaction types too.

To elucidate every connections of the interactions requires a huge investment and dedication of brilliant scientists who can creatively design great experiments. As far as I know, there are many attempts using high-troughput methods to observe such molecular interactions. Currently, the gaining knowledge increases exponentially.


In summary, I think, it's not easy but possible.

 It's just a matter of when. The accumulating of the information will keep going on until the goal is accomplished, IMHO.

12:08 AM Nov 28 2008


Russian Federation

When I studied the structure of an atom, I always thought that The Solar System could be just  one atom of the Universe.

 Watching the video about the cell structure of a human organism, I thought, that  a human body could be a whole Universe.

Do you think, it is possible to study  all the functions of  organism 100%?

12:33 PM Nov 25 2008


Russian Federation

Really fascinating! Have never imagined before that a human body like the whole universe.

November 17, 2008

...A drinking water tasted different..

The air around me seemed thin and cold..

My head was just numb..(for app. 10 minutes)

..That was when I lost a 4.7 Gb folder..


Nov 17, 08 

Ps. MDF = My dear files

10:56 AM Nov 18 2008


Russian Federation

Jadd! Hi! How are you? How is your holiday? In what circumstnaces did you lose your 4.7 Gb folder? What was the most interesting? ....

10:51 AM Nov 18 2008


Russian Federation

• Didn’t you tell me before that to lose meant to gain;)

November 4, 2008

....An interesting article. (IMO)



What if Islam had never existed? To some, it is a comforting thought: No clash of civilizations, no holy wars, no terrorists. Would Christianity have taken over the world? Would the Middle East be a peaceful beacon of democracy? Would 9/11 have happened? In fact, remove Islam from the path of history, and the world ends up pretty much where it is today.   

Imagine, if you will, a world without Islam. admittedly an almost inconceivable state of affairs given its charged centrality in our daily news headlines. Islam seems to lie behind a broad range of international disorders: suicide attacks, car bombings, military occupations, resistance struggles, riots, fatwas, jihads, guerrilla warfare, threatening videos, and 9/11 itself.

Islam seems to offer an instant and uncomplicated analytical touchstone, enabling us to make sense of today's convulsive world. Indeed, for some neoconservatives, Islamofascism is now our sworn foe in a looming World War III.   But indulge me for a moment. What if there were no such thing as Islam? What if there had never been a Prophet Mohammed, no saga of the spread of Islam across vast parts of the Middle East, Asia, and Africa?  Given our intense current focus on terrorism, war, and rampant anti-Americanism, some of the most emotional international issues of the day, it is vital to understand the true sources of these crises. Is Islam, in fact, the source of the problem, or does it tend to lie with other less obvious and deeper factors?   For the sake of argument, in an act of historical imagination, picture a Middle East in which Islam had never appeared. Would we then be spared many of the current challenges before us? Would the Middle East be more peaceful? How different might the character of East-West relations be? Without Islam, surely the international order would present a very different picture than it does today. Or would it?  


From the earliest days of a broader Middle East, Islam has seemingly shaped the cultural norms and even political preferences of its followers. How can we then separate Islam from the Middle East? As it turns out, it's not so hard to imagine.   Let's start with ethnicity. Without Islam, the face of the region still remains complex and conflicted. The dominant ethnic groups of the Middle East-- Arabs, Persians, Turks, Kurds, Jews, even Berbers and Pashtuns--would still dominate politics.

Take the Persians: Long before Islam, successive great Persian empires pushed to the doors of Athens and were the perpetual rivals of whoever inhabited Anatolia. Contesting Semitic peoples, too, fought the Persians across the Fertile Crescent and into Iraq. And then there are the powerful forces of diverse Arab tribes and traders expanding and migrating into other Semitic areas of the Middle East before Islam.

Mongols would still have overrun and destroyed the civilizations of Central Asia and much of the Middle East in the 13th century. Turks still would have conquered Anatolia, the Balkans up to Vienna, and most of the Middle East. These struggles--over power, territory, influence, and trade--existed long before Islam arrived.   Still, it's too arbitrary to exclude religion entirely from the equation. If in fact Islam had never emerged, most of the Middle East would have remained predominantly Christian in its various sects, just as it had been at the dawn of Islam.

Apart from some Zoroastrians and small numbers of Jews, no other major religions were present.   But would harmony with the West really have reigned if the whole Middle East had remained Christian? That is a far reach. We would have to assume that a restless and expansive medieval European world would not have projected its power and hegemony into the neighboring East in search of economic and geopolitical footholds. After all, what were the Crusades if not a Western adventure driven primarily by political, social, and economic needs?

The banner of Christianity was little more than a potent symbol, a rallying cry to bless the more secular urges of powerful Europeans. In fact, the particular religion of the natives never figured highly in the West's imperial push across the globe. Europe may have spoken upliftingly about bringing Christian values to the natives, but the patent goal was to establish colonial outposts as sources of wealth for the metropole and bases for Western power projection.   And so it is unlikely that Christian inhabitants of the Middle East would have welcomed the stream of European fleets and their merchants backed by Western guns. Imperialism would have prospered in the region's complex ethnic mosaic--the raw materials for the old game of divide and rule. And Europeans still would have installed the same pliable local rulers to accommodate their needs.   Move the clock forward to the age of oil in the Middle East. Would Middle Eastern states, even if Christian, have welcomed the establishment of European protectorates over their region? Hardly. The West still would have built and controlled the same choke points, such as the Suez Canal.

It wasn't Islam that made Middle Eastern states powerfully resist the colonial project, with its drastic redrawing of borders in accordance with European geopolitical preferences. Nor would Middle Eastern Christians have welcomed imperial Western oil companies, backed by their European viceregents, diplomats, intelligence agents, and armies, any more than Muslims did. Look at the long history of Latin American reactions to American domination of their oil, economics, and politics. The Middle East would have been equally keen to create nationalist anticolonial movements to wrest control of their own soil, markets, sovereignty, and destiny from foreign grip--just like anticolonial struggles in Hindu India, Confucian China, Buddhist Vietnam, and a Christian and animist Africa.   And surely the French would have just as readily expanded into a Christian Algeria to seize its rich farmlands and establish a colony. The Italians, too, never let Ethiopia�s Christianity stop them from turning that country into a harshly administered colony. In short, there is no reason to believe that a Middle Eastern reaction to the European colonial ordeal would have differed significantly from the way it actually reacted under Islam.   But maybe the Middle East would have been more democratic without Islam?

The history of dictatorship in Europe itself is not reassuring here. Spain and Portugal ended harsh dictatorships only in the mid-1970s. Greece only emerged from church-linked dictatorship a few decades ago. Christian Russia is still not out of the woods. Until quite recently, Latin America was riddled with dictators, who often reigned with U.S. blessing and in partnership with the Catholic Church. Most Christian African nations have not fared much better. Why would a Christian Middle East have looked any different?   And then there is Palestine. It was, of course, Christians who shamelessly persecuted Jews for more than a millennium, culminating in the Holocaust. These horrific examples of anti-Semitism were firmly rooted in Western Christian lands and culture. Jews would therefore have still sought a homeland outside Europe; the Zionist movement would still have emerged and sought a base in Palestine. And the new Jewish state would still have dislodged the same 750,000 Arab natives of Palestine from their lands even if they had been Christian--and indeed some of them were.

Would not these Arab Palestinians have fought to protect or regain their own land? The Israeli-Palestinian problem remains at heart a national, ethnic, and territorial conflict, only recently bolstered by religious slogans. And let's not forget that Arab Christians played a major role in the early emergence of the whole Arab nationalist movement in the Middle East; indeed, the ideological founder of the first pan-Arab Ba.th party, Michel Aflaq, was a Sorbonne-educated Syrian Christian.  

But surely Christians in the Middle East would have at least been religiously predisposed toward the West? Couldn't we have avoided all that religious strife? In fact, the Christian world itself was torn by heresies from the early centuries of Christian power, heresies that became the very vehicle of political opposition to Roman or Byzantine power. Far from uniting under religion, the West's religious wars invariably veiled deeper ethnic, strategic, political, economic, and cultural struggles for dominance.   Even the very references to a Christian Middle East conceal an ugly animosity. Without Islam, the peoples of the Middle East would have remained as they were at the birth of Islam--mostly adherents of Eastern Orthodox Christianity. But it's easy to forget that one of history's most enduring, virulent, and bitter religious controversies was that between the Catholic Church in Rome and Eastern Orthodox Christianity in Constantinople--a rancor that still persists today. Eastern Orthodox Christians never forgot or forgave the sacking of Christian Constantinople by Western Crusaders in 1204.

Nearly 800 years later, in 1999, Pope John Paul II sought to take a few small steps to heal the breach in the first visit of a Catholic pope to the Orthodox world in a thousand years. It was a start, but friction between East and West in a Christian Middle East would have remained much as it is today. Take Greece, for example: The Orthodox cause has been a powerful driver behind nationalism and anti-Western feeling there, and anti-Western passions in Greek politics, as little as a decade ago, echoed the same suspicions and virulent views of the West that we hear from many Islamist leaders today.  

The culture of the Orthodox Church differs sharply from the Western post-Enlightenment ethos, which emphasizes secularism, capitalism, and the primacy of the individual. It still maintains residual fears about the West that parallel in many ways current Muslim insecurities: fears of Western missionary proselytism, the perception of religion as a key vehicle for the protection and preservation of their own communities and culture, and a suspicion of the corrupted and imperial character of the West. Indeed, in an Orthodox Christian Middle East, Moscow would enjoy special influence, even today, as the last major center of Eastern Orthodoxy. The Orthodox world would have remained a key geopolitical arena of East-West rivalry in the Cold War. Samuel Huntington, after all, included the Orthodox Christian world among several civilizations embroiled in a cultural clash with the West.  

Today, the U.S. occupation of Iraq would be no more welcome to Iraqis if they were Christian. The United States did not overthrow Saddam Hussein, an intensely nationalist and secular leader, because he was Muslim. Other Arab peoples would still have supported the Iraqi Arabs in their trauma of occupation. Nowhere do people welcome foreign occupation and the killing of their citizens at the hands of foreign troops. Indeed, groups threatened by such outside forces invariably cast about for appropriate ideologies to justify and glorify their resistance struggle. Religion is one such ideology.   This, then, is the portrait of a putative world without Islam. It is a Middle East dominated by Eastern Orthodox Christianity--a church historically and psychologically suspicious of, even hostile to, the West.

Still riven by major ethnic and even sectarian differences, this Middle East possesses a fierce sense of historical consciousness and grievance against the West. It has been invaded repeatedly by Western imperialist armies; its resources commandeered; its borders redrawn by Western fiat in conformity with the West�s various interests; and regimes established that are compliant with Western dictates. Palestine would still burn. Iran would still be intensely nationalistic. We would still see Palestinians resist Jews, Chechens resist Russians, Iranians resist the British and Americans, Kashmiris resist Indians, Tamils resist the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka, and Uighurs and Tibetans resist the Chinese.

The Middle East would still have a glorious historical model--the great Byzantine Empire of more than 2,000 years standing with which to identify as a cultural and religious symbol. It would, in many respects, perpetuate an East-West divide.   It does not present an entirely peaceful and comforting picture.  


It is, of course, absurd to argue that the existence of Islam has had no independent impact on the Middle East or East-West relations. Islam has provided a unifying force of a high order across a wide region. As a global universal faith, it has created a broad civilization that shares many common principles of philosophy, the arts, and society; a vision of the moral life; a sense of justice, jurisprudence, and good governance--all in a deeply rooted high culture. As a cultural and moral force, Islam has helped bridge ethnic differences among diverse Muslim peoples, encouraging them to feel part of a broader Muslim civilizational project. That alone furnishes it with great weight.

Islam affected political geography as well: If there had been no Islam, the Muslim countries of South Asia and Southeast Asia today--particularly Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, and Indonesia--would be rooted instead in the Hindu world.   Islamic civilization provided a common ideal to which all Muslims could appeal in the name of resistance against Western encroachment. Even if that appeal failed to stem the Western imperial tide, it created a cultural memory of a commonly shared fate that did not go away.

Europeans were able to divide and conquer numerous African, Asian, and Latin American peoples who then fell singly before Western power. A united, transnational resistance among those peoples was hard to achieve in the absence of any common ethnic or cultural symbol of resistance.   In a world without Islam, Western imperialism would have found the task of dividing, conquering, and dominating the Middle East and Asia much easier.

There would not have remained a shared cultural memory of humiliation and defeat across a vast area. That is a key reason why the United States now finds itself breaking its teeth upon the Muslim world. Today, global intercommunications and shared satellite images have created a strong self-consciousness among Muslims and a sense of a broader Western imperial siege against a common Islamic culture. This siege is not about modernity; it is about the unceasing Western quest for domination of the strategic space, resources, and even culture of the Muslim world--the drive to create a pro-American Middle East.

Unfortunately, the United States naively assumes that Islam is all that stands between it and the prize.   But what of terrorism--the most urgent issue the West most immediately associates with Islam today? In the bluntest of terms, would there have been a 9/11 without Islam? If the grievances of the Middle East, rooted in years of political and emotional anger at U.S. policies and actions, had been wrapped up in a different banner, would things have been vastly different?

Again, it's important to remember how easily religion can be invoked even when other long-standing grievances are to blame. Sept. 11, 2001, was not the beginning of history. To the al Qaeda hijackers, Islam functioned as a magnifying glass in the sun, collecting these widespread shared common grievances and focusing them into an intense ray, a moment of clarity of action against the foreign invader.  

In the West's focus on terrorism in the name of Islam, memories are short. Jewish guerrillas used terrorism against the British in Palestine. Sri Lankan Hindu Tamil Tigers invented the art of the suicide vest and for more than a decade led the world in the use of suicide bombings--including the assassination of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Greek terrorists carried out assassination operations against U.S. officials in Athens. Organized Sikh terrorism killed Indira Gandhi, spread havoc in India, established an overseas base in Canada, and brought down an Air India flight over the Atlantic. Macedonian terrorists were widely feared all across the Balkans on the eve of World War I. Dozens of major assassinations in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were carried out by European and American anarchists, sowing collective fear. The Irish Republican Army employed brutally effective terrorism against the British for decades, as did communist guerrillas and terrorists in Vietnam against Americans, communist Malayans against British soldiers in the 1950s, Mau-Mau terrorists against British officers in Kenya--the list goes on. It doesn't take a Muslim to commit terrorism.  

Even the recent history of terrorist activity doesn't look much different. According to Europol, 498 terrorist attacks took place in the European Union in 2006. Of these, 424 were perpetrated by separatist groups, 55 by left-wing extremists, and 18 by various other terrorists. Only 1 was carried out by Islamists. To be sure, there were a number of foiled attempts in a highly surveilled Muslim community. But these figures reveal the broad ideological range of potential terrorists in the world.   Is it so hard to imagine then, Arabs--Christian or Muslim--angered at Israel or imperialism's constant invasions, overthrows, and interventions employing similar acts of terrorism and guerrilla warfare? The question might be instead, why didn't it happen sooner?

As radical groups articulate grievances in our globalized age, why should we not expect them to carry their struggle into the heart of the West?   If Islam hates modernity, why did it wait until 9/11 to launch its assault? And why did key Islamic thinkers in the early 20th century speak of the need to embrace modernity even while protecting Islamic culture? Osama bin Laden's cause in his early days was not modernity at all--he talked of Palestine, American boots on the ground in Saudi Arabia, Saudi rulers under U.S. control, and modern Crusaders. It is striking that it was not until as late as 2001 that we saw the first major boiling over of Muslim anger onto U.S. soil itself, in reaction to historical as well as accumulated recent events and U.S. policies. If not 9/11, some similar event like it was destined to come.   And even if Islam as a vehicle of resistance had never existed, Marxism did. It is an ideology that has spawned countless terrorist, guerrilla, and national liberation movements.

It has informed the Basque ETA, the FARC in Colombia, the Shining Path in Peru, and the Red Army Faction in Europe, to name only a few in the West. George Habash, the founder of the deadly Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, was a Greek Orthodox Christian and Marxist who studied at the American University of Beirut. In an era when angry Arab nationalism flirted with violent Marxism, many Christian Palestinians lent Habash their support.  

Peoples who resist foreign oppressors seek banners to propagate and glorify the cause of their struggle. The international class struggle for justice provides a good rallying point. Nationalism is even better. But religion provides the best one of all, appealing to the highest powers in prosecuting its cause. And religion everywhere can still serve to bolster ethnicity and nationalism even as it transcends it especially when the enemy is of a different religion. In such cases, religion ceases to be primarily the source of clash and confrontation, but rather its vehicle. The banner of the moment may go away, but the grievances remain.  

We live in an era when terrorism is often the chosen instrument of the weak. It already stymies the unprecedented might of U.S. armies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere. And thus bin Laden in many non-Muslim societies has been called the next Che Guevara. It's nothing less than the appeal of successful resistance against dominant American power, the weak striking back.an appeal that transcends Islam or Middle Eastern culture.   MORE OF THE SAME But the question remains, if Islam didn't exist, would the world be more peaceful?

In the face of these tensions between East and West, Islam unquestionably adds yet one more emotive element, one more layer of complications to finding solutions. Islam is not the cause of such problems. It may seem sophisticated to seek out passages in the Koran that seem to explain �why they hate us. But that blindly misses the nature of the phenomenon. How comfortable to identify Islam as the source of the problem; it is certainly much easier than exploring the impact of the massive global footprint of the world's sole superpower.   A world without Islam would still see most of the enduring bloody rivalries whose wars and tribulations dominate the geopolitical landscape. If it were not religion, all of these groups would have found some other banner under which to express nationalism and a quest for independence.

Sure, history would not have followed the exact same path as it has. But, at rock bottom, conflict between East and West remains all about the grand historical and geopolitical issues of human history: ethnicity, nationalism, ambition, greed, resources, local leaders, turf, financial gain, power, interventions, and hatred of outsiders, invaders, and imperialists. Faced with timeless issues like these, how could the power of religion not be invoked?   Remember too, that virtually every one of the principle horrors of the 20th century came almost exclusively from strictly secular regimes: Leopold II of Belgium in the Congo, Hitler, Mussolini, Lenin and Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

It was Europeans who visited their world wars twice upon the rest of the world two devastating global conflicts with no remote parallels in Islamic history.   Some today might wish for a world without Islam in which these problems presumably had never come to be. But, in truth, the conflicts, rivalries, and crises of such a world might not look so vastly different than the ones we know today.

By Graham E. Fuller
Former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA in charge of long-range strategic forecasting. He is currently adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver.

Published in FOREIGN POLICY Jan-Feb 2008


Ask the Author: Graham Fuller


1. Mr. Fuller, I agree with your statement that “[s]truggles over power, territory, and trade existed long before Islam arrived.” They also existed long before the arrival of the world’s most powerful country. So my question is, What would a world without America look like?

Great question, worthy of a long essay. All I can say is that I think the United States—partly due to World War II and the Cold War—has come to believe it is indispensable to the world order. I’m skeptical about that belief. That is not to condemn America’s past role in international politics, but nothing is truly indispensable, with perhaps rare exceptions. Believing in this self-serving myth of indispensability provides grist for self-imposed global adventures and an urge toward single-superpower global hegemony—a condition that is as unhealthy for the world as it is for the superpower. Without the United States, more countries would have to assume greater burdens and take greater global responsibilities. I think the United States produced some superb political and cultural values in its day (its latter-day imperial ventures aside), but it is not “indispensable.”

2. Rather than asking hypothetical questions, we must focus on the very real problems of the world. Islamists say that they want everyone to convert to Islam, a worldwide Islamic government, and the implementation of sharia law. With the threats these illiberal theocrats pose in so many weak political systems, how can you argue that religion is irrelevant?

I don’t argue that religion is irrelevant: Indeed, it becomes the powerful and emotive banner for all kinds of quite worldly global ventures. All fanatics seek to universalize their beliefs as part of imposing their political and cultural agenda—fascism, communism, racism, religions of various sorts. Remember the popular Christian hymn “Onward Christian soldiers, marching as to war”? Western Christian states used Christianity to justify the spread of their hegemony. Unquestionably large numbers of Muslims would be thrilled to see the whole world one day embrace Islam. Large numbers of Christians believe the same about their own religion, that it would fulfill “God’s plan.” But there are precious few Christians, or Muslims, who believe they should go to war over that.

I don’t think we need worry about Muslims seeking to take over the world. Even if some Muslims think universal Islam might be a nice idea, few really believe it will happen (except at the end of time). Most Muslims have much better things to do with their lives than go on a Crusade. The idea of successfully imposing a single Muslim imperium ruled by sharia law is a fantasy. Not even Saudi Arabia or Iran has pure sharia law: They cherry-pick and accept huge elements of international law in their legal systems. Rulers who attempt to impose heavy-handed and crude versions of Islamic law are unpopular and have no political future. Most Islamists know that.

3. Had Islam never existed, would religion still be so influential in Arab politics?

Yes, probably so. As my article notes, many politicians and political systems reach out to religion to justify, ennoble, and universalize their ambitions. Also, all cultures and communities undergoing periods of intense hardship serve to create messianic religious visions. With the United States’ Global War on Terror spreading across most of the Muslim World, conditions of war and hardship are rampant in many areas. Radicalism—especially in religious or cultural forms—is immensely stimulated. So I think Arab states under the gun from the West would turn to religion as one way to galvanize their people, through Eastern Orthodoxy or some other religion if there had been no Islam. But don’t forget that Arabs have turned to Arab nationalism and Marxism-Leninism as banners of defense against Western imperialism in the past as well.

4. In the first paragraph, you write that it is neoconservatives who say Islam is the source of this conflict, calling it an “uncomplicated analytical touchstone.” But why don’t you believe what the jihadists themselves say? They quote the Koran, chapter and verse, to provide a scriptural basis for their war against the West. Why don’t you attribute these sentiments to those that want to subjugate infidels and establish a worldwide religious government?

I agree that radical jihadists have such a vision. I also think they are a small minority that would not be enjoying such a prominent voice if the Muslim world were truly independent, free, and prosperous, and not on the receiving end of a century or more of Western meddling. We also must be cautious about accepting and believing the language of these radicals and assuming they represent the bulk of Muslim political culture and beliefs. These individuals are nowhere in power and extremely unlikely to come to power. Whatever we may think of Iran, Sudan, or Pakistan, none of them engages in messianic foreign policies and actions. Allowed to develop on their own, stable Muslim societies will not long tolerate radical extremists in their midst. The United States hands these radicals a gift when American “boots on the ground” offer justification for radical views that claim to “liberate” their country, or Islam, from hated foreign occupation.

5. Although I commend your excellent article that challenges the myth that a world without Islam would be any different, I have a problem with your choice of language.

Intellectuals must stop using rhetoric or associating Islam with the terrible events of the recent past. Unfortunately, in the West it seems we continue to use stereotypical terms such as “Islamic Extremist,” “Islamic Radical,” or “Islamic Fundamentalist” anytime one commits an offense and is somehow linked to Islam. We never do the same for the Christians who commit atrocities. Those people are called out by name and given the title of criminal, as they should be.

My question is, do you agree that these labels are detrimental to our understanding of the true nature of the conflict between a small number of evil people and the rest of the world?

I fully agree that whole religions should not be judged or maligned because of the actions of small numbers of zealots. In the case of today’s Muslim terrorists, however, large numbers of them do flaunt the use of religious words linked to Islam for their own ends: Hizb-e-Islam, Hizbollah, Jaysh Muhammad, Ansar al-Islam, Sayf al-Islam, al-Takfir wa’l Hijra, Jama’a Islamiyya, and so on.

So Muslims themselves must discourage parties and groups from casually adopting the name of god, the prophet, or Islam for their own movements. Note the very successful, highly moderate Turkish party with Islamist roots that is now in power wisely calls itself the Justice and Development Party.

6. In writing about Osama bin Laden, you remind people that his “cause in his early days was not modernity at all—he talked of Palestine, American boots on the ground in Saudi Arabia, Saudi rulers under U.S. control, and modern “Crusaders.” Do you think bin Laden believes his stated religious convictions, or do you think he invokes Islam as a convenient recruiting tool and a means to some other nonreligious and political goal?

It’s often hard to sort out the religion from the politics, especially since religion in all societies is so closely linked to culture—another vehicle for a community’s ambitions and goals. I think Osama bin Laden does believe he is interpreting the true message of Islam, but he invokes it in response to a clarion call for empowering the Muslim world to stave off the West, its power, and its armies and preserve their own culture and communities—which happen to be Muslim. Preserving the purity of faith and its adherents is a means to an end: to become a powerful community capable of defending itself against outsiders.

It’s important to note that there has long been a love-hate relationship with the West in the Muslim world. Most Muslims don’t literally want to become America, but they do admire its power and its successes. They would like to emulate that power—partly to stave off Western intervention (like having nukes)—and they do like many of the values and the prosperity that it seems to bring. But they see American values as strictly for U.S. domestic use: When it comes to American foreign policy, they see ignorance, brutality, aggression, double-standards, hypocrisy, and highly selective application of American “values” designed to justify and advance the American national interest of the moment.

7. Do you believe all hyperpowers are destined to be targets of attacks by weaker groups?

Yes. I think any state that tries to dominate the globe will be resisted—by nearly everyone else. That state will then bear the blame for much of what happens in the world. That is happening today. Even the Europeans are quietly backing away from the American project—and not just under President Bush, but from all those who speak of “restoring American leadership,” which is perceived as a code word for restoring American hegemony. American “leadership” can appear with a harsh and ignorant face as today, or it can arrive with a smiley face. Either way, it still amounts to domination.

If we in the West believe in the separation and balance of powers in our domestic arenas, and we fight any corporation, however well intentioned, from establishing a market monopoly, then the global order, too, should not be dominated by any one state. It’s not healthy for anyone. We need a return to a healthy, multipolar world that provides checks and balances against overly ambitious powers—including the United States.

8. You understandably focus on the influence of Islam on the world stage. And you also mention that religion in general is often used as a mask for deeper grievances. But you must agree that some religions have shaped the path of history more than others. If not Islam, do you think the world would have been much different without Christianity? Judaism? Hinduism?

That is a great cosmic question that also requires an essay—or book—in response. On the first level, the power of a religion to shape the world is linked to its size and geographical reach. So Christianity and Islam rank at the top in terms of global impact. Hinduism is too local and not universal. Judaism is limited to a small, global community of Jews and is not a universal religion, either, since it is the faith only of its own few Chosen People. Buddhism is the only other global contender, and for a variety of fascinating reasons, it may be the religion or philosophy of the future. Although Buddhism is suspicious of politics, it is not entirely exempt: It has an ugly and jingoistic face in Sri Lanka against the Hindu Tamils, for example.

On the cultural and intellectual level, religion has had a huge impact, apart from its misuse by states and leaders. Judaism, as the first monotheistic faith of any prominence, has greatly influenced Christian and Muslim thinking. Christianity has had massive cultural and intellectual impact on the West (we still listen to Bach’s B Minor Mass and Handel’s Messiah and visit Chartres). Islam had equal impact in its heyday; Arabic words and terms are the coin of the intellectual vocabulary of the entire Muslim world. But Islam, for a variety of complex historical factors, is now weak, dispirited, and unfocused, fighting its own demons, caught up in its own postcolonial mess, struggling toward its own reformation and reestablishing its dignity and independence. Islam’s roots and vision are deep and broad enough that I am sure it will have an intellectual renaissance in time—as a body of intellectual, spiritual, and social thought. But it is a culture best not provoked at this sensitive stage in its history.

I’m not, by the way, one of those people who believes that the world would have been better off without religion. Religion is a human enterprise. As such, it has been the source of much sublime thinking, art, and values. But it has also served as justification for many horrible things in history: suppression, bloodshed, and conquest, to name just a few. If there had been no religion in human history, I’m quite confident humans would have come up with other forms of ideology to do the same terrible things to each other. Look at the real horrors of the 20th century—all secular: Mussolini, Hitler, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Rwanda, the list goes on.

9. You write, “To the al Qaeda hijackers, Islam functioned as a magnifying glass in the sun, collecting these widespread shared common grievances and focusing them into an intense ray, a moment of clarity of action against the foreign invader.”

It’s a powerful argument, but why then don’t we see large groups of Christian Africans attacking the United States? Or peoples anywhere that there is poverty that could be attributed to colonialism?

Great question, with no single easy answer. Here are a few stray thoughts, many from the article. The existence of a worldwide Muslim community—an umma—has enabled Muslims to become aware of what is happening to them across the globe, especially now with modern communications such as the Internet and satellite TV. So whatever sets of legitimate concerns and grievances exist are magnified across a huge listening board, giving all Muslims the sense that their whole faith, culture, and very existence is under global siege: Afghanistan, Bosnia, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Kosovo, Lebanon, Malaysia, Nigeria, Palestine, etc. That is the perception and the source of offense.

I don’t see Christianity, at least at this stage of its late history and decline in the West, as capable of galvanizing united resistance in quite the same way. It’s not the poverty per se, that is the key element of Muslim grievance; it’s more the invasive character of Western or American culture: the globalization that can wreak social and economic havoc on the developing world; U.S. troops stationed around the world; U.S. support for dictators of convenience; American domination of global media (hence the huge power of an Al Jazeera that first broke that U.S. monopoly and gives voice to non-Western concerns); the U.S. right to call the shots around the world, quite literally; unqualified strategic support for everything Israel does to contribute to Palestinian misery; Guantánamo, Abu Ghraib, the list goes on. I’m not justifying all of these concerns, but they are dominant perceptions with a considerable basis in reality for many people.

Muslims also have a civilization spread over a huge geographic area and a glorious history to which they can appeal in the name of “resistance” today; non-Muslims don’t. Africans, perhaps because of the heavy impact of tribalism that Christianity has never effectively overcome, are more divided and don’t seem to speak or act in the name of Christianity. Islam, for all its political shortcomings, seems more capable of overcoming ethnicity within the faith than Christianity is—but that’s only on a comparative basis.

It is important to note that most of the worst of Islamist violence toward the West and the United States is quite recent. Let’s remember Palestinians were throwing rocks for years before they turned to bombings, and still later when they turned to suicide bombing—an action barely a decade old in the Arab world. In other words, something very bad is going on in the U.S.-Muslim confrontation that is leading to escalation. Whatever it is, we must get a handle on it before further escalating American violence and stimulating radical Muslim violence; they are now playing off against each other. That’s bad, but that’s new. The world simply wasn’t that way for most of modern history, even when the Ottoman Empire was fighting European armies.

10. You mention several “neoconservatives” who propagate a false understanding of Islam. Who, in your view, are the worst offenders?

I’m reluctant to get involved in speaking of “offenders,” but a few figures have gone out of their way to become prominent in this struggle. Norman Podhoretz is leading the charge to bomb Iran in what he sees as a titanic struggle against “Islamofascism”—what he calls “World War IV.” Other neocons more modestly call it “World War III,” or “the long war.” Daniel Pipes is extremely outspoken about the threat of Islamism to the world in near apocalyptic terms. So is Steven Emerson. This, despite the fact that no state has embraced Osama bin Laden, and Islamists have no army, no real territory, and no public institutions. It is an underground cult on the run that can only draw adherents in times of the worst conditions visited upon the Muslim world—to which U.S. policies now directly contribute.

Terrorism today has indeed become a problem for the world. That is an undeniable fact. Today, for geopolitical reasons, the Middle East seems to be the most incendiary area. That wasn’t the case 50 years ago, when the communist threat dominated everyone’s thoughts.

Terrorism is growing because of inept American methods of analyzing the phenomenon and its solution, which is a long-term and essentially political one. Terrorism must be dealt with directly through intelligence and police methods, not by invading armies that create massive “collateral damage” and turn hearts into rage—and new recruits—against the United States. Only when American boots on the ground are pulled out of the Muslim world can the region begin to calm down and return to some degree of normal life in which Islam takes a “normal” place within a broad range of human identity and activity.

Graham E. Fuller is a former vice chairman of the National Intelligence Council at the CIA in charge of long-range strategic forecasting. He is currently adjunct professor of history at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver. He is the author of numerous books about the Middle East, including The Future of Political Islam (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).



05:15 AM Nov 06 2008



"So Muslims themselves must discourage parties and groups from casually adopting the name of god, the prophet, or Islam for their own movements."

I totally agree with this saying.

I hope to see muslims ppl take serious consideration on this suggestion.

If they see that something is not right going on about their religion, for the sake of their religion's name, they should act agianst such wrong doing.

It's a must. IMO.


12:32 PM Nov 05 2008


Russian Federation

So long  article and seems unbiased.. I doubt if a professor of an  American university can express such point of view on this religion .In general ordinary people  are sure that extremists in Islam feed upon Mohammedan religion. I’ve heard that after 9/11  in the USA even music( including Arabic) isn’t allowed to play in the café and restaurant not to hurt feeling of other wise-minded, ..  

Nevertheless Islam is seemed to have the most number of true believers. In my opinion treligion is one of the most important thing in the society that can makes people and society  more powerful... so maybe in the future the arabic counties becomes superior to the European ones.....