March 2015 – Minutes

CLUJP   Minutes – March 10, 2015

Monicello  Room,  Westminster-Canterbury of the Blue Ridge

Present: Taylor Beard, Phil Best, Warren Grupe, Bill Kerner, Elizabeth Kerner, Bob McAdams, David McFarlane, Dianne Murray, Ed Murray, Jean Newsom, John Peale, David Warren, Peter Weatherly

Guest:   William Olson, guest speaker

John Peale opened the meeting with prayer.

The minutes of February 10, prepared by Hal Horan, were approved.

Bob McAdams shared two announcements with handouts:

First Ever Virginia International Model United Nations, sponsored by the UN-USA  Blue Ridge Chapter  and the International Relations Organization of UVa, will be held on Saturday, March 21st from 9 am to 6 pm at Zehmer Hall, UVa —a participatory event for high school students and adults.  $10 fee includes lunch.

The Sunday, March 15, 2015  3 pm meeting of the UN-USA Blue Ridge Chapter at Thomas Jefferson Memorial Church, 717 Rugby Rd. will feature Dr. Phillip Schrodt of  UVa  speaking on the challenge posed by Terrorism.
Ed Murray reminded the group of our need to revamp the CLUJP website, and his recent conferring with Peter Weatherly on ways to improve it as a vehicle for our advancing of peace and justice in the community. The aim is to provide a range of information about, and to be a resource for, justice and peace issues and events in our area.  Peter is working on an interim website to help update the usefulness of the website.  Stay tuned.

Ed introduced William Olson, recent resident of Charlottesville and longtime worker in and for the government in Washington, a writer and developer of government policy, currently completing a book project: “Terrorism in the Mind of the Age: War without a Center of Gravity”; his background focus has been on ‘small wars’.

Olson’s initial observation was that the way to understand the Middle East today might be to read ‘Alice in Wonderland’.  Despite the effort to find some answers to the challenge of Islamic extremism, there is no possible dialogue with ISIS. While ISIS pursues chronic themes in Islam, they see no such thing as ‘political Islam’, since there is only ONE Islam.  ‘Islamist’ is a non-term for leaders in Muslim countries. Shi’as  (Iran) and Sun’nis (Saudi Arabia) appeal exclusively to the basic texts: Koran and Hadith. How do we respond to this?  Non-intervention is the default position Olson would take.

Muslim leaders say terrorists like ISIS are not true Islam. Yet the historic elements are present in extremists’ ideology: a sense of immediate crisis,  redemption via conversion of  all to Islam, impossibility of neutrality, a definable enemy, absolute unity of belief, posession of all truth, Islam fated to be its messenger, a utopian goal to be applied across all times and cultures, conviction that God (Allah) will resolve all in the end. Thus, compromise is a sin to be shunned.

Weak, unstable governments with a mix of rebel and disaffected groups obscure the source of extremist leadership; ‘Abu Bakur’ is the assumed name of the shadowy top leader. Whatever the source of financial backing (beyond oil), it is apt to dry up.  Saudi Arabia is probably the “purist” Islamic nation at a time when Western colonialism and secularism have prompted the crisis. There is a sense of humiliation in Islamism and  real need to get beyond this. British and Americans bear the perceived guilt. Despite Western aid, unless NGOs are Islamic, they are subversive.

Though Turkey has slowly evolved toward democracy, ISIS seeks to impose Sharia law. The Turkish government has delivered economically, but its request for EU membership has been thwarted, and perhaps that desire has recently waned.

The role of the U.S. given the two-fold current uncertainty and limited intelligence, is one of very limited involvement. Military engagement with ISIS et al requires boots on the ground—but not American boots.  The recruitment-line of terrorist groups like ISIS grabs gullible youth with certainty and the lure of glorified violence; the magic solution is world conversion to Islam. But the main enemy and obstacle is the U.S. (hence Bin Laden’s 9/11 strategic decision: attack US economic, military and governmental sites.

There is in all this the playing out of the fundamental role of Western technology and  the scientific method which questions all authority.  This raises the three universal questions:  Who decides/governs?…On what authority?…By  what method?  The process is evolving.

With thanks to speaker Bill Olson, the meeting adjourned at about 2 pm.