On the Obsession DVD

I mentioned on Thursday that I had received that day in the mail a DVD — Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.

Obsession is, according to Wikipedia, “a documentary movie about Islamist teachings and goals” that “compares the threat of radical Islamism with that of Nazism before World War II, and draws parallels between radical Islamists and the Nazi Party during the War.”

The film has been distributed in recent weeks in newspapers in “swing states” for the upcoming Presidential election. Talkingpointsmemo had tracked the distribution of the film, and according to the group behind its mass distribution the goal of the film is not to influence the election, but to foster a conversation, even though they only happened to be targeting the swing states in play in the election. Color me skeptical of their reasoning.

Not living in a swing state — the Democratic Party could run Lucifer himself as their candidate, and Maryland would give him their Electoral votes — I did not receive Obsession in the local paper. And it came as a surprise to find a copy in mail on Thursday.

Though I am not anxious to watch the film, I am curious about it. I’ve no doubt that I will find some historical lapse in the film. It is a propaganda piece, and from what I have read Obsession argues for Samuel Huntington’s “Clash of Civilizations” viewpoint — that peaceful coexistence between east and west is impossible due to the yawning chasms of religion and culture.

The causes of conflict between the Western and Islamic worlds run deep, to hundreds of years in the past, from the Crusades to the European imperialism of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It seems to me, and I admit that this is perhaps a naive idea, that the cause of continuing conflict is that, in the Islamic world, the Western countries — in particular, their culture, if not their politics — are a continuing irritant. Perhaps, if thought of in chemical terms, Western culture is like a catalyst in the chemical solution that is the Middle East. Place the catalyst in the solution, and the solution boils. Remove the catalyst, and the solution simmers down.

Perhaps there will always be conflict, but do the Western countries have to exacerbate the situation?

My solution to the problem is two-fold.

One. Withdraw American forces from Iraq. The Iraqis will be forced, absent American support, to forge a solution to their situation on their own terms. If that means multiple nations, so be it. If that means a federal republic, so be it.

Two. Develop alternate energy sources in a crash Manhattan Project/Apollo Moon Program-style project, to disentangle the United States and other nations from the need for Arabian oil supplies. Whoever develops the energy solution for the future will be in the driver’s seat for the next century (and beyond). If the nineteenth century was the British Century and the twentieth century was the American Century, who will be remembered as the driving force behind the twenty-first? The Chinese? The Japanese? The French? Who?

The advantage to these ideas? Right now, the world needs the Arab world more than the Arabs need the world, because of the energy advantage they hold. Decrease the need of the world for the oil products, and the two worlds can meet on a more level playing field.

Obviously, I am not a politician, nor a great thinker in international relations. These ideas may be too common sensical. Conflict with the Arab world will be a problem extending into the future. Will Obsession posit, as I did, constructive solutions, or will Obsession argue for a more vigorous military solution, to meet guns with more guns? Based on the film’s subtitle, I am assuming the latter.

Stay tuned.

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