Ten out of ten for Anatol Lieven, while Salma Yacoob is worth a few minutes thought.
Anatol ("Engage Muslim support or lose the war on terror", Financial Times, 13 July) writes:
"The response of Britain and its allies requires better intelligence and increased ruthlessness, but also greatly improved focus on their enemies – something that the Bush administration has not only failed to provide, but has gone out of its way to obstruct...
In portraying the struggle against Islamist terrorism as a war, the Bush administration is correct, and European critics who envisage it as a mere struggle against criminals are wrong. The key questions, however, are: 'What kind of war?' and 'How can it best be fought?'.
...the Bush administration has failed in its first and most obvious strategic task: that of splitting the opposing camp. By deliberately obscuring the differences between Sunni religious extremists, Arab nationalists, Shia religious parties, Iranian nationalists and Palestinian radicals, the administration has done the gravest disservice to America and its allies.
In place of a comprehensive diplomatic and political strategy, the administration, aided by Tony Blair, the British prime minister, has advanced the promotion of democracy. But there is nothing to suggest that democratic institutions necessarily act as a barrier to extremism, especially when to socio-economic weakness is added a sense of national humiliation".
(full text attached as comment to this post).
Salma Yacoob ("Our leaders must speak up", Guardian 15 July) writes:
"...what is undeniable is that the shoddy theology - no matter how "unIslamic" and easily condemned by most Muslims - is driven by political injustices. It is the boiling anger and hurt that is shaping the interpretation of religious texts into such grotesque distortions. Such extreme interpretations exist only in specific political circumstances - they certainly do not predate them, and the religious/political equation breaks down if there is no injustice to drive it.
This leaves British Muslims in a very difficult place. To bring in these wider questions requires them to dissent from the government line. This is difficult for them, keen as they are to avoid further marginalisation. However, if Muslim leaders succumb to the pres sure of censorship and fail to visibly oppose the government on certain foreign policy issues, the gap between the leaders and those they seek to represent and influence will widen, increasing the possibility of more dangerous routes being adopted by the disillusioned"
Salma Yacoob is right to say the arguments need to come out more into the open. It is only in that way that arguments that are wrong (as I believe some of the positions advanced by Respect to be) can be refuted through civil discussion, to the greater benefit and peace of all.