A letter to Sunnis facing Shia Democracy

They are going to kill you all. So you had better sign up with the Caliphate.

It is inherent in the nature of democracy that you get rule by a religion that has open entry into the clerisy.

It is inherent in the rule of a religion that has open entry into the clerisy that it becomes ever more extreme and eventually, ever more left wing.

They have gotten rid of all the Christians and such. Every election, every year, they get more and more radical. You are next. Then everyone who is insufficiently Shia. They are now mobilizing and arming with American weapons the poorly disciplined and poorly trained Shia mobs that previously attempted genocide.

53 Responses to “A letter to Sunnis facing Shia Democracy”

  1. B says:

    Not that I give a shit about either side, but in the interest of accuracy it needs to be said that after a long period of Shia clerical rule, Iran has not killed its Christians or Jews. They have large minorities of both (and I believe still have some fireworshippers and such.) As much as I dislike the mullahs, they’ve done an ok job holding the place together. I know, if reality contradicts theory, so much the worse for reality.

    Sunnis’ best move is something like what the Sunni Kurds are doing. Arabs are incapable, though.

    • Red says:

      I used to think you were smart, but you’re nothing more than a Jewish jive talking progressive.

    • jim says:

      after a long period of Shia clerical rule, Iran has not killed its Christians or Jews.

      Iran shut down open entry into the clerisy – the Ayatollah did not take at all kindly to being out Ayatollahed, even though Shia Islam is theoretically an open system.

      When people complain that Iran is not really democratic, that is what they are talking about. It is as democratic as you can be without letting yourself be out Ayatollahed. Everything is democratic except for the opportunity to gain power by being holier than the government.

      Which means it is not very democratic at all.

      Islamic democracy tends to self destruct (as for example Algeria) considerably faster than Christian democracy. Since Israel is progressive, rather than Jewish, have yet to see how Jewish democracy goes.

      • B says:

        This is a very no true Scotsman argument.

        Iran has more or less an open system for religious professionals. If you want to be one, you can get accepted into an institution of learning and study. If you become a scholar, you’re in. Once you get to a certain point, people start taking you seriously as an interpreter of how sharia applies to emergent circumstances.

        • jim says:

          Again, see the standard argument that Iran is not a democracy.
          1 Supreme leader
          2 12-member Guardian Council
          3 Islamic courts
          4 Revolutionary Guards and Basij

          People taking you seriously will not get you on the Islamic Courts or into the Guardian Council. It is the supreme leader taking you seriously.

          If people start taking you seriously as an Islamic Scholar, and the Supreme Leader or the Guardian Council does not like people taking you seriously as an Islamic Scholar, the Revolutionary guards will drop in on you for a little chat, which little chat you are unlikely to survive.

          The supreme leader, acting on the advice and under the supervision of the Guardian Council, not “people taking you seriously” is the fount of all divine honors. Even though this “Supreme Leader” stuff is radically new and completely antithetical to traditional Shia Islam, Shia Islam has been turned arse over tit in order to prevent it from getting even further out of hand.

          Even though this stuff is radically new, everyone is in complete agreement that it is ancient and has always been this way, an interesting example of age old traditions being created overnight with every scholar abruptly falling into line.

          Once the revolution happened, instant clampdown followed to prevent permanent revolution.

          See also all the complaints that the Supreme Leader, the Council, and the Islamic Courts are decadent, corrupt, and sexually immoral – which is to say, insufficiently holy. These complaints are forcefully and efficiently silenced, which is to say, no one gets away with being holier than the Supreme Leader and the Guardian Council.

          • B says:

            >If people start taking you seriously as an Islamic Scholar, and the Supreme Leader or the Guardian Council does not like people taking you seriously as an Islamic Scholar, the Revolutionary guards will drop in on you for a little chat, which little chat you are unlikely to survive.

            Examples? I notice that Grand Ayatollah Montazeri died of old age. I also notice that half of the Shia world is outside the borders of Iran. I doubt the Revolutionary Guards are killing people in Najaf for not toeing the party line; for instance, when I was there, Grand Ayatollah Sistani was demanding calm, while Grand Ayatollah Al Baghdadi was demanding jihad (by the way, I suspect I’m the only commenter on this site whose actions have been condemned as barbaric by a Grand Ayatollah.) Now, one of these things contradicts the other, and given Ayatollah Sistani’s biography and the actions of those who followed him (SCIRI/Badr Corps,) I doubt he was being insincere. So there is lots of pluralism in the Shia world.

            In any case, this is all not very relevant. You said that the Shia in Iraq were murderous because of democracy, and then went on to explain that the Iranian Shia were not very democratic. Well, the Shia in Iraq are being trained, armed, funded and led by Iranians. Iranians are not very likely to mass murder the Sunnis, especially seeing their response to Sunni insurgencies in Kurdistan and Baluchistan.

            Further, having seen the precursors to both ISIS and the present Shia militias in their native environment, I can say that while both are murderous monkeys, the Sunni guys were much more murderous, loved carnage and torture-murder for its own sake as much as for any political utility, and were much less disciplined. The Shia guys were more disciplined, had more cohesive strategy, listened to their leaders (see: the Jaish Al Mahdi standdown) and so on. It’s significant that Moqtada Al Sadr did not continue banging his head against the wall and trying to ride popular support and his father’s good name to power-he went to Qom to study to be an ayatollah, which is a 20 year process with no guarantee of success. It’s also significant that one of the actions that cost Al Sadr popular support among the Shia was his announcement that looting was OK as long as you kicked 20% up the chain. Large parts of the Shia were not democratically minded in that sense.

            • jim says:

              Examples? I notice that Grand Ayatollah Montazeri died of old age. I also notice that half of the Shia world is outside the borders of Iran. I doubt the Revolutionary Guards are killing people in Najaf for not toeing the party line; for instance, when I was there, Grand Ayatollah Sistani was demanding calm, while Grand Ayatollah Al Baghdadi was demanding jihad (by the way, I suspect I’m the only commenter on this site whose actions have been condemned as barbaric by a Grand Ayatollah.)

              Plenty of superior holiness outside Iran, as for example in Najaf

              No superior holiness inside Iran

              For example, the Iraqi Muqtada_al-Sadr was way holier than everyone else put together.

              In any case, this is all not very relevant. You said that the Shia in Iraq were murderous because of democracy, and then went on to explain that the Iranian Shia were not very democratic. Well, the Shia in Iraq are being trained, armed, funded and led by Iranians

              To the extent that they are led by Iranians, they are not going to massacre Sunni. The Iranians, however, are competing with people even holier than their very holy selves, such as Sadr, who will massacre Sunni.

              Further, having seen the precursors to both ISIS and the present Shia militias in their native environment, I can say that while both are murderous monkeys, the Sunni guys were much more murderous, loved carnage and torture-murder for its own sake as much as for any political utility, and were much less disciplined. The Shia guys were more disciplined, had more cohesive strategy, listened to their leaders (see: the Jaish Al Mahdi standdown)

              If the Shia were actually disciplined and all that, there would be no civil war. There is no way a rebellion can succeed against a cohesive state, unless the rebellion starts with its own cohesive state already in place or substantial backing from an outside power.

              If a rebellion happens, there is something wrong. In the American Revolutionary war, elements of the British state (Lord Howe) supported the rebels. In the civil war, the rebels had the existing state by state apparatus. In this case, that is not the problem. The problem is that the existing state is going mad.

              Loyalty to nonstate leaders trumps loyalty to military chain of command. Nonstate leaders hold together by religion, thus holiness spiral necessarily ensues. You say they listen to their leaders, but manifestly, they do not listen the military chain of command.

              That the rebellion happens is a sign that the regime is insane

          • B says:

            Sadr Jr. was not holier than anyone and didn’t position himself as such. He is not an ayatollah, did not claim any special religious insights, did not claim to be the Mahdi or anything of the sort.

            The Iraqi state is not going mad and there is no Shia revolution. Rather, the state is broken because it is run by monkeys, and the only guys who have their shit at all together are the militias, which are nothing other than JAM and Badr military wings rearmed and reorganized.

            The Shia of Najaf are certainly not running ahead of the train in terms of what you refer to as superior holiness.

    • jim says:

      after a long period of Shia clerical rule, Iran has not killed its Christians or Jews.

      The problem is not clerical rule, but clerical rule with open entry to the theocracy. Which the Supreme leader immediately shut down.

      Because the US is sort of allied to the Iraqi government, and because the Iraqi government is sort of elected, we are refusing to notice that they are going barking mad while the Iranian government is no crazier than it has ever been.

      • B says:

        The open entry to the clergy in this case is like open entry to the field of anesthesiology or architecture. Anyone can go and study at a seminary for 20 years, and at the end you MIGHT come out as an ayatollah.

        The Iraqi govt is not mad. It’s corrupt and dysfunctional.

        • jim says:

          The Iraqi govt is not mad. It’s corrupt and dysfunctional.

          Dissolving your army in the middle of a war is a tad odd. If the army is not getting on with the government, and it is not, might be a good idea for the government to accommodate the army, rather than the other way around.

          Conflict with the army is a typical priests versus warriors problem – like the state department trying to prevent the pentagon from functioning. Turning from the army to the militias is analogous to Marius trying to form an army of slaves and gladiators.

          • B says:

            The Iraqi govt dissolved the Iraqi army? When?

            Large parts of the Iraqi army self-dissolved when dealing with ISIS. No surprise. It was an incompetent pile of dysfunctional shit when I was there and the Americans were providing logistics and de facto leadership. The officers were retarded, incompetent and largely unmotivated to do anything but steal. The enlisted were inbred sodomites. Nobody could shoot straight, despite years of US training, but everybody knew how to steal their training ammo to sell on the black market.

            When we left, it got worse.

            When pressure was applied by ISIS, the whole shitshow liquified. The two division holding the north collapsed when faced with a few hundred jihadists. Some parts of the Iraqi Army held together, like the guys in the Bayji refinery. It turned out that the JAM and Badr guys who’d spent 2004-2008 fighting actually had cohesion and discipline. So the Iraqi government used them, as well as the Iranians, to shore up the collapse. Which strategy seems to be working.

            Your theoretical priests and warriors nonsense is very funny, but in this case is completely beside the point.

            • jim says:

              Large parts of the Iraqi army self-dissolved when dealing with ISIS. No surprise. It was an incompetent pile of dysfunctional shit when I was there and the Americans were providing logistics and de facto leadership. The officers were retarded, incompetent and largely unmotivated to do anything but steal. The enlisted were inbred sodomites. Nobody could shoot straight, despite years of US training, but everybody knew how to steal their training ammo to sell on the black market.

              Iraq sucks, Syria sucks, Libya sucks. But the interesting fact is that these places have recently started to suck a great deal worse than usual.

              On the other hand Egypt is doing OK. What is the difference?

              Surely you can see a distinct pattern here. I suggest that if you had given the Egyptian state all the wonderful assistance you gave the Iraqi state, Egypt would now be in much the same condition as Iraq.

          • B says:

            >Iraq sucks, Syria sucks, Libya sucks. But the interesting fact is that these places have recently started to suck a great deal worse than usual.

            Iraq has been a terrible place ever since it gained its independence from the Ottomans, with a war every decade.

            >On the other hand Egypt is doing OK. What is the difference?

            Egypt is not doing OK. Egypt is fucked. It has no industry to speak of, a rapidly growing population of monkeys, a massive insurgency in the Sinai and a complete dependence on foreign aid for food. When the aid gets cut off or doesn’t grow at rates to match the population, Egypt will descend into civil war and famine. And this is inevitable.

            >I suggest that if you had given the Egyptian state all the wonderful assistance you gave the Iraqi state, Egypt would now be in much the same condition as Iraq.

            Me? Or we? I don’t live in the US anymore, so don’t point that finger at me.

            Anyway, this is squid ink. You identify the Shia with democracy and say they want to kill everyone. The reality is that the Sunnis are the ones who want to kill everyone and have a popular movement, and the Shia are reacting, since they don’t want to have their heads cut off and their wives and children sold in the slave market, and ISIS has no other choice for them. Neither are they particularly democratic-Badr and JAM are hierarchical organizations which take their orders from Iran (with lots of local autonomy last time I checked.)

  2. spandrell says:

    Isn’t Sunni even more open access? This is like Calvinists fighting Luterans.

    The Caliphate is getting rid of anyone they can put their hands on. Yeah, let the Sunnis join the caliphate, so they can kill each other over a long time.

    • jim says:

      If you are a Sunni, being killed by runaway Islamic state holiness is further down the road than being killed by runaway democratic Shia state holiness.

      The reason everyone thinks that the current Iraqi government is just lovely, but Islamic State sucks, is that no one worries much about persecution of Christians and Jews.

      • Hidden Author says:

        Yes the Christian population halved in over a decade under the democratic government but disappeared altogether as soon as ISIS came in. Therefore ISIS is better and more humane. Or perhaps for all your talk of holiness spirals, you’re bingeing on your own NRx holiness spiral…

        • jim says:

          Yes the Christian population halved in over a decade under the democratic government but disappeared altogether as soon as ISIS came in.

          Not seeing it. Christians left because the government was going crazy, a lot more than half of them left, and recently the government has gone considerably crazier.

  3. Just sayin' says:

    Did the Iraqi Shiites kill Christians and Jews?

    • B says:

      They haven’t had the chance. There has never been a Shia government in Iraq. I suspect that during the Farhud they joined in in the looting and robbery, but the main inciters, Rashid Ali, the Mufti of Jerusalem, etc. were Sunni.

      • jim says:

        Well now there is a Shia government in Iran. And it takes a firm hand against anyone who gets excessively holy, in that there seems to be lot of criticism of then theocracy of Iran for insufficient holiness from outside Iran, but none inside Iran.

        Immediately on taking power, took swift action to make sure that no one did to them, what they did to the Shah.

        Islamic holiness spirals tend to be fast and deadly, as we saw in Algeria. So, Islam needs a Caliph. The supreme leader is in fact a Caliph, and the Guardian Council is in fact the Majlis-Ash-Shura, and everyone knows it and no one can say it, because Shias are not supposed to have Caliphs.

        • Jefferson says:

          Jim, I think you have Shia and Sunni backwards here. When I was in language school, I had it explained to me that the Shia are like Catholics in that they have hierarchy (and hereditary priests) while the Sunnis are like protestants; any a-hole can hang a shingle and out-holy everyone else.

          • jim says:

            Sunni holying is limited by Sunni willingness to accept the state as the final arbiter of religion. Sunnis in the US would be a lot more comfortable if the US government overtly interfered in their religion to institute clearly defined acceptable and official Sunni teachers, provided, of course, this was not a blatantly transparent cover for transforming Islam into progressivism. And most of them would probably be pretty comfortable even if it was a blatantly transparent cover for transforming Islam into progressivism.

      • jim says:

        There is a Shia government in Iraq now. I say it is going barking mad. You say it is just fine. If it is just fine, why is Iraq the center of suck? We caused the disastrous revolutions in Syria and Libya. What caused the revolution in Iraq?

        All recent US middle eastern meddling has turned out horribly wrong. Do you think the US is just having a mysterious run of bad luck?

  4. Mark Citadel says:

    Sunnis have definitely been getting pwned by Shi’ites unfairly for a long time.

    But I have no reason to throw in with either. My only interests are practical, and the practical concern is that ISIS is making America and the West look like fools. A good thing. They’re perhaps a means to some sort of end? I mean, the faster you have these radicals popping up in the Occident shooting white people, the faster we can recover our heritage and self-radicalize to oppose democracy itself. Literally, democracy is a death wish for white people. And apparently for Arabs too. If they’ve seen it, who is to say that our people won’t?

    • Jefferson says:

      Pretty sure you have that backwards. Shia are treated like dirt and/or culled mercilessly all across the Muslim world. ‘Amal sided with Israel when they rolled into Lebanon because of how horrific the Sunni Palestinians had been towards them.

      • jim says:

        Contrary to B, and contrary to Jefferson, it looks to me that the Alawites are by far the least crazy and least intolerant, the Shia the most crazy and intolerant, and the Sunni in between. Sunni have traditionally ruled the middle east without a whole lot of drama, or at least with slightly less drama than we are seeing now.

        It surely obvious from performance that the least bad solution to the middle east is monarchy. Democracy has a world wide propensity to go up in flames, but the middle east is made of kindling, rendering the incendiary tendencies of democracy more obvious than elsewhere.

        B is arguing backwards, attributing anything bad in Iraq to Sunni or Iran, but look, Iran is the centerpiece of our effort to impose democracy on the middle east, and it is the center of suck.

        • Jefferson says:

          I agree with most of what you say here, but you’re looking at Sunni theology pre salafist infection. Salafis are infinitely crazier and less tolerant than anyone I’ve ever come across. Salafist infection of Saudia + lots of oil money is why the Islamic world is on fire now.

        • B says:

          Sorry, but now you are just lying. Where did I attribute anything bad going on in Iraq to Sunnis or Iran?

          • jim says:

            Sorry, but now you are just lying. Where did I attribute anything bad going on in Iraq to Sunnis or Iran?

            You just attributed the expulsion of the Christians to the Sunnis, and you told us that “Well, the Shia in Iraq are being trained, armed, funded and led by Iranians”

            Militias and expulsions are most of what sucks in Iraq, and Islamic state cannot be doing much to expel Christians, because not many Christians left.

          • B says:

            There was a huge amount of Christians left in Mosul, who were forced to flee when ISIS took over. Not that I give a shit about them-they certainly didn’t mind the Sunnis kicking out their Jewish neighbors 60 years ago.

            Most of what sucks in Iraq is not militias and expulsions. Most of what sucks in Iraq is constant dysfunction, low-level crime including murder, rape and robbery, feces and garbage everywhere, in short, the exact same stuff that sucks in Detroit.

          • Mark Citadel says:

            lol, as if Jews ever gave a shit about Christians in the first place. Be realistic.

            Both Sunnis and Shi’ites are savage, Sunnis much more so. But Shi’ites are trying to install democracy which is never good for anyone. I would prefer if Iran just took over Baghdad and said we’re installing an absolute ecclesiocracy. At least we’d have some clarity rather than the madness on the ground right now.

            It was a massive failure not expelling the Shi’ites into Syria from Lebanon during the civil war, which would have given way to a Christian state. I bet even Israel would have far preferred that to Hezbollah on their doorstep. Less rockets.

            • jim says:

              That is a pretty good summary. Shia religion would be less obnoxious than Sunni religion, except that they have the prog infection and are keen on democracy. In actual application, democratic Shia rule turns nasty a lot faster than democratic progressive rule. Of course democratic Sunni rule (Algeria) turns even nastier, makes democratic Shia rule look like sweetness and light, but the Sunni have wised up and don’t do democracy any more.

          • B says:

            I would have a problem with my Christian friends and neighbors in the US being massacred or dispossessed, and would help them any way I could, and I think the vast majority of American Jews whom I know would feel the same way. I do not care about the Iraqi Christians, for the reasons I mentioned.

            I do not think the Iraqi Shia want democracy, unless it’s Iranian democracy. I am sure they do not want the Sunni to be in charge of them; to the Sunni, the Shia are heretics, not Muslims, and must die or become Sunni. The harshness of this ruling has been mitigated by the laxity with which it has historically been enforced, but ISIS is not the Ottomans or the Baath party, so won’t be lax. The opposite is not the case for the Shia, to whom the Sunnis are Muslim.

        • Irving says:

          The Alawite themselves are Shi’ite.

          • B says:

            Shhh, you’re contradicting the theory.

            (the Alawi are sort of Shia-they required a fatwa declaring them to be Muslim in the 1970s. The fact that the Shia authorities gave them such a fatwa tells you something about their perspective on different strains of Islam.)

          • jim says:

            The Alawite themselves are Shi’ite.

            For as long as the alliance between Iran and Syria is militarily convenient, which probably will not be much longer. Truth is, Alawites are not even Muslims. They eat pork, they drink beer, they are usually clean shaven, they don’t do pilgrimage to Mecca, they celebrate Christmas and Easter, they are polytheistic, you name it. Their main gods are the sun and the moon, and Allah is the moon. But pretty much everything and everyone is a god. More gods than people.

  5. Jefferson says:

    I was fairly involved in the goings on in Iraq both before and during the surge, though I don’t claim that my opinion is the only one to come from my experience. That said, the Shia were saintly in their restraint towards the Sunnis. They were being massacred for years before they had enough and started ethnic cleansing their neighborhoods. Jaysh al-Mehdi was basically the Sadr city version of the bloods (one of their nicknames was Jaysh al-Wardi [Army of the Roses] because their boys were always popping pink amphetamine pills), but they protected their turf. There isn’t much hope for a Shia aristocracy (except maybe if you count the Alawites as Shia), they also don’t tend towards the really psycho holiness. Shiites aren’t allowed to do suicide bombings, Sunnis are (what’s holier than blowing yourself up?)

    • jim says:

      That said, the Shia were saintly in their restraint towards the Sunnis.

      Did not seem very saintly in their restraint towards Christians.

      They also don’t tend towards the really psycho holiness.

      Their religion has not been in power except Iran, where the Supreme leader takes care of any psycho holiness, and Iraq, which is heading steadily towards psycho holiness.

      Sunni managed to rule the Shia majority just fine for centuries. We institute democracy, and holy war promptly ensues. It is surely obvious that everywhere in the middle east, whenever it has been tried, democracy promptly sets things on fire, Algeria being the most extreme case.

      The sane response to civil war is conciliatory treatment of moderate Sunni. We are seeing the reverse, that shia are unwilling to accept yes for an answer, will not accept victory and domination as sufficient, which is the characteristic pathology of holiness spirals.

      You can argue that Iraq is somehow a special case, and it somehow does not count, but we have tried democracy all over the middle east, and the outcome has been pretty similar everywhere. Was there ever a plainer case of holiness spiraling out of control than Algeria?

      • Jefferson says:

        Christians (and Yezidis) ain’t getting cleansed by Shiites in Iraq. The Salafis are the ones killing minorities. Same in Egypt.

        Democracy is a disaster everywhere, but Salafist theology mixed with democracy is a special sort of evil (see Egypt for the 30 seconds the brotherhood was in charge).

        • jim says:

          I can believe that what is happening to the Yezidis is entirely Islamic State’s fault, but seems to me that if persecution of Jews and Christians was primarily a Sunni thing, we would see Christians evacing to majority Shiite and securely Shiite controlled territory, which is to say, most of Baghdad and Basra. If one religion was markedly less lethal than the other, you could tell by refugee movements.

      • B says:

        Jim, you have your head up your ass. Where did the Shia attack Christians? Notably, Mosul’s Christians were not cleansed under the Iraqi govt but we’re cleansed as soon as ISIS took over.

        • jim says:

          Jim, you have your head up your ass. Where did the Shia attack Christians?

          Christians numbered about 1,500,000 in 2003, representing just over 6% of the population of Iraq. It was estimated that the number of Christians in Iraq had dropped to less than 450,000 by 2013[2] – with estimates as low as 200,000.

        • jim says:

          Jim, you have your head up your ass.

          Obviously there is something horribly wrong with US strategy, tactics, methods and goals. I say that the problem is that democracy is apt to set stuff on fire, and in particular and especially, cause holy wars.

          If you don’t like that analysis, do you think US strategy is OK? If democracy is not the problem, what is?

  6. Dr. Faust says:

    Islam is more right than Christianity. They are right about women, gays, and left about race.

    Do the Islamic countries practice racists law or policies? I would guess that they do but are ostensibly egalitarian.

    • jim says:

      The Christian position on gays and women used to be fine. And indeed Christian patriarchy, that a man and his wife one person one flesh, and that person is the man, is better than the Islamic position, since Christian punishment and repression of women is explicitly linked to its proper telos, to promote the unitive telos of the sexual act.

  7. […] Jim takes a look at The Camp of the Saints these 40+ years on. Not the book so much as the prophecy. He helpfully highlights some very simple and effective strategies that Antipodean Anglophones have found to stem the tide. Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia buckle. He also pens A letter to Sunnis facing Shia Democracy. […]

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