August 2, 2010:
Indonesia is forming an Anti-Terror Agency, which will attempt to curb Islamic radicalism at the ground level. Indonesian counter-terror police and intelligence efforts have shut down most of the Islamic terrorism in the country. But there are still plenty of Islamic radicals, inspired by Islamic terrorism in other countries (Philippines, Pakistan, India, Russia, Arabia, Somalia and North Africa.) The Indonesians have concluded that they have a culture clash problem, with Arab Islamic radicalism subverting the traditionally more peaceful Indonesian form of the religion. This is a change, because for many years, the government tried to cooperate with Islamic radical groups, and ignore the hostile Arab influences.
For example, six years ago, the Indonesian parliament passed a law that required every citizen to declare their religion. However, only six religions were recognized (Islam, Protestantism, Catholicism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Confucianism). Many Indonesians still practice traditional (pagan) religions, while many others follow modern religions not "officially recognized." All of these people fear persecution. Some 90 percent of the 220 million Indonesians are Moslem. The new law was seen as a ploy by Islamic conservatives to halt the spread of religions that seek converts (increasingly successfully) among Moslems. There was also a growing split between Islamic conservatives (influenced by hardcore Arabian Islamic practices) and the more traditional Indonesian approach to Islam (which incorporated many pre-Islamic religious practices and was much less militant.) The new law backfired, and encouraged local Islamic radicals to undertake more violence against local non-Moslems.
Meanwhile, the worldwide War on Terror has morphed into the War Against Islamic Radicalism. This religious radicalism has always been around, for Islam was born as an aggressive movement, that used violence and terror to expand. Many Moslems try to hide this, but Islamic conservatives and radicals revel in it. Past periods of Islamic conquest are regarded fondly by Moslems.
The current enthusiasm for violence in the name of God has been building for over half a century. Historically, periods of Islamic radicalism have flared up periodically in response to corrupt governments, as a vain attempt to impose a religious solution on some social or political problem. The current violence is international because of the availability of planet wide mass media (which needs a constant supply of headlines), and the fact that the Islamic world is awash in tyranny and economic backwardness. Islamic radicalism itself is incapable of mustering much military power, and the movement largely relies on terrorism to gain attention. Most of the victims are fellow Moslems, which is why the radicals eventually become so unpopular among their own people that they run out of new recruits and fade away. This is what is happening now, and not just in Indonesia. The American invasion of Iraq was a clever exploitation of this, forcing the Islamic radicals to fight there, where they killed many Moslems, especially women and children, thus causing the Islamic radicals to lose their popularity among Moslems. The sharp decline in the Islamic national opinion polls was startling. But this has not wiped out the Islamic radicals, who are able to sustain themselves with new recruits from areas that have not suffered from Islamic terrorism (and Islamic radicals trying to impose their medieval lifestyle on you).
Normally, the West does not get involved in these Islamic religious wars, unless attacked in a major way. Moreover, modern sensibilities have made defending yourself more difficult. For example, fighting back is considered, by Moslems, as culturally insensitive ("war on Islam"), and some of the Western media have picked up on this bizarre interpretation of reality. It gets worse. Historians point out, for example, that the medieval Crusades were a series of wars fought in response to Islamic violence against Christians, not the opening act of aggression against Islam that continues to the present. Thus, the current war on terror is, indeed, in the tradition of the Crusades; an act of defense against Islamic aggression. And there are many other "Crusades" brewing around the world, in the many places where aggressive Islamic militants are making unprovoked war on their Christian neighbors. Political Correctness among academics and journalists causes pundits to try and turn this reality inside out. But a close look at the violence in Africa, Asia and the Middle East shows a definite pattern of Islamic radicals persecuting those who do not agree with them, not the other way around.
The Indonesian government is run by Moslems who, for the most part, want nothing to do with Islamic radicalism (or any kind of radicalism, for that matter.) But since these dangerous attitudes won't go away when the Islamic terrorists have been killed or jailed, and accommodation has failed, then the Anti-Terror Agency will have to come up with some new ideas, and put them into action.