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September 15, 2007


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Thanks for the background. So the families of the future Magic Numbers were fleeing the general disorder rather than the coup itself -- several days of looting with police complicity makes that quite understandable. I've heard several versions of the theory that the real danger from numerically small dissident groups is not what they actually do but the collateral damage from the authorities' reactions to what they do. James Fallows puts WWI, and the end of the 19th-century European order, in the category of collateral damage from the otherwise unimportant anarchist movement. He argues that we should simply declare victory in the War on Terror.

Isn't the prevailing theory that an armed insurgency needs some minimum level of relatively passive support from otherwise respectable citizens of the minority group in question? So that the IRA was able to carry on for years with very small numbers because they had a fair number of collaborators, while Global Jihad does not seem to have such support within the US? In that case the question in Trinidad would be whether many ordinary Muslims see Jamaat-al-Muslimeen as champions of Islam rather than crooks.

All the indications that I've seen are that the Muslimeen are just a bunch of thugs, and perceived as such.

Even if they weren't, it isn't clear that 10,000 people --- the number of Afro-Trinidadian Muslims --- is a deep enough sea.

My fear is similar to yours: if the Muslimeen provoke an anti-Muslim popular backlash large enough to anger the Indo-Trinidadian Muslim population, then there could be a problem.

I'm an optimist. Trinidad's own conception of itself is multi-cultural. Of course, the nation's highest honor is still called the Trinity Cross, a quarter-century after Eric Williams promised to change it, but the country accepts its religious minorities ... perhaps because there is no religious majority.

What does it take to push a country towards intolerance? Thoughts?

Doug, I know you have thoughts on this topic, which gives me a vested interest in your recovery. Not that I didn't want you to feel better before, of course.

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